Riddle Time

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It started out innocently enough.  Riddles in our reading series…working with a partner to figure out the answer.  My class loves them and it has turned into riddles and jokes all the time.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  You just have to go with it and let the silliness take over.

Blondie, age 6 – “What do you call a test you can eat?”  (I shrug because I have no clue.)  “A piece of cake!”

Little fellow who barely spoke the first semester but has now ‘blossomed’, age 6 – “You wanna hear a ‘your momma’ joke?”  I naively said yes because like I said, he didn’t talk for months.  “Your mother is so stupid (he whispered this word), she tried to climb Mountain Dew!”

The same boy asked me a different day, “Wanna hear another one?”  “Sure,” I said.  “Your momma is so….” (I have to stop right here because this joke was a little bit dirty and definitely not appropriate for first grade!  I blushed!  His jokes now scare me.)

Hubby got in on the riddles yesterday.  “What is the first thing you know?”  This one stumped me all day long and he refused to tell me the answer until he got home.  You ready for this??  “The first thing you know ole Jed’s a millionaire!”

Just go with it people!

I took this joke to school and of course none of the kids knew Jed. I got very blank stares so I explained that it was an old show.  Sweetie pipes in, “I don’t watch those shows.  The only adult shows I watch are Dancing With the Stars, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and The Golden Girls.  That show’s a hoot!”

And so are these kids of mine.

Worry…

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Thank goodness I don’t have to be in charge.  Thank goodness I am not the boss and never, ever do I want to be the boss.  I learned the hard way that no matter how much I preach, nag, hover, worry, or beg, I can’t force things to be a certain way.  I can’t force things to be my way. It was hard letting go of the control, believe me.  As a teacher and a mom, I didn’t like it one bit.  But once I fully let go, it was a huge relief.

Still, I find myself worrying.  I ‘hand’ over my issues to God every day…and I mean every single day.  He probably gets tired of hearing it, honestly.  But still, the worry nags at times.  Still, I have to forcibly turn over my problems to someone who can handle them when I can’t.

Right now…I’m worried about my community.  I live in a small, rural town in the south.  There are approximately 7,500 city residents and 28,000 county residents.  We have a Wal-Mart and a Home Depot; we don’t have a Target or a Starbucks (and I would love to have both of these).  Our newspaper comes out once a week, Swap-n-Shop is on the radio every day for people to buy and sell their goods, and we have eight schools in the county.  People know each other.  People know you and your granny and your best friend from high school.

My community is struggling.  We battle with addiction and abuse and crime just like every other city.  We love sports and we support fund-raisers and little league teams.  We watch homecoming parades passing through the city square and fill churches on Sunday.  We gather to eat and share and love.

Still, my community is in trouble.  We are divided when it comes to leadership.  We let the past blur the future.  We forget others needs and focus only on our own.  We forget daily to love each other as God would do.  Daily, we forget to be kind.

I wish I had the answers for the pain.  I wish I had magic words to fix problems beyond my control.  But I don’t…and I have to remind myself that deep down, I truly don’t want to be in charge of fixing the woes of my town.  Just as I do every day, I’ll turn these issues over to God.  On this Easter Sunday, I pray for my divided community, for the leaders, for the workers, for the people.  I hope for resolution and fairness.  I pray for peace.

Dreams and Such

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**For those of you who don’t know (and may not even really care), here’s an addition to my last post:

Addendum!! My wonderful, brilliant, incredible, gifted, did I say wonderful, husband came home after a 12 hour day and found my lost pages!!! Even he doesn’t know how they ended up where they were but at this point, I’m too elated to care! I immediately took him to Sonic and bought him a sundae!!

