RSS Feed

Another Birthday, and A Year in Review

This time last year, it was a hell of a rough week. My birthday popped up as they tend to do, but both kids were sick. We all felt a bit off our game and kind of run down. My husband sent me off for some alone time, to, you know, get my nails done or do some birthday shopping. With one of our cars broken, and a slow month work wise, I ended up having to use that time to myself to sell something with great sentimental value to cover some of our needs. It was also tough because I had two sick kids who I was worried about. I came home a ball of stress, the antithesis of my husband’s best laid plans, and chalked it up to just a no good, very bad day. Then, because some people are often inherently pieces of shit, the family member who stalks me as her second job decided to get mouthy and start up the usual nonsense. (She’ll be reading this in no time, trust. Stalker is as stalker does.) It was an exhausting couple of days, to say the least.

This year started off pretty hairy with each kid getting either the flu or the nasty stomach virus going around. Being the primary caretaker and hug giver, I contracted BOTH so far this year. Have you ever had to barf and have the runs violently at the EXACT SAME TIME? Because I have, and it feels like your soul is getting vacuumed out of your body at that very moment. We started off the year with that horror show, and transitioned into the little getting her braces, while the older child is gearing up to become a teenager. There is ANGST in the house, y’all. Hormones and sore teeth, means I have kids that ultimately want mom to hug them or get away quickly depending on the second. With school, my massive coat drive, kid friends, gymnastics, events, feeding everyone, looking after pets, the worst medium experience ever, the odd excursion to visit my dad or somewhere interesting, I have been BUSY. Plus it’s been cold and dreary so many days that I have a love affair going….with my bed. Ah, bed. I love it. I love it even more so this time of year. A choice between going out to anywhere that needs real clothes, or curling up in bed with netflix, a book, or even just my phone is an uneven choice, because bed will WIN. Pj’s, a snack, and bed? Perfection.

Well, the other day, the ol’ birthday rolled around. I got the little up for school, and then crawled back into bed while my husband took her to school. He arrived home with breakfast sandwiches and hot coffee, which was DELIGHTFUL because I got to enjoy them in bed. I headed off to get my nails done and get a pedicure, and enjoyed a nice shoulder massage. Heavenly. We then hopped a train into NYC. (If you call it “THE NYC” you’re a simpleton and a douche, just saying). We went in with almost no plans except to eat ALL THE CALORIES. Heading to New York City with no real plans is kind of odd feeling, but also very freeing. We walked everywhere, and only took a cab the very last few minutes to try to make a train that we ended up missing anyway.

First stop, Tea and Sympathy. It’s a tiny tea shop that has all British food. Every time I go to the city, I stop there now, just for rhubarb crumble with hot custard on it. It reminds me of all things childhood and feels like a hug from my mama. SO good. We then wandered, popping into a few stores, checking out window displays, and watching the people. NY is an amazing place to people watch. Millions of people, all living in close quarters, all getting on with life. Celebrities walk by seemingly unnoticed and unbothered (we saw John Turturro pass by). Every type of person….gay, straight, bi, black, white, hispanic, asian, homeless and mega rich, old, young, every viewpoint, every experience, and every single description in between, all living in close quarters without much issue. New York is a melting pot where everyone seems to fit right in. We people watched, pointed out cool buildings or displays, and chatted about the old NY vs the new modernized trend. You have older stores filled with wares, and new, modern stores that seem to have not much to sell, but a lot of space. It seems extremely odd in a place known for rents that will make your eyes water. As someone who doesn’t like crowds, I had to leave a few stores because they were just so busy. New Yorkers seem perfectly comfortable in crowds and navigate quickly and efficiently through them.

I watched my step count on my watch and saw the miles add up. At this rate, I thought, I’d probably drop 3 sizes by the time I got home! Sadly, not the case, but I racked up nearly 10 miles of walking there. Sadly, after a sandwich, rhubarb crumble, a latte, and some tea, we had not finished with ALL THE CALORIES, and proceeded to finish out our day with dinner. Dinner consisted of King Crab legs at The Boil. King crab with garlic butter? Yes please! Dinner was awesome, despite a large table behind us that was ridiculously loud. They were so loud, we couldn’t hear each other. Aside from that, it was awesome.

We stepped back out into the cool air, and began walking again. I had wanted to go to Barnes and Noble before we left. I don’t read nearly as many books as I used to, which is a shame. That being said, I have a deep love for book stores. Sometimes, on a bad day, I will head over to one of the few book stores still around near me, grab a coffee, and stroll the aisles. Billions of words, knowledge, stories, and perspectives all at one’s fingertips. Book stores are calming places, and there is typically something for everyone contained within those walls.

