Art, Be Happy, Clutter, Collecting, Decorating, Eclectic, Happiness, Uncategorized, Unique Personalities

Is It Clutter, Or Is It You?

Our brains and minds and lives are full of stuff we don’t need.  The world is full of information and stuff.  Clutter.  Does it do us any good? Is it comforting?  I have been able to trim things down and get rid of things that I felt held no sentimental value.  But what is considered to be clutter to some may be someone else’s whole life.  I’ve watched the show Hoarders, and am glad I am not attached to paper bags and broken pencils, but I’m sure some people wonder why I have some of the things I have! Now that I’ve said that, I am in no way a hoarder! I do know a few people who I feel may have a problem with “collecting,” but that’s not me.  Getting through my house is very easy!

At one point in my life, I had a 2800 square foot Victorian home, built in 1886, with beautiful woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, pocket doors, tall ceilings, etc.  It was full of big furniture, and since I had three children living with me at the time, it was also full of toys and games.  I wouldn’t trade those memories of my children for anything, but I never want to have a big house, or that much stuff, ever again.  I’ve downsized, and de-cluttered, and now live in a smaller (1700 sq. ft.) home.  It’s a “cookie cutter” home, but we’ve made it ours with our unusual style of decorating and things that mean a lot to us.  From where I sit right now, I see the American flag from my father’s memorial service, that belongs to my son. I also see the American flag that flew at my grandparents’ home in China in the 1930’s.  Things like that are priceless because they can never be replaced, holding so much sentiment.  I also see a cabinet with some of my old toys and dolls,  and some of my grandmother’s and mother’s dolls.  Again….most of those things can’t be replaced.  They are worth nothing to anyone else. There’s the piggy bank my Grandpa Penry gave me when I was 4…..and my Grannie Slater’s salt and pepper shakers… first Barbie… Raggedy Ann……a few old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…….I have very specific memories of most of these things.  They’re put away nicely and neatly in my cabinet……..not worth much monetarily, but they mean a lot to me.  Over in the corner is my Grannie’s chair that used to sit in her dining room, next to her telephone…..I can see her sitting there, talking to various relatives or neighbors…..I also remember standing on it to call my sister to help me with a mouse when I was at Grannie’s alone (she didn’t help me…..something about not wanting to drive all the way across town to pick up a dead mouse!  Sheesh!).  Family.  History.  There are pictures everywhere……the kids, our parents, grandparents, places we’ve visited, the park where we were married in New Orleans……there can never be too many pictures! We also have a ton of books….I’ve had to clear out a few of those too, but many belonged to our parents, my grandparents, and even great grandparents.  Some are treasures from places we’ve lived or visited…..more memories.

These things are not clutter to us.  They are our lives, our loves.  I don’t need the latest gadgets in the kitchen, my furniture is old (and comfy), I have some older pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, that I’ve painted or refinished.  Our cars are not new (and not paid for!), but we have our little treasures. Al’s collection of African masks in the hallway, along with the wall of family photos, remind us each day how diverse and eclectic our tastes are.  But they represent us, and who and what we love.

Our home will never look like a designer showcase home.  I wouldn’t want it to.  I watch the home decorating/renovating shows, and get a few ideas, but I would never want our home to look like everyone else’s.  While Pinterest is interesting, and has some really pretty decorating ideas, those ideas will look like everyone else’s house.  I’m sure people come into our house and wonder what in the world they have stepped into…..but they can never come away from our house saying it’s boring!

Having a home like this also reflects our personalities.  Have you ever been in a home that is stark and boring with no character?  Nothing personal?  To me, this usually indicates a boring personality too!  What do you like?  Where have you been?  Where do you come from?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Your life?  My husband and I definitely have unique personalities!  We love to have fun, travel, and make new memories.  We are building our life together, and bringing our happy times from the past along for the ride.  The places we’ve lived and have visited….the people we’ve met, and have loved…..have made us who we are today.  Why wouldn’t we want our home to reflect that?  Why shouldn’t our home be uniquely ours?  We are unique.  Our story is unique.  Our home is our sanctuary, and where we share our life together. It’s us.  But stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  We have all we need.  If we lost it all tomorrow, but still had our health and each other, we could still be happy.  Some people never learn this.  They just want more stuff.

