Posted in Changes

Thankful for the Changing Seasons

Our first cold front came through East Texas a little over two-weeks ago.  We were finally able to pull out those long sleeve shirts to ward off the cooler temperatures.  Unfortunately or not, back into the closet they went as warm weather trickled back in.  We’ll have to wait for another front to come through before our “Fall/Winter clothing can be everyday wear.

Not too long ago a Facebook friend posted a picture of snow in Colorado.  I looked at it half-longing to experience that crisp freshness of that cooler weather.

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YMCA of the Rockies: Snow Mountain Ranch…Colorado

Here, in Texas, it was still hitting highs in the 90’s and I couldn’t wrap my mind around winter when it still felt like summer.  I was wearing shorts and sleeveless tops.

November is that transitional month for us to finally welcome Fall weather.  It’ll take a few weeks of peek-a-boo weather of warmth and coolness before it finally settles in near December.  Then we’ll wear our coats, boots, and scarfs.  Yes, mostly for style because it doesn’t really get cold here until January.

The season is slowly transforming.  Trees beginning to change colors and drop leaves.  My Crepe Myrtles and Bradford Pear are about the only trees in my yard changing colors, the others still holding on to their green.  I’m waiting on a prolonged freeze to make my perennials want to go into hiding for the winter.  Right now they are still hanging on to the warmth.

Waiting for change…waiting for differences to make an appearance.

In the meantime, Thanksgiving break finally arrived and with it a time of rest for us teachers and time off for our students.  A time to reflect and look forward.

Today, I’m attending a wedding shower.   We’ll gather, decorate, eat, chat, and then sit back to watch a beautiful girl opening her presents that she’ll use in her home after she becomes a Mrs.

A new season of her life!  Oh the glorious beauty of it.  Many of my friends’ children have moved forward, beginning that glorious spring of their lives.  I’m a bit envious of that freshness and all the beautiful ups and downs they’ll go through as they learn to live as husband and wife.

Learning…that’s the key word.  As they learn, their love will change and deepen.  Secret smiles will be exchanged and sweet and annoying habits will become routine.  I loved that time when John and I moved in sync with each other.  That season of marriage is better than the beginning.

I’m awake early.  Waiting on a decent hour to go out to mow the yard.  Most likely the last time it’ll need to be done this year.  Another cold front is due today.  In reality, I’m glad.  I’m past the point of wanting to work in the yard, knowing everything is going dormant until March when warmth will beckon them out again.

I keep having to remind myself to look forward.  Going through days where I have to fight to find something to look forward to doing.  Small periods of time, where my life simply feels….dormant.  When that happens, I do three things.

One, I smile.  I wait for the feeling to invade my body that goes along with smiling and even if it is just a mild feeling of contentment, it helps.  Two, I sing.  Sometimes, silently, in my head and other times, I belt in out loudly and it doesn’t matter that my pitch is off!

Three, I start filling my calendar with things to do beyond myself.  Life is better, with activities and people to do them with.  The beauty of families living under one roof is that they keep each other occupied and reminds them what is important in life…each other.  That my friends, is why God gives us people to love and do life with.

I’m always aware of how God has changed me.  I live with him daily.  I can’t image how I could do this life without Him in me.  It’s not Him I’m battling when I go through negative thoughts and want to live my life on the couch, isolating myself.  He is the victor when I smile, sing, and fill my calendar.  Life is so much more than being selfish in thoughts and actions.

I do believe there’s a time for quietness and rest.  I’m thankful for this week when I’ll have several days of peace, but I won’t be filling them with just me.  I’m looking forward to meeting with friends, family and turkey, baking with my mom, twittering around the house, and reflection.

I change what I wear according to the seasons.  Sometime, just to feel fashionable, sometimes to be practical according to the temperature or comfortable to wear.  My friend, Bryan, commented in small group, that we change what we wear in the seasons of our life with God.  I’m thankful for my life in all circumstances and I seek joy.  Yes, I’d change my history if I could.  But wouldn’t we all?

