Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts on Education Part II

I think by now we all know my computer skills only go so far. I've heard of re-blogging, but I don't know exactly what it is or how to do it. Therefore I'm going to [re]post an article I read on a friend''s Facebook page here, and give the author, Glennon Doyle Melton, all the credit. The title says to share, so that's what I'm doing, cause I really like the message. It fits nicely into my education theme. Please read it, then go to Glennon's Blog and leave her a comment.

Share This With All the Schools, Please

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.”  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.
Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.
And then she told me this.
Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said.  Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.
Good Lord.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands  - is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.
All is love- even math.  Amazing.
Chase’s teacher retires this year –  after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day-  and altering the trajectory of our world.
TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one  is watching-  it’s our best hope.
Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”
Love – All of Us

I think it would be good for everyone to do what Glennon asked. Share it with others and teachers and schools. Maybe the idea will multiply like the piles of dog hair under my bed. 
Merry ME

P.S. Linda Lu, do you think the long division she speaks of is the same as Gavin and Chloe learned? If so, I can definitely understand why she had a problem.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brrr! Baby It's Cold Outside!

NOt so  much for me, but for a lot of people it's unusually cold. I think the temps dropped below freezing where I am, however, we got no snow, no ice. There was enough rain for the past few days that it could have made for some pretty treacherous driving conditions if it got colder.

I saw two stories on tonight's news that knocked me down, then picked me back up. When it gets really cold, there are always stories of space heaters starting a fire. A Kentucky mother and 8 of her 9 children perished in this kind of fire. Her husband and one child made it out but are in pretty bad condition.  I hate space heaters. I hate that for some that's all the heat they have. My friend Mary, has an ancient (by my standards) space heater on the floor next to the TV watching chair in her bedroom. It scares me just to look at it. In order to warm up the bathroom before she showers, I have to move the heater from near the chair to near the toilet, turn it up high and close the door. I know what you're thinking. It makes me crazy too. Space heater + bathroom (water) = what the hell are you doing? Like it was an old friend, Mary told me on Monday that the heater has given her a lot of warm nights. Still, I worry.  Before he died, Dad owned 3 fake fireplaces. Supposedly the boxes were made by the Amish. Those suckers put out a good amount of heat. I don't think it would fit into Mary's room.

Then there were stories of neighbor helping neighbor in Atlanta. When the government couldn't help, people jumped into action and started making a difference. I couldn't help but think, maybe that's the solution to some of our problems in this country. We could get back to knowing our neighbors and lending a hand when someone needed it.  I thought that as I headed out the door to deliver some things to a gentleman I saw on the side of the road last night.

I don't live in a part of town where there are a lot of homeless people. But I've noticed this gent before, always in the same spot. It's near the freeway and two gas stations. I don't know if he spends all day there, or just the nights. Last night it was really, really cold, and that frigid drizzle just kept coming. I saw the man hunched under what I hope was a blanket at the underpass.  Well, I came home and told Sweetie, I needed to do something. I wanted to go back after collecting some things and making a pot of coffee. Turns out I didn't have the right kind of stuff. I went today to stock up. I made turkey soup. I piled it all in a waterproof bag. It has stopped raining and the temperature is supposed to go back up over the weekend. Most of the stuff in the bag would be pointless by Saturday.

But that didn't matter, cause I was on a mission of kindness. As the sun set and the cold increased, Sweetie, Suzi Q and I headed out with our gifts. We made one pass and didn't see the man. Then Sweetie parked at the gas station and walked the block or so to see if the man was there or not. As Sweetie walked down the sidewalk, I had to say a little prayer of gratitude for him. He listens to my concerns, nods his head, then bundles himself up to participate.  The sad part of this story is that once found the homeless man didn't really want to be helped. At everything that Sweetie offered, all the man could do was shake his head and say no, no, no.  So we left, pack of winter supplies in hand.