Make your home yours.  Your “clutter” is unique to you.  And if it’s in your heart, or part of who you are, is it really clutter?  Or is it really you?  It may be just stuff to some, but don’t let anyone tell you that it holds no value if it’s part of you. If it is comforting to you, and if it holds memories or sentimental value to you, then be proud of it.  Enjoy your clutter” if you love it!


Anger, Bullying, Change, Compassion, Crying, Egos, Fake Christians, Fear, Gun Control, Homegrown Terrorism, School Shootings, Uncategorized

Another Senseless Mass Shooting….

And it has happened yet AGAIN……another mass shooting….another SCHOOL shooting!  I remember how shocked we used to be by all of this.  Now it’s almost a daily occurrence.  We have become numb and desensitized to the trauma.  I’m going to talk about some things in this post that may upset a few people, but I’m very upset right now, as are a lot of others, about this nonsense, and how NOTHING is being done about it.  I thought about apologizing ahead of time if I offend anyone, but I really don’t care if I do. There are an awful lot of innocent dead people, and someone needs to speak up.  Each side accuses the other of making it political.  Well, it IS political! Unfriend me or stop following me if you must.  I will not point fingers at any political party, but I will be political.  You all know who you vote for, and where you stand.  And I will address what role Christianity (or those claiming Christians) plays in this.  So… at your own risk.

First of all, never in my life, or my training to become a teacher, did I ever think that I could possibly be putting my life on the line in the classroom, and defending the little people I teach every day.  If I wanted to work in a combat zone, I would have enlisted in the military or law enforcement.  My calling was to teach.  I don’t want to carry a gun.  If schools start requiring teachers to be armed, I will be leaving the profession for good.  If others choose to carry a weapon that’s their right.  I will exercise mine not to carry a gun.  But my daughter and my grandson (the only two offspring who are still in school) have the right to go to school feeling safe, and so do their teachers.

I’m not anti-gun at all.  My father grew up with guns on a farm.  He had guns in the house when I was growing up (put away).  After all, we do have that 2nd amendment. But that amendment was written before we had semi-automatic weapons, and guns such as the now infamous AR-15. Yes, we do and should, have the right to defend ourselves.  If someone is coming into our homes to hurt us or our families, we should have the right to keep ourselves safe.  However, the AR-15 is meant for one thing…..killing a lot of living things in a very short amount of time.  And no civilian should have access to it, whether they are mentally sane or not.  It is, in itself, a weapon of mass destruction, and we’ve seen it over and over again.  Yet, the politicians with the NRA in their pockets keep turning a blind eye to it. And yes, the NRA and their political buddies have blood on their hands over this.  Oh, you’re an NRA member?  Okay.  I don’t care.  I’m not criticizing you as an individual.  I am condemning the organization as a whole, and how they have bought off the politicians who are supposed to be representing the people, in order to wield their power.  We are talking millions and millions of dollars.  They are profiting from the murder of innocent lives…..innocent children and public servants!

