6/29/12

Nothing surprises me anymore…(Well, that’s not true, but it sounded good…)



I was hours from my home, staying in a resort hidden in the mountains and surrounded by serenity, lounging by the pool after my incredible day at the spa. The waitress brought me a lovely cocktail, the sun was shining and I was wearing a two-piece bathing suit that I NEVER imagined I would wear.


I was more relaxed than I’d been in a long, long time.
   

Then, I heard the words.    


“Mrs. Smythe!!  HEY!  Mrs. SMYTHE!”   I popped up from the lounge chair and a soaking wet Laura ran to me and wrapped her arms around me in surprised glee.  I was just as thrilled to see her, and hugged her tightly.  


It wasn’t until I saw her parents that I realized I was wearing a two-piece bathing suit.  Lord Have Mercy – I don’t think there’s a child in the world who wants to see one of their former teachers in a two-piece bathing suit; and I don’t think there’s a teacher in the world who wants a child’s PARENTS to see her in one.



Unless, of course,  she’s lost 35 pounds.  (Plus that other 225 lbs. that shall remain nameless.)  




Then it kind of rocks.






life is lovely....and full of amazing surprises. 





(Sweet Cheezes – isn’t there ANYWHERE in this country I can go without being spotted by one of my former students?)



6/28/12

Some things just need to be said out loud..(Hearts are too important for anything less.)



I’ve spent the last two days at a lovely, incredibly relaxing resort nestled in the mountains in Oregon.


The resort, 3 hours from my home, has been around for about a thousand years. It has managed to survive the peaks and valleys of our fragile economy, despite being located in the middle of Nowhere, USA.  (aka Middle Earth.)  It offers lovely ski trails, hiking trails, golf, zip lines, swimming, and anything else imaginable that one could do in the mountains.

I was given this beautiful (surprise) gift from this particular friend.  I spent one day at the spa getting a manicure, pedicure, massage and the MOST incredible facial on the face of the earth.  Oh sure, I’ve never had a facial before, but I’m sure that this particular young lady gave me the best one on the planet.


However, the most touching parts of this getaway were the moments spent deepening and reevaluating this friendship that has been tucked in the back of our memories for oh, so many years.  We spent many hours sharing, talking, laughing and sharing some more. We discussed our painful experiences, our complicated and very different lives, and the amazing love we both have for our children.  We realized that while our hearts will always be connected in ways that can’t be explained, our journeys will most certainly take different paths.



We engaged in more thoughtful, insightful and somewhat painful discussions about the truths of our lives throughout these days.  And yet through it all, and at the end of it all, I was very impressed by our mature and respectful behaviors. 





I think, perhaps, we’re all grown up after all.








…and so this journey of mine continues…with renewed strength and a sense of peace. 






thank you, Clint, for helping me feel beautiful again...




6/24/12

Sometimes when you clean, you find little nuggets of gold.


Yes I AM working on The Book today. (Sending it today to the best editor in the world before it travels BACK to the agent who doesn't realize I'm the best client he's never had.  But Shhh.  It's a secret.)


As I research (aka dig through hundreds of scraps of paper, notes, post-its, notebooks, tablets and blog posts) I am horribly distracted (aka procrastination be thy name) by all the funnies.

Do you remember this?

Or this?


And this.

And this,  this and THIS??





Sweet Cheezus,  I really DO love my job.




(Love these martini glasses.   Would love them MORE if they were all full.)

6/23/12

Sure they tell me everything, but can't they just ignore me like every OTHER child does to their parent?


Dear Sassy,

Let’s re-cap the most spectacular and memorable moments of that long mother/daughter road trip that nearly killed me; shall we?  (Because I adore lists, I’ve managed to whip up a top five.)


5.  I know that you’ve suffered hearing loss after those bazillion ear infections, and that the hearing loss only seems to come into play when I ask you to DO something, but that doesn’t mean you have to BLAST the music while we are in the car, for six straight hours.  (And now I am the one that is suffering from hearing loss.  What?  WHAT????)