I’m giving thanks for the pleasure of lawn mowing and cooler weather.  Thanks for shopping;  I bought a new shirt to wear to the wedding shower, one that makes me feel pretty.  I’m thankful for activities that involve others.  I’m thankful for friends and family that love me and include me in their lives.

Most importantly, I’m thankful for being changeable during the seasons that God gives me in all seasons of my life.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, and enjoy the days as we pass into Christmas season.  By the way…Did I mention that I’m thankful Cam is coming home for Christmas!  Happy mom!

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Posted in Changes, Tragedy

They Will Be Missed

This week a tragedy happened.  One of those “I can’t believe it happened here.”  We lost three students from our small town.  All three were Scouts, band students, and loving sons and brothers.

Will 17, Heath 16, and Thomas 11, will be missed.  Our community embraced the families with love this week; sharing the grief the family of each boy is shouldering.  I’ve watched, in awe, as the parents and siblings, stood receiving condolences and hugs from hundreds of people who have shown up to support them and pay their respects to their loved one.

These boys were on a scouting weekend.  They were sailing on Lake ‘O Pines when their sailboat passed under a low hanging electrical line and it arced, electrocuting them.  Will and Heath died instantly and Thomas was flown to a hospital, but never regained consciousness.  His family made the beautiful decision to donate his organs.  Because of this unselfish act, at least five people lives will be changed for the better.

During Heath’s visitation, I thanked Thomas’ dad for donating his organs.  I told him how getting a transplant made a difference in my son’s life.  Part of his son is now living on in someone else’s life.  He talked about hoping to meet them one day.

Despite the age differences, these boys were tied together through their love of scouting.  I didn’t know all of them.  Heath, I taught in 4th grade.  I struggled with sadness last night, remembering his sweet smile and knowing it won’t be seen on this side of heaven.  I taught two of Thomas’ brothers, so seeing them struggle with the grief is heart wrenching.  All of us have similar stories of how our lives connected.

All the boys had siblings.  They’ll mourn the life activities and the small day-to-day moments that are lost to them with the passing of their brother.  I can’t imagine the grief the parents will walk through.  I do know their emotions will go through many stages and uncountable tears will be shed.  I also know that time will temper their loss.  The hurt will never go away, but they will heal with God’s strength.

If I could give advice, I’d tell their friends and family to continue to talk about and share stories of these individual boys.  Not just when the hurt is fresh, but months and years from now.

Family and friends, don’t be afraid to say their name and laugh about the silly things they did.  Talk about their accomplishments and the joy they brought to your life.  Write the stories down and send it to the family.  Some people think that talking about a lost loved one is painful.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Nothing makes a heart lighter than keeping a loved one alive with memories.  It means that they made a difference, touched a heart, and are remembered.

Tragedies happen everyday somewhere.  We never know when we talk with someone if it will be our last time to say I love you.  Make life count and don’t hold onto small, petty things that in the long-term won’t make a difference.  Hug your loved one.

This isn’t Hallsville’s first taste of grief of loss of young life and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  However, at this time, we are remembering Will, Heath, and Thomas.  We are lifting up their families in prayer.  Our community is raising money for scholarships in their memory to help others kids go to college.  We are mourning our loss.

When school starts in a few weeks, more tears will be shed.  Students will walk the halls and remember their missing friends.  A senior, a junior, and a sixth grader will be missed because they were loved.

If you have a child, when you send them off to school, please say a prayer for the three families of Will, Heath, and Thomas.

 

Posted in Changes, Memory, technology

My Swiss Army….Phone

Recently I shopped for a new phone.  In the twenty plus short years, the mobile device that we carried like a bag in our car for making phone calls has morphed and become like a Swiss Army knife.

It was a Christmas present from my husband, my first cell telephone.  I can’t remember the year, but I can remember how excited I was to get it.  I hadn’t even considered getting one.  Its one feature: to make phone calls from where ever I was.  Picture a large receiver with a pullout antenna and a flip out mouth piece.  It awed me!

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Calling someone from my own traveling phone was pretty spectacular.  Of course, I had to punch in the phone numbers.  Most numbers I called were land lines and the only time I turned it on was when I was away from home.  I would have never considered actually using it while driving.

