Friday, December 30, 2011

Keeper of the Memories...

I have a memory room.

No, it’s not the space in my head where each remembrance is filed away under categories titled brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews or friends and occasions.

Rather it is the modest area in our bonus room where I construct and create the stories of my family’s years since the birth of Nicholas. I feel it’s vital for him to have recollections of the persons who are intricately woven through the cloth of life.

However, since arriving home from Ohio where I inherited six crates of aged slides, photographs and newspaper articles that belonged to my Grandmother, at present I am the keeper of memories. I take this responsibility seriously-as did my Grandma. 

Grandma was born in 1900 and it was a rare occurrence to witness her without a camera, presumably an old Kodak would be my guess. Every family happening and episode was chronicled through photos and slides and now each is in my possession.

Although Grandma died in 1986 leaving behind a bitter divisive family –consequences of greed and selfishness; the multitude of snapshots account for every person in my childhood devoid of experiences of divorce, death, or disconnect.

Therefore I am immersed in my past which belies a surplus of sentiments-many blogs in the making I presume. It commenced with a drive by of the farmhouse in December where my Grandparents settled and stumbled upon much of my upbringing as it was the hideaway from the cruel part of my early days.
the farm house on Hepler Road
the side of the house

For those moments I breathed the fragrance of the hay and envisioned soaring down the hill on a sled with my siblings landing in the icy chilly creek below. I surveyed the patch under the buckeye trees where my cousins and I could acquire 25 cents a grocery bag for the nuts. I inspected the porches where the dogs Yippy, Queenie and Rover rested on any given warm summer day.
Entangled in my head are the if you are looking for me, I'm in my room with an old fashioned slide projector reuniting the people of my past.

 “The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”

by Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

My Christmas thoughts I give to you isn’t just for this time of year, I would like it to last throughout the fifty-two weeks if possible. What’s more, there’s no need to wrap it and put it under my tree, because it’s not just for me.

You see, as an adult I have very few requests or requirements but perhaps more yearnings and desires entwined with others; does that change your purpose?

First, my wish for my husband; a job –but Lord Santa not just a job, a passion and livelihood where he finds stimulation and inspiration -something that doesn’t feel like work yet pursues a life’s desire that will also provide for his family. So can a financial backer be placed in a box?

Numerous family and friends are without this holiday season; without employment, without loved ones who have met their God or without funds to provide gifts for their children so I pose that you seek their true heart’s desire and make available some Christmas magic.

I invite you to wrap healing in a box with a glittering green bow- healing from physical wounds and illnesses as well as curative methods for whatever ails my loved ones suffering from mental anguish.

I request as most of us do that anger and violence in the world today be replaced with peaceful encounters that serve to better the world in which we live. Can you sprinkle some magical dust that promotes serene calm to nations, governments and individuals with personal wars to fight that may cause separation and division between friends and family.

And last, may the children of today, Nicholas included -be welcomed into this society with affection, acceptance and approval to be precisely who they are without ridicule or torment. May you provide strength to each to stand proudly for their cause and follow the path of their life with self-respect and dignity.

Thank you Lord Santa, and I will be certain to leave some cookies upon your arrival and my heart as you know will be forever grateful.

Merry Christmas to you and yours~

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tiffin Times...

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”

By Paul Boese

As I made the drive from Columbus to Tiffin for the next stop on my book signing for Life through the Eyes of a Hurricane: Doggie-Dog! my insides twirled and twisted with anticipation and apprehension.

Tiffin, Ohio is my place of origin, my growing up location- the space where I learned to walk and talk as well as ride a bike and drive a car. I was cultured to maneuver the back roads shared by tractors and combines and sought comfort in the fragrance of cow manure and the harvest of corn or soy beans. I knew the calm and reassurance of attending a one building school, Hopewell-Loudon therefore I graduated with most folks I shared Kindergarten memories.

On the other hand, it was also the scene of torment and distress throughout childhood and where as an adult I envisioned the face of my abuser/s ‘round every corner. Anxiety and uneasiness were part of every encounter as hyper-vigilance served as armor.

I’ve acknowledged shrill and valiantly; however that forgiveness is a powerful gesture. As a result of those actions toward once despised individuals, I embarked upon this event with affection, acceptance and approval preparing the homecoming proper for a queen.

Paper and Ink was host to the book signing equipped with a reporter from the local newspaper, the Advertiser Tribune. Being surrounded by family, childhood and college friends I possessed a protective covering although unnecessary as I have learned to embrace my past with the awareness it has made me the human being I am today. So I applaud all those people; good, bad or indifferent and extend a hand of thanks since my life is filled with magnificence and joy.

“What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now!”

By Anonymous

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Look Back...

November 30, 2011

...IEP meetings, eligibility accounts, progress reports and day to day teaching has extracted me from my Cloud Nine status I enveloped myself in from my trip to Ohio. However short lived, I certainly captured great pleasure from the experience as well as the people despite its inevitable conclusion.  

Truth be told, when stillness surrounds me, I delight in the memories as a child cherishes Christmas Day-it was truly magical.
Allow me to take you on this enchanting excursion through my book signing in Hilliard, Ohio at New Grounds Coffee Shop

"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose."

...stay tuned for the book signing in Tiffin, Ohio...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hey, did you miss me?

"Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."
By Unknown~
Hi…did you miss me?
Well, regardless if you did or did not, I’m thankful to broadcast we made a safe return to North Carolina on Sunday after a grand and glorious eight days in Ohio. The moments in time spent with cherished friends and family will be forever etched in my mind as well as engraved in my heart.
The abundant events and gatherings with loved ones will provide rich recollections of laughter, tears, joy and genuine hugs with by no means, a deficiency on ‘I love you’s’; an expression I’m no longer embarrassed to vocalize and did so freely.
I’ve deliberately avoided this blog since I am finding it surprisingly complicated to arrange the various experiences and emotions into orderly definitive categories; no one experience or person rises above another.
However, the sentiment that I can label as being prevalent was the affection and cordial support by all; former students and parents, childhood and high school friends, blog and church camp connections, previous teachers and co-workers and treasured sorority sisters including both my big and little sis as well as those individuals I met along the journey.
How blessed I was to be acknowledged and recognized by these deep attachments in my life as well as my family. The look of pride and pleasure in sharing the momentous occasions of a book signing was beyond any language I possess.
Words and feelings shared during those days, hours, and minutes certainly closed the  absence from these links to my past, but it truly remained clear that what I experienced could only be sensed from within.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
- Helen Keller

Friday, November 25, 2011

When Worlds Collide...

Planning, Preparing, and Packing…certainly the tasks at hand in organizing the big trip to Ohio. Saturday, November 26 is the noteworthy day and has been etched in my mind as my son has counted down on the calendar. He simply cannot wait to see his best friend Maddy and ‘his other family’ as he affectionately has christened them. Who can fault him for that; I too am wound up with anticipation.

I will be reuniting with family, visiting dear friends and childhood classmates, reconnecting with past students and former colleagues as well as meeting individuals I’ve only acquainted myself with on the computer-and now deem as friends. Countless people I’ve not connected face to face in years; truth be told decades.

In addition, I get to embark upon the pursuit of a dream when I hold book signings in two areas I hold near and dear to my heart; Columbus and Tiffin. How can I view the happenings and not be exhilarated? My eagerness and excitement is beyond words…

However I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t voice my apprehensions of the can old messages not replay themselves when placing me into aged haunts? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m a disappointment when they meet or see me again? What if I slight someone unmistakably? What if?

In a matter of days, my separated worlds will collide…and I will do my best to bask in the joy and remember the words quoted by Seneca: "There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than in reality.”

In the meantime, please pray for safe travels tomorrow and upon our return, Sunday, Dec. 4…and let the exuberance commence!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving?

So upon us is yet another Thanksgiving Day...and I can't resist posting this story of such a memorable blessed day. Sorry Mom!

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that happens to it."


I recognize you are most likely reading the above quote and thinking what does that have to do with Thanksgiving. Well, I’ll tell you. Growing up we had a house full of family for the Thanksgiving feast; aunts, uncles, cousins, Grandma…you name ‘em and they were gathered in our small ranch home.

The ceremonial dinner was planned for noon as always and my mom took immense pride in preparing the turkey dressed in its finest! The night before rituals commenced with the production of the homemade dressing and shoving it inside that colossal bird enough to feed near thirty people. She enclosed that fowl and placed the roaster within the oven and set it to activate at 4:00am. Swollen with pride and pleased with her labor we went to bed in anticipation for the gathering of our family the subsequent day.

The next morning I awoke and got a whiff of that brilliant smell of turkey roasting and beamed proudly as I made a momentary look toward the clock: 7:00am. I rose out of bed and meandered into the kitchen and was shocked at the words gracing my ears; the words were coming out of my mother’s mouth, a staunch Christian woman. ‘God-damn son of a b----, well sh—‘ words I am most certain I had never even heard before!

The smell of the bird had truly been in my mind from year’s past. The oven failed had to turn on! My mom skittered around the kitchen slamming cupboards and the oven door, throwing pot holders and anything else she could get her hands on. She was swearing at the oven as if that would miraculously make it turn on or say, ‘Gosh, I’m sorry. Let’s try that again!

Meanwhile my sister and I took shelter. It was a wonder that raw bird and all that was stuffed up in it didn’t go flying through the kitchen, living room and any other room of the house…tears, curse words and flurry filled that humble abode and we were taking cover!

Well, no harm no ‘fowl’; hee hee! We may have had our Thanksgiving feast later than planned but it certainly made for amusement for the day and every gathering since. Each year following began with a ‘Ummm, that turkey sure smells good! Did you turn the oven on?’

So on this blessed day, may your oven turn on and everything go planned accordingly!

Monday, November 21, 2011

In a World of Anger...

“Anger is only a natural reaction; one of the mind’s ways of reacting to things that it perceives to be wrong. While anger can sometimes lead people to do shocking things it can also be an instinct to show people that something isn’t right.”

The newspaper prints it… the radio reverberates it…and the television echoes it…

Revolutions, occupancies, bomb plots, sit-ins, protests, suicides, murders, abuse; while not in any specific order the mere presence of said behaviors suggests the people of the world are growing angrier as time moves forward.

Americans are irritate about betrayals in relationships, we seethe at perceived injustices by loved ones and we grow to be annoyed by a lack of respect for ourselves as individuals as well as our needs and desires on a personal level.

We’re furious at our government for an abundant of reasons but lack of concern about finances and taxes, cut-backs and spending; all actions that steal our voice as individuals. We fume at rising health care costs and job loss while Congress dickers and proceeds as if seemingly interested.

We are irate and livid with lying, scamming, cheating, and scandalous actions of others in positions of authority, which then have the audacity to supply hollow apologies with a few bogus tears.

The ever-increasing violence highlights the rage we as citizens undergo as well as a sense of powerlessness, at least I do. Yet, to circumvent a collision course with hostility, I’m choosing to clutch to my heart the following although easier said than done: hatred and anger are powerless when met with kindness.