I can't imagine what it's like to be homeless. Or to be so afraid of kindness (my interpretation, maybe he was afraid of nothing, just didn't want to be bothered) that you say no to all prospects of help.  Over the holidays Josh Urban started a Kindness Exchange where people shared their kindness stories and Josh filled an outside tree with stars and lights signifying all the kindness taking place. I think it's pretty easy to be kind to others during the month of December. Even with all the commercial falderall, people still want to believe in the Christmas message. Come the end of January, being kind gets swept up (and out) with new year's resolutions and old tinsel. The point of the Kindness Exchange (someone correct me if I'm wrong) is to continue being kind. Not to get your name on a tree, or star on the refrigerator, or present from St. Nick, but to be kind just for the sake of being kind. Because what the world needs now i "love sweet love."

Confession time: I think I wanted to look in the homeless man's eyes and see gratitude. Shame on me. Maybe, the message in this "look what I did tale" is that sometimes, kindness is in the offering, not just the action. I'd like to think that man had a tiny little spot in his heart that was glad for the thought. That our offerings, though rejected, made him feel a little less alone for a few minutes.

I'm going to stowhe bag of  hand/foot warmers, a blanket, a thermos, a towel in the back of the car for the next time I see someone in need. I'm not going to stop offering kindness. But but maybe I'll be less excited about it. I think that will happen when being kind becomes second nature to us all, not a surprise random act, when stranded motorists help others even if there isn't a storm.

Maybe the world needs more Pete Seegers who will write and sing rallying songs, to get us away from cyberspace and back to a more personal way of living.

Hope you are staying warm,
Merry ME

(Disclaimer: I'm not against technology. Hell I barely know how to use all the stuff that's out there. How can I be against it if I don't know what it is or what it does.  I'm sure cell phones, tablets and maybe even computer watches played a big part in getting help to those in need over the past weeks. I'm just saying, a piece of equipment from the Apple Store is kind of like a sex toy from Guys & Dolls Adult Emporium. I believe we all need more human contact, not less.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Later that same Day

January 23

70 years ago my ex-husband and good friend, Jim was born.
3 years ago my father died.

Jim and I had our ups and downs. It took a few years after our divorce to rebuild bridges we'd torched when we separated. I can't even tell you how it happened. I just know today, I'm glad for the years we spent together. I'm happy for the memories we share. I'm smarter for the hard times and blessed for the good ones. My psychiatrist says I have an abnormal "attachment" to Jim. Sweetie doesn't understand it. Jim's wife is not sure she likes it. Maybe it is a little weird, but our kids are pleased that there is no longer tension between us. All's well that ends well. 

My daughter worked really hard over the past few weeks collecting pictures and memories from people her knew her dad. She put it all together in a Shutterfly Photo Book. I haven't seen the book, but I think it's going to be a fun read. Weneki is pretty good at putting those books together. Plus Jim is the kind of character an author would like to make up, but no one would really believe it. To say Jim is one of a kind would be an understatement. I sat on the floor one night going through old photos and reminiscing about the years we spent together. There was much to think about. Here's what I added to the book.