Mental health…..oh, here’s a good one.  I’ve noticed that any time the shooter is white, there is a discussion about mental health.  Well, that’s good, because there does need to be more access to mental health services in the United States.  Mental health is slowly losing the negative stigma and shame, and it does seem that people are more open to getting help for mental illness, depending on the severity.  Yet, so many of our mental hospitals were closed in the 1980’s, leaving these people with nowhere to go, and no options for help.  Sometimes, it’s more than one person can take care of alone.  Then they need help from society.  It should be easier for these people to obtain mental health services!  So, if the problem with mass shooters is mental health, then why is funding cut for mental health services?  Why are facilities closed?  They’re ill.  They need help! If you vote for politicians who cut spending on mental health services, then you can’t also use the mental health argument.  You can’t.  It makes you a hypocrite.  So if you voted for the ones who cut the funding for mental health services, then knock it off!  You can’t have it both ways.  I am tired of hearing it.  There was a law in place, which was recently repealed, making it more difficult for the mentally ill to obtain weapons.  Why was it repealed?  What idiot asshole thought that was a good idea (I’ll let you do your homework on that one)?  What purpose did it serve to repeal that law?  Oh, and if the shooter were black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc…..oh, that’s right….terrorist, and they should be deported.  The majority of these mass shootings are carried out by white, home grown, American terrorists.  Period.

Another argument I heard was that this gun should not have been in the hands of a 19 year old.  Really!?!?! So….a 19 year old with a history of mental illness was able to legally obtain an AR-15.  Please!  I have a more difficult time buying cold medicine! The argument I heard was that he shouldn’t have been able to get it until he was 21.  Because when he turns 21 he will be less mentally unstable?  He’ll magically become mentally stable at 21? Sorry.  That “logic” doesn’t work on me.  Neither does the bullying issue.  Bullying isn’t the problem either.  Bullying is a horrible thing that has been around from the beginning of time, and most educators do all we can to minimize it.  There have always been bullies.  There hasn’t always been access to weapons of mass destruction for the average person.

Another thing that was really disturbing to me with this most recent act of terrorism on American soil was the way the media described the suspect as being “adopted.”  AND?????  I happen to have 3 cousins, 2 nieces and several friends who were adopted, and none of them are violent or terrorists!  They are my family and people I happen to love.  By repeating this over and over on the news, I’m sure it was upsetting to anyone who was adopted, or loves someone who is.  This infuriated me, and put an unfair label on every adopted person! Totally unfair reporting!  Just what we need….more stereotypes and biases, as if we don’t have enough dividing us.

Christianity… we go!  Yes, I do call myself a Christian.  I do believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ.  His main lessons were to help the poor, sick, and the children.  Yet, so many people who are constantly saying they’re praying, asking for prayers, saying, “praise Jesus!” attending the “right” churches, or voting the “right” way seem to forget those simple things!  Oh, they’ll pray for you!  But what good is prayer if they don’t put forth some effort too?  Why are they putting all of the burden on God?  They’re lazy, that’s why!  Why are they boasting about all of the prayer they’re sending up, but then voting for people who do the exact opposite of what Jesus said to do….take care of the poor, sick, and the children????? Oh yes, I know about the lesson of God helping those who help themselves.  But sometimes people CAN’T help themselves!  Oh, they’re poor? They’re sick?  Do we know why?  Does it really matter?  No!  They need help! These are also the same people who claim that God/Jesus/religion is not allowed in our schools anymore.  Are you kidding me????  If you are true Christians, how can you remove that part of your personality when you are at work?  True Christianity should reflect in your actions.  Doesn’t God work through us?  Then if we are Christians, doing God’s work, then how is He “removed” from our schools?  Sorry, but yet another argument that doesn’t add up, and I’m tired of it.  I use compassion and love and understanding each day with my students.  They aren’t numbers. They are little lives, and they are our future.  We say the Pledge of Allegiance EVERY DAY (I’ve been told many times that we don’t….maybe before posting that nonsense on social media, you should check with someone who actually works in the public schools)…..and yes, we DO say, “One nation, under God” EVERY DAY!  I’ve been in schools where there were prayers around the flag pole, Bible study groups for teachers, my children were involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, etc. etc. etc.  No one is telling us we can’t pray. We just can’t force anyone else to pray! And quite frankly, I wouldn’t want someone forcing their religion on me either.  We are free to pray, and think however we want!  So all of these stupid posts about how we need to put God back in our schools to avoid more school shootings only anger me more.  Instead of putting it all on God, why don’t some of you step up and help out?  Stop using that as a cop out! Why don’t you go volunteer in the schools?  Why don’t you start serving the homeless, the poor, the hungry?  How about helping the mentally ill?  Volunteering in the Big Brother/Big Sister program? How about putting the prayer to work through your own actions?  How about praying for God to instill in you the desire to serve others, and understand others, and have compassion for those who struggle or need help?  Or, if you don’t have the desire or time to volunteer, maybe you have money, and you can help fund programs that have been cut? Time, energy, money, patience, understanding, compassion…….  Oh yeah… I remember……the answer is more guns, and protecting the 2nd amendment, right?