But within our world in which we live, when is enough enough? And when does it all end?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Self-examination...and NO, not a breast examination!

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves -regret for the past and fear of the future.”

By Fulton Oursler

A few months back Nicholas and I were having a conversation which led to his statement: ‘I have all the friends I need!’

Really? I wondered how at twelve years old a person could so confidently express that sentiment because here I am at fifty two (well, almost) and I’m contemplating opening myself up for that proposition. I’m in the process of self-examination. A good thing, right?

Yes, but only if I’m truthful with myself which I plan on being; honest with you and honest with me. If you’ve read my blog long enough you know it is well chronicled within the wall of words that my past has been anything but uncomplicated. However, I don’t chose to hover in that place for prolonged periods; life is too short, but I do believe we can learn from the past and move onward.

People make choices for which the consequences ripple to those lives surrounding us. As a result, I think it’s our responsibility to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves; what regrets do I have? What would I have done differently? Where do I need to go from here?

I am so excited about traveling to Ohio, beyond that of my book signing appointments. I have an array of people planning to attend from early childhood friends, high school, college as well as work related. Exhilaration is an understatement!

Sadly, I find myself comparing friends I had in Ohio to the ones I have here in North Carolina and I’m slightly embarrassed to declare I have few. I’ve been here for three plus years and the true connections I have are limited to a handful.

Surprised? is my own doing…I have withdrawn from the prospect of friends – Staff socials/ events; nope, don’t attend. Lunchroom conversations- nada. Informal gatherings or get together invitations? They are shunned as well.

I have become lonely. It is with the anticipation of traveling to Ohio that I’m realizing the valuable strong connections with people I have, the precious friends in my home state. However, my bravado of wanting the people in my life to believe I am fine or I am happy has truly hindered the honesty with self. But then again, that has been my pattern throughout life for fear of rejection.

So it’s an occasion for self assessment, and with this comes a forging ahead with uncertainties but also honoring-I am who I am. I’m not a social butterfly; I am fearful and anxious in big crowds therefore, I prefer small intimate gatherings. I’ve rejected offers since trust was lacking that anyone could truly want my company; what could I possibly offer another individual? I second guess myself and question motives. I know, shame on me, huh?

I will also pass this along to those I’ve shunned with a bit of luck I’ll make amends and allow my vulnerabilities to be visible. What’s more, I’ll also forgive myself for past actions and recall this quote made by an anonymous individual:

If you don't learn from your mistakes, there's no sense making them.”

Thanks Pooh for helping me out here...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Valley isn't so happy...

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.”

By Alfred A. Montapert

Nowhere is the content of this quote more evident than in the happenings at Penn State University and the sex abuse allegations by Jerry Sandusky.

I’ve been trying for a week or more to pen my thoughts on these happenings; unsuccessfully, of course. With a history of having been sexually abused my feelings range from disgust, to rage, to repulsion and more that I am unable to tag at this point in time.

I vacillate from the loathing of Sandusky to compassion for Joe Paterno. The part of me that values long term commitments, a life of dedication to youth and integrity, building strong ideals for our youth honors JoePa. But that’s where the empathy for Joe Paterno stops…

It also stops for Jim Calhoun, the custodian who witnessed Sandusky in the showers with a young boy but alerted no one. Compassion also ceases for Ronald Petrosky, another Penn State employee who observed him sodomizing a youngster; and reported this to no one. How could these individuals live with themselves for said number of years? Was it difficult for them to look into the mirror daily and know the lies they were harboring?

How about Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who still has a job even though he too was a bystander. Yes, he told those above him, but never made certain those claims were acted upon. I also find it interesting that he made mention of the incident to his father and his father didn’t direct him to call authorities?

Certainly, not all is clear at this point, with plenty of blame to go around and this is only the formation of a lengthy arduous battle. My twelve year old son is struggling to make meaning of this total state of affairs and I am thankful he can view it with a clear detachment. Our conversations have been bountiful and I find myself muttering a plethora of ‘I don’t knows’ in response to his intricate inquiries.

However, I did make one point abundantly and blatantly clear to him: Doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Martin Luther spoke eloquently when he said, ‘You are not only responsible for what you say, but what you don’t say.’

…and too many people didn’t say enough!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

...a sense of loss

While on my walk this morning which I hadn’t done lately for a multitude of reasons, laziness being one of them as well as time constraints, or it’s too darn cold in NC, etc… the word ‘loss’ truly just inserted itself into my head like a zit pops upon your face; it’s just there! I was like ‘whoa, where did that come from?’

We as humans are capable of suffering from various types of loss; loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a loss of freedom and there’s also a loss of mobility. There is loss of independence as well as a loss of eyesight or hearing. The only loss I can think of off-handedly that brings joy is a loss of weight!

While there are a host of definitions contained in the Dictionary Merriam-Webster Online, one definition of loss is the decrease in amount, magnitude or degree.

This is the description I’ll focus on since this is the one that plagues me and this is the reason why. I discovered on Friday through a dear friend that a valued companion of ours has cancer. Indeed she is in shock since hearing the news and most likely suffering from the loss of which I speak.

I wonder when her thoughts travel hither and yon in her mind, if the word cancer has robbed her psyche of the lack of restrictions from a previous stated amount of safe and secure beliefs flowing within. I wonder if she’ll catch herself needing to remind her of the uncertain future that lies ahead. I wonder if she’ll experience loss and if so, what kinds? I question if there is anything her support systems will be able to do to replace this sense of loss in her heart.