4.  Yelling at me every time I asked you nicely if you wanted a meal is no way to prep your mother for the “I need a mani” request. Here’s a hint- you can acquire much more with sugar than with, oh, let’s say yelling.   (And tossing the nail polish I handed you on the couch only sealed the deal.)

3.  Laughing hysterically on the beach about so many things was the best way to get your mother to forget #4.  (That was the best money I spent all vacation.  Still wiping eyes…)

2.  Discovering that you had NOT spent the night somewhere in Mystic on Tuesday night but that you were actually sound asleep in the middle of the air mattress that had seriously deflated in the middle of the night was a  major (comical) relief.   The fact that we had already gone to Starbucks thinking you were somewhere in Mystic and failed to take you was not, in fact, comical to you.  (Which was unfortunate, cause we laughed our @$$es off.)


1.  But the piece de resistance surely came when you decided to play me your favorite song on your Ipod which was connected to the car radio on our ride home. And then you insisted I listen to the words.



However, I must say that you are probably the ONLY twenty year-old daughter who has the balls to blast  “Bouncing on my @ick” while her mother is in the car. 




(Yes, you totally trumped Golden Boy’s singing Justin Timberlake’s “@ick in a Box” to me while on the way home from the pool.   My ears are still burning.)

6/22/12

Fingers of Gold. (aka How do YOU spell relief? I spell it J-A-C-K.)





I graduated from a small high school in a valley in, um, Oregon.  We had about 200 in our graduating class (give or take) and I can say with a tad bit of certainty that I knew each person by name.  (They didn’t vote me the most outgoing for nothing.  However, that and two bits still won’t get you on the homecoming court.  Dang it.)

Through the amazing miracle called Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with many of these friends, and then some.  It’s like a cool cocktail party each night on my dining room table, and I don’t even have to take a shower or wear a cute party dress.

I’ve recently reconnected with an old friend we’ll call Jack.  He was a great guy, one who always had a smile, an amazing laugh and was an important member of the offensive line on our football team.  He went on to become a successful physical therapist/chiropractor/miracle man who just happened to relocate back home and has an office in the old hometown.



How convenient.


As you may recall, my many years of competitive gymnastics have taken many a toll on this still fairly YOUNG body (cough).  Oh sure, over the last two years I’ve managed to lose almost 30 pounds thanks to yoga, hiking, divorce trauma and the fear that someone at SOME point might see me naked.  (That particular kind of fear is a miracle diet pill.  Trust me.)  

However, this crazy body is still hurting.  I’ve had carpal tunnel surgeries, a torn meniscus, knee surgery, physical therapy and more shin/knee issues.  I’ve spent a lot of time these last several weeks undergoing crazy sonograms of my legs/veins/groin and other areas too ticklish to mention.  Nada. 

“You might want to try physical therapy to help with your groin and shin issues,” said the young, handsome doctor who apparently didn’t know me very well.

“Listen,” I said, “I’ve been doing every form of exercise under the SUN, and some others I won’t mention here, and I don’t think that’s the answer.  But thanks, I’ll think about it and I’ll get back to you."

And as I left I thought of Jack.

It festered around my brain for a bit, and that night I sent him a message on Facebook.  He was, after all, a very successful physical therapist of some kind.  I think I said something about a pain in my groin, and wondered if he could help me.   He replied quickly and said yes, he would love to and asked where we should meet.  I told him to come on over to my house.  He responded quickly that the plan sounded great, and I’d see him when I got back from vacation.

And then I realized what I’d said.   

What kind of crazy stalker was I?  A pulled groin?  A massage at my house?  In my LIVING ROOM?  Oh sweet Jesus.

I emailed him.  I tried clumsily to explain, and crossed my fingers.

Last night he showed up.  He called me from the driveway after I had just unpacked from my trip, and I ran out the front door.  His six foot four inch frame exited the truck and walked to the back of his truck and he lifted out his table. 