The weekend rolled around and my daughter approached me Friday night to see if I could take her to a horseback riding lesson. The farm we go to is very laid back, which fits me perfectly. I simply call the morning of, and if they have a slot, she puts us in. I’m pretty sure she would reserve a time if we so requested on a regular basis, but with the weather being iffy and January/February being months where every illness spreads like wildfire, I’m content to call day of. I was a bit sad my morning to sleep in clearly wasn’t meant to be, but I told her I would try to get up early and call the farm. Saturday morning appeared and I decided on a whim to schedule a trail ride….for both of us. Now here’s the thing. I come from a horsey family. Many of my relatives ride, and some even do it on a professional level. Me? Not so much. I haven’t ridden a horse in YEARS. One time I did on vacation, and the beautiful ride on the beach took a scary turn when the horse decided to try and drown itself by charging at full gallop into the ocean. I love horses, I’m just not confident on them. I’m also afraid of heights. That would make riding a double no.

Except my daughter had asked me to do it with her. Begged in fact. And, she took it really well when I explained my fear and hesitation. There’s also the fact that she’s really nervous about an upcoming surgery, and I wanted to show again that facing fear head on is an important lesson. Lastly, she has been doing well in school, I got reports of her doing really kind acts for others, so I figured it would be good to hoist my big ass on a horse if it made her happy. The kid had earned it. Off we headed, and yes, I got on the horse.

The instructor was really pleased with both of us, saying we were doing things right. My horse, however, got pretty hungry from hauling me around and decided to head for a snack. It stopped, bowed it’s head and wasn’t moving. I was laughing and while the instructor told me to pull up, the horse was adamant it needed a few moments. I told the instructor I wasn’t surprised the poor horse had an appetite hauling me around. Finally we got going again, and a short while later, the horse tripped and I almost fell off. That being said, I held on tight, and despite an initial moment of panic when I felt the horse trip, I was pleased to see that I didn’t fall off. The little one was beaming from ear to ear afterwards and said she really enjoyed it. We headed to Starbucks to caffeinate me and get her a snack. Mother/daughter day success!

This past year was a doozy. It started off rough, but there were so many happy moments. Our family trip to England was a highlight. Both kids announced they want to live there someday. It made me so happy they got to spend time there at an age when they will remember it, and I’m going to start working to take them back again soon. We had a sad end of school year last year, I was on the PTA for a hot minute, but I used that time productively to raise money for kids that needed it. In some ways, I softened. In others, I hardened up a bit, and not in a bad way. It felt like my eyes were opened in new ways. Starting off a new age year, I feel content but antsy. Antsy for new adventures, but also quite content to skip a night out and curl up in my bed with a book. I’m trying to learn balance more. Getting older is an interesting experience. Everything shifts, including your mindset. I feel a bit like a pair of favorite jeans. They show signs of wear and tear, but they fit just as they should and are comfortable.

I’ve had people ask me how I feel to be getting older. It’s something we all complain about sometimes. While I look in the mirror and see some of the fine lines and “wisdom glitter” in my hair, I also see someone who is so very fortunate to see another day, to get another hug from my family, and to create a new experience. Some folks won’t have that today, so I try to always be mindful of that. My friend who died doesn’t have those opportunities, and that is something that never quite leaves me. Getting older can be a pain, but it sure is better than the alternative.

Advertisements

Getting Old While Staying Young

I saw a meme on facebook the other day that said “One of the weirder things about being an adult is having a favorite stovetop burner, yet nobody talks about it.” I laughed way too hard at this, because I too have one (back left, because with kids back is safer and left has the bigger burner). I notice other little changes about getting older, many which are stereotypical. I go to bed earlier, I wake up easier in the morning. A night curled up in bed sometimes beats the idea of a night at the bar. I also realized this weekend that driving long distances has become a lot more difficult. When I was younger, we moved to Virginia, and I often drove up and down the I95 corridor on the weekends in the blink of an eye. Drove down Friday afternoon, back Sunday. I did this often consecutive weeks, for consecutive months. This past weekend, the kids and I drove down to visit my dad. Good Lord O’mighty, 7 hours in the car felt like time eternal! We arrived at 10PM and I couldn’t WAIT to go crawl into a nice comfy bed and relax!

