Art, Be Happy, Crawfish Festival, Happiness, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Misconceptions, Pensacola, Pensacola Lighthouse Museum, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Appreciating Your Surroundings

It sure was a beautiful weekend here last weekend!  Because I’ve been really stressed lately, I needed the weekend in a big way!  Al and I don’t get to see each other for more than a couple of hours each day during the week because of our work schedules, and sometimes he works on Saturdays, so it felt like we hadn’t really had a chance to talk about much lately.  We spent Saturday downtown, where it seemed that everyone and their dog  were also out and about (seriously…..there are dogs EVERYWHERE downtown, and I love it!)!  It was busy with graduations, the Crawfish Festival, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, farmers’ market, and  people out just enjoying the beautiful weather!  It was nice to see so many people enjoying the festivities.

We walked, and talked a lot, and of course, when we are together, there’s always a lot of laughter and affection.  We started by cruising through the farmers’ market, which is weekly, and we have a our favorite vendors we like.  We sat at the Crawfish Festival, listening to the music, watching the people, talking to new people, and enjoying the food.  There was an abundance of delicious items, besides the “mudbugs” (crawfish, for those of you who aren’t familiar with that term)….shrimp, alligator, oysters, shark, chicken, gumbo, etouffee, rice and beans, paella, etc.  Then we walked through downtown, and stopped off at a few places along the way, just enjoying each other’s company.

This part of Florida has a hillbilly reputation…..some of it earned, but some of that label is unfair.  Pensacola has rich history.  Did you know that it even predates Jamestown and St. Augustine?  We have historical museums, art museums, the Naval History Museum and Lighthouse, Fort Pickens (where Geronimo was held when our government was relocating/imprisoning Native Americans), GREAT food, dolphin cruises, fishing excursions, entertainment, and shopping…..oh, and don’t forget the beautiful beaches (some of the best in the world), and water sports.  Every weekend, all year long, it seems that there is some sort of festival going on (usually free) from Destin to Pensacola.  Whether it’s seafood, art, jazz, Gallery Night, or a cultural festival, there always seems to be something happening, and you can experience it on a budget.  We also have minor league baseball and hockey teams.

No, we aren’t Miami or New York, but that’s okay.  If we wanted that, we could go there.  Those places are fun to visit, and have great energy, but the pace of life here is a lot more agreeable to our lifestyle now.  We have what we need, and enjoy our peace and quiet as well.  We can relax on the beach, or stay busy in town.  We can appreciate our life here, and make the most of what it offers.  We love good weather, and we have over 300 days of sunshine a year…..as Al says, “You can’t beat that!” I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of different places in my life, and I have appreciated each one for everything it offers.  Take the time to learn about your surroundings.  Appreciate the history, food, culture, and weather.  Even though I have to deal with the lizards, frogs, snakes, and bears, I do like it here, and I get to be here with my best friend.  Will we stay here forever? Who knows?  But for now, this works for us.

 

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Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Bewitched, Busy Minds, Civil Rights, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Empowerment, Family, Fear, Focus, Happiness, Insensitivity, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Manners, Misconceptions, Passion for Living, Peaceful Protests, Racism, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, Thankfulness, That's life, Tom Jones, Uncategorized, Understanding

Hocus Focus

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately.  Part of it is because I have a hard time typing with a brace on my wrist. Part of it is just because I’ve been a bit distracted with a few things lately.  I start to write, and I find myself not wanting to finish the topic because I get worried how some people might react.  I try to keep my posts positive, and try to inspire people to do their best, while maybe sharing some experiences from my life, or funny stories.  I know I shouldn’t worry about that, because I know if I’m doing the best I can, that’s all that matters.  I have a level of sarcastic humor that not everyone gets, but I can’t worry about that either.  I’ll try to give you an idea of what my mind has been like lately….

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is today……let’s keep moving forward.  Even my 1st graders think racism is awful.

Broken wrists suck.

Vertigo sucks.

I have a secret crush on Tom Jones.

Migraines suck.

Free movie passes are great.

I, Tonya was a good movie.

Catch the movie, Mudbound on Netflix……eye opening, and should tug at everyone’s heart.  Let’s not ever go back to that. Mary J. Blige does an excellent job in it.

I love Kansas City at Christmas.

I love warm weather.

My dog is the sweetest, snuggled next to me as I type this.

The Vikings had an awesome game yesterday, and I hope they go all the way, especially for my best friend’s sake…..she loves them!

Some people really take advantage, and are attention whores.

I would never have the nerve to set up a Go Fund Me account for myself…….

Therefore, medical bills and trying to get by through this really sucks.

Donald Trump sucks.  Yep.  I said it!

What happened to manners?