The 2nd amendment has become Biblical to some Americans, and it’s sickening!  They tout the Bible and say they’re Christians, but they are more willing to protect an amendment ratified in 1791 (that needs to be updated for today’s weapons) than to protect our children! That’s not a Christian. Why doesn’t our right to LIVE, and our children’s right to feel safe at school hold more weight than the right to carry a weapon?

So now we come to the right to bear arms…..concealed carry…..whatever you’re wanting to call it…’re carrying a gun.  Let’s look at the Las Vegas shooting.  That happened at a country music concert.  Now, I would guess that there were probably a few people in that crowd carrying weapons.  I don’t have a problem with that.  It’s their right.  Yet…..what good did it do them?  Were any of them able to stop the maniac in the hotel with his high powered weapons and mechanisms making his weapons more powerful?  More guns are not the answer!  The whole load of bullshit saying, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is ridiculous!  I’m sure there were plenty of good guys with guns in that crowd!  So where were they?  Why didn’t they stop him?  Wasn’t anyone praying?  If so, why did 58 people die, and nearly 500 people were wounded?  What happened?  Weren’t people praying hard enough? Weren’t those injured or killed deserving of God’s grace?  Of course they were! But who was there doing God’s work?  Prayer and guns alone are not the answer! Maybe that guy shouldn’t have been able to get his hands on those weapons in the first place!

Yes, prayer helps.  Saying, “All we can do is pray” is nonsense!  You can do so much more!  You can stand up and speak out against the senseless crimes being committed by having access to these types of weapons.  God gave us a voice!  God gave us brains!  Use them! If you are true Christians, then where is your compassion?  Why is the 2nd amendment more important than the teachings of Jesus?  I’m not trying to be preachy, but I’ve heard these arguments from “Christians,” and I’m not buying it.  I’m tired of lazy people hiding behind the label of Christianity.  The constitution is not the Bible.  “In God We Trust” did not appear on our coins until 1864, and not on our currency until 1957.  The Founding Fathers did NOT put it there (contrary to what gets repeatedly posted on social media).  Saying, “Let’s pray, ” and “Let’s put God back in our schools,” and continuing to vote for more guns is  NOT the answer!  Putting armed guards in our schools, arming our teachers, and making it easy to buy guns (but not cold medicine), but doing nothing to fix the root of the problem is not the answer.

Other countries don’t have this problem.  There are other countries who have the right to defend themselves, and they don’t have mass shootings.  The United States…..the country I love with my whole heart, the country my grandfathers, father, uncles, cousins, and son have all risked their lives to defend….needs to get it figured out when it comes to the most horrifying and disgusting issue facing us today. The answer to most of us is very clear. For the rest of you….well, my husband and I will continue to speak up, while we go into our classrooms each day…..always ready for a lock down (with little to no appreciation from anyone unless we’re gunned down…..then we become unwilling heroes… entire blog post in itself).  Oh yeah, and we will educate ourselves on political issues and candidates, taking into consideration what is best for us as a whole, and who is interested in fixing this problem,…..after all, the 2nd amendment is NOT in the Bible.

So even though this blog post is long, I hope you can see my frustration, and how saying and doing nothing about the core of the problem is as good as guaranteeing that this will continue to happen.  I’m angry!  I’m pissed off!  No amendment is worth the loss of countless innocent lives, especially school children and their teachers.