The moment my little old ladyhood jump started into full effect was Sunday night. First, some backstory. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on here but when I was a kid, my mom had her wedding china. It was a beautiful set with roses on it, very British. I loved it. I loved the print, even as a kid, but I also loved the fact it symbolized the three of us were having a special meal (usually Christmas or Thanksgiving. I unfortunately grew up 3000 miles away from all of my extended family. My dad traveled a LOT for work. My poor mom never really got enough credit from me for all she did, because she handled EVERYTHING. On holidays though, the special dishes came out, and I remember looking down at them and just feeling….happy. Well, my mom said I could have them after she died, only there was some confusion, and they accidentally got sold in the estate sale. I mourned those dishes, and was CRUSHED. Fast forward 12 years, and my husband got me a set of 4 settings for Christmas. I was thrilled to pieces, and he said he would over time help me get some more so I had at least settings for 8. Well, last week, I had just downloaded the Nextdoor app, and saw something pop up about THOSE VERY DISHES. Unused, settings for 4, for a steal. I messaged immediately, but someone had beat me to it. The seller told me someone was picking them up, but would let me know if they were a no show. I checked that damned phone every 15 minutes for the rest of the day, hoping by some miracle the original poster might not show. I never heard back, and consoled myself by saying perhaps those dishes just weren’t meant to be mine (I was full of shit. I wanted those dishes like I want to snarf down a box of girl scout frozen thin mints after a hard day). Still, I tried to keep positive, and said I’d get a set one day. Then I laughed at the fact I am still relatively young, but such a mental old lady that china dishes were such a big topic with me.

Well, a week went by, and suddenly during dinner Sunday, I see a message. It’s from the seller, saying she had waited a whole week, but the buyer never showed. Would I still want the dishes?

Would I like perky books and a rounder butt? YES GIRL, AND I WANT THOSE DISHES TOO!

I told the seller I absolutely did, and I would be home Tuesday, could I come then? So today, I am picking up my coveted dishes, in all my little old lady glory!!!

My dad was chuckling at my old lady dish desires. I explained the significance, and he understood then. The simple fact is that I am highly sentimental about things, where as he has almost no attachment to stuff or items at all. This explains my house, cluttered and chaotic, and his immaculate environment. I tried to explain why I am sentimental about such things, and told him about another Christmas gift this year from my husband. When I was a kid, I had rain shiny wellies (rainboots for the Americans in the audience). I LOVED those boots. They were probably my first pair of shoes I truly adored. I loved how red they were, how shiny, and how I could run in mud and simply rinse them off to their shiny glory. They were perfect and versatile. After I grew out of them, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to ask for another pair. It’s silly really, because I never asked for some but holy shit, I wanted some. This past Christmas, my husband got me a pair of red shiny wellies. I am joyous. My dad was so perplexed why A. I loved them so, B. why I never just simply asked for another pair once I outgrew mine if I loved them so much, and C why I have such a sentimental attachment to stuff. I explained he should be happy, really….because I had such a great childhood that things that remind me of that childhood make me extremely happy. Those dishes? I was beaming on Christmas eating off them. The boots? Joy when I slide them on. I may be a little old lady mentally, but those things bring me back in time to a carefree moment of running in fields, or eating my favorite foods with my two favorite people. They are tradition.

This morning, after a 6 hour drive last night, I feel old as hell. That drive I did so carefree and without much thought at 18 is a lot harder now. My back aches, my brain is tired from concentrating on the road for so long. I am content to be home though. This is a busy week, filled with the little getting braces, training a new coworker, a comedy show and date night, a trip to NY, my birthday (little old lady getting OLDER, y’all. I’ll be in a housecoat and yelling for people to get off my lawn in NO time!) and all the other business that family is. It’s a week of excitement.

My son and I were talking in the car on our long drive home. We have some of our best chats in the car. He is excited for our birthdays, he says. He means he is excited for HIS birthday, because he is turning 13 in a couple of weeks. I can’t even. How have 13 years gone by so fast? He asked me if I am sad I am getting older. I said I am not sad I am getting older. While getting older is a little scary, as you start to see more time behind you and less in front of you, and time seems to go by much faster now, I am grateful for a birthday. Some of my friends and loved ones no longer have that luxury. They don’t get another birthday, another year, like I do. So I am grateful for that birthday. I am grateful for my little life, filled with good people. I am grateful to be a little old lady at heart, with her favorite stove burner, a joy of a quiet night in, pretty dishes, and rain boots that shine bright and red. I enjoy it all (minus the back aches and pains) but I find joy in reminding myself of all the happy moments of being a kid.