On the other hand, perhaps the sense of loss is what I’m feeling particularly when unfortunate events and ill-fated news permeates the life of a loved one. Conceivably loss is more a lack of control that the world can embark its ugliness at any given time and place and to whomever it may please.

Regardless, Roseanne Cash once said, ‘Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Times are A-Changin'...

…and this was truly evident last night as I spent the hours scrapbooking.

I came upon the photos I had taken of Nicholas in his Halloween costume last year: a character from a horror movie he’s never even seen nor has a desire to. This year he is portraying an Ohio State Fan; well that’s original now, isn't it?

More significantly as a mark of transformation is not WHAT he chose to be but the time and dedication we launched with each and every costume he displayed.

From the time he could articulate his wants and needs Mother and son spent an exorbitant amount of time in October searching for the ‘perfect’ attire. Most often this required me manufacturing his get-ups. What cherished moments we experienced entering the fabric store. We peeked through endless pattern books to generate ideas and choose the material as well as all the flawless accessories. How I adored the time spent together as Nicholas would touch the material to his cheek to check for softness to match the gentleness left in my heart. When I sewed he sat upon my lap and used his tiny hands to guide the material through the machine shouting with glee as we approached the finish of each dressing.

As you stroll through just a spattering of costumes you’ll not only find visual support that times have been altered, but reinforcement within the heart of a mom. Halloween was a treasured time when Mother and son exchanged thoughts and ideals, wishes and fun through a body covering.

Fireman Nicholas...his Sit and Spin was his fire truck.

Nicholas wanted to be Little Foot the dinosaur so this was our version.

Buzz Light infinity and beyond...

This was our favorite..Ice Dragon~

Arrghhh, Mighty Pirate....

Count Dracula...

He’s since given up homemade costumes and chosen the likes of Harry Potter and Scream, but how I would love for him to ask me to create more memories through a Halloween outfit.

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them. ~Marcel Proust

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remember when....

“Remember when…”

I catch myself saying that phrase quite frequently as of late: Remember when we all use to try out and make our school sports team just for the fun of it? Remember when we were able to leave our doors unlocked when we left the house or even at night while sleeping? Remember when our world was not darkened by hatred and violence? I know you’re all shaking your head in agreement.

I recall my grandparents and parents speaking the same exact utterances and viewed it as a group of words that old people muttered as I grasped to appreciate the essence of comparing a new-fangled world with the previous outworn planet. I designated the expression as insignificant to wonder or ponder.

But more specifically and closer to heart, I stumble upon my muttering …Remember when teaching use to be fun?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the relationship with my students-the opportunity to share a laugh or smile at their innocence when they remark about personal experiences. I definitely laugh at their quips of life as well as take pleasure in the instances I’m privileged to observe with their learning and discovery.

But when did the amusement fade away?

The question actually has quite a simple answer, or perhaps I believe it’s uncomplicated. Our ‘Government’ and ‘Powers to be’ decided that children need to be taught what to think, instead of how to think. They are skilled at reading questions and selecting a bubble to shade.

Children’s learning now requires rigid and staunch guidelines that leave little room for enjoyment or pleasure on both accounts of teacher and student. If there is delight within a classroom teachers need to fill out a paper ten times over to justify their every movement and thought, so rather than teachers creating, we’ve become robotic and mundane in our actions.

We meet to talk about our meeting and talk about our thinking. We give explanation and rationale to each and every deed. We gather to fill out papers as well as validate our accomplishments. We convene, assemble and gather…

Remember when teaching use to be fun…?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hey, it's me, Angel-Kitty!

Hey, it’s me Angel-Kitty!

Heavens to Betsy, you will never believe what happened at our house this morning.

…and it was ALL Hurricanes’ fault!

Seriously, it was-I’m not lyin’ so here’s what went down…

Like every morning, Hurricane and I were summoned to the back door to be given our ‘guilt treats’. I call them that since I know we obtain these delicacies as a result of our humans feeling bad they leave us by ourselves to go do whatever it is they do. They think we’re sad and lonely, blah, blah, blah…but little do they know we perform our happy dance once they pull out of the driveway.

Anyway, true to form Hurricane sat patiently and to anyone watching will display those sad puppy dog eyes cocking his head ever so slightly. Oh PUH-lease…if they only saw him boogie down once they’ve left the vicinity. In any case, the alarm is set and the silence settles.

But ahhh, this day was a bit unusual! I was bored so I sauntered casually into the hallway where Hurricane was dozing. I positioned myself whisker to whisker gazing into his eyes just daring my brother to give chase.

…and we’re off! …up the stairs (I cheated, I scurried through the railings; a benefit of being small!) in the guest room, under the bed, to the TV room-behind the couch, then on the couch! “Awww, I’m telling Hurricane. You are NOT allowed on the sofa!” Next, I head into the closet, under the clothes, through the racks, on the bed and under the bed, down the hallway and down the stairs with my lovely mane blowing in the wind.

PHEW!!! I thought I had escaped when he bounded down the last five steps- “Crap, I think I’m a goner!” However, I find respite on the dining room table-WHEW! I’m safe now; deep breath!

As I take a break I take a momentary look out the window. Ohhh, look at those pretty red and blue glowing lights! Ummm-hey that nice looking man in the uniform is looking intently at our house; hey, what’s he doing ringing our doorbell?

“See, Hurricane? I knew you were in trouble for climbing on the furniture!” Hurricane is so nervous at the sound of the ding-dong his shrill bark raised my hackles although I knew that kind policeman would help me.