Be Happy, Happiness, Love, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Love Is In the Air

Well, tomorrow is another Valentine’s Day, and I have seen the retailers trying to cash in for several weeks now.  It’s really getting bad with the pressure to give just the right thing……or give to the right person, just because the commercials tell us we must.  While I really do love this special day, and what it represents….LOVE…..I don’t feel like anyone should feel pressure to “out give” or keep up with someone else when it comes to gift giving.  I also hate how it makes others feel left out or unloved if they don’t have a significant other.  That really isn’t fair.  I have been in that situation, and I believe it’s also called, “Singles Awareness Day.”   Funny, but kind of not.

Sure, every woman wants flowers.  I will take flowers any day of the year!  Fortunately, my husband brings me bouquets of flowers pretty often.  But I am just as happy with a sweet card, a favorite treat (usually Hot Tamales), or a nice dinner out.  I don’t need jewelry.  I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers delivered to work (although that is fun sometimes!), and I don’t need a new outfit.  More than anything, I appreciate the time I get to spend with my husband, because this time of year, he is so busy with his referee schedule that I barely see him.  I appreciate that he’s a hard worker, but he really is burning the candle at both ends, and it worries me a bit for his health. Having said that, he will be refereeing tomorrow night, so our Valentine’s Day dinner date will have to wait until the weekend.  It’s okay…I’m pretty sure I will still love him by then, if not more!

Valentine’s Day has become so expensive, but also cheapened in how it is approached.  You should buy cards and gifts for those you love because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.  The same can be said about Christmas….it’s become all about money.  Don’t spend money because the commercials and stores tell you that you have to! With the way our society is, and how busy and preoccupied we are with work, family, technology, and social media, why not give the one you love your undivided attention, and write a nice letter telling them how much you love and appreciate them?  Spend time making a romantic dinner.  Go for a walk together.  Turn down the lights, put on some soft music, and dance together. Go for a drive.  Those things can’t wear out.  Those moments can’t be thrown away.  Make memories with each other.

I know that at this point in my life, I try to make a special effort to let my Valentine know how I feel about him every day of the year.  Cards don’t have to wait until a special day.  Candy and flowers don’t have to wait until a special day.  Make every day count, and don’t take each other for granted…..sounds cliche’, but it does hold value.  Make this a great Valentine’s Day, and then make the day after that another great day of love!  And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that! Love is in the air!

“Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond words.”


Attitude Adjustments, Be Kind, Egos, Emotions, Helicopter Parenting, Uncategorized, Watch, Listen, and Learn, Youth Sports

Scenes From an Afternoon of Youth Basketball

I enjoy people watching.  I love sitting back and observing mannerisms, speech, clothing, body types, how they interact with others, etc.  I never want or need to be the center of attention, so people watching is my way of learning about others. You can learn oodles with observation!  Yesterday, I went to watch my husband referee some youth basketball games.  I don’t know any of the athletes, but I do enjoy watching, for as long as my head and ear can stand the whistles and loud buzzers.  I also love watching Al doing something he really enjoys.  But some of these games bring out interesting characteristics in people!

When I first walked into the gym, it was about halfway through the second quarter, and it was pretty crowded, so I was looking for a spot to park my fanny.  A nice man saw me searching, and said, “Ma’am, you can sit here!”  My first interaction with someone there, and he was as polite and nice as can be.  I thought to myself that manners do still exist, even in intense situations, such as a youth basketball game. That was a great way to start this little outing!

I had a front row seat, and saw Al running up and down the court.  The score was pretty close (19-14), and both teams seemed to be very aggressive.  There were a lot of fouls, and they were extremely physical! I guess the boys on these teams were about 12 or 13 years old.  The win came down to the final few seconds, so most of the parents were on edge.  It was a good game, and fun to watch!

