The Beanie Chronicles

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Beanie from the Beanie Chronicles here. You’ll never guess what the lady that feeds me did. Just because my belly sags…and yeah, sometimes I get really out of breath. That lady made me spend the day at the vet.

For nothing.

Yep, I have a big Beagle belly. Yep, I love me some people food. Am I really sick…nope. Not today anyway.

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See that dog over there? That blonde wild thing? Guess what she did? She took off running…full speed ahead like a rocket…and she ran right over the lady who feeds us. Took that lady to the ground. Good thing she only twisted her ankle. Blondie may have had to live at the barn if she’d hurt her bad.

Oh…and one more. Let’s not forget the little princess. The lady that feeds us seems to really like that one. Guess what the little princess does? She won’t let us eat until she’s finished! She’s barely bigger than a squirrel but somehow she became the boss around here. Little Princess better watch out or Blondie might swallow her whole one day!

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For those of you worried about my pot belly, I’m okay for now. The lady that feeds me said no more people food. We’ll see about that. I’m really good friends with the man who loves me!

Imperfects

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I was raised by a very beautiful woman. She always smelled good…sweet and warm and comforting. The kindness in her ran deep. I saw her turn away with tears in her eyes when my sister and I (deservedly) got disciplined from time to time. I remember her softness, how humbly she spoke.

My friends always liked my momma. She was easygoing with them, but there was never a question that she was my biggest defender.

Momma was meek. She worked hard to provide for us. I was raised by a music-loving, sweet soul.

But my mother was imperfect. And the sad thing is, I always knew it.

I wanted her to be perfect. In my young mind and heart, I wanted her to be what I perceived as perfect. You know…just a little more steady, a little less needy, a little more confident, a little less troubled.

For years, I stayed in this ever changing, heart-aching place of anger towards her. I wanted her to change, to be what I wanted her to be.

I wasted so much time.

And then she was gone.

Now, all these years later, I’m left with the knowledge that we’re all so very flawed. There is no perfect person. No matter what you see on social media, no matter what you hear, no one person can live up to every single expectation.

Today, I’m a mother of two, and I have no doubt they find and then cringe over the things I do that are certainly imperfect. Time has shown me that flaws are as common and real as breathing.

For all the imperfect parents:

Those of us who lose our cool from time to time…

Those of us who don’t always have the perfect answer to every question…

Those of us who wonder if we ran away, if anybody would notice (but of course we’d never really leave…we’re just tired)…

Those of us who feel like we’ve failed in about half we meant to do with our kids. I didn’t get them to church enough, I didn’t push them enough, or maybe I pushed too much, and I think I forgot to teach them how to clean a toilet…

Those of us who worry and cringe every time the phone rings because half our parent brain fears the worst all the time…

For the imperfects, I think it’s okay to be less than perfect, and the sooner we realize and accept each other, flaws and all, the happier we’ll be. No matter what, I knew my mom loved me, and that has been my goal as a parent. I love my children, with all of me, no matter what.

There are no words to express how much I wish I could have a wonderfully squishy hug from my mother, imperfections included. I know she would forgive mine.

Answered Prayers

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Have you ever gotten exactly what you prayed for? I did. It took awhile…like four or five years…but I had a dream that came true, a prayer that was answered.

And in that answer I was reminded that nothing ever comes easily.

So last summer I began this new journey of becoming a librarian. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m 48 years old, and after 23 years in the classroom, I began anew. I knew going in I would have to pick up my library endorsement, but in my non-experienced mind, I thought the classes would be easy. I was so wrong.

Graduate level, all online classes, no professor to ask for guidance, harder than heck, one paper or project after another….

But in the midst of the chaos, an unexpected gift came my way. God sent two fellow librarians to help me along the journey. The other day, I told my new, dear friends that if it weren’t for them, I would be a grad school flunky who ran off to join the circus.

Then an unexpected injury. A hernia. What the heck? Now? In the middle of grad school, with nine weeks of school left? What??? I’ve had the hernia for years but it was silent and mostly unknown. The doctor said it probably chose now to flare up due to my age. Okay…that’s insulting as heck.

No bending, no getting on the floor, no shelving books. Ugg…hernias suck. (A few things I’ve noticed since I’ve been home: lawyer commercials are on the T.V. constantly, if the only show on T.V. was The View, I’d never watch T.V. again…those are some mean, bitter folks, and lastly, I wish everybody smiled like Hoda.)

They say nothing good ever comes easy. I’m having to work hard to finish this goal, this dream of mine. I keep telling myself it’ll be worth it…and I trust that God has me exactly where He wants me. Even when I’m in over my head, cut open and stitched back together; even when I’m frustrated and tired, I can always trust that someone who knows infinitely more than me is in control.