When I think of Jim, Jimmy, Texas Jimmy, El Condor, James Ellington I think of, in no particular order:
... having babies; starlit nights over the Grand Canyon; driving exhibitions; eating escargot; you standing in a hole in the car, where the engine was supposed to be; shoes with tassels; argyle socks; good books; skiing on land or water; gambling (winning in Monte Carlo, losing most everywhere else); you trying to teach me how to drive a stick shift, and me driving your car into the sand on our first date; Lladro figurines; Waterford crystal, track meets and soccer games; big, bushy Christmas trees; 5 Spanish chickens, 21 varieties of Scotch; una mas Cervesa por favor; you surveying the damage as one of your squadron’s helos sat in Otay Lake; squadron mates too numerous to name; laughing and crying (not enough of one, too much of the other); playing bridge; guacamole, lumpia, rum and cokes, peppery hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheese, “hole in the middle; the vacation from Hell; exotic places like Amsterdam, Nice, Monte Carlo, El Tovar Hotel, Barcelona, Andorra, Perth, the Bahamas; and others closer to home like  Rhode Island, Cape Cod, Monticello, Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, 4th of July rodeo in Prescott, AZ, Las Vegas, Tijuana, Disney World, Dallas, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Washington DC, San Diego, Yosemite National Park, and Patuxent River; driving up and around the Pyrenees Mts. in a seat that would not lock in place, with no safety belt in the car or guard rails on the road, while 5 months pregnant; driving from Dulles Airport to Pax River on icy roads that were closed to ordinary drivers; bicycles; pets named Ruby, Fred, Lucy, Rosie, Pebbles, Mr. Burnes; poet extrordinare; colorful outfits; 20 minute battle naps; tennis racquets; bowls; wooden ducks; Buck Owens; “Honky Tonk Angels;” Linda Ronstadt concert and leaving before the Eagles played a 2nd set; fiestas; 3-legged pig joke; fancy beds and bedding; change of command speeches (not so much what you said, but feeling proud of how well you said it); fine automobiles like Big Green, VW Beetle, MG, Rambler with no heat, Fiat, Toyota station wagon, VW camper, VW Rabbit, (actually the VW camper was not so fine); our children’s weddings; Pentax camera; taking slides and movies; feeding squirrels; Murrietta’s; the fact that you looked past the pink, yellow and orange sack dress I was wearing when you came to dinner at Mick and Linda’s house back in 1967.  
I wish for you a ton of happiness, good health, fun travels, love enough to give some away, reasons to laugh, and an Ace or two at the Black Jack table. Happy Birthday. 

It's odd that when I think of my father, I can only remember the day he died. It's seared into my brain like a photo negative. Being with a person as (s)he takes a final breath is a powerful experience. It is a blessing that is hard to explain. Similar in a way to that moment of birth when a baby takes its first breath. You can't really put words to the images but they stay with you.  I know I should concentrate on the life my father lived, not his dying. Today, however, I can still see the room where we gathered, hear the music in the background, and faintly feel the cool touch of his hand. Perhaps my psychiatrist would say I also have an unhealthy attachment to my father, dysfunctional at the very least. It wouldn't be the first time our relationship was described as problematic.

I know grief is a process, that its pain dissipates as time passes. I look forward to the day I will list memories of my father that don't include heart-wrenching pain. 

Though it's not an original thought by any means, I am aware, today that life and death are two sides of the same coin. And I'm aware just how powerful an influence these two men have had on me. Hard as it is to admit it, I'm a better person for it.  As I close up my computer and head for the shower, I choose to feel grateful not sad.   I leave you with one final thought.

Don't put off til tomorrow telling someone how much you love them, or how much their friendship means to you. 

Merry ME

Thoughts on Education

After reading I Am Malala (see post below) I decided I want to write some posts on education. Mostly about how kids all over the world struggle for, and put their lives on the line for the opportunity to get an education. Realizing this is a gross generalization, I find it hard to compare Malala's desire to go to school against all odds, Syrian refugee children who have no schools, and girls in Africa who often drop out of school when they begin menstruating because of all the taboos, with the stories Sweetie tells me of the children in the schools he visits who are so emotionally damaged that getting an education is pretty low on their priority list.

When I was in school, being sent to the Principal's office was about the worst thing that could happen to a kid. Memories of the paddle on the dean's desk in Jr. high still gives me shivers. Today, schools have locked rooms where children go for "time out," which really means where they can go to scream, bang their heads on the walls, cuss*, and cry until they've calmed down. There is a window in the door where the interventionist can see into the room to make sure the child doesn't hurt himself.  I learned today something called EBD - Emotional behavioral disorder. I think it's a catch all phrase for behavior that used to send kids to the Principal's office. Teachers are expected to teach children with a variety of emotional and physical "disorders" in overcrowded classrooms. Frankly I don't see how there can be any teaching or learning going on in what I might call a war zone. Malala would tell me, I'm sure, that I haven't seen a war zone and don't know what I'm talking about. And she'd be right.  I wonder, how do kids in countries at war, overcome their EBD's?

So that's my plan, to write some posts about education.

