Saturday, January 07, 2017

FRIDAY DINNER PARTY

I threw a little dinner party last night.  A friend of mine actually came up with the idea after we attempted, and failed, to find a date to do an annual -- or is it? I can't remember if we did anything last year ... seems to me we didn't because I'd had knee surgery and all -- Christmas Cookie Exchange party.

I really need to schedule these things months out ... but I digress.

So, my friend sent out an invitation to a few of our mutual friends, and the party was underway!

I tend to go into party planner overload when I undertake these things. The reason being, I want to attempt to achieve a Barefoot Contessa-like atmosphere.  She seems to do everything with such ease.
Shuck a few dozen oysters? No problem!  (wait ... do you shuck oysters? I'm not sure on this account...)

Throw together a four course meal with homemade sorbet to cleanse your palate after each course? Forget about it! She's got this!

Of course, the Barefoot Contessa has a kitchen to die for ... my kitchen, I am sure, she would want to die when she viewed it....and she has years of gourmet chef experience...plus, let's be honest here, she owns a flat in France.  I mean, come on! I feel as though the Parisian cooking bug just seeps into your pores when you eat at those cute, outdoor cafes and just hang out in one of those swanky Parisian flats.

Barefoot Contessa?  Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh ... I ain't her!

Yesterday morning, while I was folding yet another load of laundry ... y'all, the laundry! ... fretting about how I was going to pull it all off, it struck me.  My friends weren't coming to my house to be wildly impressed by my organizational skills or decorating skills or party planning skills.  They were coming over here because they crave the fellowship of women just as much as I do!

It's likely there were dust bunnies floating around as we gathered around my living room ... some of us in camp chairs(!) ... classy, right?  Likely people left with cat hair plastered to their butts. Their eyes were probably strained from the lack of lighting in my living room (I prefer to call it "mood lighting").

None of those things mattered.  What mattered were the bonds strengthened ... the shared experiences had ... the fellowship over good food, drink, and laughter. The most important things can never be quantified or displayed in a beautifully laid out magazine story or blogged about or posted on Facebook.  The most important things are happening in the moment and savored for a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

HOW DID IT GET TO BE 2017 ALREADY!? (a belated reflection)

I am sitting here in a quiet house, save for the chugging of the washing machine -- y'all, the laundry!

It's official. Christmas is over.  That magical time of year that we all try to bottle and keep forever has passed.  It seemed to go a bit faster than normal because of a super crazy work schedule with the added bonus this year of a cold (or allergy-related "event") on Christmas Day and the stomach flu on New Years Eve ... yeeeaaaahhhh, ended 2016 on a VERY sour note).

I was telling my mom yesterday, it goes by so quickly.  Everything goes by so quickly.

I pondered that thought -- Everything goes by so quickly -- all day yesterday. Why haven't I savored each and every moment?  Why does it seem like it was just May yesterday?  Or Halloween?  Wasn't it just Halloween?

It makes my soul hurt how fast it all goes by ... and how little I savored this year.

Let's be honest here.  If I am really going to be honest with myself, I gave up in 2016, and I gave up on 2016.  I think I'd had enough.  Of what?  Well, the list is loooooong.

I mean, I had a crappy vehicle that was dying with each expensive part. I was dealing with a knee surgery that didn't end up like I thought it would and the rehab that followed. I developed a foot issue, gained more weight, dealt with a family crisis, managed TWO new initiatives on top of an insane school year. It was a lot. I gave up.

I told myself that I was 44 ... I was of the age of enjoying the Hermit's Life. But honestly, I was crawling in my hole because the amount of crap I was dealing with was just. too. much.

As a result, I didn't savor one bit of 2016.  It passed me right by ... like a flash. It does that when you get to be my age. I do NOT want to find myself staring at the end of 2017 with the same feeling of regret that I had looking back at 2016.

I want to savor.

Resolutions are so not my thing.  I mean, I like them in theory, but in reality, I can never seem to hang on to them long.  However, the List Writer in me seems totally cool with Goals (capital letter intended).  They seem a bit more doable in my mind's eye.  So, let's talk about goals, shall we?

My overall goal in 2017?  SAVOR EACH MOMENT.

My quarterly goals:
1st Qtr (Jan-March)

  • Carve out time for ME to do the stuff I love to do. This is going to be difficult. I waste crap tons of time. So, new habits will have to be practiced. 
  • Dedicated Quiet Time for Bible Study.
  • Eat healthier meals that I prepare.
  • Make sure my physical environments (both home and school) are decluttered of the stuff that isn't necessary to essential living. 
  • Find at least one adventure a month to go on. It doesn't have to be anything big. Just an adventure that is different from the everyday norm.