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I had the best and strangest dream last night.  I was in town, I believe, and irritated.  Not sure by whom or what, but then I walked up on this man.  His hair was curly, his face weathered.  I gasped and the few people with me asked what was wrong.  I said, “Don’t you know who this is?  He’s Robert Plant!”  The man smiled at me, happy that I recognized him and he gripped my hand.  Then he began to sing “All of My Love” to me.  In my dream, the song was crystal clear, the warmth of his hand so very real, and the way he made me feel so much better was unbelievable.  I woke up smiling…his words slipping through my head.

Told you it was strange but it was so cool.  The Robert Plant sang to me.  The Robert Plant who is too cool for school…well, way too cool for me anyway.  (For you non-classic rock lovers, he was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin.)  In his honor, here’s a little video.

And for my very own love…the savior of missing documents, the house mechanic, accountant and electronic wizard, you’re way cooler than even Robert Plant, just so you know!

I’m screaming…just so you know!

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The unspeakable just happened…and I may throw up…across the room and all the way to town.  Somehow, in some completely foreign, unknown to me way, I just lost at least 2 chapters of my latest book and all the rewrites I did Saturday.  I don’t know what the heck just happened!  I opened it up to start anew and it’s just gone…like disappeared gone.  I always, always save my work…heck, my computer does it for me if I don’t do it often enough!  Where could it have gone?

Okay fellow writers, what do you do when this happens to you?  Do you cry, scream, run in circles?  Do you try to rewrite what you had or just start over?

I feel like I just lost a couple of toes…like they vanished without preamble off my foot.  I know it’s ridiculous, I know I’m freaking out over something not really worth freaking out over…but ugg….those were my thoughts, pages of my other life, my little word babies.

Help!

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What would you attempt…?

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What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? 

That’s the quote hanging in my husband’s new office.  He’s ventured into a new business, a step that took nerve and gumption. I thought the quote suited the moment perfectly.  How hard is it for us to try something new?  To quit being afraid?  To say I’m going to go for it no matter the risks?  My hubby made that step and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his drive.

That quote suits us all, doesn’t it?  How often would we try more, give more, if only we knew we would not fail in our attempts?  I think for most of us, that fear of failure keeps us glued to the ground below us.

For the past three weeks, we have had varied amounts of winter precipitation.  From snow to ice, we’ve missed 8.5 days out of the last 14.  Since we’ve got 13 built-in weather days, I’ve found these days a treat.  Honestly, like some gift from above.  The first week, I was a vegetable.  I ate, cleaned a little, vegged out.  The past two, something else has happened.  Something totally wonderful and unexpected considering the constant gray skies we’ve had.  I started writing again!  It actually started out as voracious reading…reading everything I could get my hands on, including some of my old stories.  Then boom, it turned into writing.  In the past few days alone, I’ve written for hours at a time, page after page that are effortlessly flowing out.

These are great moments for me…like indescribable, giddy moments where I become lost in a world in my head that flows out through my fingers.  Ah…heaven.

These three weeks of being able to go into my zone, to create often, to do something I love so much have been a reminder that someday, one day I want to write all the time.

But what if I fail?  What if I’m not good enough?  What if nobody likes what I write?

You know what?  Those are all real feelings and concerns but what if I never do it because I’m just afraid?  To me that’s worse.  To me, that’s scarier than the alternative.

Maybe I need a copy of hubby’s new quote tattooed to my wrist (just kidding), or somewhere up where I can see it every day.  Maybe we all need a reminder to live for more instead of dying in fear.  Maybe life shouldn’t be controlled by fear but led by gumption, and drive, and hope.  Maybe failure only truly occurs when we simply quit trying.

The Movie

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It brought in over 80 million dollars this past weekend. Throngs of movie goers, 60% women under the age of 30, filled the seats. Many went to see the movie.  You know, the one with the number 50 in the title.

Not me.  Not my daughter.

A little background:  My daughter is 21, she’s been in a relationship with the same guy for many years, and she’s head-strong (and beautiful, I might add).  This past weekend, she was with a group of movie-goers and when the others went to see it, she and her date chose to see something else. She told her daddy she didn’t see it “because momma didn’t want me to”.  Proud momma moment.  (I never told her not to see it.  I just told her my opinion.)

