My First Blog: My First Post

This is so exciting!  And, I must admit, a bit scary considering anyone and everyone can read this.  Why would I try this then, you ask?  Well, that is the same question I have been asking myself.  Why am I drawn to this project?  So far, all I can come up with is that I might feel better (as in, more complete) if I was able to express myself in writing and committing to a blog might help hold me accountable to continuing this experiment.  After all, we all have a voice that is waiting to be heard; some of us are simply more comfortable expressing ourselves via the written word.  So here goes nothing!  😉

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Aunt MaryAnn

Funerals are difficult for me, and I tend to avoid them, if possible. I don’t like all of the sadness. It makes me terribly uncomfortable, and it reminds me of other traumatic events I would like to forget. I prefer to remember the good times I had with the person who has passed. But smiling isn’t necessarily appropriate in the eyes of others during such a time. So, I try to avoid doing so, out of respect.

            Today, however, I was prepared to attend the funeral of a beloved friend, neighbor, and family member. My mother was not feeling up to it though, so we didn’t make the drive. I decided I better stay close, in case she needed me. (Mom had a total shoulder replacement a month ago.)

            I regret not being there for my sister-in-law and her dear extended family, my nieces, and brother, etc. Nonetheless, I am thankful that the last time I saw my Aunt MaryAnn (as my sisters and I affectionately called her) was several months prior, at her 90th birthday party, surrounded by her family and friends and smiling.

            Aunt MaryAnn’s smile and laugh were infectious. She loved having a good time and encouraging others to do the same. She and Uncle Don, my sister-in-law (who was only a teenager at the time and not yet married to my brother) and her sisters, and their various pets lived in a two-story home behind our property. I would often walk back to their house (along with the family dog to protect me from snakes). It was a happy time. Aunt MaryAnn and Uncle Don were always warm and welcoming, and Donna and Lori were always sweet and patient with me. In the summertime, they always seemed to have frozen Coke on hand, and I recall having hot dogs over there more than once. Aunt MaryAnn was always sure to offer me something. She was famous for asking her guests “Are you hungry?” I honestly can’t remember a time I didn’t see her smiling. She was a delightful woman!

            Once, while visiting Aunt MaryAnn and Uncle Don, I was accidentally bitten by a neighbor dog who was actually snapping at another dog. Regardless, I was nicked on top of the head and started bleeding everywhere. Aunt MaryAnn was quick to spring into action, getting me an ice pack and having Uncle Don drive me home while she held the ice pack on my head and comforted me. I remember her kindness vividly. I suppose she wasn’t smiling during that fiasco, but I truthfully only remember her holding me in the car and trying to make sure I was okay. I also don’t remember feeling scared, despite not having my parents present. That, in and of itself, is remarkable and something I won’t soon forget.

            Growing up, we had many wonderful neighbors who were more like family, and I am grateful for all of them and the positive impact they had on me. I can’t imagine not having had Aunt MaryAnn around then, and she will always remain a joyful part of my life. It’s certainly sad that she is no longer with us, but I am so happy that she is now pain-free and smiling once again in heaven. I have no doubt that she, Uncle Don, Grandpa Hann, and my dad are all celebrating being reunited. And that makes me smile. 😊

“Don’t Make it a Habit”…Or Do!

Today was a good day! 🙂 June 7, 2019

I have a lot of “issues”. I have ADHD. I have anxiety. I am overweight…have high blood pressure…suffer from clinical depression…well, you get the idea. I don’t mention these things to garner attention or sympathy but rather to let others know that they aren’t alone. Because feeling alone can add some serious stress to already difficult situations and conditions, compounding them and resulting in an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for many people.

But today was a good day, and I am celebrating by attempting to encourage others who may be struggling. You are NOT alone, and you can feel better! So, hang in there.

Now, about my FriYAY… 😉

My day was good for several reasons. First, my sweet and generous mother gifted me $100 toward a haircut and color treatment with her stylist! 🙂 I rarely get my hair “did”, as some people put it, 😉 and was severely overdue for a “style revival”. Mom’s stylist is a lovely person, and I enjoyed my time with her and her delightful co-workers. My wild, frizzy hair has been tamed with summer highlights, volumizing layers, heavy texturizing, and some wispy, sideswept bangs. It looks and feels so much better! And it’s given me a bit of a confidence boost; something we all need from time to time.

The second joyous occurrence was that Fridays are my one day I can count on to be off work, and breaks are always refreshing. I was able to spend some alone time focusing on a few relaxing things I had been wanting to do at home. I read a few articles and a chapter in my bible study book. It was nice to have some quiet time to slow down and recharge and also to get a couple of little chores completed. It was great stress relief.