Medium Left Me Cold

After losing some of the most important people in my life, for a while, I became pretty interested in death. I suppose everyone has their coping methods, and mine was to learn about death. It felt like if I could get a grasp on it, talk about, and learn about it, perhaps I would and could fear it a little less. The end result was that I learned it’s not death I fear so much, but the loss of hope and losing the loved ones I hold so dear to me. I think a lot of people, when faced with death, follow up with the question…what, if anything happens next? Are our loved ones’ energies still around somehow? Are there ghosts? Why do ghosts always seem to be from the Victorian era, and not Bobby the crack head from around the block? Are ghosts and spirits real? Or are they just a figment of our imagination we use as a coping mechanism? Can we somehow communicate with the deceased, or they with us? Or, when you die, is that just…it? End of story?

Last year, I started looking into self proclaimed psychic mediums. I was curious what they had to say, and whether any appeared to be legit. I saw one who did some readings online, and started paying attention to see whether he was on point, or whether he was cold reading. If you’re not familiar with cold reading, take some time to look it up. It’s a bit of an art form, and once you know what it is, it becomes easier to spot. Cold reading is when a person can sit with someone and effectively throws out statements and questions, common names, letters, and other info to try to “pull in” the person sitting. Usually the person or people sitting WANT to believe, often because they have recently lost someone close to them and want to get some message or closure. For example, someone professing to speak to spirits may do a group reading, and say…”I am seeing an older woman, and I am getting an “M” name. Mary? Maggie? Marie?” Now an audience with older people in it have pretty good odds that their parents, aunts, grandparents or great grandparents may have passed away, and all of those names are common. Usually someone will acknowledge the connection, and say “yes, my grandmother’s name was Mary!” Now the reader has a target. “She is telling me she is very proud of you. You do so much for others!” The reader, hearing flattery, is likely hooked in at this point, agreeing they do much for others. The reader may then make generalized statements about ‘Mary’ that could apply to just about anyone, before saying “I see a male energy, he is pretty quiet though”. At this point, this male energy could be anyone, and is open to interpretation. Any info by the sitter to the reader can lead them on to the next piece of info. Hits are celebrated and focused on, misses are brushed aside and occasional excuses are made “hmm, not sure who that could be, but she is definitely telling me something about a man with the letter G. Think about it.” Often times, the person getting the reading begins to fill in the blanks. This makes it easier on the reader, and they can then use that info to play into. Cold reading is a bit of an art form, but with the help of an audience that is already pre-programmed to believe, it usually isn’t all that hard.

I started watching a medium who does readings online, usually in groups. The messages are often prefaced by implying that those watching should see how the message may be relevant to their lives. He makes general statements, and the viewers dive right in. I watched as people feed him info without meaning to. The saddest are those who are determined any info that may come up is from their loved one, even when the statements are incredibly general. It becomes inherently clear that people want to believe and will do so at all costs. I’ve watching him read for people I know, and while one person raved that he gave them specific, detailed validations, the others I watched were full of sweeping statements that the person determined MUST be a message for them. When a medium says…”I am seeing someone pointing to their chest…as they may have died from a heart issue or a lung issue” it doesn’t escape me that 2 of the number one killers are heart attacks and lung cancer. With statistics as they are, the person is bound to get a hit. I can spot the cold read, but then again, I’m familiar with it and looking for it.

I dove in and scheduled a reading with a psychic medium that came highly recommended a few months ago. I was admittedly curious, as the person who recommended them has a close tie to me, and the meeting they had with him had info that was so specific, it caught my ear. Even information on the spacing of writing on a headstone was mentioned, as well as info that one could certainly link to my mom. I scheduled a video conference with him, and settled in. As someone who is inherently familiar with cold reading, I was cautious to listen intently, but not really provide a ton of information. I felt comfortable that my social media was locked down, so there was no way to garner much info about me online. I didn’t offer up details or much, just confirmed what was applicable, denied what wasn’t. The reading, sadly, didn’t really go anywhere. Without me offering details, I found he really struggled to give me much info at all. Honestly, though, the guy was really pleasant, and I felt a bit bad he was so stumped. He didn’t even charge me for the reading.

Now, before you say “well, maybe nobody came through” let me assure you….anyone who knew my mother knows if there was a tiny sliver of a way she could reach out to me, she WOULD. My mother believed in an afterlife. I think that’s part of the reason I believe some of the things I do. When my mom died on the operating table and had to be resuscitated, she told me a story after of what she had seen, that she had asked for proof of such, and we found the proof existed. After she died, I had a lot of strange electrical things happen, and it followed me from place to place. It became so bizarre that I have no doubt if she was able to communicate in any way, she would.