2nd Qtr (April-June)
  • Dedicated Quiet Time for Bible Study.
  • Have an established ME time habit established during the week. 
  • Have an established writing time and workout time. This will probably not be an every day thing due to the amount of extracurricular "stuff" I have in my life right now. By this point in the year, I should have figured out some sort of system. 
  • Make sure my physical environments (both home and school) are decluttered of the stuff that isn't necessary to essential living. 
  • Continue having one adventure a month. This might include a trip or retreat. 
3rd Qtr (July-Sept)
  • Host a get together at least once.
  • Dedicated Quiet Time for Bible Study.
  • Have an established ME time habit established during the week. 
  • Have an established writing time and workout time. This will probably not be an every day thing due to the amount of extracurricular "stuff" I have in my life right now. By this point in the year, I should have figured out some sort of system. 
  • Make sure my physical environments (both home and school) are decluttered of the stuff that isn't necessary to essential living. 
  • Continue having one adventure a month.  This might include a trip or retreat. 

4th Qtr (Oct - Dec)

  • Plan a holiday get together.
  • Dedicated Quiet Time for Bible Study.
  • Have an established ME time habit established during the week. 
  • Have an established writing time and workout time. This will probably not be an every day thing due to the amount of extracurricular "stuff" I have in my life right now. By this point in the year, I should have figured out some sort of system. 
  • Make sure my physical environments (both home and school) are decluttered of the stuff that isn't necessary to essential living. 
  • Continue having one adventure a month.  This might include a trip or retreat. 

Through it all, I want to savor every moment. I want to be able to pinpoint one thing a day that was a blessing or a happy event or something that made me smile.  I want to enjoy this life.

As I reread this blog, these goals seem awfully structured, and, in truth, they probably are.  But it's a guide to help me savor each moment. It's my mantra, and I am going to attempt to approach it with the same drive I approach my professional life.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ONE AND ALL!


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

THE SS STRUGGLE BUS

Everything is soooooo very good right now.

And at the very same time, everything is such a struggle right now.

Ever have one of those moments in life?

I call them moments ... right now, it seems like this looooong, crazy whirlwind of a tornado that has been on a touchdown rotation for a heckuva of long time now.

Have to keep reminding myself that it is just a moment. In the whole grand, sweeping landscape of time, it's just a moment.

So, what does this moment look like?

I am at a place in my career that I never thought I'd be at ... I can't even begin to form into words the place I am in currently ... working for the people that I am working for ... doing things some teachers only dream of doing ... I am working many of my colleagues' dream job right now.

And yet I struggle ...

I am living the dream of some women.  Women who never discovered who they were before they saddled themselves with a dream of a filmy, white dress and giant party ... before reality truly sank in ... before they realized that real life was bills and work and groceries and compromise and putting someone else's feelings in the front of the line ...

I have done a lot on my own .... bought a house on my own ... negotiated the purchase of a car ... I get to choose when I do stuff as well as the stuff I do without checking on someone else's desire .... if I want to paint all of my walls Pepto-Bsimal pink, I can! I don't have to check with someone else's decorating tastes.

And yet I struggle ...

I have felt the most vulnerable I've ever felt in the last few months. You see, I have crafted a tough exterior. For a lot of reasons, I've had to ... as a result, I don't let a lot of people in. I don't trust easily.

The last few months I've felt as though my crusty exterior has been crumbling due to a variety of outsides sources, and the fragile core has been exposed and vulnerable ... I haven't liked the feeling.

Basically, I have commandeered the Struggle Bus, and it's careening down the side of a mountain, with just two wheels firmly planted on terra firma. The riders on the bus are hanging out the windows, some of them screaming for dear life.

I will gladly hand the keys over ... heck! I'd gladly get off the bus.

For the time being, I am buckled into the Struggle Bus for the long haul ... I've activated the air bags ... and I will be the one on this old thing screaming the loudest as I continue down this twisty, turny mountain road.

This is just a moment.


Friday, July 22, 2016

ON SAYING GOOD BYE TO SUMMER BREAK AND HELLO TO STUFF COSTING ME MONEY

Y'all ... I am not even going to bother with the excuses for why I've not written anything on here since sometime in April.

Why, you ask?

Well, number one, none of the excuses are any good.

Two, you've heard them all any way.

Three, let's be honest here, I am, by my very nature, lazy, and sometimes, writing is work.

What I am going to say is WHERE IN THE WORLD DID SUMMER GO?

I mean, yes, I realize, it isn't over, and if you are lucky enough to live in Kentucky, it won't be over until some time around October 1st.