Trouble is, I feel like crap. I went to the doctor today (for the 3rd time since Thanksgiving) and he said whatever is making me feel so weary could be a) residual bug from previous illness or b) walking pneumonia or c) bad luck. Seriously, bad luck? I paid the guy 100+ dollars to tell me I have had the bad luck to keep catching a virus and give me a B12 shot.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to have pneumonia or something else wrong, and I don't like taking antibiotics, but I do kind of expect that a doctor can provide some kind of relief other than a prescription for a 4 leaf clover.

Alas, instead of researching, I think I'll be napping. In the mean time, if you're looking for some kind of inspiration, I encourage you to pick up a copy of I Am Malala.

Tired ME,

* By cuss I don't mean throwing around a few shits or damns. I'm talking several variations of the F-word. I'm dating myself here, but when I was 10 years old, I did not know the F-word or any of its cousins.

Monday, January 20, 2014


“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience ask the question, is it right? 
And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
Martin Luther King

To say Martin Luther King was courageous, would be an understatement. Today as the country celebrates the man and his dream, it's impossible for me to think about the fight for Civil Rights, without thinking of the courage it took for each and every one of those dreamers and fighters.  I was too young to be involved. But I wasn't so young that I didn't feel the "White" and "Colored" signs on separate bathrooms and drinking fountains in the Pic 'n Save drugstore. was wrong.  I was new to the south. I had a lot to learn.

I wonder where people like Dr. King and his followers find the courage to stand up for what they believe in. When I read my friend Terri's blog this morning on the same subject, I commented that I don't know "if  I could be that courageous in the face of such fear. I've been courageous at times, but never put my life on the line, like Malala or MLK and his followers. Fear makes me want to run and hide, not stand up to it. I'm grateful for the ones that say enough is enough and back it up with their lives and words."

The books I've read lately have all had the same theme, women doing things against impossible odds. Whether hiking alone for months at a time, or standing up to the Taliban, the women who wrote these books all have courage with a capital "C." As I read their stories, I'd say, "wait! Stop! Don't go there!" as if watching a scary movie where the dumbass girl goes too close to the maniacal killer and you know, he's not dead yet and if she walks by him, he's going to grab her ankle. I got scared just thinking about their feats.  The fact that these ladies were courageous was a given from the first paragraph. I never questioned that. But I did question why? What drove these women to not only think of doing incredibly brave things, but actually doing them? 

One time I thought about hiking the Appalachian Trail. One time I thought about walking from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other. But that's as far as I got. I'm much more of a thinker than a do-er. And I'll be the first to admit I have a problem with commitment. I might start something, but if the going gets too rough, I'm known to cut and run. I'm not proud of being such a Chicken Little.  I'd like to think I'd be heroic if the situation called for it. But I'm not so sure I would.

What if, I ask myself, there are different types of courage?  Maybe I don't have to face down a Grizzly bear to be brave. Or hike 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine, to see if I have the right stuff. Maybe Mary Anne Radmacher's courage is my kind of courage.  "Courage," says Radmacher, "does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I'll try again tomorrow." 

Maybe courage is finding out you have cancer and saying, "I'm going to beat this."
Maybe courage is  holding your healthy newborn baby after several miscarriages.
Maybe courage is leaving an abusive situation.
Maybe courage is sitting next to your parent as he/she takes a final breath.
Maybe courage is standing up in front of strangers and reading something you've written.
Maybe courage is responding to a "wink" on
Maybe courage is getting up on a horse when everything in you says to stay on the ground.
Maybe courage is saying, "that doesn't work for me."
Maybe courage is driving across the Fuller Warren Bridge (one of 7 in this town and resembles the Mousetrap game. Knowing which lane to be in is anybody's guess)
Maybe courage is saying, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me."
Maybe courage is following your heart when everyone else is going in the opposite direction.