The third reason that made today a “win” was that I unexpectedly received a Stitch Fix shipment that I thought I had cancelled. As it turns out, this shipment contained some “must haves” that made my day, and how often does that happen? (Answer: not often. I am normally upset with myself for making such a mistake.)

All of this may sound trivial to you, but to me, it was an exceptionally great day, and I felt like sharing my blessings with you all. 🙂

Birthday Blues

Blue is my favorite color, the color of my birthstone, and the color of my eyes. So, it’s not all bad! 😉

Tuesday.  March 5th.  2019.  My 46th birthday.  And here I sit listening to my husband chew out AT&T because our internet is down.  I’m not blaming him at all; it’s a crappy situation.  Being without internet costs us money.  And they didn’t even bother to let us know.  WE had to call THEM to find out what was wrong, and, at present, they’re not offering to reimburse us or find an efficient solution.  Typical customer service these days.  Sheesh.  (UPDATE: After nearly two hours on the phone and several customer service agents later, my husband FINALLY was able to speak with someone in the states who offered him a reduced rate on our internet for next month.)

          Anyway, I have been home again today, mostly due to fatigue.  Not fun.  I miss my students, but the stress at work has become a big part of my health problems.  It’s killing us financially, but I can’t continue to hurt my health either.  I’m trying to find a work-from-home option that might keep us afloat, but it’s not easy…and the guilt doesn’t help.  Such is life.  Am I right?

          The good news: I’m alive; I’m loved; I refuse to let this temporary phase in life sink me.  I have survived worse, and I will continue to survive.  And, eventually, I will be healthy and happier again.  The “circle of life” – for most of us humans – just not the one we learned about.  The most disappointing thing is that this is yet another thing we’re not taught in school; no class prepares us for the physical, mental, and emotional ups and downs of life.  It seems to me that the majority of people I know thought that once they graduated high school, things would be better – once they finished college or job training and got going in their career, they would be happy and life would be good.  But this isn’t always the case, and many of us aren’t prepared for the drama that is “real life.”  So, what do we do?

          Some of us turn to unhealthy vices: alcohol, drug abuse, inappropriate relationships, etc.  Some of us seek out healthy coping mechanisms: therapy, advice and support from family and friends, self-help materials, exercise, etc.  One thing too many of us have in common though is neglecting to help each other through hard times.  (Guilty.) ☹ I believe that for most of us, this is not a matter of not caring or trying to hurt someone’s feelings, but rather, when you’re in your own “crisis mode,” you don’t feel capable of giving someone else the support they might need.  So, we don’t try (or we don’t try hard enough), and we often regret it…and sometimes, it’s too late for the other person in need.  They may have already developed life-long bad habits that they are unable to turn away from, or worse, they may have decided to end their own life, thinking the suffering was too much for them or maybe that no one cared that much anyway.  It’s tragic – heartbreaking.  I know; I have experienced such a loss.

          And this brings me to my point: what can we do, as a society, to change this?  I am not so naïve as to believe that we can “save” everyone; however, I firmly believe that we can do better – that we HAVE to do better.  Given the nature of our lives, in general, what can we change to make life more bearable – to save lives even?  The World Wide Web and smartphones are here to stay, and technology continues to evolve, which makes it easier to communicate effectively over long distances.  This is wonderful in many ways, but the entertainment side of this gets in the way of us humans, actually communicating, face-to-face in meaningful ways.  As easily as it can join us together, the internet can also isolate us, sometimes resulting in devastating consequences.  The question is how can we combat this growing problem?  How can we effectively encourage people to “feel better” or seek help, if necessary, using all of this technology, or even in spite of it?  Is that truly possible?

          In recent years, our nation has experienced several suicides of high-profile celebrities.  If even the most “successful” and “privileged” among us can fall victim to this tragic mindset, how can we expect the rest of us to fair in trying times?  Shouldn’t we, as a nation, be more concerned about the stigma that still surrounds mental health and seeking help for issues of the mind?  Isn’t it time we demand that insurance companies and our government do more to rectify this societal epidemic?  Are you aware that roughly 25% of combat veterans end up taking their own lives after returning home and leaving the service?  What is wrong with us?

Let’s spark a movement!

          Can you sense my desperation here, people?  Let’s start a conversation.  Let’s get educated.  I’m not going to pretend to know the answers.  I’m as clueless as many of you.  For instance, did you know that there’s a point in a person’s rehabilitation (from drugs and alcohol) when some are getting better almost too fast, and they get overwhelmed and often then become suicidal?  I didn’t either – until after my brother died.