My second cell phone was years between that one.  I remember because I asked John to buy me a phone that wasn’t complicated.  I was intimidated by all the capabilities of the much smaller phone.  It actually did things besides just phoning.  By today’s standards, it was a dinosaur.  The “Roaming” term, we avoided on the phone because it would increase the phone bill.  There wasn’t a ‘data’ plan.

I remember when a camera was introduced on the phone.  That was awesome!  Texting…super wow!  We’d actually consider the keypad configuration when picking a phone.

The capabilities of cell phones seem to top themselves each time a new phone was introduced.  Simply calling from a distance, away from a land line, wasn’t the goal anymore.  We had to ‘connect’ in other ways.

Now it has so many tools!  Honestly, when I pick out a new phone the most important feature for me is the camera.  I’ll go straight for the camera settings to see what it can do.  The rest of the phone’s features is just icing on the cake.  I do consider the price.  I’ll go for the least expensive, best phone I can find…with a good camera!

Recently my mom had to have surgery and while waiting in the waiting room, I did what most people do . . . people watch.  There were families and friends visiting and then there were the readers.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in waiting rooms there are less magazines then there once were.  The culprit, I believe, is the phone.

Is it generational?  Maybe.  I’m not sure the younger generation who’ve grown up with phones as a source of entertainment, would consider picking up a newspaper or a magazine to read, when it is so much easier to search for a topic or hit an app to find an interest.

 

Technology changes our lives.  Once the printing press was a technological wonder.  I remember the first time I witnessed a microwave working.   How awesome it was to watch a taped movie at home.  However, I’m chasing rabbits because I know lots of people could out do me with the ‘Remember when.’  Back to phones!

Not too long ago, a younger teacher laughed when I called it a ‘telephone.’  I’m not sure when the ‘tele’ was dropped from the word.  It was good enough for Superman!  (Even that may be mythified and you can use your phone to research it).

 

Have you considered how many times your phone is touched because of the different uses it has?

It’s my calendar.  I add appointments, meetings, and party dates, times, and locations.  I don’t keep any kind of paper calendar anymore.  Once, I would have had a large calendar on my refrigerator to write on.  I’d take the time to pick one out at the end of the year with really pretty pictures to inspire me.  I’ve let that habit fade away.

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It’s my picture album.  No longer do I have to send off my film to be processed.  The only albums I have now are all the old ones before digital cameras were added to the phone. Some of the old pictures are grainy and have lost their original color tone.  Other photos are in picture boxes or baggies hidden in boxes in the closet.

Before the camera phone, if you are or knew the third, fourth, etc. child of a family, I bet there aren’t a lot of pictures taken of that child.  Parents simply didn’t have the time or energy to find a camera to preserve that child’s history in pictures (unlike the first or second child) unless it was a special occasion.  Not so of parents today.  I even ask Cam when he’s out doing something to send me a picture, so I can see a part of his life.

When Cam was a baby, we snapped away.  When the video camcorder became our norm, we didn’t drag out the camera.  We’d make home movies.  It was when he was a freshman that I realized I had hardly any photos of him between the age of nine and fourteen.  I think that’s about the time that cameras were the norm on cell phones.

The night John passed, Cam took out the phone and snapped a few pictures of John’s tattoo.  It wasn’t as easy to get the pictures off phones in 2007 as it is today, so somewhere that phone is put away with the pictures stored in the memory.  Today, I have thousands of pictures stored in my cloud.  Occasionally, I’ll go to Walgreens, plug my phone in to the picture maker, and print a few special prints to put in frames.

Home movies on discs, tapes, or film are a relic of the past.  No more video cameras to pull out, carry around, and shoot.  If you aren’t born in a time where the cell phone video has always been, you’ll remember how silent everyone would get when the video camera was introduced into the situation.

Afterward, we’d sit around our television and watch what was recorded and laugh.  I still love popping in an old VHS tapes and watching the home movies.  (Yes, I do have a VHS player).  Even more fun, loading the old 8mm film and watching the silent, laughing, silly people of yesteryear.  Part of my wedding reception was shot in super 8 by John’s dad.

