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. 







Sunday, April 03, 2016

IT'S JUST A DOLLAR!

A friend and I went to a new, local eatery for dinner this evening.  I won't tell you where because, A.) It isn't important, and B.) It isn't my intention to dog any one in this post.

I merely want to make a point.

I decided on a personal pizza.  I initially read the menu incorrectly, so I thought I was ordering a pizza for $8.99.  What I failed to read was the that each topping was $1.00.  I ordered a pizza with ham and pineapple.  Altogether, it should have equated to $10.99.

The server, when she took my order, said, "Oh, I will just give you the Hawaiian without the peppers."

"Great!" I said.  I assumed, since she was putting it in as Hawaiian that it was the same amount as the $10.99 pizza I was ordering.

All was great, including the pizza!  I had a fabulous time catching up with my friend.  Then I got the bill.  With a drink, the bill came to $14 and some change!  Waaaaay more than I expected.

So, I asked to see the menu.  The first issue was my misreading of the menu that I mentioned earlier, but then I looked to see what the Hawaiian cost.  $11.99!  Now, it's nit-picky, I know, but basically what she was doing was overcharging me a $1.00, which, I'm sorry, is just not cool.

So, I brought it up to her, kindly.  I even admitted that it was nit-picky, but a $1.00 is a $1.00, right!?

"Is there something wrong with the bill," she asked.

"Well, it's just that I ordered this pizza, and it should come to $10.99.  You charged me $11.99."

"Right.  I told you that I would put it in as a Hawaiian."

"Yes, but you charged me a $1 extra."

"But you said you were okay with it."

"You're right, I did. But I assumed they were the same price rather than you overcharging me."

"I mean, it's only a $1.00."

Here's the deal, it's only a $1 until it's only $2 and then only $3 and then only $40!  It should never be okay to overcharge a customer.  Ever. I will tip you.  I always tip you, and I always do at least 10% (in case of really poor service), and I will usually go the now accepted 15% to 20% because I get it.  We are all busting our tails for the money.  I will NEVER, EVER short you a tip or make you feel less than you are.  So to rationalize that it's only a $1 is just not a very good technique to validate that you are overcharging me.  Ever.

She fixed the mistake.  To show that I was not being ugly, she received just under a 15% tip.

Those dollars add up, and when you are scrimping and saving to make it each month, those dollars add up fast.

It's just a dollar, indeed!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

SEASONS

I noticed a daffodil on the verge of blooming in my front flower bed over this past weekend. The first sign that Spring is flirting with us.

I have been thinking a lot about seasons lately.

Literal seasons.  Spiritual seasons. Seasons of friendship.  Seasons of life.

I awoke this morning to the sounds of birds twittering and chirping.  Another sign of Spring! Their songs energized my soul, and despite my very, deep-seated desire to stay in bed, my soul soared with their song.  New life is beginning to take root!

I am not sure what it is about the sunshine and the comfortable warmth of that Spring sun on my skin, but suddenly, I feel alive!

After a season of dormancy and hibernation, these little signs of Spring reveal the birth of a new season.

It's a birth of a new season in my heart as well.

This has been a very lengthy season of dormancy.  I've felt alone in a sea of people.  I've felt like an island, desolate and barren.  I've felt defeated and broken and unworthy and inconsequential.  It was a season of isolation.

But slowly, like the delicate yellow bloom of that daffodil, my soul is beginning to unfurl, and as I step from the cloud of others' judgement (and my own), I am finding my way again. I am seeing my purpose and the excitement of seeing the sun dapple the road ahead of me gives me a renewed sense of being.

Seasons are shaping.  They each hold a purpose in our lives. They cause us to reflect ... to worship ... to build ... to tear down ... to step back ... to jump forward ... to barrel ahead in grand abandon ... to step off the path and let others pass by in quiet solitude ...

I am feeling renewal.  I am feeling purposeful.  I am feeling new again. With the change of seasons comes all of these things ...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

LIVING WITHIN MY MEANS ... PRECIOUS MEMORIES OF GROWING UP POOR

My mom and I were having a conversation last night about people who can not live within their means.  This conversation, of course, was spurned by my complaining about all of my hospital and physical therapy bills I am currently attempting, rather poorly, to pay off.