All of a sudden, I see Dad pull up in his car and talk to the pleasant officer. When he turns to walk toward the house he has his mad face on; UH--OH! He storms in and shouts, “which one of you set off the alarm?!”

I think I’ll go upstairs now and pretend I’m asleep…

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happy New Year!?

Happy New Year!

You’re right, it isn’t even November yet so what am I doing mentioning the new year?

Well, I have to come clean- the past few months have been anything but suitable regarding the economy, the outlook of the American people, the approach of my job and the pressure permeating my soul that more often than not I could pay no heed to however, I haven’t been successful as of late in brushing aside the pessimism enveloping me.

As well, I’ve abandoned consistent activities that bring peace of mind: writing particularly on my blog, allowing negativity to overtake my thoughts and steal the joy I desperately seek in the minuscule.

More so, I’ve busied my days with insignificant tasks to avoid thinking and to distance the world and those in it, all the same it’s grown old and impersonal.

Therefore, I thought I’d instigate the ideology and optimism, the cheerfulness and hopefulness that one tends to grasp when the proverbial door closes as another one opens. In my mind, the tiny fuses are anointed as the fireworks burst; streamers spout as resolve to begin anew resonates within.

So on this day, October 15, I bid myself and YOU if appropriate a Happy New Year!

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.

It is that we should have a new soul. “

By G.K. Chesterson

Friday, August 26, 2011

a letter to Hurricane Irene...

Dear Irene,

Geez Louise, someone or something must have really ticked you off for you to be acting as you are; thrashing about and whirling around causing panic, anxiety and disappointment to countless people. It’s not OUR fault you were scorned and left for another. It’s not OUR fault you are PMS’ing and it’s not OUR fault you experienced a bad day!

You know Hurricane Irene, I always heard you catch more flies-- or is it bees with honey? Anyway, you are more likely to get your way when you are nice and pleasant with others; certainly not by creating enormous waves that cause beach erosion to our lovely coastlines. And while we are discussing your outcomes, how about those anticipated downed tree and power lines that will most likely wreak havoc to numerous communities? Just as important Irene, the flooding that may occur as a result of your insidious winds and rains? Is that really what you want? If I were you, I may re-think my behavior at this point in time before it’s too late.

You DO have worthy and valid reasons to be angry--we humans don’t treat planet Earth very respectively. I do understand that because numerous times when I’m really pissed at the world, I desire a good old-fashioned explosive thunderstorm that projects and conveys my feelings of humanity by lashing out with fierceness and intensity. However, I must admit when I long for a tumultuous cloudburst, it doesn’t ruin property OR anyone’s vacation.

You see, that is what I am most furious with. Call me selfish but our vacation at the beach is a time when we get to eliminate worries and struggles of everyday life and just be…be with our family where the peaceful waves and vast beauty invites calm and serenity within. The ocean has a way of settling our insides and brings forth peace of mind to our psyches while encouraging full presence to our surroundings.

Irene, the infinite sands and sea incites refuge from the hustle and bustle of our daily routines and provokes inner harmony with our God and each other. So please understand, this is more than a vacation; it is sanctity.

So in closing Irene, I just felt a need to relay these thoughts to you. If you find it necessary to invoke such fury, please take it out east and release your troubles elsewhere.


The Spaine family

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dismissed, but not Unscathed...

Thursday I returned to work as the judge instructed me.

The jury duty summons was tucked in my calendar as a daily reminder to call August 14th to see how my civic duty would materialize. Sure enough, Juror # 78 would need to report on Monday. Although uncertain of the specifics, I was confident and assured as I entered the jury room with 355 strangers. Orientation promptly began and the jury selection process was set in motion. I, along with approximately 70 unknown humans was corralled into a court room.

Upon taking my seat in the juror’s box, I eyed two sets of attorneys before my eyes settled upon a man with strawberry blonde military type haircut, black rimmed rectangular glasses wearing a blue short sleeved button down shirt. He sat attentive flanked by his legal representation while an elderly couple which I presumed to be his parents sat in the first row of the court gallery.

Behind the second set of attorneys was a young woman whom I now know to be the mother of the infant murdered. How she sat in his presence, I will never know.

The excitement of being able to actually hear a trial quickly dissipated when the Honorable Judge laid out the specifics of our case: a capital murder charge with childhood sexual abuse was being sought against Joshua Stepp. I’m certain my mouth visibly dropped to the floor as past memories settled into my body bringing anxiety in the form of nausea.

Because of the nature of the case, we would be individually questioned which gave rise to abrupt and rapid anger within manifesting itself in fitful sleepless nights, the inability to eat, and impatience of all those around me along my need to articulate this experience to everyone I encountered. There was no ‘normal’ as I endured the three days of torturous waiting for my face to face inquiry with the judge.

The 45 minute meeting happened early Wednesday afternoon as my views and beliefs of the death penalty were sprawled out before the people within the court room. I was asked of my ability to focus on the evidence of the case rather than what I may or may not have heard about this particular case that occurred in 2009. I was grilled on following the law given by the judge and not personal judgments as well as my ability to give up 4-6 weeks of my life. (ohhh, not certain of this one; my trip to the ocean in jeaopardy?)

I was sensing I may be anointed ‘juror’ as alternate #3 when the interrogations shifted to the childhood sexual abuse. His initial question: ‘Have you or anyone close to you been sexually abused?’ to which I could only reply with a nod of the head, then instructed to speak into the microphone.

