Archive for March, 2017


Listen, My Dear,  and You Will Hear…

  • Do you remember the time….?
  • And after that, Gigi….
  • But, Kathryn, I wonder…
  • My Momma would have loved….
  • Do you remember that song…?
  • What was that song….?
  • Oh, yes.

Oh, yes.

Oh, mercy, YES.

Listen, My Dear, and You Will Hear…

  • Wisdom across the ages.
  • Dreams and memories  melding together. 
  • The future and the past  weaving in and out of one another.
  • Laughter the echos in your heart.
  • Time marching on, yet somehow standing still.
  • The birdsong of the evening.
  • The love song of our hearts.
  • Oh, yes 

Oh, yes.

Oh, mercy, YES.

Listen, My Dear, and You Will Hear….

The singing of my soul. 

      On this beautiful night,

             With these beautiful ladies.

The future and the past…. both here in this moment.  The present.  The gift. The now.

Then sings my soul….

It had been too long.

Far, far, far, far,  FAR too long.

Too, too long…..

         Since I’ve had danced my way down the frozen food aisle.

***********

Ever noticed how the lights come on as you walk down the aisle?

It’s as if it’s your very own runway.  Your very own catwalk!

The ice cream. The broccoli. The waffles…  All of it just waiting for you to approach. 

And when you do???

LIGHTS!! CAMERA!! ACTION!!

It would be rude, really, to not reward such adoration with SOME sort of recognition.  Some sort of appreciation.

       Plus there’s the 80s music playing throughout the store, you know….

                     and so I dance!

And as I dance, I smile. And I sing. And the worries of the world fall away.

Now.  This doesn’t happen every trip. (Sadly.)

The music has to be playing.

And most importantly,  the lighting must be right… and the lighting is ONLY right if the aisle is empty and waiting for you. 

I MAY have, on occasion, waited for the lights to go out…  Just maybe, I’ve stalked families to calculate their departure from this sweet aisle of mine…  It could be that I did that today, in fact.  

Could be….that I danced my way down this icy red carpet … singing “Sweet Chiii-iii-iii-iilll-d of miii-iii-iiine” a little more loudly than I should.

Could be… they were playing my song!

 

Let me preface this by saying – for better or worse, good or bad – my Girlchild is one of the people who knows me best.  She, probably more than anyone, has seen me at my lowest and most unhappy with myself.  She’s seen more of my self-loathing and sadness than I’d like….  But perhaps it’s okay for me to be my absolute self with my kids and steps now that they’re adults…?  They are some of my favorite people afterall.  So….  Maybe?  

               Goodness.  I hope so.

“Momma.  You need to focus a little more on yourself sometime….”

These words from the Girlchild several months ago stopped me mid-step.

“What do you mean,  Babe?”

“You’re doing so much for so many so much of the time.  You need to take some time for YOU.  Sure, your people, your causes and your passions deserve you and your attention…but YOU deserve your attention too…”

…and then a few weeks later. 

“What you should do is get a pretty notebook and write in it to remind yourself of you.”

And a few weeks after that – “Have you chosen your notebook yet, Momma?”

And finally, on the occasion of my 50th birthday, the gift that brought on the ugly cry.

A notebook.   Perfect in size.  Turquoise in color. With a sparkly silver band.  Just right for me and this mission…

But that’s not the reason for the ugly cry.  This is:

At the top of each page, a guiding question or sentence stem.

She started with the hardest:  “I love myself because….”

It stalled me for days…. but because I love her, I started to write.

Today’s prompt:  “I love my job because…”

                Yes!  An easy one!

I’ve got several pages of easy ones ahead.  Reasons why I love the many things that I love about my life.

Then comes the favorite memories section….including family members near and far…and I cry at the very thought of what I’ll say.

It gets hard again.  “I help myself by…”

And on and on and on it goes.  Swinging from easy prompts that make my heart sing, to challenges that make my breath catch in my throat.

I’ve only just begun this odyssey into directed reflection, but already I can see her genius and wisdom.

           Goodness, that girl is smart.

She’s leading me to the edge and urging me to take the next step.

In my office hangs a plaque signed by so many of my beloved school family — “Oh, but my darling.  What if you fly.”

Words to take to heart.

And thoughts to mull and muse and scribe.

Writing it down makes it real.

Pen to paper.   Heart to hand.  

Oh, how the student has become the teacher.

And oh, how my soul does sing….

All too often, the tendency is to be self-critical.

Harsh, even…

Self-love.  Self-worth.  So much easier said than done.

Then, one day, you step in the restroom stall only to discover this.