This leads me to today. I saw a discussion online about psychic mediums and a medium came up as HIGHLY recommended. I admit, my curiosity was peaked. As a birthday gift to myself, I made an appointment. At the very least, I figured, I’d be entertained. Best case scenario, I might get a hell of a birthday gift. Before I went, I spoke out loud my plan to the universe, and felt, if my mom was able to hear me, that I gave a few “keywords” I would be looking for. I walked in, sat down, and met the medium, who was, honestly, extremely sweet and lovely. Again, I had oodles of people who had said how “spot on” she was during their readings with them.

We started off with small chat about the weather, and suddenly, she delved right in about an older female energy. I decided to offer a bit of info, and acknowledged that could be my grandmother. She mentioned strife between my mother and my grandmother. I advised the two were actually very close. She then turned to my mom and said…so how are things with you and your mom? What’s going on there? I paused, unsure how to answer that question, which I think she took to perhaps mean an affirmative. I’m hearing that something is going on with you and your mom now, what would that be? I said “not much, I mean, she passed away”. “of course, I am seeing her now” she responded. Already, I was seeing that this wasn’t going to go very well. She said my mother always tried to look her best and dress nicely (don’t MOST women do that?). She said my mother was proud of me (doesn’t every child hope to hear that?) She kept asking me about a letter name, but it was nothing related to me. I explained I had a friend who passed with the same letter, but not that name. “He is telling me you were such a good friend. You always had things to laugh about”. Well, don’t most friends have things to laugh about? (Aren’t most friends kind to each other?) I didn’t offer up much info about my friend and she quickly left the topic. Back to my family it went, without saying much. “Your mom says you are very independent, very busy, always on the go” “You did things your own way”. These type of general, sweeping statements could apply to anyone. I was feeling defeated. This is just SO bad. I tried to offer a lead her way “I am wondering about a very random object in the dining room, as my mom would be very, very clear about it” I said, to which she paused, trying to clearly figure out what on earth I could be referencing, before switching topics.

She made a lot of statements, all of which were flattering, somewhat vague, or statistically plausible. None sparked me. In fact, while I tried to keep a straight face, inside I was dying. This was going just SO badly. There was a lot of flattery, a lot of generalized info, but I felt without a doubt, that she was not speaking with anyone I knew.

You know, they people we love and cherish are such 3 dimensional characters. They have passions, humor, and nuances about them that make up their spirit of who they are. My mom, at about 5’1, was a tiny force to be reckoned with. She had a somewhat dirty sense of humor that was often surprising considering her posh accent and clothes. She was a HUGE personality in a tiny package. She was talkative, kind, and always extended a hand to the new person or outsider to bring them in. I have no doubt that if she had a chance to truly send me a message, it would be quite specific and there would be something humorous about it. She would want me to have no lingering doubt it was her. The messages I received from the Medium today belied everything about my mom. I paid the woman for her time, but left almost angry with myself for wasting it.

Will I ever go to a medium again? I can tell you I don’t honestly know. I think my experiences and the fact I have seen so much cold reading should lead me to say no. I’m an optimist at heart, albeit a bit of a cynic, which is an odd combination.

I’d give anything to have any sort of conversation with my loved ones who have passed. Sometimes when I am mulling over something I can almost hear their voices telling me what I’m quite sure they would say. Maybe I don’t need a medium. Maybe the ones I love are always in my heart, and I know, deep down, what their thoughts of things would be.

So far all those claiming to be mediums have been clearly cold readers. Maybe they truly believe they have a gift, maybe it’s just a job with a parlor trick. Who knows? What I do know, is that HAD my mom been sitting in that room, she would have laughed and said “This is bloody bullshit, this is!”

Flu-update. What’s been going on.

Sorry I’ve been MIA the past week. I haven’t posted and I know at least one person has been wondering where I’ve been. (the joys of being stalked). Well, the answer my friends, is that the flu took me down, and hard core. As I begun feeling ill, it suddenly occurred to me “oh NO, I didn’t get my flu shot, please don’t let this be the flu”. Welp, there it was. Dizzyness, body aches, headaches, respiratory problems, sore throat, cough, fever and the chills…all the nasty. Damned flu took me down for about a week! Never fear though, I’m back in the saddle again!