Why can’t people respect your time and your finances?  It’s not up to anyone else how you spend these things, and if you have the time or money for something.  I would never tell someone, “You have time for this,” or “You can afford that.”  No one’s energy level is the same as someone else’s, and no one knows what your financial obligations are.

A man complimented me in the elevator in the medical building for the boots I had on….then he asked if that was okay because he wasn’t sure it was acceptable….compliments should always be acceptable.

Work/teaching is exhausting.

Trying to get my foot in the door with real estate is next to impossible while teaching full time.  Taking my post license course now.

I don’t like one of my medical specialists…….at all.

Sometimes no matter how nice you are to people, they just won’t like you.  Be nice anyway, but protect yourself.  You can’t make them care.  Their actions will show you how they feel.  Be kind.

Seizures suck.

My family is wonderful.

I don’t get to see a lot of Al this time of year because he works at lot with youth basketball, so we spent today together.  He helped me with groceries and put gas in my car…..helping me with that wrist thing.

My kids are great…..and goofy, and I worry about them all the time.

Social anxiety can be crippling……try to smile and get through it.  I feel it every day.

Youth basketball games are fun to watch, especially when they’re scrappy little kids.

Some people are heartless.

I’m addicted to reruns of Bewitched.

Spring and summer need to get here soon. I need summer now!

So you can see……my mind is all over the place…..writer’s block, because I can’t focus on anything.  Not feeling bad or depressed….I’m just overwhelmed with a lot right now, so my mind is a busy place.  I wonder if I have adult ADD to add to the list of conditions? Maybe if I am able to reduce the stress in my life and get the rest I need, I can focus!  For now, I will rely on exercise and meditation (and Bewitched) to get me through!

I hope you all have had a great Martin Luther King Jr Day.  Did you do anything to give back? I didn’t this year.  I just don’t have the energy.  My justification for this is that I give back each day when I walk into my classroom. Every teacher does……

Get focused! Now back to studying….

 

 

 

 

European Vacation, Home Sweet Home, Misconceptions, Respect, Sweden, travel, Uncategorized

Home Sweet Home

I’ve been on hiatus the last few weeks due to travel, fatigue, not feeling the greatest, studying, and just trying to reflect on our trip to Europe.  The trip itself was not bad.  A couple of our flights were fine, two others a little stressful.  Since we flew out of Miami, we had an 11 hour drive on either end of the trip too, so we were also more exhausted from this!  We aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore, and we do get more tired than when we were 20 or 30!  We had plans every single day we were there, and I wasn’t feeling well several of those days, but kept going as much as I physically could.

We were able to stay in Al’s old apartment, where he lived for 17 years, so that saved us a ton of money!  We could cook our meals and not eat out all the time!  Plus, we stayed in shape by climbing the 53 steps each day! We were also able to borrow a friend’s car for part of the time, and took public transportation (trains, trains, and more trains), and walked a lot.  Any time you are in a city, you will spend a good deal of time walking, and I love that about any metropolitan area.

We didn’t see as much of the country and tourist areas as we wanted, but that was ok, because we got to spend time with people.  Since Al lived there for 30 years, there were a lot of friends who wanted to see him.  We squeezed in a little bit of sight seeing the last couple of days, and the sun came out, so that was nice!  We toured the Nordic Museum, which is housed in a beautiful building, and we were treated to a free boat tour through the canals around Stockholm.  We tried to tour the Vasa Museum, but the lines were way too long, and we had a short time frame due to plans later that night.  We also spent the day with friends at their house on the water (a finger of the Baltic Sea), and it was gorgeous!  So much of the landscape, countryside, and customs reminded me of living in Northern Iowa on the Minnesota border.  I understand now why so many Scandinavians settled in that area.  The weather, food, customs, foliage, scenery….even the people felt very familiar.  While living in the upper Midwest, I remember many times having to wear jackets in June!  Brrrr!  A lot of people think I’m from Florida, and can’t handle cold weather.  I handled cold weather (blizzards, white outs, ice storms, -80 windchills) my whole life until the last few years.  I handle it just fine.  I just don’t like it.

I didn’t meet many Swedish people.  Most of Al’s friends are American, Australian, British, etc.  However, the wives of his friends were Swedish, and they were all very kind to me.  If you’ve ever been in a foreign country, and don’t speak the language, you can understand how excluded and isolated you can feel.  It’s understandable to speak your language in your country, so I didn’t mind….I was a guest in their country, after all.  It just felt awkward a few times.  On two separate occasions, there were friends who announced that they would be speaking only English for my sake.  I really appreciated that!  It really made me feel accepted and respected.  I thought that was very kind of them.  Another thing I loved was that Sweden is a very dog friendly country!  I usually enjoy dogs more than most people, so it was great to see dogs EVERYWHERE.  They are treated extremely well!