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I didn’t like the books. Read them because I wanted to see what the fuss was about, but wished I hadn’t because some images scar your brain for life!

Here’s the thing: I love romance novels!!  I adore love stories over and beyond anything else. My kindle is full of them, and when I write, I write about love and relationships.  To me, there’s nothing better than love healing a bruised soul or love mending a broken family.

To me…and I’m very, very aware I’m probably the only person on earth who feels this way…I couldn’t find the love in those books. Abuse, control, demeaning behavior, psychosis – found all that but not much love.

I’m 45, been married for 24.5 years, and I’ve been fortunate to experience real love. It has kindness and patience and most importantly, respect. My husband would never hit me (even if I asked him to) because he respects me. (And too, I think he knows that if he tried to do a smidgen of what that character did, I’d punch him right in the throat.)

I hear you saying ‘character’ – he’s just a fictional character. Yes, he’s just a character and I love a strong male character in the written word. Here’s my glitch. Will my children really get that these people are just characters?

So that’s what I told my girl. This movie is not real. It’s not what a real, healthy, stable marriage or a real life together is. A healthy relationship isn’t cruel and sadistic. It shouldn’t be, and this movie isn’t what young, impressionable minds should be comparing their relationships to.

Let me reiterate:  I Love Books.  Believe me, I’ll never ask anyone to put down a book, and I’m fully aware that not everybody likes the same type book. I just read this story from the perspective of a mother, a woman with a daughter, and a woman with an incredible husband.  And this woman couldn’t be more proud of her daughter right now.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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So…nothing like some brutal honesty to make you feel loved.

“Mrs. Rackley, I like that color you’ve put on your hair.”  (No hair color…just the remains of a month old color.  What he saw were the natural grays fighting for control.)

“My momma says you’re getting old.”  I had this child’s mother the very first year I taught school.  “She also says you wear too much make-up.”    Really?  Like, really?

“Do you drink Diet Sun-Drop?”  “No, just water and coffee.  I love coffee.”  They all stare until one girl says, “Mrs. Rackley, you should really learn to try more things.”

These comments are exactly how I feel half the time.  Gray, old and apparently frigid.  Dang…

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Valentine’s Day is upon us.  I’ve found that most either love it or hate it.  For me, it’s a manufactured holiday so it’s not my favorite.  I’d much rather hubby surprise me with a gift on a plain old Tuesday in March or take me out to dinner on any other day but the 14th of February.  I’m not sure if it counts if he’s forced to say it one day a year!

What about you?  Love it or hate it?  Either way…hope your day is fabulous. And I’m not saying this since it’s VD but I do love you for reading even when I haven’t been writing very much lately.  I’m not in a writing slump. It’s more like a ‘can’t fit anything else into my mind or my day’ dilemma.  And it sucks because writing fills me like nothing else really can.  The dream is still there…thanks for being part of it.

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Friday Funnies…a day late

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Laughter is the best medicine.  It can change my whole day, and for that I’m very grateful.  Here are some funny moments from Room 12.

Last week’s reading story was about animal groups – mammals, reptiles, etc.  I had some trouble with this story last year, confusion and unanswerable questions, so I thought I was better prepared this year.  Nah, I was dreaming.  The story classifies mammals as having fur, being born alive, and able to drink milk from their mothers.  The students love the story, love learning about the groups, but we’re 0 for 2 now.  You mention milk from their mothers and little brows crinkle, little eyes churn (brow crinkling can sometimes be bad, by the way).  At first, there were only a few innocent smirks but as the week progressed, one little fellow finally asked the question.  “Where…where do they drink milk from their momma?”

Me being the superb (ha, ha) teacher I am, answered, “From different places.”