"How is it that these people can go and eat at amazing places and vacation at amazing locales, and I spend my Friday evening eating tater tots and my Spring Breaks cleaning out my closets?"

"Meg, some people don't know how to live within their means.  They feel like if they NEED to go out to eat, they do. They put it on the credit card and worry about it later."

"You and Dad never did that.  If we didn't have money for a treat, like ice cream for instance, you didn't go out and buy us ice cream at the ice cream parlor."

"No, I would make homemade cookies or something like that.  You always talk about the cookies I would make before we went on vacation."

And it's true! My mom would make a family favorite, California Rangers, a week or so ahead of our summer vacation to our grandparents' cottage in Northern Michigan.  These cookies made a TON of the cookies ... like 18 bajillion dozens, and we'd have cookies for the entire two-week vacation. My sister and I had no idea that we didn't have enough money to go into town and get a sweet treat at the local Dairy Queen, and later the fancy gourmet ice cream parlor.  We were perfectly happy eating those yummy cookies.

I never knew that in some parts of the United States macaroni and cheese was a side dish.  We ate it as a full meal, usually with steamed tomatoes or a salad.  Why?  Because macaroni was cheap as was a can of steamed tomatoes ... or the ones my mom canned fresh the August before.  She made that dinner taste like prime rib!  To this day, homemade macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite dinners!

We ate out very minimally growing up.  McDonalds? That was a HUGE treat that happened only once in a great while.  And take out pizza/pizza delivery?  We couldn't afford that! My mom made THE BEST homemade pizza ever! To this day, we'd all rather have a homemade pizza/home town hole in the wall pizza place than any big-name, mass produced pizza.  We just didn't know what we were missing.

Fabulous vacations to Disney World or The Beach?  We didn't have them.  We went to my grandparents' cottage which was a little one bedroom fishing cottage on a lake 10 minutes south of Mackinaw City and the Straits of Mackinac. Until my grandfather retired, the only way to bathe was standing at the bathroom sink or in the lake. We just didn't know there was such a thing as a Magical Kingdom because those summer sunsets over Carp Lake held their own magic!

Our parents provided us with all sorts of fun experiences that cost no money whatsoever, and again, we never knew the difference because we had so much fun!

Some of my favorite memories are tied with the Whitehouse Nature Center in Albion. If we weren't hiking the trails in the summer or fall, we were skiing those trails in the winter on our cross country skis.  We took walks EVERYWHERE, and my mom made a trip to the public library (which we did A LOT growing up) seem like a religious experience.

We never had a lot of money.  I remember becoming aware of that at the beginning of one of my middle school years, when asked by a peer where I got my cute dress and I replied, "Kmart," the dress immediately became ugly, and I was teased mercilessly. That was a particularly lean year for my parents, and my mom had purchased our Back to School clothes off the clearance rack of Kmart.

I think that experience helped me not care one iota now about how I shop for my clothes ... which is usually off of the clearance rack or at consignment shops.  In fact, my sister got me a GORGEOUS blouse from a consignment shop for Christmas because I'd fallen in love with it in the fall but didn't feel like I could spend the money.  Some people would scoff at that.  I was thrilled!  I LOVE THAT BLOUSE and wear it all the time!

Yes, I get frustrated when I can't do what I'd like to my house.  I would love to gut my bathroom.  I have no funds in my budget for that. It doesn't matter.  I can make a scrumptious dinner out of nothing and find an evening of fun out of a walk in a nature preserve watching the sun set.

The memories I treasure the most are not the ones when we had a little bit more money.  The memories I treasure the most are during those times where we had very little.

Money isn't everything. I think if more people realized that, life might be a much more pleasant experience ...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WHAT I AM MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SPRING

I am part of two writing groups, and today, I went to one of them. 

We always have a writing prompt we write to before we share what we've been working on.  Today's prompt was I am most looking for to _________ in the spring because __________.

Here's what I wrote:

I am most looking forward to Spring Break in the spring, because, let’s be honest here, the wheels have completely fallen off my organizational bus.  I mean, fallen off, whizzed off the side of the road and off into the pucker brush never to be seen again. 