I was quickly dismissed when the judge inquired about my ability to separate the facts of this case with my own personal experiences. Is that actually possible? I couldn’t give a definitive answer. In my heart of hearts I really didn’t know of my ability with this aspect.

I completed the necessary forms for check out and rapidly took cover in the sanctity of my automobile. Once there, I got on the internet and surfed the name: Joshua Stepp which brought up his case of accusations of sexually assaulting and murdering his ten month old step-daughter, Cheyenne. I repressed the urge to vomit yet couldn’t escape the horrendous facts throughout the drive to the safety and security of my own home.

Overjoyed and thankful, yet repulsed; this case continues to plague my existence. So as the judge directed, I may be continuing with my normal routine yet little Cheyenne Yarley is never far from my thoughts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It Takes a Village...

Hallelujah! I have survived the first week and a half of school…each year I must remind myself how much I really don’t care for the first weeks of school and those compulsory endeavors that occur: lessons in the rules and expectations of my classroom, coaching of procedures and routines as well as the necessary assessments to formulate where to go from here for each child.

As you know, I teach children in grades 3-5 who have differentiated learning needs. Each grade is unique but third grade forever proves interesting since in our school they ‘finally’ get to ascend the stairs in our building and are at this time considered a part of ‘the big kids’.

I marvel at the change in attitude a few stairs can cause but it is quite the happening. This climb necessitates the foundation in building relationships with students who once belonged to a different resource room teacher. Although I am blessed that I along with my 4th and 5th graders can carry on- building and nurturing bonds already set in motion.

Early on we read a book titled; You are Perfect Little Bird by Shelley Joy which pointed out the uniqueness of each individual. We discussed the character and emphasized his exceptional traits which led into their assignment. The children were asked to draw a picture of them then write 3-4 sentences telling why they are special and unique.

I gave ample ‘think time’ and instructed the children to start. I played soft music in the background as ten minutes proceeded while one little boy continued to sit. I approached him to ask what he was thinking. He told me he wasn’t special. He told me he couldn’t think of a thing.

I noted I immediately saw a bright smile when he walked into the room. I pointed out his liveliness and spirit although a result of his ADHD and keened in on his helpfulness to hand out papers hoping I’d given him some ideas.

He continued to sit so I suggested he begin with the setting and perhaps an idea would pop into his head.

When class was over 20 minutes later, the bustle of dismissal with a few parting instructions I noticed this young boy had yet to begin on a picture of himself and that he quickly stuffed his paper into his folder. He lagged behind and as he walked out the door said, ‘Teacher, I really don’t have anything special about me.’

I felt melancholy as I gazed upon his slow walk back to his classroom wondering how a seven year old child could think of nothing that was special about his person, his being.

Did we as educators fail this child? Did his parents feel he was not up to snuff because of his special needs?

I vowed my goal would be for him to be able to complete the same assignment at the end of the year and staunchly tell me at least a handful of positive things about himself.  The situation also brought to mind that it really DOES take a village to raise a child.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sometimes I don't like being a mom....

I know-it’s been a short time since I’ve posted; I’ve been on hiatus…sounds better than just being inundated with obligatory tasks related to beginning a new school year, doesn’t it?

I wasn’t even planning on posting today, however a happening will occur today for my child will most likely fracture his heart and this part of being a parent, I do not like! ...sometimes I don't like being a mom~

As a parent, how do you keep your child from being saddened by life’s experiences? I presume you can’t but however as a mother, I certainly want to wrap him in a bubble and protect him from all disappointments and hurts that will occur.

However, CONGRATULATIONS are in order for one of Nicholas’ most cherished individuals; Ms. Amy Betz. As Nicholas transitioned to middle school last year she was an intern who deeply touched the heart and life of my child. She is sweet, caring person who has that ability to touch the heart of a child (and adults) and make them feel as if the world is their stage.

Her kindness and insight gave Nicholas confidence to conquer the middle school world and navigate this unknown territory with self-belief and self-reliance; recognizing Ms. Betz would be there to catch him if he fell.

However, as all fine things eventually come to an end, so did her stint as intern. The last month of school Nicholas steered his own course and was pleased that Ms. Betz would return to his school in a different capacity, but not her area of expertise. Nicholas was thrilled and over-joyed; his buoyancy restored!

Fast forward to today—Ms. Betz was granted a position as Assistant Principal at our local high school; congratulations are in order as her dream has been granted! …in the same vein, my son will hear the heart-breaking news this day.

So my question this morning is this; as a parent, how do you keep your child sheltered from a world of disappointment? I already know the answer to this rhetoric question...I guess you don't~ but what I want to say is this...

Run my dear

From anything

That may not strengthen

...your precious budding wings

Run like hell my dear...

-Hafiz, The Gift

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Ghastly Experience...

Let me tell you right off, I am not a shopper!

If you don't believe me, go to this post I wrote regarding shopping:  However, I won't bore you with those details again but want to inform you of a recent shopping experience of late; bathing suit shopping!

UGH!!! I'd rather walk across hot coals or sit in a hailstorm then go searching for a bathing suit OR bra shopping-which is why I wait until those contraptions are in threads before I actually say I'm in need of new ones.

Anyway, my first mistake was allowing my husband Scott to accompany me on this ghastly experience- I obviously was NOT in my right mind on that particular morning to allow him to walk through the racks with me locating the most skimpy pieces of cloth and instructing me to 'try it on!'

Really? I'd consider a nudist beach before I'd wear something of that nature...

AHHH,  I won't bore you with the details but did want to show some pictures of this excursion-YES! I have pictures...

So, tell me what you think?

Or what do you think of this selection?