Today, simply hold up the phone, tap, record, upload and share.  We can watch or send our videos out into the world instantly.  It’ll be interesting to see how the future generations judge our past videos.  Vacations, road trips, pets, nature, people, wild animals, silly stunts; we record it all!

Grandparents no longer have to wait for the mail to be delivered to receive a picture long distance.  Sharing has become as easy sending a picture across a message.  We post pictures on Facebook, Instagram  (I’m showing my age here because I haven’t learned how to use Snapchat) or some other social media.  Once a picture is uploaded, it’s fair game for whoever wants to share or capture it.  It no longer belongs to us personally.

Cameras…yes, they’re my favorite part of the phone besides using it to talk.  I adore taking vacation pictures and ‘selfies’ of my self on trips. I’m finding myself reminiscing as Facebook shows me “On This Day” from years past.

Then there are the everyday tools like the calculator, memo pad, address book (contacts), phone book, and whatever other type of tool you’d like to add.  I don’t keep a phone book around the house anymore.  I’ll just search for an address or a type of business I want and instantly hit the button for the phone to call that number.  Most of my friends numbers I couldn’t dial if needed because I don’t have their phone numbers memorized.  Funny, I can rattle off phone numbers of family members land lines or old places I worked because my fingers dialed them so often . . .  753-6496.  My favorite…663-1325.  Today, no one could answer.

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Recently, I went out with friends and their daughters.  The conversations that come up with a bunch of women are hilarious.  The phone was part of the entertainment and conversation.  We looked up urban slang and laughed loudly.  I’ll not go into what we looked up.  That’ll remain private!

We use them for banking, shopping, paying bills, and even sending money to our friends to pay our part of a tab.  My church has an app for tithing.  No longer do we need to carry cash, checks, or even a credit card.

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There are so many apps that make our life more dependent on our phone.  I do my bible devotions, read my email, check my security system, listen to music, plan road trips, check the weather, and keep count of my steps, to name just a few on one screen of my phone.  I don’t even wear a watch because I use my phone to keep track of the time.  It’s my alarm to get up. (Okay, its many alarms to wake up).   I can order food or a ride with just a simple tap.  Tapping….our way of life.

 

I use Google Maps to find my way.  Sometimes it is just across town to find a garage sale or while traveling on vacation.  Early on when it was new, I’d followed that GPS voice where ever she told me to turn.  I now know that she doesn’t always take me the best way, so I’ll ignore her directions to turn and follow my own instincts and make her reroute me.

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I teach my kids at school to read a real physical map for math.  I love their excitement when the Texas map is unfolded in all its glorious size and we use the population information and find the towns on the map.  For some children, it is the first time they touch an actual map because we use the digital one so often.

When Cameron was young, we’d give him a map in the back seat and have him ‘navigate’ us.  I remember driving with him in downtown Dallas when he was younger.  I was lost and he’d tell me where to turn.  Thankfully, we eventually did find our way to our destination with a lot of stress on my end.  He remained calm.

Gone are the days when we can escape from work and people.  It is a decision to ‘unplug.’  There’s areas where ‘reception’ is hard to get.  Mostly, we are reachable.  We compare and share our lives through social media and the phone makes it so that we can do it a dozen time each day.

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Parents today have it easier to contact children.  It makes me smile when I hear a parent call their dependent child to check ‘where’ they are.  In my generation and before, we totally could escape from our parents at least for a little while.  We’d use the line, “There wasn’t a phone or I didn’t have any money to call with.”  Once we were out of the house, we were only with the people we actually were with.  If we had ‘car trouble,’ on the road, we waited for help to stop.  Safety and security has improved with the carrying of the cell phone.

I’ll admit if I go more than four days without talking to my son in New York, I’ll make contact.  It may be a simple text or a phone call where we chat, but it makes my mom’s heart happier.  All those ‘crazy’ what if’s are put to rest.  It’s a ‘parent thing’ for you young ones if you haven’t developed that insane urge yet.

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I guess the funniest thing I notice about phones is how we ignore the people we are with to see what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I admit that I have done it too.  Checked my phone while I’m with other people.  I don’t know why we do it.  Do you?