In the end, I guess courage is a personal thing. As Neal Donald Walsch says, "it's not a question of whether you 'have what it takes,' but of whether you take the gifts you have - they are plenteous - and share them with the world.  There are those like Martin Luther King and Malala whose courage stands out like a beacon that shines light on new ways of thinking, or being. And there are those like Cheryl Strayed who faced personal fears by doing the thing that others said couldn't (or shouldn't) be done.  And there's me, whose fears are many and courage to meet them a daily task.  

What's your definition of courage?
Merry ME

If you want some good reading try:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year. New Blog?

I think I'm bored with my blog.
Maybe that's why I don't come here to write as often as I once did.
My blogoversary went by un-noticed.
I don't feel as wordy as I once did (although you wouldn't know that by my run-on sentences and writing 2 or 3 paragraphs when one would suffice.

I wonder what I can do to spice things up?
Got any suggestions?

That said, I'm trying to put into practice "allowing 2014 to unfold as it will."
I guess we'll have to see what happens.

Merry ME

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jelly Bean Theory

Back when I was a steady member of a 12-step program, I carried a little blue book in my purse as a reminder of the steps and what I could do to feel better.  It had this quote:
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”
which, at the time, really irked me.

That was a time in my life when I was severely depression. I felt really, really sad most of the time. In my last post I said living with grief feel like carrying around a sack of rocks. Depression feels likes that too, except maybe worse, if that's even possible. Like the commercials say, depression hurts. It hurts in your bones, your heart, and your soul. Depression lies. It makes you believe things about yourself that are not true. And depression hangs on like the last person at a party, long after everyone else is gone and all you want to do is clean up and go to bed. But you look around and there is depression sitting on the couch. You feel like moving, but your legs don't cooperate. You feel tired, but you can't sleep, or you sleep to much. You want to laugh again but have forgotten how. You are always afraid you will crack open, and no one, least of all you, will be able to put the pieces back together again.

For the record, no one makes up their mind (or chooses) to be depressed.  Perhaps in the beginning, when you know a new day is dawning and you have to get out of bed, but you don't really feel up to facing the day so you decide to roll over and go back to sleep. Or when someone asks you to do something and you know it would be nice to have a conversation with someone other than the voices in your head, but you opt out. Maybe those are choices you make. But eventually, depression takes over the choices and rules your life.  So every time I read that quote, I wanted to scream at Mr. Lincoln, who was known to be a depressive, that he wasn't doing anyone any good by piling on a bunch of "not making up their mind about being happy" hooey, which equals guilt which equals more sadness.

The other day Sweetie came out of his office, sat down on the couch and fluffed up the pillows, a sure sign he wanted to talk about something.

Sweetie: I read your blog. I'd like to give you a visual.

ME: Hmmm. Okay.

Sweetie: First I want to say that every morning when you wake up,  before you even put your feet on the floor, you can choose what kind of a day you're going to have.

ME (silently in my head, to myself - skin starting to crawl): Wait a minute, Buster, don't start in with that old, you can choose BS, cause I'm not buying it.

ME (to Sweetie): What if (he hates that question so his skin is getting as crawly as mine) I decide I'm going to have a great day, then on the way to work someone runs into me and smashes up the car? I'm going to be really pissed and not of my choosing. Right?

Sweetie: Well, yeah, but you can choose how long you're going to stay pissed off.

ME: Yeah, but what about when I see pictures of my mom and dad and get sad, and remember how much I miss them, and feel that bag of rocks on my back and then I just want to go to bed and cry or sleep or both?

Sweetie: You can choose how long you carry around those rocks.  Life is like a bowl of jelly beans.

ME (back in my head): Is he channeling Forrest Gump?

Sweetie: Let's say there is a bowl of jelly beans on the counter and let's say a feeling or emotion is attached is each color. Red = anger. Blue = Happy. White = peace. Black = depressed, and so on. You walk by the bowl and pick a color that matches your mood. You're feeling happy, so you pick blue. YOu might stay blue/happy all day or if something happens that changes that mood - like someone running into you - you pick another color, in this case red.

ME: Yeh, but. (Sweetie really hates this statement and is beginning to see red jelly beans).

Sweetie: The point is there is a whole bowl full of colors and you don't have to be just one all the time.  On any given day you can be a rainbow of colors.