After an incredible REAL LIVE massage using a technique called “Myofacial Release” my body felt better than it has in years; years!  I was able to walk without the pain in areas that hadn’t been pain free in years.  He showed me exercises, scheduled several more times to come over, and explained exactly what had been happening to my body.  It was amazing.



And he never ONCE mentioned my clumsy, hysterical first effort to get him into my living room to massage my groin.




Thank God.




6/19/12

Postcards from the edge (of Paradise...)


Just one more day....




Misquamicut Beach, Rhode Island.  (The first place we fried.) 


If you are kind, loyal, honest, loving, truthful, want to live on a boat and would be devoted to the woman you MIGHT love in the future, call me.  I'm yours. 


Yes, I have stood on the same place that young man is standing and dived headfirst into the Mystic River; many times.  I'm crazy like that.  (Crab races at the Noank Pier begin at noon tomorrow- be there.)



Eastern Point Beach, CT.  (The location of the second frying. And we'll be there tomorrow at 9:00.  Bring Sun Screen.)



Noank Pier, Noank, CT. (A fry-free zone.  And we'll be THERE tomorrow at noon for the crab races. Bring chicken legs, twine and a big net. We've got a bucket...)


Eastern Point Beach, Groton, CT.  (Day four of glorious sun. See above.)


Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  



I'm stuffed.  
(And that color red is about what my face looked like after the first day of frying.) 

6/16/12

Step away from the vehicle, please. (aka beach, beach, and more beach.)











I am spending some sorely needed time with a kick-@$$ sister, a new great-nephew, other special folks, the beach and a few bottles of things that shall remain nameless. 




Now, un-plug yourself and enjoy these sweet, sweet summer days...










(And don't look now, but a book that I might be reading is on sale in my shop - the one up there on the nav bar.  Or here...)

6/13/12

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmoon- you said it.


 
I don’t know how one goes about re-inventing oneself.  If I did, this process would certainly be easier than it has been.  I’m sure there’s a book somewhere, but I can’t read about someone else’s journey, when I’m sure I’m on a particular path of my own.  My steps and missteps are my own, and I have to be authentic in order to find where I’m destined to go.

I DO know that the first two years after a traumatic and painful divorce are certainly full of a plethora of emotions, events, trauma, drama, pain, love, healing, joy and wonder.  And then some.


I think it’s very close to traumatic stress syndrome, minus the horrific experience of war. 


I’ve spent so many days and nights healing this heart and soul and working so very hard to help those around me heal.   It hasn’t been easy, and I’m sure I’ve made many a bad decision along the way. (I have a particular talent that way.)


But that’s who I am, and who I will always be.  I learn from doing, and if that means I learn by doing some things in the completely opposite way than they should be done, then so be it.  I accept that particular birth defect, and revel in its teachings.  Oh sure, it might HURT a little now and then, but without pain I can’t possibly appreciate all  the joy.


I’ve realized lately that I lost that girl that I loved so much when I was younger; that girl who took chances; who went on adventures; who was brave, courageous, loving and joyful. The girl my parents were so very proud of, even when they shook their heads in frustration.  I can feel that girl's presence now as I think about what I want my future to be.

I hear her voice as I step out of my comfort zone, and I am pleased.  I have realized that in order to shape the life I have only dreamed of, I need to make it happen.  I can’t wait for things to land in my lap- I need to shake the damn tree, see what falls and grab it for all it’s worth.


And that’s what I’m trying to do.


I was invited to the wedding of a dear intern I had several years ago.  It was in Leesburg, Virginia, and I accepted the offer.  A dear friend of mine from junior high lives in Reston, Virginia, and I reached out to her before I left.  She replied with her typical enthusiasm, and mentioned that perhaps I might want to attend a little barn opening party at a senator’s house after the wedding. If I was so inclined.


Gulp.


Oh yes; oh YES I was so inclined!  


And when I stepped out of my comfort zone; when I reached out to friends that I knew would welcome me with open arms, I was treated to a weekend that I will not soon forget. 