Home

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It had been one of those days…a hurtful, hard, exhausting day. The kind adulthood seems to pound you with over and over. Your body becomes tired, not sleepy, but so very tired. All you want is to curl up, hide under a blanket, and for awhile, pray that no one can find you.

The room was dark, everyone was going to bed, and the prayers started. Not long after, a few tears. And without thought or inclination of where the words came from, they slipped out. “I just want to go home,” I whispered.

My heart hurt as my own words penetrated. I was home…lying in my bed, my family tucked away. But I knew…I knew what the words meant. I wanted to go to my forever home. This life had been too hard that day, and I couldn’t help but yearn for the home I’ll go to once this life is over.

The thought was painful. It hurt because it came to me unawares, unplanned and utterly honest. It was the first time I’d truly yearned for the worries of this life to hurry away so I could just get on with getting on.

I can’t remember the day or the year this happened for the first time. I know it was many years ago, and once that door was unlocked, I’ve yearned for my forever home often. It’s not the kind of yearn that makes you reckless and impatient…but the kind of yearn that knows I’ve got more to do in this life before that day will come.

What about life keeps us yearning for more, for different, for better? Perhaps it’s just the reality of how hard life can be. Or maybe we’re just fickle creatures who are never satisfied.

I just read a wonderful, insightful book about the meaning of your life (not the meaning of life in general) by a man named Harold Kushner called, “When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough”. This book, written by a rabbi, is so approachable and easy to understand. Never does the author judge or make you feel unworthy. Actually, he does just the opposite by simply explaining that the true meaning of your life is not about success but loving and being loved. It’s about savoring life – other people, food, nature, etc.

The author says that people are their happiest when they’re kind, helpful and reliable. When they are doing for others instead of only thinking of themselves.

I think we all know that deep down. We know we should be loving others more, that being kind should be second nature, but it’s the daily battle of doing it. The daily battle of focusing enough to love and be kind. We all lose focus. Life can make everything blurry really fast.

This year, I’ll try to savor more, to focus on kindness. I cannot control the people or situations around me, but I can choose each day to pick a happy thought over bitterness. Every morning on the way to work, I pray…”Lawd…please, Lord, help me to be kind to the children today. Kind and patient.” (Funny how most days I’m given opportunities where I have to choose to pick kindness over being snappy. Strange how that works.) I’ll keep praying that prayer, I’ll keep on keeping on no matter life’s circumstances. I’ll keep on until that day I finally get to go home.

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‘Tis the Season…

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C – Christ child, savior of the world.

H – Happiness, an unexplained warmth in your home and around the ones you love. A heart that is full and thankful. Hallmark movies on repeat. Hot chocolate.

R – Rejoice! Rejoice! A time to remember peace on earth.

I– Images of past Christmases flutter in your heart.

S – Santa and sleigh bells, silly drivers and mad shoppers, stress and savory smells.

T– Too much food, too many sweets, too much tension, too much fun. Tinsel, toys, time to reflect on another year gone by.

M– Malls to avoid, busy moms in a hurry. The miracle of little faces who are ready for Christmas morning. Memories.

AAngels we have heard on high. Angelic voices singing in a school program. Another Christmas has arrived with growing children, aging parents, hearts missing.

S – “At the last house, we always join hands and sing Silent Night. The reindeer, too.” –Memoirs of an Elf.   Finding solace on that silent night.

for unto you

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And Just for Fun – The School Version

C – Crazy children so high on Christmas they could float.

H – Hurrying feet rushing everywhere they go. Happiness and big hearts. Harried teachers holding on just a few more days.

R – Reindeer games. Ready for Christmas. No raising of hands, no resting of heads.

I – Idyllic smiles fill their faces. Icing on gingerbread houses. Imaginations in full bloom.

S – Sad or sappy, sighing and surprised, so many emotions. Sorry is spoken often. Santa just as much.

T – Toys. Toys. Toys.

M – Music and songs. Munchkins watching the Santa cam. Many smiles, many tears.

A – Ample love. Anticipation grows strong as days are counted down. Antsy and agitated, awaiting the 25th.

S – Smiles, stories and daydreams. Wishes for stuff, songs about sleighs. So excited they beam.

The Santa Cam – smiles blossom when they see it, and a few children will even stop, stare into the camera and give their Christmas lists in detail.

Vader

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Mrs. Rackley, do you like Star Wars? 

I love Star Wars!

Me too! Who’s your favorite character?

I really love Darth Vader.

Me too! Hey can I call you Mrs. Vader now?

Sure.

I thought I’d never hear another word about it, but he shows up for library two days later and immediately calls me Mrs. Vader and instructs me to call him Lord Vader.

Whatcha gonna do??

It is strong in that little fellow. He’ll be one to watch grow for sure. Oh…and in case you didn’t know, the new Star Wars movie comes out December 15!