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The phone isn’t used, just to ‘reach out and touch someone’ (You have to be older to get that one), but a significant tool that moves us along in our life.  So how many times a day do you touch your phone?

“Tele” over a distance.  “Phone” a speech sound.

It’s a wonderful invention that is progressing at an astounding rate.  Its initial use was for conversation.  Remember to use it for that also.  Call someone and invite them over.   Life is better when we actually ‘do life’ with other people.

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Posted in Changes, Memory

With Love, Paul and David

I started with six brothers.  I’m down to three now.  Three have passed on and all were sudden deaths without a chance to say goodbye.

My family is a blended one.  My dad had one boy and my mom had three when they married.  I’m the actual first child of my parent’s union.  Two boys followed me.  I’d like to say that I had the perfect secure childhood, but I didn’t.  My parents flittered job to job which means we moved more times than children should have to.  I was always the ‘new kid’ at school.  The gaps in our education from moving school to school took their toll on us.  I was the only child out of the seven that actually finished high school with a degree and graduated from college.

My brothers are all extremely hard-working, wonderfully smart, and full of common sense.  My parents made sure we all had a good work ethic.  It’s the only way we could survive in a household of our size.  We all had chore lists to do or if our parents were running a theater, then we’d be the janitorial staff, work the concession stand, and could run the projector.    Our parents both worked, which means we took care of each other a lot.  There never was enough money to go around for bills and food.  My parents did the best they could.

I’m looking backward as an adult and making speculations because as a kid, I never knew that.  We were mostly a happy lot.  We played and fought.  Sometimes the fighting got physical and punches flew or pushing happened.   I remember once throwing a toy at my younger brother, Johnny.  He had that small scar on his eyebrow for the rest of his life.  You should have seen us piled up in our station wagon.  I’m sure we were a sight, filling every seat and hanging out the windows when the car stopped!

I remember the good times.  Running around the neighborhood and playing in the woods, swinging on grapevine.  We’d play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers chasing each other and shooting each other with sticks.  Johnny was the one I remember playing with the most.  I can’t count the number of times, we’d play with those small plastic horses: galloping them on the floor and making neighing sounds.  As my brothers matured and drivers licenses happened, I remember riding with Paul and doing donuts in parking lots.  Timmy giving me a ride on the back of the motorcycle.  That happened just once because Mom was furious with him for taking me for a ride.

Sitting around the table at dinner and the boistious noise that ensued as bowls were passed and all were straining to be heard as we talked over one another.  Cleaning the kitchen was always done in pairs or in threes.  No one ever had to clean the kitchen by themselves.  These are the memories that make me smile.

Steven, the oldest, left the house when I was about ten.  My dad signed for him to join the Marines when he was seventeen because he seemed to always be running away when I was a child.  That decision changed Steven’s life.  He was a career Marine, staying twenty-eight years before retiring from the corp.  Steve would stop back in the family while on leave and I remember small gaps of time with him as I grew up.  The last was when I was a junior in high school.  After that, meetings were brief.  He always called me “Sis” never Becky.    I loved that he thought I was special.

David is the baby.  Enough said.  I think he got away with the most.  He’d say that wasn’t so, but I’d have to disagree.  I don’t remember him having to do many chores.  As an adult, David is precious.  He is generous to a fault and has a wonderful sense of humor.  I love his deep laugh and his love for his family.

Between those two, we have Timmy, Paul, Mike, Me, and Johnny.  The boys used to accuse me of being spoiled.  Maybe it was so, but I don’t believe I took advantage of it.  There has to be a perk to growing up in a household full of boys.

I don’t have much to say about Timmy and Mike.  I have to say I don’t like all my brothers.  Love, yes, love is there.  Some people are hard to connect with and the thought comes to mind, “How can I be related to that person?”   Simply personality differences.  Thankfully, the connection happens in a large group and we are a large family.