I’m surmising my hit with the flu might be chalked up to my multiple visits into the school to drop off coats, specifically many trips to the nurse’s office (for those not in the know, see my blog called https://themessyhousewife.com/2019/01/30/so-i-did-a-thing/). We all know schools are a petri dish of germs, and so it’s pretty likely that’s where it could have come from, but who knows? Anywho, those trips sure paid off because after collecting over 140 coats, over 80 (with more folks arranged to come in to collect) coats were picked up by families in need. Let that sink in for a moment. The need was far greater than I had ever imagined. Hats, Scarves, Gloves, LOADS of clothing, toiletries and feminine products were also collected as well. The whole project was such a positive one for me and it’s still going on. The flu put a hold on things but I’ll be back at it again soon. What I am doing is just the beginning of a long term project the school is setting up that will help the kids for years to come. I am excited to have been a part of it and will continue being a part for as long as possible. It’s definitely brought people together.

Coming off being ill also means my house looks messier than ever. Compiled with bags of donations, I also had to unload my desk at work of 7 years of accumulation, not to mention my computer, monitors and all the cabling for them. We’re renovating our offices, so everyone has been moved to work at home status for several weeks. It’s pretty eye opening how much one can accumulate in one’s home away from home over the course of 7 years. My husband went with me to help me load it all into the car (he’s the master car packer) and it’s now sitting in my living room. There is stuff EVERYWHERE. It’s overwhelming. How did we acquire so much STUFF? Thankfully many items are bagged for either the school or a local kids’ charity, but much of it has to be rearranged into different bags etc. Once done, it will all leave and free up space. My office stuff is a different matter. Much of it will head back in a couple of weeks, but not all. I wish I could snap my fingers and just have everything clean.

My birthday is around the corner and when people ask me what I want, I say “a tidy house”. They think I’m joking. I laugh along, until I stop because I’m not joking. Ah, what a girl wouldn’t do to walk in to a clean house without having to do it. I dream, I know, I dream. I can’t believe another birthday is coming up. As a kid, it felt like forever and ever between birthdays. Now they zip by in the blink of an eye. I see wrinkles coming, and I don’t like it. I feel like it’s a losing battle to fight them, but then I think of my losing my mom and I realize that wrinkles signify I am still here and enjoying myself. Maybe they aren’t too bad, I’m just not ready for them quite yet.

I treated myself to a few things this year for my birthday. I’m taking off a few days here and there to enjoy myself. I have an appointment with a medium. She came super recommended and frankly….I’m curious. I’ve met with some before and mostly they are cold readers. I think they see what people want them too, or people dig to find what they want to see out of it. I’m curious about this one, however, so I made an appointment. I second guessed it because of the money, but I won the perfect amount on a little scratch off, so I took that as a sign I should go. I have low expectations, so I won’t be disappointed. I also booked a trip to visit some friends and my dad for a few days. It’s a quick trip, but one I’m looking forward to. A girl needs a change of scenery you know. The night before my birthday the husband and I are hitting up a comedy show. It’ll be so fun to relax and have a date night that I’m giddy already. We don’t get to see each other a lot, and when we do, it’s all about the kids and getting the family looked after, so a night alone is a special treat.

Lots of good stuff coming up, more to follow. For now, I’m just glad to be relatively better.

Truth

The truth shall set you free. I’m about to dish a whole lot of truth. It’s about to get mighty interesting. All tea, no shade.

So I Did a Thing….

A while back, I posted about my frustration with out Board of Education and the fact they redistricted our schools. One of the schools that took the biggest hits was the school my children attend. Without the desire or request of our parents, the board demagnetized our school, switched to neighborhood schools, and ripped almost all the existing students out save for a small percentage. They did all of this, upended all of our students, for a few bucks. The rage felt by many in the community was palpable. Our town is very diverse, but individual neighborhoods are not. In order to keep our schools diverse and racially balanced, kids from all different neighborhoods attended all the various schools. The redistricting, however, put us out of racial balance, and effectively segregated kids by socio- economics. Now I know when I was a kid, we all attended neighborhood schools, but the town I lived in wasn’t diverse at all, racially, or socioeconomically, which always bothered me. I always loved how diverse our current town was, and that families in our school helped each other out.

One of the problems of socioeconomic segregation is that the poorer side of town schools are struggling to fundraise and keep up with the other schools. This wasn’t a problem until this year. While we’d probably be referred to as middle class, our home falls in the school district where a lot of lower income families live. This means that we have a lot of full time working, single working parents who are struggling to make ends meet, or families REALLY struggling just to get by. There aren’t the same amount of stay at home parents around to do all the PTA projects and fundraising as we had before. We also have kids who are going without basics because their parents are struggling to get by. The government shutdown likely didn’t help folks either.

I knew it was difficult. I just didn’t know HOW bad some of these kids have it.