There were two ladies behind me, but I could only hear one…..she wouldn’t shut up.  She wasn’t watching the game.  She was telling the other woman all about how her boyfriend broke up with her because she was no longer his best friend, and he didn’t feel right about dating her and also working with her.  He didn’t feel like they would be right for marriage because it was too much work, and she disagreed because marriage is work, and blah, blah, blah!  I heard it all! Then at one point, she stopped and said, “I have a hard time getting to know people.  I don’t know how to get to know someone.”  I wanted to turn around and say, “Maybe if you shut up long enough to LISTEN to someone else, then you could get to know people!”  SHEESH!  My guess is she didn’t really care too much about her son’s game, and I bet her boyfriend really broke up with her because she talks too much about herself.

Other parents love to coach their child from the sidelines, which drives me insane.  If they want to coach, why aren’t they volunteering their time to do it?  They’re yelling at their child, yelling at the coach, yelling at the refs.  I can’t imagine how difficult these people are to live and work with.  I bet they’re never happy with anything, and everything is someone else’s fault. There are a couple of parents who know nothing about the game.  Every time their child got the ball, they would yell, “Shoot it!  Shoot it!” even though they weren’t in any type of scoring position, and weren’t within any proximity to the basket.  One boy mouthed off to his coach, and then talked back to his mother in the stands.  She laid into him for the whole gym to hear…..”You better remember who you’re talking to!” He was in foul trouble, but I think he was in more trouble with his mama.

Watching people with their families, and how they interact, is interesting to me.  First of all, I like to look at facial features and body types, trying to match the children to the parents, or which couples are together.  There was one family that were all built like blocks….the mother, the father, and all of the children had very square heads, no necks, square upper bodies, and skinny legs.  It was really odd……I had a hard time looking away…..they sort of looked like cubes with arms and legs.  The mother kind of led the children and her husband around like a pack leader.  They followed along behind her, and it was obvious who was in charge.  Back to her later…..

Because of the intensity of the game, the parents sitting around me were very vocal, coaching from the stands, and yelling at the refs (Al and another man).  I do get a little defensive when anyone criticizes him, but I think I’m supposed to.  In our marriage vows, we did promise to protect each other.  I think that goes for unfair criticism too!  Again, if they want to do the job, then apply for it.  See if they want to run up and down the court for up to 16 games a week.  See if they appreciate being yelled at, called names, or criticized for making the right call! Of course, some things get by the refs, and of course, they will let some things go on purpose, especially with the younger athletes.  They’re only human, and the game does need to move along.  If they called every little travel by these young kids who are still working on their coordination and control, then the games would take days to complete!  After Al came over and kissed me, they realized who I was there to watch, so they toned it down a bit.  I guess they knew better than to say anything with his wife sitting there. If they said anything after that, they kept it to a minimum.

For the next game, I moved to the other end of the gym, where it was a little less crowded, and one man sat a few feet away from me.  He had a lot to say when the game was going on about the refs, but as soon as Al came near me during the time outs, he lowered his head and played on his phone.  When the game started back up, he started his criticism again.  Coward.  It wasn’t a very exciting game because one team was really bad, and it was a blowout, so I left at half time. One of the parents from the losing team was the mother from the “block” family….the pack leader. I’m actually happy I left before the end of that game.  Al said she came to him, and verbally berated him for not making enough calls on the winning team.  She was mad that her team lost, and was very unpleasant.  It wasn’t his fault that her son’s team sucked.  The saddest thing about this is that she is a co-worker of Al’s at school.  She attacked another adult, who was just doing his job, over a youth basketball game.  Petty.  Immature.  And now their working relationship will most likely be strained.  As protective as I am of him, it’s probably best that I wasn’t there!

Watching and listening.  Watching, listening, and learning.  Spending an afternoon watching youth basketball games, and learning about people…..people I may never see again, but who show us so much about their personalities through their words and actions.