During Spring Break, when the rest of the world tied to school, is off enjoying exotic locales, I am home pawing through my closets and basement and garage and, okay, my living room, and embarrassing myself with the sheer amount of STUFF I have.  There is very little rhyme nor reason to the stuff I find that needs a home … a home away from my home.

During one such undertaking a few years back, I uncovered the commemorative mini-wine glass from my high school prom … from May 1990, complete with the dust that collected in it from that same year, I am relatively sure!  Among the other notables, were ET trading cards, all the playbooks from my high school drama years, and four id cards from various jobs and/or universities I’ve attended and/or worked. 

The really horrifying part of this tale is that I didn’t get rid of any of it!  Just posted their existences on Facebook and steeled myself for the jokes at my expense.  I think perhaps I heard back from other friends that they had similar treasures in their attics/basements/junk rooms, which, of course, assisted me in the hoarding of those artifacts.

I have thrown away Scrunchies, much too far past the date of Scrunchie-ing, numerous boxes of old cough medicine in various forms of pill or liquid (what didn’t evaporate), barrettes from the 80s, and not one but TWO hot roller sets.  I haven’t needed hot rollers since I don’t even know when!

I blame my northern upbringing for this!  We use our garages for our cars, which means we have these big, ole basements just waiting to hold all of our old treasures and junk … or just plain crap!  I also blame our town’s annual Garbage Weekend.  It was a weekend where everyone cleaned out their basements from the year before and threw all manner of crap on the pile.  I never wanted anyone to see the stuff I’d been hoarding. 


That desire still very much stands.

OOPS! I DID IT AGAIN!

Okay, so I did this to my hair today.




It's hard to see (and please excuse the mess in the kitchen), but I let the curls/waves do their thing while I did a whole spiky thing on the shorter pieces of hair.  I was all, "What the heck! It can't get any worse."

I had a couple of compliments from adults, so I figured, "Okay, this is a good change. I might consider this little thing I've been toying with for next stylist visit." It involves spiky things, in case you were wondering.

My outfit was relatively cute ... okay, it was passable ... fine!  It was within the decade, okay.  Yes!  THIS decade!

I was feeling okay today about my appearance.  I wasn't on point or on fleek or whatever it is the kids are using these days.  But, again, I was passable.

And so my day went merrily along.  I attempted to mold and shape minds.  They attempted to stage a coup.

As my homeroom was coming back into my room at the end of the day, and as I stood greeting them at my door with, "Clean your desks and get your agendas out," one of my little dears gives me one of those, "HOLY CRAP!" looks, and says, "Ummmm, Miss Murray? What happened to your hair?"

Not, Miss Murray, did you get a hair cut?

No, Miss Murray, are you doing something different?

Nope.  What happened to your hair?  And at the end of the day!  As if he hasn't laid eyes on me all day!

I swear. I am not sure why I try.  These fashion critics I am surrounded by each day are wearing down my ego to within an inch of the floor.

Oy vey! The Fashion Police have nothing on fourth graders.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

READ LIKE A ROCK STAR!

I set a goal, recently, of reading 24 books by the end of the year.  Then, our Superintendent got this brilliant idea to start a Reading Challenge at our school. Before it was all said and done, I was serving on the planning committee of READ LIKE A ROCK STAR.

The plan?  Read 25 books ... every kid, teacher, administrator, community, and if, by May 20th, we've met the goal of 10,000 books?  Well, our principal and assistant principal would camp on the roof of the school!

So, the bar has been raised!  I must now work really, really hard at not sleeping every evening and read some books! I might just get to my goal of 24 books by May 20th!  We shall see!

Wish me luck.  I fall asleep at the drop of a hat these days!

SOMEONE ELSE'S CRISIS

My schedule is RIDICULOUS. It's no wonder I can't keep up with things here at home.  I have physical therapy Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (and that doesn't seem to be ending any time soon).  Tuesdays are my only day wherein I have time to sit and plan and do a great deal of grading and really dig into stuff that needs to be done in my room.  Wednesdays and Thursdays, I have after school or Extended School time. Wednesdays are crazy as I've got to leave from ESS early to RUN to my PT appointment. Thursdays, I am able to do stuff like committee meetings and team meeting and lesson plan and all that stuff that doesn't get done during planning.  That leaves Saturdays and Sundays to try to catch up on things like laundry and house cleaning and organization and bill paying and perhaps, just perhaps, a little bit of social life ... a VERY teeny, tiny social life.