This boy looks at his neighbor, even as most of the students accepted my answer as it was, and his neighbor (a sweet little girl) proceeded to point straight to her ninnies.  I heard him say oh and then the subject was dropped as quickly as I could usher them forward.  (Book people!  Think, please!  Do they really need to learn that specific thing in first grade?  Being born alive is hard enough!)

This week, we moved on to another story about space.  Great story, great pictures of the moon.  We’ve had wonderful discussions of what it would be like to be an astronaut on the moon and how much we’d like to ride around in a lunar rover.  The same little princess who informed the students at her table about ninnies and the production of milk asked, “What do people do with their phones in space?”  I replied, “They don’t take them with them.  They leave them at home.”  Her brow crinkled again and she asked, “Well then, how can people find them?”

Disclaimer:  I can be a smart-aleck from time to time.  Not often but sometimes.  You’ll be proud to know I didn’t laugh or say anything inappropriate.  I just smiled and said, “Well, hun, their family will know they’re going into space, which is a big deal, so they’ll be okay without their phone for a few days.”

I know I post these every year (sorry), but they make me smile.  Smiling, laughter = a much kinder, softer teacher.

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We can only hope we’re this cute at 100.

We made ourselves as we’ll look at 100 in recognition of the 100th day of school.  When I introduced the project, I got the brow scowl again.  A blonde angel piped in, “If we live that long.  Doubt it.”

Drowning…Or Not

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Work overwhelms me, body and soul.  Paperwork, deadlines, being stretched too thin.  All of it.  At home, brother needs his paper typed, sister is readying to head back to school, bff has ventured into a new business and needs my support and attention.  Supper must be cooked, clothes washed, a house cleaned.  Puppy has conjunctivitis and a virus.  I’m suffocating, drowning in the need to be everyone’s everything.  There’s this need to be perfect – the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect teacher, the perfect homemaker, the perfect friend, the perfect Christian.

I’m failing in most of those areas.

And then…

I remember a sign I saw at school.   Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

I’ll never be the perfect anything, not ever.  All I can do is try…and look…and appreciate.

Work overwhelms me…but the students make me smile.  Brother wrote the best paper he’s ever written about his hero – his dad.  It made me cry…it made his daddy cry, too.  Sister is rocking on through college, making me so proud each and every day.  The bff (husband) may have finally found the perfect business for him, a place to call his own and be himself.  Food keeps us nourished.  Clean clothes keep us warm.  The house keeps us sheltered.  Puppy hasn’t puked today and looks at me as if I am an angel.  I may feel like I’m drowning but still I manage to swim and pull myself to shore.  That’s where I stand up, shake off the weight of life, and forget being perfect.  Instead, I do my very best, and to all the people who love me, that is enough.

New Year, New Goals

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A friend of mine posted, “I hope that I will be a better person in 2015 as compared to last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and…” This woman is a phenomenally funny, kind, patient, expressive and giving human being, but still she strives to improve herself each year. Her resolution isn’t just lip service…she means the words she says.

So many of us have resolutions during this time of year. Resolutions to exercise more, eat less, join a gym, run a marathon, go back to school. Every January it’s the same – what will my New Year’s resolution be? Will I even make one? Nah…it’s already the 8th. Maybe I’ll skip this year. There’s something very pressure-filled about strapping a resolution to what you hope is the beginning of a better, stronger, clearer year.

I recently read that instead of resolutions we should set goals (even though I think they’re very much the same). The goals should be steps to help you forward your life, to keep you focused on improving yourself instead of becoming stagnant. These goals keep you focused so you don’t settle into a couch potato, lazy rhythm. Goodness knows I need that! I am such a stay in my comfort zone kind of girl.

So instead of resolutions, I’m setting goals. And to be completely honest, they’re mostly the same as last year. Give, pray, write, publish, love, teach, do. I figure those goals are easily transferred from one year to the next. If only I’ll keep my thoughts on those things, maybe I’ll keep myself from completely sinking into my recliner.

What about you? Have you set any resolutions or goals?