No, what I mean is, where in the world did my summer break go?  What happened to it?

I'll tell you what happened to it.  I BLINKED!

Well, first I got sick ... then I wrenched my back ... then I blinked!

I had such big plans for summer ... all the things I wanted to do ... all the places I wanted to travel ...

Then reality kicked in, and I realized, oh yeah!  I don't have money for all those things and places. So, I cuddled up with a good book and watched some birds.

So, today was my last official day of summer. Starting tomorrow, I will be working my fanny off (and it needs to be worked off, let me just tell you) to get my proverbial butt in gear for next year.  I have stuff I want to hang in my room ... lesson plans I want to finish ... general things that need doing before those kiddos step into my room and enter THE FOURTH GRADE (insert echo-y voice here).

It would stand to reason then that things would start to, shall we say, fall apart.

The first crumble? My truck dome lights started clicking, and while they were clicking, they were coming on and off.  I noticed this last week, of course, but I just sorta marked it up to weird instances.  Then yesterday, while pulling into my garage, I noticed my headlights were doing the same thing.  I think I knew instantly that nothing good could come of this flashing on and off business.

As luck would have it ... or some such thing ... my gut was correct.  Nothing good has come of that flashing lights issue.  Turns out, the circuit board that controls those lights?  Yeah, it's going bad, and to replace the circuit board will take an act of God and some major cash because that circuit board?  Yeah, it's made of gold ... I mean, it has to be to cost $550!  And that doesn't include labor!

Of course, today would not be complete unless I took what I thought was the school Walmart card to purchase some supplies for my room, only to discover that the card wasn't in the envelop.  So, I bought the supplies with my own money.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.  Otherwise, you're going to cry.

Here's to a great start to a new school year!  May it be a lot less eventful than my current state of affairs!

Cheers, one and all!

Saturday, April 09, 2016

HEADING BACK TO REALITY

Two short days until I must go back to reality.  I've spent two weeks and three days trying to get my balance back ... trying to find myself amidst the "stuff" of my life ... trying to establish boundaries once more.

In two short days, I could be off and running with my new habits ...

OR

I could witness the wheels falling off and go spinning off into the pucker brush.

It's a 50-50 kinda thing, y'all.

As I look around my house, there are pockets of STUFF that still need to be cleaned up.  There are certain areas of improvement to be made.  I mean, my office.  We shall not mention that space in my house.  Because oh my goodness all the stuff ... alllllllll the stuff.

Why is there always a dumping ground for all the stuff in my house?

Clearly, this question ... this one right above here ... this begs the BIGGER question: Why do I still have all that stuff?

It's a learning curve, y'all.  It's a learning curve.

But as I look back, I have been successful at creating some habits. I've been successful at attempting to make a space that is much more comfortable for me and The Cat ... lest we forget The Cat. Not that she would let any one forget her, mind you.

I am going to take these last few days to really soak up myself ... the things I love to do the best ... I am going to enjoy some fun ... and enjoy the simple pleasures in life ... like the simple pleasure of the first drips of coffee as it hits the pot while its brewing.

I am going to enjoy the sun peaking from behind the clouds ... I will enjoy the lavender lilacs attempting to bloom despite the subzero temperatures. I will attempt to take none of this life I have been given for granted.  I am going to try to participate more and observe less.

I have uninstalled Facebook on my phone.

I have decided to read more and watch TV less.

I am going to listen to more radio ... listen to people more ... just listen more.

Oh yes, the idea of making lunches every. single. day. makes me want to crawl into a ball and hide.  But, it is all part of it.

I am heading back to reality with a renewed sense of self and some strengthened boundaries and a "I think I can" attitude....

Thursday, April 07, 2016

A WINTRY SPRING?

I just stepped outside ... 

I just stepped outside in my yoga pants, t-shirt and hoodie.  

Y'all, it's cold!  

Like, I might see snowflakes flying cold!

I love living in The Bluegrass State.  We have winter, and then BOOM! One day in March, all of a sudden, Spring arrives.  

It arrived a bit early this year, so I suppose we were on tap for a little cold snap like this, but dang it! I wasn't ready!  I put all my winter gear away (GLADLY!).  I giddily packed away all my winter hats, scarves, gloves and boots.  I put the winter sweaters on the HIGH shelf in my closet.  It was only going to be t-shirts and light coats for me!

Listen, I realize when July rolls around, I will be the one complaining about how dag-blamed hot it is ... how I HATE using air conditioning ... how I feel so claustrophobic with my windows all closed up .... 

But right now ... oh boy! Do I ever need the warmth and sunshine.  I get cranky without the sun and some balmy 70* temperatures soothing my soul.  