So I am always so very flummoxed when someone gets huffy because my schedule doesn't fit into their timeline. Poor planning (or a lack of understanding) on their part DOES NOT constitute an emergency on my part.  It just doesn't.

A meeting was recently called. I explained that my schedule was extremely tight right now, and I didn't have a lot of room to wiggle where a meeting was concerned. I threw out some possible dates, and here's where it gets laughable, my dates were declined because I couldn't meet when THEY WANTED ME TO.  Ummmm, okay.  Why bother to ask for availability then?

And don't you just hate when some one looks at you and says, "Oh! I get it!  My life is STUPID, busy as well," when they have no earthly clue how long it takes me to "get off the clock?"  These people leave at 5 p.m. and get to leave their work at work.  I, on the other hand, might leave before 5 p.m., but deal with my job until I go to bed at, hopefully, a decent time at night.  NO.  YOU DON'T GET IT.  STOP TELLING ME YOU DO!

I have been beyond blown away by the people in my life that truly understand the craziness that is my life.  I really have.  They have gone out of their way to excuse me from commitments, show understanding and compassion, and their willingness to work with the insanity.

This whole experience has taught me many things. Chiefly, we are all self-centered, and it's really hard to break that desire. However, after the wonderful examples I've had the opportunity to witness in recent weeks, I am willing to work hard to do just that in the future especially if I see another struggling to make it a day under crazy conditions.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

MY SPIRIT OF DISCONTENTMENT

I found myself this morning, like I do many mornings, going through the motions ... following the routines or habits of my life.  This morning, as I was putting the bathmat down and getting the water in the shower warmed up, I found myself thinking, "This is just like Groundhog Day! Is my life never going to be anything but getting up, going to work, coming home, going to bed, and starting all over again?"

I had to stop myself.

From an outside glance, my world is very small.  My life is not at all exciting.  Married people?  My single world is NOT at all exciting.  I have bills.  I have debt ... OH MY WORD! If I allowed myself to dwell on it for just a half second, it can be overwhelming how much debt I have.

But, in amidst all that, I have been blessed. I have had opportunities that not everyone has gotten.  I have had experiences that have shaped me.  I have a good life.

I forget that at times  ... the good life part.  I forget it when I am panicking about how I am going gut my bathroom ... or redo the pipes in my house ... or think for even a minute about what would happen if my old HVAC system went out ... or how I am going to insulate my crawl space ... or paint my living room ... or ... the list is long and panic-inducing.

While I was combing out my hair this morning, following the routine, I realized what it was driving the panic and the Groundhog Day thoughts ... my discontentment.

My discontentment can be an ugly monster that rears its gnarling face during those times when blind routine becomes the norm.

Here's the thing, though:  My God, the One that loves me, He never changes.  He is a constant.

Why must I have constant change and desire more and more and not find contentment right where He has placed me?

I don't know the answer to that question.  I wished I did, but, thankfully, He doesn't need me to know everything in order to work. Thankfully, He is able to work despite my days where my spirit of discontentment grows large within me.

Today, as I sip my coffee (because we all know I cannot person without it), I will determine to enjoy this life ... with all of its crazy dips and unexpected turns and daily routines.  Even in the boring, He blesses. So, I will attempt a spirit of expectancy!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

BUDGET

I've been thinking for a long time that I need to create a monthly budget that I stick to like glue.  Don't get me wrong. I followed a budget ... loosely.  Let's be honest here ... VERRRRRY loosely.  In other words, I had a number, but I had no problem going over that number and dipping into my savings when ever I needed to ... which was often.

You can see where my savings ceased to be a savings when I was dipping into it all the time.

So, today, I sat down and created a monthly budget.  My sister gave me the idea to keep track of my monthly expenditures in a notebook, and, as the bank clears the payments, I mark them off in the book. This will help me to keep track of all the payments as well as to monitor expenditures for the future. This is a truly inspired idea for my non-mathematical brain!  

