#FeelingGrateful

I try not to think too hard about my blog statistics, but sometimes they amaze the heck out of me. Today the blog passed 5000 views for the year, more than 1000 over my entire 2018. I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who has stopped by to give me a chance and to those of you who continue to return and for the writing support and for the friendships made. All of this means much more than the stats and much more than you know.

A List of Praises

by Anne Porter

Give praise with the psalms that tell the trees to sing,                                                         Give praise with the Gospel choirs in the storefront churches,                                          Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,                                                                                                       Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,                                          Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,                                                    A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry                                                          living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away                                                          With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle                                                 As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,                                              Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh                                                                       Of the wind in the pinewoods,                                                                                                       At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls                                                                                           And the rattle and flap of sails                                                                                                          And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell                                                                               Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.                                                                        Give praise with the humpback whales,                                                                                  Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets,                                                                katydids and cicadas,                                                                                                                    Give praise with hum of bees,                                                                                                            Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.                                                               When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries                                                    We know that the winter is over.

Give praise with mockingbirds, day’s nightingales.                                                                Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle                                                                              And glossy tulip trees                                                                                                                         On quiet side streets in southern towns.

Give praise with the rippling speech                                                                                            Of the eider-duck and her ducklings                                                                                             As they paddle their way downstream                                                                                          In the red-gold morning                                                                                                                      On Restiguche, their cold river,                                                                                                 Salmon river,                                                                                                                              Wilderness river.

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.                                                                                      Far, far from the cities,                                                                                                                   Far even from the towns,                                                                                                             With piercing innocence                                                                                                                 He sings in the spruce-tree tops,                                                                                            Always four notes and four notes only.

Give praise with water,                                                                                                                   With storms of rain and thunder                                                                                                And the small rains that sparkle as the dry,                                                                             And the faint floating ocean roar                                                                                               That fills the seaside villages,                                                                                                     And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains

And with this poem, a leaf of the vast flood,                                                                            And with the angels in that other country.

Courtesy of https://poets.org/poem/list-praises

Everyone Needs a Denise

It was July 14, 1975. Up the street, a vacant lot and three houses away lived my friend Jennifer. I was five in 1975, and Jennifer turned five that day, so I walked to her house with a gift in hand to celebrate her birthday. Jennifer’s social calendar was packed for a five-year-old. After her party, she would head across town to another birthday party for a girl I didn’t know. Although the details are fuzzy, I remember crashing that party with Jennifer and meeting the tiny, precious, blonde-haired, hazel-eyed Denise. We would grow up together, sharing classrooms and friends and happenings of the Oklahoma panhandle. Little did I know that one day in the distant future, Denise would forever change my life.

Flash forward to Memorial Day weekend 2008 and our twenty-year high school reunion. When I caught up with Denise for the first time in at least nineteen years, we discovered that we lived within twenty minutes of each other. And guess what? We both needed a friend. One dinner at a time, one text message at a time, over months and months, then years and years, Denise learned all my deep-dark secrets, and I learned hers. We shared our imperfections and struggles, our wins and celebrations, and that’s how the girl I’ve known since age five became my bestie. And OMG, everyone needs a Denise.

Speaking of wins, her 20-year-old son Ryan, a junior on the Baylor Men’s Golf team, won the Texas Amateur golf tournament back in June with Denise caddying and coaching him toward the victory. She coaches kids’ golf, by the way, and teaches private lessons, too. In case you don’t have an extra two minutes to watch this news clip and see AWESOME in motion, my favorite part is when Ryan says, “If I got down on myself, no matter what happened, she would be the one to say, ‘All right, we got this. Let’s just keep on moving forward.'” So many times, Denise has kept me moving forward with a little positivity and a little “we got this.”

In 2015 my son was hospitalized, and believe it or not, I was a complete wreck. Denise was there to say, “You got this.”
In 2017 Hurricane Harvey flooded my house, and here is Denise showing up to help with the packing, the trashing, the decision-making, saying, “You got this.”

In that same news clip, Denise says, “You don’t see very many mothers [caddying], but if anything, I hope I’m encouraging more mothers to get out there.” That’s my Denise, the ultimate encourager. Life’s too short for anyone who brings you down, and I’m so very grateful for my forever friends who lift me up.

It is July 14, 2019, and I’m hopping in the car, driving the four plus hours from Houston to Dallas to crash her party again today. Forty-four years later. I wish Jennifer could crash it, too.

Whatever challenges you meet today, just remember, “You got this.”

You Can Take the Girl Out of the Mountains (But You Can’t Take the Mountains Out of the Girl)

When I stepped into the blue rubber raft from the safety of the river bank, I had only two things on my mind: Carpe Diem and surviving (with faith and gratitude, peace and hope). Before the bus ride to our launching site, I had skimmed the release of liability and waiver of legal rights and acknowledged that whitewater rafting can be HAZARDOUS AND INVOLVES THE RISK OF PHYSICAL INJURY/DEATH. Then I signed on the line and proceeded to pick up my wetsuit, spray jacket, helmet, and life-preserver.