Those details will come tomorrow, for I have a deadline that has passed, a column a few hours overdue, and one that will be an emotional one.  I may rock someone’s world this Sunday, and it won’t be mine.

(But the senator’s barn bash?  Absolutely Incredible…)





6/12/12

Some of the best gifts are those that can't be wrapped.



I have a great friend named Elise.  We've known each other for more than a few years now, as she was one of my first bloggy friends.

She's a kind, gentle and wonderful soul - with a great sense of humor.  We spent a crazy, wonderful night in New York City with Marinka, and some other friends, gorging ourselves on Mexican food; made our way to an incredible (gay) night club where we witnessed a marriage proposal on a loud and noisy dance floor; and our night culminated in a crazy cab ride back to Grand Central station in which ONE of us was feeling such horrible effects from the Mexican food that she was SURE the cabbie would be charging for more than just the fare.

I laughed so hard that night that my jaws were sore for weeks; and that's the kind of fun that no money can buy.

We've been each other since, and spent many hours chatting on-line and on the phone.  It's an easy, comfortable and effortless friendship that I cherish.



She also has another gift- and you know how I feel about those kinds of gifts. 



After hearing about my special award in the "teacher re-location" program, she took it upon herself to give me a reading.


My heart filled with joy after watching it - and you can see it here (if you give a *&%@$.)


Do yourself a favor and go see her.  She's an angel, herself.



6/9/12

What did you say? WHAT did you SAY?


Once upon a time there was a woman who was hired by a principal to be a fifth grade teacher.  The woman was young(ish) and thrilled to have a job- even if it meant teaching children who were probably as tall as she was.

She worked happily for ten years in that building, until her principal asked for someone to move to second grade.  With a new baby at home and two daughters at her school, this teacher volunteered to make the move to 2nd grade.

She worked happily there for three years, until said principal decided that she would make a great kindergarten teacher in the school’s new “all-day” kindergarten program.   And while this fictitious teacher was hesitant (“I WILL NEVER DO IT!! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!”) she realized that the principal was, indeed, her boss-and that whatever he said was what she would have to do.

She worked happily there for ten years, until said principal decided that this particular teacher (who had been voted the poster-child for change) would be a great candidate for the extra TOP-TOP secret “teacher relocation” program, and wouldn’t be told where she was going or what she was teaching.

Sure, the main character of this fictitious story had many unique gifts- and one of them was her unique ability to get herself in trouble.  It was never done intentionally, but it was certainly a talent.  The fact that she was a pretty @!)#*good teacher never seemed to keep her out of hot water, and finally this particular faux pas was one that put her at odds with her boss.  And frankly, this particular faux pas is the one that might have earned her that spot in the teacher relocation program.

Ms. LuckyMe was packing her room last Friday, when her boss came in to do the final “check-out”.

He looked at her and said, “I don’t want there to be any hard feelings…I know that you will be a great addition to Jones Elementary, and....”

The teacher cut him off, “Please, please.  I just want you to know that I am in a very good place.  You gave me a gift- and I have no time for anything but excitement.   Thank you for doing FOR me, what I couldn’t do myself.  It's all good.”


We made our way to the door, and I remembered that he was heading to Haiti that night for a special trip that involved opening a school there.  I wished him well, and asked, “Is there a way for the school to follow what you are doing?”



He looked at me and said, “Um.  Yeah.  I, uh, well, I started a blog.”



“I’m sorry, WHAT did you say?”  I said, in shock.



He looked at me.  “Yep.  I started a blog.”


It has come full circle; a full, shocking, incredible bloggy circle.


(Oh My Lord.)



6/8/12

No more pencils, no more books... (OMG, is it REALLY SUMMER?)



I’d love to chat about my great weekend in Washington, D.C.; or about my last emotional days in kindergarten; or about my new placement in second grade; or about the superintendant visiting me;  or how my kids are pissing me off.



But I am so damn tired, I can’t.



So rest assured that I am in a great place emotionally, and can’t wait to begin my new adventure! 



And as soon as I wake from this crazy, end of the year coma (tomorrow), I will.