Johnny, one below me on the ladder of our family, was one of my favorite playmates as a child.  We shared a room when we were young and would hide under the covers when we were afraid of the dark.  We’d play horses and army men. Later, we were coconspirators.  We’d roll our eyes at our grandparents when they made silly comments.  He liked to tease.  When he hit about fifteen, the girls started to find him attractive.   He had the biggest ego.  I used to say, when he passed a mirror, he’d stop and say, “Damn, I look good.”  He left to join the Army not long after I married.  He was gone for long stretches of time and I missed seeing him mature.  When he did come back as an adult, he loved to cook.  He was the adventous brother.

Paul is the glue that holds us together.  He’s the humorist.  Need to calm a situation?  Humor is the best way to bring it back to normal and he’s good at it.  He doesn’t mind being silly and making us laugh until our tummy hurts.  He’s smart and can figure out how to fix a problem.  He is the hardest working brother I have.  He always has things to do.  His legacy is all the people named after him.  I don’t know how he did it, but there are so many of his kids and grandkids named after him that I tease him that the world doesn’t need any more ‘Pauls.’  He says, “Oh, no!  There’s always room for another Paul.”  He truly is our rock and I love him deeply.

Now there are three gone.  Timmy died of a heart attack.  Johnny died while scuba diving.  His offical cause of death was drowning.  This week, Steven, died of a heart attack.

My mind drifts back when for a brief time we were young and all lived in the same home.  That ended about forty-four years ago when Steven left and slowly, over time, we all moved away from one another.  It was rare when we were all together at the same place.  There are a few pictures with us together.

When Timmy died, we took a picture of us together after the funeral.  It’s become a tradition to do that after funerals.  Today, there were three of us.  Yes, there should be four and Mike is missing out of the picture and I don’t forsee him ever joining us.

 

So today, David, me, and Paul, took a picture and we smiled and laughed because we know how precious our time is together.

 

With love, to my remaining brothers.

Posted in Blessings, Changes, Memory

To Cam on Your 27th Year

For Moms … Babies are precious.  Toddlers are cute.  Preteens are awkward.  Teenagers can be exasperating and fun.  College students are inspiring.  Young adults are humorous.  When the other side of mid-twenties roll around, we stop and take stock of how fast time is moving.  I want to say ‘Stop,’ but then I wouldn’t get to move forward and see all those other stages ahead that, I’m sure, will be equally wonderful!

Cam…. It’s hard to grasp that your twenty-seven today.  Looking backward,   I’ve enjoyed all the stages of your life.  Who knew so many years ago, that time would move so fast?  I know …   All those mom’s who’ve gone on before me!

I’m appreciative of the person you are now.  I miss seeing you.  So much to miss; a hug, sharing meals, teasing remarks, your quirky sense of humor, hanging out watching television and making comments, simple talks, and watching you putter around the house and play with the dog.  I miss that Cameron smile.

Today, I’m remembering and treasuring the precious moments of your childhood.   I’m smiling recalling the joy of your birth and the fun of you growing up.

Your love of Trains and Thomas.  Playing with Legos, Pokemon cards, and all night video games.  Being creative making movies, going to church, and band filling your days.  Your first girlfriends and heart breaks.  Your strength as you grieved your dad.  How much I missed you when you moved away to college, but loved hearing about all you learned as you moved into independence.  Incredible determination dealing with kidney failure and the transplant.  Your first apartment.

I am awed by your positive outlook on life.  I never doubted that you would and will succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.

That being said, thank goodness for cell phones!  I’m so happy that you share with me your thoughts and the decisions you’re making.  I like hearing about your work and what you’re learning and doing.  I enjoy listening to your views on politics and what’s going on in the world.  Believe it or not, I do appreciate your opinion.  It makes me happy hearing about the small details of your days.  I like talking with you about what you’re making for dinner and how roommate living is going.  Descriptions of Zipps and his antics makes me smile.  I can picture him climbing and scrambling around your room being his cat self, slightly annoying.

I appreciate when I visit, you giving of your time and entertaining me around town.  Sitting with you in coffee shops and having dessert is a ‘sweet’ moment in time.  (pun intended)…. walking our legs off and being a good sport about directing me through subways.  I thank you for these sweet memories.

I am simply a proud mom and I love you!  Happy 27th year of celebrating your birth.