And so…

I’m just gonna leave this right here…

Because sometimes you’ve just gotta stop, smile, and appreciate the writing on the (bathroom) wall.
Then sings my soul…

I feel like I’m in high school…

        and not for any reason you might imagine!

In fact, the Girlchild thinks it’s hilarious.

       I think I’ll be wearing my hair down a lot this week….

Here’s the why:

The other morning, in a rush, I pulled my curling rod through my hair just a little too quickly…and smacked it into my neck under my ear!  It stung at the time, but – being in a hurry and all – I didn’t think anything of it.

Later, I noticed it was a little tender to the touch,  but – again – I didn’t think anything of it.

Later still, I glanced at myself as I washed my hands in the restroom….

And. I. froze.

Wait?!?!  What?!?!?!  A HICKEY?!?!?!?!?

Now without going into details, you’ll have to trust me when I say that this is NOT a possibility…

      As in ZERO CHANCE.

But, wait?!?!?  What?!?!?!

I brushed my hair back and took a closer look.

    Yep.  Definitely looks like a hickey.  A love bite.  Marked territory…

All I could do was laugh out loud!

Remember in high school when someone came to class with a hickey?  

        Not you or me, of course.  But “someone.”

Remember the excuses that were made?

 “I burned myself with the curling iron.”

Well, y’all.   I’m hear to tell you IT’S TRUE!!  A curling iron burn looks just like a hickey.  I know this for a fact.  Today. At 50. Without excuses. 

Who knew??

So I’ve diligently worn my hair forward and applied the burn salve in hopes of quick healing.

But this evening, I glanced in the mirror and broke out laughing….

Remember the other excuse?

   “It’s a bug bite.”

Yep.

You guessed it.

On the opposite side of my neck, below my ear.

Yep.  I feel like I’m in high school!

Then sings (& laughs & laughs & laughs) my soul! 


You know those Facebook surveys you can put out there for fun?  The “how did we meet?” or “describe me in one word that begins with your first intial” kind of thing?  Well, I did one the other day.   I can’t remember the exact working,.but the gist of it was “name something that I love.”

And you know what?

My people know me!  Whether we’ve been friends for years or have only met virtually through friends of friends… my Facebook peeps KNOW me.

The beach. Sonic tea. Herons. My kids. The grands. My friends.  My family by birth,.by marriage, and by choice. BOB-FM. 80s music. The cranberry apple salad at Schlotzsky’s.  Long walks. Relay. HOPE. Sunrises. Sunsets. Birdsong.

The list goes on and on.

And you know what?

I. Love. That.

Happiness is people who know you and love you in spite of it all. 

Happiness is connections through a silly survey via social media.

Happiness is knowing our people and the things that connect us to one another.

Happiness. Is.

It simply IS…. wherever we choose to see it.

Then sings my soul….

The rains cleared.  The clouds parted. And I had my walking shoes in the car.  Perfect prelude to musings on a Walk in Town.

On a walk in town…

There’s birdsong aplenty and redbirds in flight.

    And birdsong makes my heart sing.

There’s the older gentleman in his cowboy hat walking his fuzzy lapdog in the yard.

        He tips his hat and says hello.

There’s the white winged doves who keep watch over the cemetery,

          And the quiet calm that only a loop through the headstones, trees, and tributes can hold.

There’s the smiles and waves from folks known and new.

     So much so, I smile and nod at each car…. just in case.

There’s honks and waves from at least a half a dozen more –

      But not the creepy kind.  

The “Hey there!  Long time, no see!” kind.

The “Go, Krista, go!” kind.

The “It’s a gorgeous day to be out!” kind.

There’s the banging of the screen door…

      And the teenaged boy telling his mom “I love you.” on his way out.

Each of these things – and so much more.

…On a walk in town.

                  Then sings my soul….

Oh how the time does fly…  The kids in this picture are in high school now.  Crazy, that.

And when I spent my day at our high school career fair today, I saw them. And I knew them.  And they knew me.  And that’s not crazy… that’s crazy-wonderful!

Sometimes the connection was not by name, but by something more important….

“Miss?  …..  Do you remember me, Miss?”

“Oh, yes, Honey!  You wrote me a beautiful letter and gave it to me at Relay….  I still have it.”

…and this precious quiet girl dissolved into a hug.  

I knew her by her heart and the struggles that she’d faced in school.  She was one of those kiddos who worked so very, very hard, but tended to overthink and second guess herself … to the tune of failing standardized tests by 2 questions.  My focus with her in intervention was always on the social-emotional side.  