Perhaps I will go curl up on the couch with a good book and pretend that I am laying out on a sunny beach somewhere in some exotic locale!

SPRING BREAK 2016!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

HABITS, RESTORING ORDER, AND FINDING MY CHILL

I don't know why it is, but I am always in DESPERATE need of Spring Break.  I have no clue how the wheels fall off my organizational bus so quickly in the new year.  They always do, though.

Perhaps it's the depressing winter months ...

Perhaps it's the ridiculous pressure that falls upon teachers' shoulders as we move toward "Testing Season..."

Perhaps it's cabin fever ...

Perhaps it's the gray cloudiness ...

... the ever present feel of death in nature, what with the naked trees in dormancy ...

You know, maybe it's all of it!

Whatever it is, my mental health is dependent upon Spring Break.  I say no to a lot more stuff during Spring Break. I become a hermit. I become more introspective. I get to know the four walls that surround me much more intimately. I get into an attitude of organizing, purging, decluttering, cleaning, restoring order ... it all happens on Spring Break because I crave it!

I've come to know this about myself: I need order. I look like a free-spirited fluttery thing that sorta flies by the seat of her pants.  The truth is that appearances are smoke in mirrors. I function better under a structure. When I have a schedule, there are no questions asked.  I do what needs to be done. I go where I need to go. I follow the directions.  I do what's asked of  me. I expect others to do the same.

Yes, I am a rule follower.  If you don't give me the rules, I feel naked, exposed.  I am not sure what needs to be done.

There are people out there that think this is a bad thing ... being a rule follower.  Listen, it's just how we function.  Some function better than others. That's what puts variety in life, and, after all, variety is the spice of life, no!?

Don't get me wrong.  I love a good, spontaneous trip to an out of the way place.  I really do.  However, I love to have a plan.  Nothing wrong with that.

I get to Spring Break, and I think I feel I've been functioning without a plan.  Perhaps, in recent years, I have been functioning without a plan, professionally-speaking!  Who knows!

Last Tuesday, I spent the day cleaning my master bedroom.  Let the order restoration begin!  It was a "most of the day" project that, when complete, made me feel like I was taking back my life ... if only a little space at a time.  I took a day to do other things ... lazy things.  Then I tackled my guest bedroom ... and then my living room ... and then my kitchen ... and then I stopped.  It felt good.  This restoring order in my life felt good.

I have been trying to establish habits ...

  • healthy meals
  • healthy habits like exercise
  • cutting out tv
  • taking time to read
  • making sure the house is picked up before I go to bed
  • daily Swiffering the floors in the house (cat hair, y'all)
  • daily cleaning out the cat pans
  • making sure things are put away
  • getting back to making my bed every day
  • being able to see my counter tops ... ALLLLLL of my counter tops.
It may seem like silliness to you, but this is order to me.  This provides my heart with a certain amount of relaxation knowing order has been restored. I am able to restore my chill.

Until something comes along and rocks my order ...

That thing was a mix up with a hospital bill ... and a conversation with a colleague (a good conversation ... just one that brought up a lot of stress I had pushed aside to restore the order)....

BOOM! My chill was gone ... and I sat on my sofa last night absolutely a wreck ... fretting about everything ... I texted my friend and said, "I am so worked up.  Why am I so worked up?"  

She texted back, "Let it go."

I serve a God of order.  He ordered things a certain way -- provided complicated intricacies in His creation, and so I think He is totally okay with my desire to have things in order ... as long as that desire doesn't get in the way of my spiritual growth. 

But it's a delicate balance, this desire for order. The least little thing can upset the apple cart, and then the order succumbs to complete and utter chaos.  My mind begins that process and then ... well, it's an ugly snowball from that point forward!
Yesterday was the beginning of the snowball.  Had it not been for me taking a moment to shut everything down, grabbing my Kindle, and allowing myself to dig into another world, effectively shutting my brain off.  

This morning, I awoke with only a hint of the nagging stress in my heart.  I started with my new morning routines ... still a bit shaky as I attempt to reign this order in and beat the chaos back.

I looked around and identified the pockets of chaos still in the corners of my house (and heart), and claimed order to those areas!  

It's a delicate balance ... this fight between good and evil ... order and chaos ...  a lot of my stress is self-imposed because of my lack of order amidst the world's chaos.  

Today, I am willing myself to cling to the Creator of Order ... to rely on Him to see order where there isn't any ... to find my chill whilst the world is mentally melting down around me ... 

Habits are hard, but order is good. I will find my chill amid my order as long as I just let the rest of the Stuff go ... declutter my heart and mind.