The good news is that I now know FOR CERTAIN where all my money is going.  The bad news is I have no money for groceries this month!  So, yeah, there will be some dipping into the savings this month.  However, I sorta feel like getting this under control, I will greatly reduce the amount of dipping that is done. I might actually save some money for Christmas and birthdays and vacations!

Getting my life in order!



BASKETBALL

I could care less about sports.  I really couldn't.

I grew up in a family that had sports-related interests, but we really didn't get crazy about it.

I mean, Michigan is kinda chock full of sports related stuff:

  • Detroit Tigers
  • Detroit Redwings
  • Detroit Lions
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Kalamzoo Wings
  • Michigan International Speedway
  • Alllllll the farm league baseball teams
  • Michigan State Spartans
  • Michigan Wolverines
  • Western Michigan Broncos
  • Central Michigan Chippewas
  • Albion College Britons ... 
The list is looooooong.

Then I moved down to Kentucky, home of the Big Blue Nation.  

Y'all.  These people are RABID fans.  Like, I've never seen more rabid fans!  CRAZY.

Saturdays?  Everyone wears Blue and White.  EVERYONE.

And on game days during basketball season?  Oh honey.  You get out your UK purse and jewelry and bedazzled UK Wildcat shoes and ....

You would not believe the stuff they make into Blue and White.  I am not even joking. 

Well, at any rate, basketball is King around here, and what is a girl to do when she is literally surrounded by crazy basketball fans?????

This past Friday, I found myself at our high school Lady Panthers' Elite 8 basketball game with allllllllll of the students in our district.  Y'all.  I got into the game.  

Shhhhhh ... don't tell anyone.  

I was shouting and yelling and hollering and clapping ... granted.  Most of the time, it was not when every one else was shouting and yelling and hollering and clapping.  

So, okay, maybe I have some room to grow in the basketball fan department.  Who knows! Rome wasn't built in a day. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

MESSIN' WITH THE HAIR

As you may know, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, without warning, my hair decided to get a natural wave.  Just BOOM!  There it was one day.

Now, in my hair's defense, when I was a wee one, I had ringlet curls.  Those things were freakin' adorable. But then I got my first hair cut, and the travesty of justice began because all those ringlets?  Gone!

I blame my mother for this ... just because she didn't want me running around looking like a hot mess ...

The replacement to those stinkin' adorable ringlets was this baby fine, straight as a board hair that tangled if you breathed on it just right.  I have been dealing with this situation since ... well, approximately six months ago, when my hair decided, "Hey! Wouldn't it be a gas if she had to deal with wavy, curly business?"

I have spent a good deal of time, effort, and money (on hair products) to tame the beast, but in the end, the beast won.  I just am not the person that spends that much time on her hair.

I blame the 80s for this.  In the 80s, I spent hours on the construction of my hair. Much of the ozone layer problems we have today? My fault because I used a can of toxic hair spray a week. A. WEEK. on getting my hair to defy gravity and stand just so high off my head.

Oh gah!  When I think of those spiral perm-filled days!

So yeah.  Now a days?  I want to spend no more than 10 minutes on this hair, and seriously, if I can get a 5-minute face rolled into that time, then we're talking 15 minutes on all areas above the shoulders, and DUDE!  Do you know how much more time I would have to linger over my coffee???

Priceless!  PRICELESS, I tell you.

For a few weeks, I've been back to blow drying my tresses, which, quite frankly, has been bumming me out because have I mentioned the coffee lingering time?

This weekend I was all, "Okay, hair.  Here's the deal.  You've been told you look like bedhead.  Guess what?  Don't care!  There's coffee to be consumed so lets get your wave on and do your thing."

I waltzed into school this morning with the Bedhead Look ...

Okay, let's be honest here.  I limped into school ... laden down with school bags and stuff. But the Bedhead Look?  On. Point.

I managed to get all the way through my day, including recess, wherein the wind decided to intercede and, well, let's just say, it looks like an explosion in a hay stack AND bedhead.  So, yeah, winning the Awesome Hair Award for days! So, I made it all day with no one saying any thing to me ... until my last period.  I go to the door, greet my students warmly, and little dude in the front of the line goes all curled lip on me and snarls, "Miss Murray! What happened to your hair?"