This one was a contender as well~

and that's exactly what I said....

Happy Day to you...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 'Free' Day...

Definition of FREEDOM

1: the quality or state of being free:
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

Ahhhh, Happy Independence Day!

July 4th conjures up images of lessons learned in Miss Cramer’s Social Studies class of America’s Independence from Great Britain. As Americans we are privileged to have multiple freedoms in our lives; freedom of choice, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press to name a few.

If you are a Citizen of the United States of America we are blessed to have our military fighting for our independence and if you are a believer, you are given freedom from your sins.

However, a recent exchange with a friend brought to mind a different type of freedom many individuals continue to lack in their daily existence- the freedom to be happy.

In fact, I have many friends who lack happiness as a result of being bogged down by chains of secrets, ‘old baggage’ that keeps them from encountering true contentment in their lives. They are in abusive relationships or harboring resentments toward individuals who has wronged them wrong in their past or embracing secrets that persist to burden, keeping them from total freedom in their lives.
Researchers say liberty equivocates to happiness so it is with this thought in mind that I ask-What chains continue to keep you from being free in your life? What freedoms are you still seeking?

"It's better to die fighting for freedom than to live life in chains."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facts of Five and Activities...

If you are a new follower let me give details of Facts of Five. It was a model I used when I taught students with special needs in a self contained classroom. I presented a category such as ‘Five Cartoons’ or ‘Five flavors of Kool-aid’ and the students had to consider an idea that fit the group. It was fun and thought generating yet in the meantime, I was able to get to know what was important to my students.
So our category for today is five activities that have been occupying my time instead of blogging!

Okay, I’ll begin: I’ve been…

1.) …cleaning soil remnants off the sill and out of the tub since Angel-Kitty insists on hoeing and raking the dirt out of the plants! I have no desire to take a mud bath! and by the way, don't let the name fool ya~

yeah, UH-OH is right!
2.) …hanging out at the pool and racing down water slide to keep cool in 90+ degree heat. I love summer!

3.) …finalizing one school year and embarking upon another in year round school- so basically, I’m one STRESSED out teacher!!!

4.) …probing for disoriented seashells that Angel-Kitty is adamantly excavating out of the sand containers and hiding under throw rugs. FYI: she’s grounded for life- and perhaps ALL nine of them!

...a glimpse of what I come home to everyday!

...a good hiding spot, but then we step on the rug and the shells are crushed~

5.) …taking pleasure in my boy since he’s leaving for Boy Scout camp on Sunday and will be gone for an entire week-aka SEVEN nights and EIGHT days; UGH!

NOW do you understand why I’ve been absent? I thought you would…

"Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."
by Lao Tzu

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Got Books?

Hi folks,

Remember me? Hurricane? Yeah, I’m the cute golden retriever who is…well, cute! But I’m also charming and endearing and sweet—wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, I’m writing to you because you expressed an interest in my book so I wanted to ask a favor. It may not be easy for Nee Nee to ask for help but truly I have no qualms about leaning all 75 lbs. of me against someone OR stepping on their feet to get attention. I also don’t hesitate to thrust my nuzzle under a hand, ANY hand so somebody will pat me.

Therefore, I have no hesitancy to ask you to buy my book. You know, I have only 20 copies yet to be ordered before my book goes to print. Isn’t that amazing? Just think, YOU could be just the purchase that puts me over the edge! But totally in a good way :)  I’m so excited I could just piddle on every fire hydrant.

Please help me out! Nee Nee said when the pre-sales reach 100; I could get a special bone, new doggy treats or perhaps a new toy. WOW! I’d love a new toy! or perhaps more ice cream?

So click on the website address:

When you are there you will see my beautiful picture; aren’t I handsome? I wrote a poem for you-want to hear it?

Order your book, or maybe two?

One for a gift and one for you!

Perhaps a grad or maybe Dad-

You’ll get a hug from Nee Nee, and a slurpy licky-lickie from ME!

Hee! Hee!!!

Thank you so much for helping me out.



P.S. Nee Nee apologizes for the high shipping and handling. She is one mad Mama over that but please don’t take it out on my Nee Nee! It wasn’t her fault! Actually they told her it was necessary to ship UPS Ground through the printing facility, otherwise there would be no tracking or insurance and, in the event there is a lost shipment, it can’t be traced or replaced. Okay, so now it makes sense.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day??

“Little Tracy” appeared upon awakening yesterday, which coincidentally was Father’s Day.

I don’t like Father’s Day! I never have, and I probably never will-other than the fact I honor the wonderful father my husband is to our son; that is truly worth celebrating!

Therefore to honor the inner child, I made no comments on facebook regarding the significance of the day nor did I write a post addressing the date. In fact, I began reading and commenting on my bloggy friends’ posts prior to the uprising of angst, as a result I ceased.

Imagine standing in front of a multitude of cards at the Hallmark store attempting to choose a card with the basic intent of showering love, adoration and affection toward the male figure in your life.

Believe me when I tell you there are NO cards that say, ‘No thanks from me, your daughter-You were a HORRIBLE father!’ or perhaps a card using sarcasm, ‘Thanks for ruining my life; want to pay my therapy bills?’

This tumultuous relationship has over-shadowed and clouded countless interactions with men including that of the Heavenly Father. I remember attending church pleading and bargaining with God to let the drinking discontinue or the beatings subside. I begged Him to end ALL the wrongdoing just as He had calmed the mighty seas.

He didn’t! My anger in Him mirrored the tides with the continual ebbs and flows. However, thanks to obvious therapy and long conversations with pastor friends, Connie and Karen; the anger dissipated and my relationship with God has been transformed as a solid rock.