I was planning to go through my closets because one of the grades was doing a clothing drive to raise funds. I happened to be on the phone with someone at the school and said “I’m going through my coat closet, does any child, by chance, need a coat? I’ll see what I have.” Her response left me FLOORED.

“We have a LIST of children here at the school that need coats”.

“Like, a couple of kids?”

“No, we have a LOT of kids who do not have coats. We are trying to find a solution. We need to find coats in all sizes, both genders”.

It’s dipping down below -20 here this week, and there are little kids without COATS. I hung up the phone and cried.

After a quick cry, determination set in. Y’all, this is the one time my lack of organization when it comes to my house was the BEST. You see, my coat closet was filled with coats, some were my son’s from about 6 years ago that I never got rid of. I pulled out about 10 coats from both kids. I then put the word out to family and friends. My dad donated some money for me to go buy some items. I used some of my own as well, and purchased up about 10-15 hats and then got gloves to match. I used the money from my dad to buy coats in sizes I didn’t have. I was able to get full school uniforms in multiple sizes. Things started to fall into place! I took my lunch break to race to a friend’s house and picked up a bag of coats. Friends drove by and left coats in bags by my front door. In the middle of the night I was contacted by a woman who works at an organization locally that collects items for children and lets families “shop” for free for what the need. She had coats, she promised, as well as some other items we need for our students, and would drop them to me. The generosity of people was overwhelming. With 24 hours of that call, I had amassed about 40 coats and multiple hats, gloves, and school uniforms. 48 hours later, we have about 100 coats for the families of this town to select from.

The person I spoke to broke down when I showed up with my items in tow. Before long we were both welling up, discussing the needs of our community and how to meet them. She, as well as myself, another mom, and others, are going to work on creating a room where our students can get items they need for free, so that they can focus more on learning. This has been the highlight of 2019 for me. Creating happiness for others and working towards a goal that will help the kids of the community is exciting and one I am looking forward to.

Now I know there are those that will see this and say I shouldn’t have posted about it. But here’s the thing….

I didn’t know.

I live in an average house, in an average neighborhood. Money is tight sometimes, and some months, a bill gets skipped so I can cover something else. That being said, we have our necessities met, and we can afford a vacation or trip sometimes with some planning and hard work. I know there are families in my area struggling, but honestly I didn’t realize how deep that struggle is so close to home. The idea that there are families so close to me that are struggling to provide a coat for their children is one that left me broken and wondering just how much I don’t know. Call me naive, but it just didn’t click for some reason. If there are kids in my town in this situation, there may be kids in your town too. Sometimes folks who are struggling to make it work hide their troubles very, very well. It doesn’t mean that their burden shouldn’t be lifted. I didn’t know the need was there, but now I do, and I want to help. Even better, I am meeting and working with other folks who want to help as well. Strangers are reaching out asking “How can I help? What is the need?” and it’s AMAZING.

Maybe there are others like me, who didn’t know out there. I asked for help to make life a little easier for some kids in need, and people stepped up.In 48 hours, I feel like we made a difference to a lot of kids, just by asking, offering, giving, collecting and being kind. I believe there are others out there who may read this and say “hey, I can do that too” and they CAN and WILL.

We live in a world where we are often told poor people are the enemy. It’s ironic, really, because the rich hold the power but blame the poor for the problems. If you listen to the narrative out there, there is a common thread of everyone judging those they feel are “beneath them” in some way. Whether they look down on poor people, people of different colors or backgrounds than themselves, different genders….it’s as if people judge their self worth by trying to find someone, anyone that they are above. The rich folks love to point the finger at the poor and blame them for problems. No matter where you fall in the grand scheme of things, there is someone out there finding something about you to put you beneath them. It’s really sad.

Yet what if we all tried to raise each other up, with a helping hand, some compassion? What it we looked around and sought out those who might need a little help? What if we looked at the children in our community or those communities around us and set out with the goal to lift those children up and help them succeed? When we raise children up, we lift up our future and make it better.

I have always tried to teach my kids about helping others. I explain that making someone else smile, or making their day better makes everyone happier. It’s a ripple effect. Within 48 hours, I had collected over 100 coats, along with gloves, hats, scarves and uniforms! I delivered the last of them this morning. Hopefully those coats ease the worry just a little of some of the staff and teachers at the school. Kids will be warmer as they walk to school and go about their days. They will hopefully feel a bit happier and have a chance to focus more on school and less on being cold. The families of those kids will have one less thing to worry about. The community at large becomes a better place, because those who donated, and even those that saw others donate, often become inspired to help someone in whatever way they are able to. The children of the families who donate learn that their friends and classmates may be going through things at home and may need some kindness. Kindness circles back.