Y'all.  I can't win.  I just can't.  If you want to know why I haven't met Prince Charming yet, listen, the only thing I can say is that I am not taking the sound fashion advice from the little people in my life.

Lawd! Don't mess with your hair when you hang with 9 and 10 year-olds on a daily business.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

SAYING GOOD BYE TO THE LAND LINE

Back in the fall, I did something that I thought I would NEVER do.  I cancelled my land line.

I'm going to admit it.  I've been a hold out on the whole "get rid of your land line" movement.

I am not sure why.

I can not explain it.

There is no rationalization for my holding out on this.

I suppose I could make a case that I grew up in the era of phones attached to walls wherein you had to stretch that cord as far down the hall toward the bathroom as it would go (for a little privacy) before your mom or dad hollered that you were going to ruin the whole phone ... that dialing was an actual THING and not just a figure of speech ... that I knew people that still had party lines ... and that I remember when you didn't have to use the three-digit city exchange number before you dialed the four-digit number to your friend's/cousin's/grandparents' house.

I suppose you can make that case, but I will be the first to tell you that it'd be a flimsy case.  A very flimsy case.

Truth be told, I just got to the point where paying $35 every month for a handful of calls just didn't seem very cost-effective.

So, I pulled the plug.

You know what? I've never looked back.

Yes, my childhood history with phones now resides in the annals of history ... and the local flea malls and antique stores and in the Smithsonian. Sadly, much of my childhood is now in the Smithsonian.

Times change.  I suppose I was just trying to put off the inevitable which makes me think ... that is a sign of an old fart ... someone who holds the inevitable changes off until the very last minute ...

So, I'm an old fart.

SEASONS

I have often said that I do not think I could ever live in a place where there aren't four distinctive seasons.

Now, when you grow up in Michigan, a kid can experience all four seasons in one day.

You think I'm joking. I'm not!

About ten years ago, I almost made a move to Arizona.  A giant sandbox out west where people color rocks green and spread them all over their front yard to accomplish what? A feeling of grass?  I'm not sure.

I was so close to moving ... a move that I knew in my gut was the absolute worst thing I could possibly do, and thankfully, due to a perfect storm of stuff, it fell through.  It would not have been a good move.

I remember thinking, while tooling around the greater Phoenix area "how could anyone live here? There are no trees that will change color! There will be no snow! No red buds or tulips or daffodils blooming in Spring!"

Thankfully, I landed in Kentucky.  Four distinctive seasons here!  Granted, sometimes the seasons get mixed up and Spring comes during the middle of the Christmas season, but listen.  There are four distinct seasons.  That is all this girl needs!

I love seasons!  I love the seasons of life as well. The changes in maturity and professionalism and friends and family and all the crazy ups and downs that make up Life.

Seasons can be hard, though. Seasons can be scary and frustrating and upsetting and ... well, they can just be hard.

They can be a signal of endings ... scary beginnings ... changes in the patterns and routines of life ...

I am thankful for those seasons in my life ... the people that have entered ... and those that have left. I am thankful for the friends who have worked to make our relationships ones that are mature and relevant and necessary.  I am thankful for those friends that I've had to let go for they have taught me valuable lessons to help me shape the relationships I nurture now.  I am thankful for the family that have passed through my life ... for their investment in my life ... for their influence ... for their love.  I am saddened for having lost some those family members for I miss their investment and influence and love.

Seasons are hard, but here's the thing.  I wouldn't want to do life without each and everyone of those seasons!

YOU MIGHT BE OCD IF ...

My sister has always been the organized one.

When we were kids, she used to be able to come into her room and recognize IMMEDIATELY when someone had been in there and had been moving things around.

Me?  I couldn't even recognize whether stuff had been thrown away!  I was a bit of a Messy Millie when I was a child.

For fun, I used to go into my sister's room and move things around on her dresser because I knew it would drive her crazy.

She would color code her crayons and markers.  I liked to rearrange the color coding system because dude!  She was get so annoyed with me.