Our ‘traditional’ pose

 I know your dad is proud of you too!

Posted in Around town, Changes

Barking Dogs Doesn’t = Welcome

My new neighbors’ dog is barking once again.  When they first moved in, I wanted to leap over the fence and throttle him.   The dogs … because I hadn’t yet met the neighbor.  He moved his three Pit Bulls in two days before they actually moved into the house.

The barking was constant and as annoying as it could possibly be.  By the time I noticed the U-Haul sitting in the driveway, I was ready to let whoever was unloading it feel my wrath.  My unpleasant self marched right over.

I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed how I ‘met’ the new neighbor.  My first words weren’t ones of welcome and I didn’t have a smile on my face.  Out of my mouth poured my complaint of how ‘Man’s best friend’ was a nuisance and how that barking had kept me awake two nights in a row.  Two of my neighbors had already voiced their complaint to me and had called Animal Control, but that wasn’t a solution.

My ‘neighbor’ didn’t apologize, but met gruffness with gruffness.  “The dogs would stop barking when they became familiar with the yard.”  I just had to be ‘patient.’  Our conversation didn’t end with a smile or ‘nice to meet you.”

To tell the truth, the day I put my “Easter” church sign in the yard, I cringed a bit.  “Hypocrite” echoed in my mind.  I hadn’t shown kindness or forgiveness.  I had let my tongue drip poison.  I knew I hadn’t handled the dog situation correctly.

Thankfully, just a few days later while out in the yard, I was able to actually meet my new neighbors and apologize for the awful way I greeted him the first time.  Justin and his wife, April, moved across town to what he described as a ‘nicer’ neighborhood.  I found out the name of the dog that is staked closest to my yard is called “Pappy.”  He has improved barking less, but hey, he still manages to let me know he’s out there.

Tonight, I heard a knock at the front door.  Two little girls stood there, still in their school uniform dresses.  One about seven and the other about six.  They wanted to say ‘Hello’ to their new neighbor….me.  I introduced them to my cat, Pippin, and my dog, Zoey.  They seemed more impressed with Zoey’s smallness than Pippin’s largeness.   Aliah and Peyton wanted to make my mom and I an Easter card.  “Would we mind?”  Those two tiny girls sweetly reminded me how neighbors should meet each other.

I feel a cookie baking spree coming on.  I think I’ll shower a few of my neighbors with sweets this weekend.   At this point, I don’t mind the occasional barking of “Pappy.”  Good Friday is a ‘good’ day to show kindness and welcoming.

Isn’t it funny how small things can make us smile or rile us up?

On Sunday, our pastor reminded us that God is always good.  He’s good in the good times and he is still good when times are tough.  God doesn’t change.

Our perspective changes due to circumstances.  How wonderful it would be to look beyond ourselves and our view of our own tiny life to see the amazing view God has of our world and how His plan unfolds.

I imagine going from a street view on Google Maps to a satellite view and zooming way out.  Only God gets to see the tiny details unfolding and zero in on both the street view and the satellite at the same time.  My mind is so miniscule, I can’t imagine it.

I only see a barking dog…. Thankfully, there’s God.

 

Posted in Changes, Inspiration

My Boot Camp Experience

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My goal…to have arms like Arlene!

I had dinner with my friend, Arlene, on my fifty-fourth birthday.   We’ve been friends since seventeen.

Not for the first time did she invite me to come to her ‘Boot camp’ exercise class at 5:30 A.M.   I’ve made excuses not to come before, but this time I agreed to come try one class with her.

I do have to say that she is looking wonderfully fit.

Two days later, I showed up on a Wednesday.  Not being a morning person, I had a hard time convincing myself to roll my legs out of bed at 4:30.  I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and dried my hair before class, so that I wouldn’t have much to do when the class was over and it was time to get ready to go to work.  I know taking a shower before working out sounds funny, but heck, I was trying to conserve my time between coming home and going to work at 7:10.

I made it through one day and the next day, I signed up for their special for three months.  I committed myself.  Arlene encouraged and partnered with me.