So I did a thing, to teach kindness to my kids, and to help the kids in my community. I’m writing about it to see if I can inspire someone else to do a little something kind for someone in their community. Even if it’s kind words, some gloves for a homeless person, or even a coat to a school for a child who might need one. Do a thing, and join me in a little kindness.

Creating Happiness

This year I started off super antsy. After coming out of a year where the family and I took an amazing trip back to England, I came eager to travel some more. I always come back from England, where I was born, feeling nostalgic, yearning for a simpler, more country based life, and feeling a strong pull to go back. January has felt like it’s been 85 days long already, and I found myself starting the month off NEEDING change in whatever form I can get. I need some change, and I need things to look forward to. It brings me happiness.

I’ve always been a firm believer that one CHOOSES to be happy. As someone who grew up struggling with depression and anxiety, I had to make some solid life changes. It had become so bad I was in a very dark, sad place. I woke up one day and realized just how bad it had gotten, and knew something had to change. Depression is much deeper than a simple attitude shift, trust me, I know. That being said, the first step for me in learning to manage and come out the other side of depression was to find ways of changing my mindset. The first thing I needed to realize was that I can’t always change a situation, but I can change my mindset about how to deal with it. I can choose how I look at things, or research things to learn to see things a different way. Once I started choosing and really trying to look at things from different perspectives, I noticed a break in the doom and gloom. It helped me to start the process of managing things much better.

My mom once told me…”no matter how bad things get, someone is always worse off than you”, which helps to keep things in perspective sometimes. I remember my dad recounting a story of when my parents when to a huge business dinner in NYC. The dinner was a big deal, and mother, despite being in terrible pain from a degenerating disc in her spine, was determined to go. She needed a cane, and was struggling to walk. My father looked at her, struggling, and said “maybe we should just go back to the room and forget the dinner….you don’t have to put yourself through this”. My mother turned and said “I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for ages, and remember, no matter how bad things get, there is always someone who has it harder, or worse off than me. I can do this!”. Just then the elevator door opened, and inside was a man who only had one leg. My mother glanced at my father and proceeded to head to dinner. She knew that happiness is realizing what you have, that things could always be worse, and being grateful that your struggles are your own. Someone once said if everyone threw their stuggles in a bowl, most of us would all grab our own back. Frankly, we don’t know what others are dealing with, and at the end of the day, struggles are often minimal when you see what others are struggling with. I am an oft repeater of “silver linings!” Even when things are bad, one can usually find a silver lining if they look harder enough. Even if it’s a small one.

But I digress.

Winter is a tough time for many, especially those with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. While I don’t struggle like I used to, I do make a conscious choice to plan things to look forward to. Why? Because on a bad day, I can look at my calendar and despite the busy chaos, I can see a vacation, a trip, or a school event I am happy about. This reminds me that happy days are ahead. I am excited to go visit my dad soon. This usually also entails not only a happy time with him and my step mom, but also a dinner out with my close friends I don’t get to see very often. Always fun. I am excited about a family vacation I have planned. While it won’t be cheap, it gives me a goal, something to work towards, and something exciting to share with the husband and kids. I have a few day trips planned, one just by myself, to spend a day wandering and sight seeing. There is a school field trip I am chaperoning, which made my daughter beam ear to ear when I told her.

These trips and events keep me looking forward in a positive manner. I LOVE my job and what I do, but I have stressful days like everyone else. On those stressful days, I remind myself those extra hours or that hard work is earning me money towards a vacation. When I am cleaning the house (which admittedly I’m not great at….have you seen the title of my blog?) and I find change people have left everywhere, I am at least excited to put it in the vacation fund. When January hit and stomach bugs and flu arrived at our house, I console myself that we’re getting it out of the way now and will be healthy again hopefully for the happy events planned. Having something to look forward to brings happiness.

Not only do I plan the event, I plan little, simple things about it that bring me joy. Some of these revolve around food. That probably explains why I am working on losing some weight….10 pounds down so far! For example, the trip to NYC I have in mind. I am already planning and excited to go to Tea and Sympathy for dessert. Why? Because they have one of my favorites there. It’s a British tea shop, and their rhubarb and custard reminds me of being a kid in England. When visiting my dad I always go for fajitas at my favorite place. It was a place I used to go to with my mom. While the food is delicious, the memories it conjures up are happy ones spent with my parents and friends. Happiness is a feeling, and being as sentimental as I am, I always lean towards it.

Looks like it’s going to be an exciting (and yummy!) year!