There were a few misconceptions on both sides, I think, about how America/Americans are perceived, and how Sweden/Swedes are perceived.  I had heard that Stockholm is very clean, and knowing what I know about the descendants of Scandinavians, I was expecting very well manicured landscapes, no litter, no graffiti, no weeds, etc.  However, I felt that it was like a lot of cities in America, with those same issues.  Definitely cleaner than New York, but very comparable to Kansas City, Minneapolis, Denver, etc.  I had also been told that there aren’t overweight people in Sweden.  Well, there were.  Also, I was told that Swedes don’t eat a lot of fast food…..maybe not like America, but there were plenty of fast food restaurants, and many of the meals we were served had fried food and a lot of pork and sweet items.  This may be a more recent trend, as corporations become more global, and everyone seeks convenience…a sign of the times. I had also expected no racism, but one evening in a train station, we experienced a bit of that. There are also homeless people, and drug addicts…..very common in American cities as well.

A few misconceptions I had to clarify were that all Americans are not on “Obamacare,” not all Americans voted for the current president, we do have vacation time and sick leave, and we are not all stupid, ignorant, or racist (even those of us residing in the South).  Actually, defending my country got a little old.  I didn’t mind explaining the health care situation, and that I have my summers off (plus sick leave, personal leave, two weeks at Christmas, a week at Thanksgiving, a week at Spring Break, Good Friday, Veterans Day, President’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day….plenty of time off!).  They seemed to think we are all working our fingers to the bone with no time off, and no benefits.  I have pretty decent benefits through my job. But defending myself, my intellectual abilities, and that of my friends and family was frustrating.  Hearing some of the jokes and comments made about Americans was at times, hurtful.  I realize this is the information they receive, but thanks to reality TV, Jerry Springer, and the Kardashians, many Europeans think that is the way all Americans are.  Those are the images that are put out there, and speak the loudest, unfortunately.  It made me sad and embarrassed.  Mind you, not everyone was like this, but I heard these comments enough to get tired of them.

I know that the United States has its problems.  It always has, and always will.  It’s a very vast country, very diverse, and has a huge population.  It has a violent past.  But it’s truly fascinating!  There are very intelligent people here (even in the South….), and a ton of good things happen to be “All American.” In fact, for all of the mean or negative things I heard about my country, I noticed just as many NY ball caps, and a lot of American brand clothing.  They may not like us, but they want to be like us! As much as this country struggles, it is still my home, and I do have pride for the good people and good things that go on here.  I also love the vast landscapes, and all it has to offer.  I love the wide open spaces.  I love the promise of the “American Dream.”  I love our fascinating (yet violent) history, and how my family played a part in it.  I love the friendliness and acceptance I feel here.  I love the beach that is 10 minutes from my house.  I love that I can go to the mountains, desert, beach, forest, or prairie, and still be in my country.  I love the accessibility to affordable housing (housing, or lack of available/affordable housing, was a topic of conversation in nearly every circle we were in).  I love our movies and television shows.  I love our music.  I love the accessibility to affordable groceries and retail items, and a variety of places to shop for these things.  I love that even if my neighbor and I don’t agree on religion or politics, we will be there for each other, any time we need each other….trusting each other to keep an eye on our houses, pets, or plants, or to help with a project or a car that won’t start.  I love the helping hands that are there in times of need…..sometimes from complete strangers.

Sweden was a nice, beautiful country, and it is home to approximately 10 million people.  Most of the people were beautiful, and asked educated questions about our lives here, looking for informed answers.  The United States is home to approximately 320 million people.  Naturally, with more people, there will be more (or different) problems. We do have a few ignorant people here (as every country does).  I do wish we had the healthcare system Sweden has.  I loved the open air markets with all of the produce and flowers.  I loved the history and the architecture of Old Town in Stockholm.  But America is my home.  I am proud of it for so many reasons, even with all of it’s problems and divisiveness right now.  I have had so many opportunities in my life here.  My parents raised five children, who are all college graduates and beyond.  I’ve been able to travel to 40 states and now 6 countries.

Everyone should be just as proud of their country, but have respect for other countries and their citizens as well.  It’s great to explore and learn new things about other countries, their citizens, their history, and their culture, and I can’t wait to do it again.  It broadens our minds, and helps us to understand each other better.  Traveling and learning about each other, and having mutual respect for each other could solve so many problems we face today.  Education, travel, broadening our horizons, and embracing our differences can only make this world a better place.

Be proud of your country.  Be proud of your roots (my roots are mostly European).  Be proud of your flag…..and respect all others.  We love to travel, but as Al said the night before we headed home, “It will be nice to be back on the other side of the Atlantic again.”  Home is home.  To honor my 26 years spent in Kansas, I will end with this…..”There’s no place like home!”