Life has gotten extremely chaotic of late. College courses are stinking hard and time-consuming and stressful. So…I have an embarassing confession to make. I had to do a PowerPoint for one of my classes – never done one of those before…isn’t that sad? But I’m a quick study and I figured it out. Honestly, I’m doing lots of things I haven’t done before…like using Bibme and WorldCat. Don’t know what those are? I didn’t either. Now I know.

My saving grace is that I’m taking these classes with two other teachers. One is 26, the other mid-30’s, and then there’s me…the late 40 something. They have taught me so much…and without eye-rolls. I’m not sure what I offer our little group…so I try to make them laugh and be encouraging. That’s about all I’ve got in my repertoire.

Have you ever gotten so busy that you look up and wonder who you are? I know that sounds a little silly…but think…I’m a teacher, a mom, a wife, a student, a friend…but who am I when I’m just me? Am I just a mixture of all those things or is there, somewhere in the mix, another person? Why is it I only feel lost when I’m so busy? Is that when I don’t have time to do the things that ease me…like write, go walking and go to my Wednesday night study group (which I have done very little of since school started back)?

Since I’m too busy to enjoy the things that make me feel more like myself, I’ll take on the persona of Mrs. Vader for a while. Mrs. Vader is going to need some serious gumption to get through the next few weeks…that and a black cape, a mask to hide behind, and one seriously wicked light saber to kick some life stress to the curb.

Library Lady

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What do you do when you find yourself in love with your job? A space, just a long rectangular room. The smells, the paper of books and the mist of little humans. But in that space, with the comings and goings of over 450 little people, I have found a tug around my heart. I feel like I’ve found my place, my home.

During the first few weeks, when I was very overwhelmed with the unknown of a new job and new schedules, I wondered secretly if I had fallen into a job I couldn’t do. Steadily, and then with a few leaps, things settled, and I found myself really liking my work…even loving it a little. And even though college homework is consuming my free time and making me feel really old and a little behind the times, I still can’t help but feel giddy when I’m there.

Some things I’ve learned over the last six weeks:

It’s really hard to memorize 450 names…really, really hard.

Seeing every child in the building during a week’s time is interesting. I now have 450 new buddies who like to hug and speak often. Maybe from across the lunchroom or from down the hall. And if I can’t remember their name…eek…I just try to fake it.

In a pinch, and if they can’t remember my name, being called Library Lady or Library Teacher works just fine. And I surprisingly answer to it.

My favorite part of the new job is (unsurprisingly) reading aloud to the students. Least favorite part, the accounting. I’ve never been a money person but I’m quickly learning. Nothing like your first Book Fair to speed up the process!

New librarians should be equipped with super-human powers for their first Book Fair. I have none and on day 4 of this year’s Book Fair, I realized the people around me were my strength, shields and swords. When the library was swarming with children who can’t count money and don’t understand that two dollars can’t buy a five dollar book, my heroes swooped in and began helping without being asked. And they came back day after day even though it was a wee bit stressful. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I work with the best.

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The Book Fair invaded my library. It was awesome, tiring, fun and intimidating at first. Bless them…kids don’t get tax and that $2.50 in your hand won’t buy a $2.50 item. Luckily there were angels around who helped a lot of the children find that extra tax money.

During the Book Fair, I had trivia for the students and teachers. So fun, and I got the best answers! 

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Trivia question: Who ate through an apple on Monday? You’ve got to use a little imagination but this kid was spot on.

 

 

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Trivia question: Who sat on the wall and had a great fall? I love this entry from a Kindergartner.

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Same question but answered by an older student. Sound it out! This kiddo got the answer correct too.

Best moment of the whole Book Fair. During one of the most harried moments…I mean we were so-o-o busy…this little voice yells out into the room, “Library Lady!” My head jerks up and away from the cash register. “You got a bathroom in here?”

I’m telling you, every adult in the room stopped in their tracks. It barely phased the other children. To say the least, I stopped what I was doing immediately and assigned an older child that I recognized to escort her to the bathroom just down the hall. (I did this automatically, without thinking really, because when a Kindergartner says they have to go to the bathroom, you better listen.) Her mother, wide-eyed and mouth falling open, ran out the door after them.

 

Class of 1987

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As hard as it to believe, I attended my 30th class reunion this weekend. Thirty?? How is that remotely possible? Only old people go to 30th class reunions, and I am not old…at least not in my mind. When I think back on high school, it feels slightly out of reach but still infinitely there. Going to school with the same people for years…the same classes, teachers, the same ballgames and pep sessions, the same hurts and desires…you become tethered to one another. Last night, even though I hadn’t seen a few of the people at the reunion in so long, I found that invisible thread between us still there.

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Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat!