I really, really will.




6/6/12

She's a sly one for sure. (And I will miss her more than I can say...)


“Boys and girls, today is the last day of working in our handwriting books!  We’re finishing up with the letter X!”


After a brief discussion about all that is x, I asked what they thought they could draw that might have an “x” in it. ( I was looking for an answer like, oh, box, or perhaps even fox.  Silly me.)



The children stared at me blankly, until Sasha raised her hand.  “Oh, I know, girl.  EX-husband.”



“Um, what?” 



You heard me.  I said EX-husband.   You know; YOU have one.”  She said as she crossed her arms.



“Well, um, that’s true…but I’m not sure I’d want to DRAW him.  Let’s just stick with THINGS.  Things like boxes or foxes, all right?  Okay..."





“Girl, some days you are NO fun.” Sasha said with a shake of her head.  






(And that is one girl I will never, ever forget.)


6/5/12

Each crazy left turn is a gift. (Some just come wrapped in crazy paper.)



I spent yesterday afternoon visiting my new school.  


I’m not sure if I’ll be teaching first or second grade but was assured by my new principal that it’s one or the other.  I’m replacing a second grade teacher who is moving into a position out of the classroom, and will slip into her room relatively unnoticed. (Well, kind of.)

I signed into the office when I arrived and found my way to the busy faculty lunchroom. I was greeted enthusiastically by many teachers that I knew; and was welcomed in the same manner by those I did not.  I was genuinely excited as I chatted with one person after another - swapping funny stories and smiling throughout.   My heart and mind began wrapping themselves with the energy and excitement that I could feel throughout the room.


I toured the primary hallway, meeting teachers, paraprofessionals, and other important members of this school community; and each were warm, welcoming, pleasant and encouraging.  I had a very good feeling about all that was to come.

I finally made my way back to the office, searching for my new principal.  I knew her well, having taught with her years before.  I remembered her smiling face as she spent her year of student teaching in our building!  We taught several evening classes at the university together, and have always had a great deal of respect for each other. (I felt truly grateful when I realized that she was the person who grabbed my name off the table during that particular principal’s meeting last week.)

She smiled as she saw me standing in the doorway, and quickly walked over for a hug.

“Welcome!  Vodka, we are so lucky to have you join our staff! I can’t tell you how excited I am.” She said as we hugged.

I took a seat at the table and she asked me if I wanted to talk about the events that resulted in my “relocation” package.

I did.

I shared facts, and kept it free of any anger or resentment.  I simply couldn’t be bothered to waste time on those emotions, and just wanted her to know this teacher’s experience.  When I finished, I put my hands together on the table and said, “Jane, I do know this…God wants me here.  I know that there is someone here who needs me, and I can’t wait to find out who it is.”


She looked at me and reached across the table to grab my hand.


“Vodka.  It’s me.   I’m the one that needs you here.    I’m the one.”



As the tears pooled in my eyes I reached for those tissues that she had conveniently sitting in the middle of the table.   “Oh, Jane…”


“I’ve always known you’re an angel, and I am the one who is so lucky that you are joining our team.”


Let the wild rumpus begin….

6/3/12

And I didn't even have to dress UP....


I am honored DAILY that you incredible people make the time to come visit me here. I know you all, and even when you say "Anonymous",  I remember your voice and can associate you with previous comments or emails.


It lifts me up more than you will EVER know.



I share with you here my life, my soul, my ups and my downs.  I am honest about who I am, what I do, when I'm good and when I'm bad.


And you never, ever judge me.  (Well, except for one particular person who shall remain unnamed, but honestly, if there is only ONE cranky apple in this huge basket then I am lucky, indeed.)


And this weekend I was SHOCKED and honored to receive accolades from BlogHer for a painful post I wrote recently about my journey with The Golden Boy.


While my heart is still trying to mend itself, it surely helps to have others around who are sending prayers to help it along the way.




And it IS helping.  Beyond MEASURE, it is helping....and I thank you.



Carry on.....