…and it worked.   On the second attempt, she passed with flying colors.

A few years later, she was in a youth group as I shared my story as a cancer survivor and Relayer and invited them to join in the fight.  Months afterwards, she charged me on the field at Relay and pressed something into my hands.  

“Read it later,” she said.

So I waited.  About a minute (!)… 

 I read it… and cried and cried and cried.  This young girl’s precious heart… it touched my heart!

But as I looked into her eyes and knew all these things today — I could not pull up her name.

But it didn’t matter….

“You always believed in me… so you should know… I struggled a little bit – with school and with boys – but I’m getting back on track.”

…and we talked about her goals and dreams and the steps to get from Point A to Point B… We reminisced about the lessons she’d learned years ago:  to stop, to breathe,and to believe in herself.

It all happened in a moment…  so brief,  so fast.

As the group transitioned on, she locked her eyes on mine and whispered to my heart “I can’t believe you remember me….”

I patted her shoulder and said, “not only that, Babe.  I believe in you!”

…. and 10 hours later, I’ve remembered her name.

Makayla.

Then sings my soul….

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time.

As in … EVER.

As in … nothing will ever compare.

As in …. My goodness, Connie.  We miss you so…

In the photo – snapped at the 1st annual Reading Under the Stars literacy night at EES – Connie P, veteran 1st grade teacher and a legend in her own time, is reading to a group of kiddos in a classroom decorated by her team.

The little girl?  We don’t know who she was….  Probably the sibling or neighbor of a student.  But we don’t know.

All we know is that this precious girl was captured by literacy that night… swept up in the beauty of the read-aloud… the rhythm of words… the cadence of Connie’s voice… the magic.

The Magic.

It’s The Magic that Connie knew instinctively how to ignite.  

In her 30-someodd years in the classroom, Connie led countless children to The Magic of books, of words, of language…

She led them to literacy.  

Through practice and patience and sight word after sight word  (even when she had to sneak home the Build Up books because they were frowned upon by current educational practice).  But most of all, through love….

Love.

Love of books.  Love of language.  Love of poetry and structure. Love of her kids.

Most of all this:  Love. Of. Her. Kids.

Hers.

And the definition of Her Kids didn’t stop at her door or even at age 7.

Connie taught her class and pulled in struggling readers from across and/or down the hall.  She pulled in accelerated readers from Kinder and struggling kiddos from 2nd (& up). 

 If you needed to learn to read, she was your Gal.  

And what a Gal she was….

Because her touch reached farther still — to the classrooms and hearts of teachers on her team– especially those of us who were young and green when we came to 1st grade.

27 years ago, I was one of those.   It was 1990 and whole language was in full swing.  Connie shared with the 4 of us new to teaching and the team the secret of her success.  And it didn’t match what we’d been reading in college… so we smiled and nodded and cut out lily pad after lily pad after lily pad for thematic Frog and Toad vocabulary words.

But then we saw her results. 

Her kids had The Magic.  They got it!!  And we began to, too.

Oh, we didn’t give up the arts and crafts, but we did bridge them into words on our walls (Early Word Walls, anyone??) and onto rings of flashcards (Automaticity, anyone??)

And we learned.  

We learned because she Loved.

She guided with practice and patience … and may have accidentally slipped class sets of build-up readers into our boxes.

All this is not to say that sight word drill is The Answer.  But, when factored into the Love and Magic equation, it’s pretty dang powerful.

Connie touched the lives of all whom she taught.  Her students.   Our students.   Us.

To do the math would be staggering…  In addition to her 30+ years of students,   she mentored at least 2 dozen new teachers — some of whom are entering their 30th year in the classroom, others of whom are teaching teachers.   Or hiring teachers….That’s my job now.

She not only touched the future,  she changed it… 100% for the better.

Oh, Connie.  How we miss you… but we’re paying forward your gift every single day and hope we make you proud.

You, my beloved friend, touch the future. 

Then sings my soul….

I wish I had something profound to say, but really it just boils down to this:

HOPE.

When I see that a young man has 9 weeks of chemo starting soon….

HOPE.

Because this is the CURE to the form of stupid cancer that has attacked his body.

When I learn that another friend is battling a truly terrible infection…

HOPE.

Because she has such tremendous strength.  She’s conquered disease before and I fully believe she’ll do it again.

But what I HOPE most of all is that one day… one day very, very soon… the news I hear in and out of each day can skip some of the yucky parts.

Until then, I’ll wait and I’ll pray and I’ll do whatever I can in the fight against stupid disease…. and I’ll always play HOPE.