Attention Whores, Get Over Yourself, Growing up, Let kids be kids, Lies, Making life interesting, Manipulation, Self respect, Storytelling, Teaching Responsibility, Uncategorized

Big Little Liars

I have students who tell outrageous stories (lies), and manipulate situations to get what they want.  Of course, part of it is that they have active imaginations, and they are only 6 and 7 years old.  As entertaining as the stories may be, they do need to start realizing that their words/stories will have consequences.  Just this year alone, I have been told that a student’s mother wakes her up in the morning by putting snakes in her bed, a child claimed she had gone to Disney World the day before…..Disney is 7 hours from us, and she hadn’t missed a day of school, “I got braces yesterday, but the dentist took them off again,” etc, etc, etc…….  So many times I just have to tune out the stories, but they can be very entertaining!

These are funny coming from children, but when adults lie, make up stories, embellish, or manipulate, it isn’t cute anymore.  There comes a time when we have to grow up and tell the truth.  We all want to sound more interesting than we probably are.  I have always thought I’ve lived a pretty boring life, until I talk to other people, and realize that through moving a lot, having a large family, and traveling, I’ve been able to experience some pretty awesome things, and my life has been very full and interesting.  Maybe those who haven’t led particularly interesting lives feel the need to gain attention by lying or manipulating events and people.  You know them…..attention whores.

I’ve known adults who thrive on drama, and with the drama, usually comes some sort of embellishment of the stories they’re relaying.  I mean, I get it….they need to make it as interesting as possible to hold someone else’s attention.  The longer they can hold an audience, the more likely they can gain sympathy, and let’s face it, they soak up any kind of admiration, no matter how they have to get it.

I guess my comparisons here have to do with maturity.  It’s fairly common, and sometimes cute, for children to tell (and sometimes believe) big stories/fabrications.  But there comes a time when everyone should outgrow this.  We slowly start correcting them, and helping them to understand that they can’t keep telling falsehoods for attention, or to hurt someone else….these are the first ones in my class who accuse others of doing something that hurts them.  These are the children who are busy talking, and when you call them out on it, they deny it’s them.  You see it with your eyes, and you hear it with your ears, but they’re looking right at you, denying it’s them.  I know we can try to channel this imagination into some type of creative writing, because they DO have great imaginations!  It would be a shame to completely waste it as they grow up.  However, some adults never reach that level of maturity, where they care about the consequences of their statements, or who they might hurt.  I hear it nearly every day in the political world, and even those claiming to be of some religious faith, manipulating scripture to fit their agenda.

Everyone wants to have their way.  Everyone wants to impress someone.  Everyone wants and needs a certain amount of attention.  But let’s try to do it honestly, without having to make up stories, manipulate, or embellish to satisfy our cravings for attention and sympathy.  Be fair, objective, diplomatic, compassionate, cooperative, and honest!  Leave the big entertaining stories for a novel or blockbuster movie, or just let the kids entertain us.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Courage, Family, Happiness, Iowa, Laughter, Love, Marshalltown, Iowa, Passion for Living, The Queen of Iowa, Uncategorized

Here’s To The Queen!

I’d like to tell you about The Queen……not the Queen of England, but The Queen of Iowa!  You didn’t know there was one, did you?  This queen is someone I’ve had in my life since I was 19 years old, and has been like a second mother to me, even though I don’t get to see or talk to her much anymore.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately…..

Joan Yvonne Wendt Williams…..The Queen.   I will get to why she has that title later, but for now, I want to tell you why she deserves it.  Joan was my mother in-law for 23 years, and is the grandmother to my children.  In fact, I was the one who made her a grandmother for the first time in 1989!  Her son and I may not see eye to eye on much of anything, and the divorce strained the whole family relationship, but I still consider her my family, especially since I’ve lost my own mother.  When you lose your mother, you lose a huge part of yourself. And when you divorce, you also lose another part of your family.