I was a button pusher.  It's true.

Somewhere along the way as I've matured into the functioning adult human being that I am today, I have been bitten by the organizational bug, and the result has been this weird necessity to organize stuff in a very rigid way.

An example is my closet.  I organize my closet by article of clothing with a sub-organizational level of organizing by color.  So, I have all my short sleeved shirts organized by color, all my cardies organized by color, all long sleeved shirts organized by color ....

You see the flow, no?

I showed my sister my closet once.  She screeched that I was OCD and declared me weird ... or some such nonsense.

I denied it.  I mean, it was just a simple way of making sure everything was organized in a way that I could easily grab what I needed ... easily and quickly.  That is always the goal, is it not?

The other day, I was putting away folded clothing, and it occurred to me that, perhaps, just perhaps Ann, my sister, was correct in her assessment. Perhaps, I was a tad on the OCD side.  I came to this conclusion while I was putting away my folded underwear.

You see, not only do I have them color-coded, I also have them organized by type AND brand.

Yes, perhaps there is a teensy bit of OCD floating around in this 43-year old body.  Just a teensy weensy bit ...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Welcome 2016 ... a Rather Late Welcome, That Is

So, here we are, 11 days into the New Year, and I've finally decided it's time to write my annual New Years Blog.

Y'all.  Can we discuss how far behind I am on absolutely everything?

I swear that when I went in for knee surgery, my surgeon sucked out some brain cells while he was at it.  That must be why I can't seem to hold anything together.

Here's a synopsis of my life since the last time I blogged, which, can we discuss the last time I've blogged?  Let's not.  It's too embarrassing.

CHRISTMAS:
Christmas was wonderful!  After listening to absolutely everyone tell me that I went back to work too soon after my surgery, I am going to go on record as saying that I probably went back to work too early.  But y'all.  It was the last week of school ... before Christmas break ... and I teach 4th graders ... who were giddy about Christmas and Santa and all that stuff.  And sub plans!  Oh my word sub plans.  I just couldn't.

As a result, that last week was absolutely exhausting. Everything I did required energy I just didn't have.  So, my goal became just to survive until the end of that week.  If I could survive that week, I felt like I could make it through Christmas.

Well, I made it ... barely ... and it wasn't without numerous tearful break-downs along the way. I just couldn't wait until my family came together, and I didn't have to worry about deadlines or paperwork or anything crazy.  I could just hang out and be loved and love.

Christmas was such a blessing!  One of my favorite Christmas' on record because we just hung out and had a relaxing time. There was laughter, grumbling, eating, more laughter, sleeping, snoring, laying about, tv watching, movie watching, more grumbling, more laughter ... just all the stuff that families do.  I miss this time when we aren't all together!

And I rested.  Oh my word, I needed the rest!

NEW YEARS:
I began physical therapy.  You see, my knee wasn't bouncing back quite like it should, mainly because I went too long on two meniscus tears.  I pushed myself way too much ... was forced to push myself way too hard in some instances ... and as I result, I created massive damage in my knee.  The tears in my meniscus were easy to deal with; it was the arthritis I'd created that has been the sticking point.

The good news is that slowly but surely, I am regaining strength.  While I am not pain-free yet, my physical therapist says in time, I will be mostly pain-free.  I am sooooooo looking forward to that day, y'all. All the days. The pain free ones!

I rang in New Year like I have a lot of them recently ... sleeping until JUST before midnight, wherein I attempt to wake myself up enough to toast the new year and slurp some bubbly just before stumbling back off to bed.  It's pitiful, I know, but I am 43 years old. That's it.

I went back to school. Reality set in, and the hamster wheel has started back in earnest. However, I am trying, I really am trying, to find some time to rest and relax.  Partly because I need to find that time and partly because my physical therapist said I had to ... he's for realsies.

I don't have a ton of resolutions for this year.  I mean, let's face it.  I suck at resolutions.  I just want this year to be the one in which I finally find some balance in my life.

So, welcome 2016!  Welcome with your clean slate and scents of newness, freshness. I welcome you, if not just a tad on the late side.  I ask you to be gentle with me.  I am attempting to find my balance in all that you have to offer this year!