Category: Uncategorized


And Then There’s This…

One of the highlights of my world is my weekly visit with my grandma. During these visits we do nails, share a meal, tell stories, watch game shows, and laugh. A lot.

This fiesty, sassy, simply FABULOUS human lives in a nursing home now… Usually her head is held high and she puts on a happy face. But other times…

Other times, she hurts during the slow and painstaking transition from wheelchair to assisted recliner.

Other times, she’s frustrated by her shaking hands as she works so hard to get the food from the plate to the fork to her mouth.

Other times, she shakes her head to remember the right name for a face.

Other times, she grimaces as I help her transition to the toilet…and more.

Especially the more.

After one of those visits — one that included such a stop in the restroom, complete with “more” — she sat back heavily, sighed deeply, and said “This getting old is hard. It’s all backwards. What I did for you as a baby, you have to for me now as an old lady.”

I looked into those beautiful eyes… into that beautiful heart… at the beautiful woman who has done so much for so many and I said, “It is my privilege.”

And her words have echoed ever since.

Getting old is to “get young” again. Instead of gaining skill, mobility and independence, it starts to fade… and this has got to be hard.

So very hard.

…so today, when I saw this – the page with cursive practice of her name. The pen held tightly yet tentatively. The shape of each letter carefully created on the page… I knew it was my privilege.

And I kissed her hands, and listened to her stories as I painted her nails.

…because getting old is hard.

But loving someone who’s old is one of the greatest privileges I know.

#thensingsmysoul

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In a few hours,  I’ll be heading South to a town 70 miles away to stand along side the Relay family I’ve yet to meet but with whom I’m proud to walk as a united front in a battle against stupid cancer – a disease that strikes too many, too soon, and too often.

It’s a mouthful of a sentence….

      But it’s even more of a mission.

And it’s what Relayers do.

I count among my blessings the honor of having been called to serve as a Hero of Hope.  As such, I share my time and my story in hopes of spreading… well … HOPE… at community events and Relays across Central Texas and beyond.  I’ve been serving in this roll since 2012 and have shared different elements of my story more than 100 times in almost as many places.  But today’s message – as it forms in my heart and the nuggets of which pour through my thumbs as I ponder – is especially difficult … but that’s what makes it most important.

I’ve been asked to visit the community of Seguin, TX to speak at the Fight Back ceremony.  It’s the 3rd piece of the triad of Relay (Celebrate!  Remember!  Fight back!) and tonight, it’s the one that hits closest to home.

…because tonight, as I speak as a Caregiver and a Survivor,  I will carry on my heart an incredible love story. 

It’s not mine.  But it’s one I was privileged to witness. 

It’s the story of Rick and Joann.

Because it’s their story, I can’t begin to know the details, the dates, the specifics….but my GOODNESS do I embrace the love and hope.  The strength and courage. 

         And, again, the love and hope.

Rick and Joann were high school sweethearts.  Theirs was a home filled with love – and two beautiful girls – when stupid cancer attacked.

It came for Joann… a young woman whose own mother had died of breast cancer before she could see Joann as a bride, a wife, a mother…  Her treatment had been horrific and the disease too advanced… and based on this, Jo wondered if she’d even be able to fight.

       But how could she not?

The Caregiver was now the Survivor.

For Rick and for her girls, she battled.  Her treatment was swift and aggressive – but it was also fueled by faith, hope, and so much love.

And she triumphed! 

           THEY triumphed! 

And against all odds,  their family grew when a precious and beloved son was born.

The family grew and it flourished and then suddenly, without warning,  and with a savagery they could never have known was coming, stupid cancer attacked again.

This time, it was Rick. 

He wrote in his message for Relay that year that cancer had tried to kill his wife, tried to kill his brother, and now it was coming for him…

Stupid, stupid cancer.

The Caregiver was, again, the Survivor.

His battle had triumphs and challenges and highs and lows.  New treatments held out hope several times… until the scans showed stupid cancer had returned.

The thing that never changed,  though, was his commitment to his wife and family, or theirs to him.  Being able to witness this kind of love was a blessing in and of itself.  I marvel at it still….

    … 4 years to the day since stupid cancer stole Rick far, far too soon.

I marvel even more at the love that endures… as Joann wrote today – what she wouldn’t give for another day with her Love, but what peace she feels knowing he’s celebrating his 4th birthday in Heaven.

So why is this the story on my heart as I prepare to fight back?

I think it’s because I’m mad. And I’m sad. But I’m also so proud and filled with love, hope, and joy.

The cancer that stole Joann’s mom was diagnosed early in Jo — and not only beatable, but beaten!

And the manifestation of this stupid disease that stole Rick too, too soon is being demystified by the researchers as we speak.  And as we learn more, we’re ever closer to the days of early diagnosis and beatable, treatable outcomes.

I feel the love and the promise of the day in which their 3 wonderful kids and precious grands will no longer have to live in fear of the words “You have cancer.”

I pledge with my whole entire heart, to do all I can in that fight.

For Rick and Joann.  For their love.  For their hope.  For their fight.

For that glorious day when early detection and viable treatment options are the story for EVERY diagnosis…

For the magnificent day when every diagnosis is followed by THE CURE…

I FIGHT BACK!!!!

And I invite you all to join me.

Together we can and we will.

Together we Relay.  Together we win.

Then sings my soul….

The Energy in the Room

I remember the moment as if it were yesterday.

I was standing at the back of a 2nd grade classroom at Sunshine Cottage, a reverse inclusion school for the hearing impaired.

I was there as a part of my honors language course… because I was NOT, I repeat NOT, going to be a teacher.  I was going into Communications, thank you very much.

But as I stood there…feeling the energy of the room….

         I knew I had no choice. 

I turned to my friend and said softly, “Well, dang.  This is what I’m supposed to do.”

“Do what?” she asked.

“This.  All this… I’m supposed to TEACH.”

Although that was more than 30 years ago, I’ve never looked back and I’ve never second-guessed.

From that moment I knew.

        I knew because of the energy in the room.

Fast forward 32 years, a career in the classroom, a Masters degree, and a decade as an instructional leader… and here I am.  In a new room.  With a new energy.

              And it’s good. 

Today, in the midst of Job Fair madness,  I couldn’t help but stop, sigh, and smile.

“Well, dang. This is what I’m supposed to do….”

I’ve hit the next stage of my life as an educator.

Now it’s my job to go out and recruit for my district…my schools….my kids.  My mantra?  Get good people.  Keep good people. 

How could I do anything else?  Our kids deserve it.

…and as I breathe the air and read the room — the energy of the room — I know that it is good.

The optimism and excitement of folks soon to be teachers…  my goodness!  It’s magical.

And I’m so blessed to have found myself here in the place.

…because this is where I’m supposed to be.  I can feel it in the energy of the room.

           Then sings my soul….

…and what a marvelous month it has been.  Stopping to focus, to listen, to observe…

     Pausing to notice.

             Pausing to pause. 

                      Pausing to breathe

                                   and to be.

And it has been glorious.

    It has been important.

           It has been calming, 

                       and affirming,
                                  ….and important. 

So very important.  This pause. 

Then sings my soul…..

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….