I tell you, it was a struggle to get myself out of bed that early in the morning for the first three weeks and sometimes, it still is over almost two months later.  If I do over-sleep and miss my morning class, then I make myself go to an afternoon class.  Which by the end of the school day with ten-year olds, I’m pooped and the last thing I want to do is workout.

Boot camp is a gym class with the trainer coming up with strange exercises that I’d never think of doing at home and many I’ve never heard about.  There’s equipment like weight bars, TRX straps, ropes, mats, kettleBells, sandbags, SandBells, Medicine Balls, and those dreaded gliders.

The exercises themselves have unique names.  There’s SandBell Slams, Mountain Climbers, and Russian Twists.

Funniest name…Burpees.  Which by the way, I can’t do.  I can’t seem to jump back two-legs at once, bring them back and jump up.

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The correct way to do a Burpee

Instead, I awkwardly step back one foot at a time and bring them back up, one leg at a time and forget the hop up!  Mine look nothing like they are supposed to do.  Arlene looks terrific doing hers!

Some mornings when I see what we are supposed to do, I want to just go walk on the treadmill to avoid doing some of those exercises.   However, I’ve hung in there and participated in all the crazy moves.

The one I dread the most is pushing SandBells or Sandbags across the gym floor with our hands on the bag.  I can’t get across the floor without falling two or three times banging my knees.  The exercises I enjoy doing the most is using the barbells.

I thought I had done all the exercises with strange names, but one morning, I get there and we do Bear Crawls across the gym width and then do ten push-ups.  Meanwhile, our partner is down on their hands and knees holding a bear Claw on tip-toes.

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Shhhh . . .    I grabbed a shot of those Bear Crawls!

I showed Robbi, my friend a work, these crawls and she burst out laughing!  Trust me…They are hard to do!

Nothing lasts forever, so for less than ten minutes, we do the crazy ‘whatever’ and then move on.  Some days fly fast and the forty-five minutes are over.   There’s a sense of accomplishment actually finishing the classes.

There are challenges and I’m thankful that Arlene is there to encourage me along.  We were working on arms with free weights.  We start at the end of the gym doing ten up-right rows and then move across the gym adding ten every time we stop.

At first it seems so easy, but as the repetitions grow, it feels as if raising arms is torture.  After the rows, comes chest presses starting at fifteen and adding another fifteen as we stop on lines.  Crossing the gym lengthwise for the third time doing first twenty overhead presses and adding twenty each time we stop on a line was our last challenge.

I’m at the last line to lift my final sixty.  When we finish, we are supposed to hold the weights over our head and walk to the other end of the gym without lowering the weights and then class is over.  By the time I hit thirty-five, I’m standing alone struggling to finish my overhead presses.  All the other people have crossed the gym with their arms up holding the weights.  I’m about to throw in the towel, when Arlene crosses the gym and stands in front of me.

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How I felt when finished!

At forty, she says, “You got this.  Do it by five.  Forty-five, roll shoulders…Fifty, roll shoulders….Fifty-five….roll shoulders.”  She encourages me to finish all sixty and then do the easy part by walking the length of the gym.  It felt like a ‘Rocky’ moment. The people who were still in the gym, clapped for me as I walked with the weights above my head.  Heck, I felt like Rocky!

Results?  Thankfully,  yes!  I can almost do ten complete push-ups (Still on my knees and not going as far down as I should), but my body is strengthening.  I couldn’t do one on my first day.  I still can’t do a complete sit-up, but I know my core is stronger.

I’ve had three full body scans.  I stand on a circle stand that rotates and the computer has a camera that scans my body and measurements.  Each time I get one, I cringe at my silhouette and look closely for improvements.  (Heck, NO! I’m not posting a picture).  I’m thankful that clothing covers my rolls.  I’m the apple body type where all my weight sits at my middle, so I resemble a plump blueberry.

I have lost five inches in two months.  It’s enough that I’m inspired to keep going.

More importantly than just losing weight, is to work building muscles, so as I age, I can remain strong.  I hope to avoid the diseases that plague my family; high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and heart problems.  To enjoy movement into my old age, and with God’s grace… live a long life here on Earth, as I age through my fifties and beyond.