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The five amigos…we worked together to put on the reunion, and somehow after countless group  text messages, several meetings and lots of planning, we pulled it off. As silly as it may sound, I’m going to miss our endless texts.

Here are some things I noticed after thirty years:

Most people are still the same. Their personalities, their smiles, their eyes. Body sizes may have adjusted and hair color may have changed, but deep down they’re the same person.

Age is a number, period. The number 48 doesn’t identify you. It’s just a flip of a calendar.

Hearts can continue to feel love, admiration, respect after long periods of time. Hearts can also continue to feel nervous and unsure. There were many timid smiles and uncomfortable waves.

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But there’s nothing like a little Electric Slide to ease nerves and get the fun started!

Honestly, I had my own battle of nerves. I said more than once that I didn’t know if I really wanted to go (even though I was helping put on the event). You know, seeing old schoolmates and friends again can be hard. You wonder if you’ll have anything to say. You wonder if you’ll have anybody to talk to for longer than two minutes. You wonder if you’ll look different than everybody else. You wonder if you’ll fit in. (Sounds a lot like high school, doesn’t it?)

But I can truthfully say that I’m so happy I went. The night was fun, the people were warm and welcoming. An old classmate stated, “There was a lot of love in the room.” And there was. It was worth the butterflies in my stomach to see familiar smiles again, to see good friends dancing and then hobbling off the dance floor saying that their knees were killing them. It was worth a smidgen of anxiety to hear familiar laughter and have squishy hugs from people you’ve known all your life. It was worth every second of it.

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Class of 1987

More pictures, more great memories.

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Forever Bobcats…

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always missed…

Ripples

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Do you remember The Purpose Driven Life book? Many, many years ago, I belonged to a study group that gathered to discuss it. Our group consisted of multi-aged men and women. One night, a seventy-year-old man said that he was still looking for his purpose in life. Not that he hadn’t felt he’d already fulfilled other purposes along the way, but at his age, he wanted to know what God needed from him now. I was floored because in my young mind I sort of believed that he’d done it all and it was ‘happy retirement’ time. I’ve never forgotten him or his statement.

Ever since then, I’ve been more aware of my place in this world. God didn’t give me a handwritten note during the study directing me towards what I was supposed to do with my life, but that class began the process of letting Him lead me where I’m supposed to go.

Over the years, I’ve balked. I’ve cried when I was tired and lost. I’ve begged, repeatedly, for him to send a thunderbolt down with explicit instructions. I’ve yearned for dreams that always seemed just a smidgen out of reach.

And honestly, at 47, I’d almost given up on one of my dreams. For years, I’d dreamed of going back to school and picking up my library certification, but you know…life’s busy, I’ve got two kids in college, I’m too old to go back to school…the excuses were boundless.

But still I prayed and I asked God to put me where He wanted me, to use me where He saw fit. And with great surprise on my part, He stuck His finger in the waters surrounding my life. The ripples started, ripples that not only affected my life but many other people around me. And doors opened, others closed, and here I am.

I’m 47, a college student again (21 years after I got my Master’s degree), a new librarian, and guys, I’m so excited! I haven’t felt this sort of giddy-can’t-wait feeling in a long time.

(We’ll touch base in a month when I’m in way over my head with work and two college classes. I may be begging for mercy! Ha!)

I sure am thankful for God’s hand in my life, and He reminds me often that His time-table does not match my schedule. And even though I usually love calm waters, I’m so thankful for the ripples in my little pond.

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I’ve been busy in the library letting my creative juices flow. Bill and Hunter helped me make this. I’m kind of in love with it!

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I’ve painted clouds and added some window decorations. Notice to short people – you will get a crick in your neck if you reach up for way too long.

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This isn’t quite finished but it’s close. Hunter and Kristie saved me on this project. I’m sort of in love with this, too. I’m sort of in love with the whole room!

My Heaven

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The windows are open in my little bay window sitting area. I hear the clip-clop of horses moving up and down the road, their harnesses jingling with each step. A cool, damp air coats my skin from the rain that has fallen and nourished this tiny patch of earth. I sit here loving a few days in my little piece of heaven. 

Today was the first day I’ve ever heard thunder on the island. It was the first time I’ve ever needed an umbrella or raincoat. But instead of hampering the day, we relished this new side of Mackinac. A little rain didn’t keep the Grand Hotel from being any less grand, and it surely didn’t take away from the beauty of the land.


My sister, who has come to the island with me twice, says my love for Mackinac is contagious. I know the thought of this place can make me smile, and I’m convinced there is no sweeter smelling place on the earth, and I’m very sure the absence of cars and fast momentum eases my soul. But contagious? Well, maybe so. This place might not be for everybody but for those souls who crave being just a little closer to nature and God, and those who don’t need the hectic pace of commercialism, I know of a place. And I know I can show you how much I love it with a few words, a picture or two and a smile.