ME: (Light bulb goes off in head) So you're saying I will have the feeling (color) but I don't have to stay there. The choice is not about the feeling, but about how long you're going to hold on to it. Let's say I'm having a green/serene day, I would obviously choose to stay green. If I get a memory of Dad and it makes me black/sad, I feel it, then move on. I can pick up the bag of rocks if I want, nobody is stopping me, but why would I when I can go back to green?

ME: (remembering Christine, my therapist, drilling it into my head that you can feel more than one feeling at a time.) Thanks, Sweetie.  I think you may be on to something.

I can't say that I've practiced the Jelly Bean theory every day, but I have kept the visual in my head and returned to it a number of times. Awareness is the first step of change. Sweetie used the candy visual because his mind goes naturally to things made of sugar. The bowl could be full of colored strips of paper, or buttons, or beads. It would be a bit cumbersome but you could even have a bright colorful bokay of balloons and when you are choosing one color over another, you can literally let it go.

So, Mr. Lincoln, when it comes to that quote, I think I'll trade my red jelly bean in for a pink one. I think I better see your point, but it still kind of irritates me.

What color are you today?
Merry ME

PS. Example: Sat. morning Sweetie and I got up on opposite sides of the bed and neither of them were very good. As the day progressed, he barked at me and I barked back. When we headed out to do our grocery shopping we sat in stony silence for awhile.

ME: What color are you right now?
Sweetie: Yellow, for caution. I've got to be very cautious with what I say.
ME: Let's hear it for the jelly beans.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

... and so the new year begins.
I'd like to write with more intention, here on this blog, in a journal, for my group and perhaps for publication. I've sort of gotten out of the habit. Plus, when I sit down to write, it turns into an on-going, many times interrupted process - like my last post of 2013. I think I should do more writing and less self-editing, at least til the thoughts swirling around in my head are wrestled to the page.

Now, clearly is not the time to start. I have a plethora of things to do - finish making some bears, start making some others, fold the laundry, address Christmas cards.

But here's the thought I had as I started to write. On the 23rd of this month my father will have been dead for 3 years. And Texas Jimmy, another man who played a very important part in my life, will turn 70. For one I still grieve, the other I celebrate and rejoice. As I sit here thinking about both these men, listening to my Sweetie talk about my new spy-size camera, tears run down my face like the rain running off the roof outside. I wonder why I still get so (SO) sad when it comes to my father? And even though it makes perfect sense (to me) to still be "attached" to my ex-husband (we met when I was 15, were married for 20 years, had two children together, loved and fought passionately, share memories to great to count or forget) my psychiatrist seems to think the attachment is a little weird. Weird isn't the psychobabble term he used, but that's the it made me feel.

Instead of moving ahead into the future of what might happen, I feel stuck in the past with a sack of rocks on my shoulder that I want to put down. I want to walk away from them, let them be, and not look back. I remember when my little ones stepped on the school bus for the first time, and I waved goodbye then quickly turned my head so they wouldn't see my cry. That's kind of how I feel right now.  I know it's okay to cry. I know the future holds people and lessons and hopes and dreams that could easily fill up the sack, if I'd just lay the rocks aside.  Actually, it's not the putting them down that's so hard, it's the leaving them there. Like I don't know what to do or feel when the weight of them is not there.  Like a comfortable pair of jeans, all worn and raggedy and stretched to two sizes past baggy, it's hard to squeeze into something new when the old is less of a struggle. (I may have to agree with Dr. Joseph, that sounds weird to me too.)

I haven't given much thought to new year's resolutions, or choosing a word to guide me through the year. I couldn't even remember what my word was last year (focus) so I'm not so sure my word picking is that productive. As I go about my busy-ness the next few days, I'm going to think about a word, about letting go, about remembering, about gratitude for what was and what will be.

I hope the year ahead will be full of delightful surprises. May you know joy and feel peace. May you dance in the rain, laugh out loud, and be often in the company of children.

Happy New Year,
Merry ME