Which why on June, 19th-Father’s Day I rose to greet the sunlight hours, crabbiness and all to assure the child within by way of a silent prayer...

Thank you for this day to bid eternal praise for the many individuals
who acted as father figures all through my life.

Thank you for loving me even when I doubt your intentions and
harbor resentments toward you. In this, I ask for your forgiveness~

Thank you for a loving husband who is an affectionate and
devoted father to our son. Amen~

"An angry father is most cruel towards himself."
by Publilius Syrus

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hey, it's me, Angel-Kitty!

In view of the fact that I was up near the beginning of time this morning I got to the computer first; hee hee! But I wanted to notify you of the mighty-fine award my Nee Nee got for her blog the other day. It was so sweet!

Hah, and that’s what it was called; …the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! She received it from her bloggy friend Susan Fields over at well, Susan Fields. You should go check her out.

I understand that upon receiving this honor, Nee Nee is suppose to tell you seven things about herself but that is why I got on here because I want to contribute…this should be fine, right? You don't think she'll get mad at me, do you?  I promise to be nice because well, she does take care of me~

Okay, here we go…

1.) Nee Nee surveys where she places her feet when I am near, especially in the kitchen so she doesn’t squash my beautiful tail. Thanks Nee Nee!

2.) Daddy says Nee Nee can’t hang with the big dogs, whatever that means. All I know is at night when one and all are active; she and I cozy up on the couch under a soft blanket, close our eyes and go into restful slumber…ahhh!

3.) Nee Nee knows where EVERYTHING is…whenever anyone has misplaced or is unable to locate something, just ask her~ and you will find it! She locates my security string every morning and gives it to me!

4.) Nee Nee has a soft belly and a big lap which makes a superb dwelling for an inconsequential cat nap.

5.) Nee Nee has a saying I hear a lot; ‘Things happen for a reason.’ I guess that’s why I waited all alone in that tiny cage for two months with strange people gawking and poking their fingers in my face before Nee Nee and my family adopted me.

6.) Nee Nee talks so soft and gentle to me and never yells. She calls me ‘her baby’ and tells me I am so sweet; maybe I should have gotten this award along with my Nee Nee?

7.) Well, Hurricane may have grabbed the spotlight with his book deal and all that fancy-schmancy stuff, but I think I captured her heart.

Nee Nee is supposed to pass this award to her deserving bloggy friends but I know that she adores all her pals. I hear her say kind things about all of you and your posts, so I think I speak the truth when I say you are ALL are worthy of this scrumptious admiration.

So here’s to you, and you, and oh yes, YOU too!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just some thoughts...

I don’t like change.

I feel very comfortable and content with the status quo. With the end of a school year approaching within twelve short days and the beginning of the year well within reach, I tend to get distracted and unfocused. Typically the repercussion of my distractibility tends to come out via mindless eating and bounding between activity to activity with modest steps forward in any productive direction.

Change brings forth my insecurities in the world around me that separates my heart from my head. I ‘know’ all is well. I ‘know’ I am loved. I ‘know’ I am strong. I ‘know' I am capable, however anticipated altering of my surroundings detach me from what I know transcending me to what I feel.

I feel insecure, I feel vulnerable and I feel anxious. I experience self-doubt and question my capabilities as a wife, a mother, a friend and a teacher; Does my husband still love me? Does my friend’s silence indicate distress by what I’ve said or not said? Did I balance time between my writing and my son?

I linger within this mind-set as a hummingbird hovers around nectar. Suddenly I tire of the conflict between the mind and the heart which necessitates a firm retort, accompanied by gentle clemency to allow myself to be fully human.

I remain still and allow the perfectionist qualities to release their strong hold on my existence. I breathe deep and recite the Serenity Prayer while slowly discharging unconstructive beliefs that cling like barnacles to the harbors of my mind.

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grateful on this day...

…sixty seven…60 + 7…30 + 30 + 7 = yes, 67!!!

In my thrust to accomplish 100 pre-sales for my book-Life through the Eyes of a Hurricane: Doggie-Dog! I’m realizing the risk I’ve taken by putting myself ‘out there’ regardless of the immense fear of facing rejection are proving to be successful.

Can you believe it? Thirty- three away from my manuscript going into publication; being in print~ a published author, a writer! If you were one who has already purchased a book, I thank you from the deepest crevice of my heart. I truly do: Thank you-I am truly grateful!

So in the final move forward, I ask kindly: if you were one of the individuals that stated, ‘Yes! I will be purchasing a book!’ OR 'I need to do that, just haven't done it yet!' Please do it now. I am 1/3 of the way in reaching that destination of 100…by this time next week, I could possess the dubious honor to have that ‘Goal Reached!’ stamped beside my name on the print-out I receive from my publisher.

Then I’d do cartwheels down the street! …and you think I’m kidding!

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”

By Earl Nightengale

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Anniversary~

June 10, 1995

Happy Anniversary on this day, to the man

I would marry yet again.

When asked to devote my book no doubt it would be

to the first love of my life, Scott-

who took an aching, bruised, and battered heart

and tenderly enveloped my spirit with care, love and

total devotion.

I’m certain it was demanding and at the least challenging

being a husband to me

filled with minute trust, hope and belief:

along with modest faith in the arrangement of holy matrimony.

But he persevered, and crawled

through the deep crevices and craters-

abraded the sharp and jagged edges and

collectively we ascended through the abyss.

I thank you, I praise you,

I adore you and I certainly love you!