From the first time I met her in 1984, wearing my bathing suit (aghhh!), she was friendly, warm, and loving, and acted like she had known me my whole life.  For the first few years of knowing her, she was in an unhappy situation with her marriage.  Through hard work, she came through it on the other side, stronger, more independent, and happier.  It was hard for her to take that step, but she did it, and she has deserved every day of peace and happiness it has brought her since. She stood up for me several times in some uncomfortable situations during that time period, and I have never thanked her for that, even though I appreciated it so much.  I’m not even sure she would remember doing it because it is so second nature for her to do that sort of thing.

She was raised in a small town in Iowa, married young, as most girls did in the late 1950’s, and raised 4 children.  She lost a child shortly after birth, which I know is still painful for her.  I’ve been to the cemetery with her a few times to place flowers or pinwheels on her daughter’s grave.  She has talked to me about that time, and I could feel the pain myself through her words, even though she was so strong and composed telling me about it.  This is just one of the few things that made her such a strong woman.

Her own mother in-law, Florence, was a good woman, and was good to her too, but…..difficult.  I knew Florence well, and I always got the feeling that no woman would ever be good enough for her sons.  Yet, with Joan…..any man would be lucky to have her!  Joan told me once that she never wanted to be that type of mother in-law to me.  I feel thankful to her for that.  It sure made life easier!

We grew closer over the years, and always enjoyed having a beer and pizza together.  The laughter and friendship we shared can never be replicated with anyone else, but two of my children are now to the age where they can sit down and enjoy a good drink with their grandma and laugh the way we used to.  She and her oldest daughter, Lisa, used to make a trip to see us about twice a year….once in the fall, and once in the spring, when we lived in Kansas.  Lisa would bring her step daughter sometimes, and always had her dog in tow.  It was fun, but Joan hated driving through the Kansas City traffic before getting to our house!  It stressed her out to no end!  The very first thing she would say after her hugs and kisses all around, was, “I need a beer!”  I tried to be fully stocked on beer when Grandma Joan came to visit!

I will never forget the time I heard my 4 year old daughter say, “Oh damnit!” when she dropped something.  I said, “Lily, we don’t say that.”  She looked at me confused, and said, “We don’t?  Grandma Joan says it!”  Now my own  five year old grandson is repeating Great-Grandma Joan’s salty language that he picked up last summer.  Of course, it isn’t appropriate, but I can’t be mad.  In fact, I think it’s pretty funny……if Joan has taught me anything, it is to not be stuffy and unhappy, even when life is hard.  Learn to laugh and let go.  Don’t be angry.  Smile.  Don’t hold grudges.  Have fun.  Don’t take life so serious.  It’s short, so enjoy it.

These days I hear she enjoys her boxed wine while getting her daily fix of Drew Carey and The Price is Right!  One of my daughters was telling me that Grandma loads up her walker with beer, and meets with friends at the Embers, her retirement apartment building, for “coffee.”  I got such a chuckle out of that!  She has always known how to have a good time!  Whether it’s playing bingo, trips to the casino, watching her favorite soap opera or TV show, or “coffee” with her friends, she always has fun!

The last time I saw her, I was able to introduce my husband to her.  She hugged him, and told him that if I loved him, then he was okay in her book!  Before we left, she hugged him again, and told him to “take care of my girl.”  He promised he would.  After we left, he said he wished we could have stayed because he could have sat for a few hours, having a few beers and talking with her!  Now that I’m sick, she continues to check with my daughter to make sure Al is taking good care of me…..he is!  I’m stubborn, but he does as much as I let him do.

Now to her well earned title…….The Queen……in most retirement or assisted living facilities, they will choose a king and queen.  I’m not sure what all goes along with the title, but they get to ride in a parade!  Last year, Joan was chosen as Queen of the Embers.  She got to ride in the parade, and from what the kids tell me, she was ordering people to “bow down.”  I can’t help but laugh, because I can picture it!  Recently, a little girl was introduced to The Queen.  She asked if she was the Queen of Iowa, and my daughter told her yes!  And you know what?  She is!  Beautiful, funny, kind, gracious, friendly, salty, and compassionate……what other qualities do you need in a queen?

Here’s to The Queen!  I love you Joan!