          I’m asking you to comment, but I am NOT asking for hatefulness or criticism of others who comment.  This is to be a civilized discussion, the goal of which is to brainstorm solutions to a serious, and sometimes deadly, set of circumstances in hopes of raising awareness and “starting a conversation.”  (I will delete any unkind or inflammatory comments.)

A few things we already know about or have in place:

1) Suicide Hotlines

2) Support Groups

3) Therapists (for those who can afford them)

4) Checking on People in Crisis

5) Alerting Department of Health Services (for minors)

6) Anti-Bullying Campaigns

What do you believe are the pros and cons of the interventions listed above?  Can we improve these?

Here are a few resources/websites:

A) https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

B) https://www.crisistextline.org/textline?gclid=CjwKCAiA_P3jBRAqEiwAZyWWaG4etWIR1TcfzqygnzguOL9UkOKuLVgAGYIN0e734s22gS9Ypn3eEBoChv8QAvD_BwE

C) https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/suicide-prevention

D) http://suicidehotlines.com/arkansas.html

E) http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/arkansas-suicide-hotlines.html

F) https://www.arcrisis.org/

G) https://www.sprc.org/states/arkansas

H) https://afsp.org/chapter/afsp-arkansas/

Thank you for reading this, and I pray that, if nothing else, it has made you think.

It begins with YOU.

​It’s so very sad and despicable that anyone should have to worry about being a victim of a hate crime in this country! 😥 It doesn’t matter whether or not you like our president-elect; (and I am not a fan) we all need to come together and peacefully show how we feel about our government:  write letters to Congress, start campaigns/rallies, spend time brainstorming solutions, etc. Things won’t get better in our nation until we all decide to better ourselves and stop supporting any kind of violence and/or hate directed toward others. You can disagree with someone without becoming mean or violent. Let’s work on anger/mood management, mental health awareness, and good old-fashioned manners. ❤ #bekind #takepeacefulaction #stopsupportingviolence #RaisingMyVoice

Winter’s Cold Shoulder

It’s a few minutes after midnight on December 31st, and it’s 48 degrees outside.  I am out walking my dog, and I am longing for snow.  The problem is: I live in Arkansas.  Weather.com is calling for thunderstorms and a high of 65 degrees on Monday and then the slight possibility of a trace amount of snow, with a high of 31 degrees, the following Saturday.  It won’t amount to anything, IF we actually get it.  The temperatures have been too inconsistent.  This is why we often have tornadoes: our warm and cold fronts meeting drastically, sometimes causing dangerous conditions.  But I digress.  Back to the snow.

Snow is rare here in the South; we’re more likely to experience winter weather in the form of sleet, freezing rain, or ice…none of which is fun.  Although, a thin blanket of ice clinging to branches and bushes can be rather dazzling.  Snow is what I have always pined for; snow is fun.  Every winter I can remember, I have wished, dreamed, and hoped for snow…particularly on Christmas.  I blame all of the traditional stories, TV specials, and songs of the Christmas season for this profound yearning of mine.  All of those people throwing snowballs, making snow angels, and simply frolicking in the snow every year, while most Christmases I peered out my window at bare trees and dead grass.  Not the most festive of scenes.

Growing up, my father and mother didn’t help matters much.  They were both from the snowy north and grew up with plenty of that glorious white stuff in the winter, so much so that one of the biggest reasons my dad moved us to Arkansas was due to the unlikelihood of him ever having to shovel snow again.  Sigh.  My mom missed it sometimes, but she owned a kennel, and the lower the temperature, the harder it was caring for the animals.  This meant my prayers for a white Christmas were almost always cancelled out by their prayers for the opposite.

So here I am, in my early 40s, still wanting it to snow.  Heck, I even made it the subject of an entire blog post!  :/  I can’t help myself.  Snow is breathtaking; it transforms the landscape in ways that nothing else can.  Frosting bare tree branches, concealing ugly brown grass, eliminating boundaries, drastically reducing the sounds of mechanization, miraculously increasing the sounds of children laughing and playing…it’s magical.  I realize that it loses some of its luster when you’re raised in regions where it is abundant, but I’m not sure I could ever get tired of looking at it.  Watching snow fall is one of the most peaceful sights on Earth, and I can hardly wait to witness that again.  This is why, as a teacher, I still look forward to “snow days”.  I don’t care if we have to make them up at the end of the year; my soul needs feeding.  Needless to say, my winter mantra is:

“Let it snow!  Let is snow!  Let it snow!”