Colorado’s abundant snowfall last winter through May translates to deeper, faster water and what may have been the best white water rafting season in decades.

Shout out to my brother Scott and his beautiful, adventurous wife Gerri for having a 30th wedding anniversary and a reason to celebrate with friends and family, to Rapid Image Photography for the complimentary photos, and to Zach, Ivan, and Kerrie of Clear Creek Rafting Company for the safety debrief and an adrenaline-fueled float through he Rocky Mountains. No one fell off of the raft. No one died. And the river of life keeps flowing, sometimes with faster, deeper waters and cold splashes in the face, sometimes with the possibility of tipping, relying on your life vest, and swimming to safety.

When I stepped back into my ordinary life from the perfection of vacation, I had only two things on my mind: Carpe Diem and surviving (with faith and gratitude, peace and hope).

Breckenridge, Colorado in July

Happy Independence Day to my American friends! And Happy 4th of July wherever you are!

The Tip of the Iceberg

Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

I look at my reflection in the mirror this morning and notice my throat splotching red. But I teach school, and school’s out for summer. I shouldn’t have one iota of stress. I stop for a moment to consider my thoughts. You know those thoughts, the ones you can’t shake?

Present thought—the iceberg. You know, the whole picture—the tip of the iceberg you see above the surface and the huge mass you see below. It’s like how you know a person based on what you see, but you can’t see past the surface, or maybe you can see just below the surface but not too much deeper without asking some heavy questions. When I started Googling images to illustrate this fuzzy point in my head, I stumbled onto Freud’s iceberg theory, and he said exactly what was on my mind. Weird, right? My brain forgets so much these days. I know the theory. I just didn’t remember that Freud fathered it. Anywho, I studied a bit and hope someone else might find the information helpful.

According to Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, the mind can be divided into three separate parts with varying purposes:

  1. The conscious part includes what we can sense in the moment—thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes.
  2. The preconscious part consists of memories we can pull into our conscious on cue for a specific purpose. For example, you walk into a restaurant to have lunch with a friend, peruse the menu, and say, “What do you like here?” Looking at the menu will prompt your friend to remember.
  3. The unconscious part comprises the bulk of our minds—unpleasant or unacceptable thoughts, memories, habits, urges, reactions, and feelings outside the realm of our conscious awareness, such as anxiety and shame, conflict and broken hearts.
Image courtesy of https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-unconscious-2796004

Freud compared the levels of the mind to an iceberg. Above the surface, you see the tip of the iceberg representing the conscious. Below the water, observable at surface level is the preconscious. The massive part of the iceberg extending too deep to be visible represents the unconscious. According to Freud, the unconscious mind affects our behavior and experiences without our awareness or understanding. We all have a storehouse of memories and emotions that we push down deep to forget. Verywellmind.com explains it all very well and dedicates a whole page to psychotherapy. It has been shown that continued self-examination leads to emotional growth over time, and I’m all for growth of any kind.

So as my throat splotches red and I contemplate why people (including myself) do what they do and say what they say and make the same mistakes over and over, the answer according to Freud is pretty simple after all.

Sunshine Galore

Summer kicked off with toes in sand and wind in hair for this teacher (Galveston, TX).
Pool side views of sunlit clouds at the Hotel Galvez.
A quick trip to Oklahoma, morning walks around Sunset Lake, sunshine in pursuit.
Somewhere in the Texas panhandle, the sunrise was a must-stop-and-photograph.
Same trip home for a sun shot near Canadian, TX because look how gorgeous.
At home in the back yard.
Did you know that vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, supports bone growth and structure, reduces inflammation, supports muscle function, potentially staves off heart disease, possibly prevents cancer, and supports brain development?
https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-vitamin-d

The Sun Never Says by Hafiz

Even 
After 
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

This post brought to you with gratitude to JoAnn of Midnight Harmony for my second Sunshine Blogger Award nomination. JoAnn is a fellow mental health advocate who blogs about all-things-Florida and reminds me to stop and enjoy the flowers. JoAnn, I’m humbled. Many, many thanks to you for the blogger love and support for my rule-breaking.

In keeping with the theme, enjoy my sun shots and the 14th century wisdom of Hafiz. Ironically it’s raining here as I tap out this post, but I carry the sun with me. I carry it in my heart. “Look what happens with a love like that.”

Thank you! Thank you!

You can’t see me, but I’m smiling right now. You know why? Julie Krupp of Enhanced Perspective nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, peer recognition for bloggers who inspire positivity and joy. Wow! Thank you so much, Julie!! By the way, your blog delivers on its promise, enhances my perspective, and always leaves me with a new insight. I appreciate you more than you know.

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.

I must admit…I’ve wrestled with this post. Rule #1 was easy because Julie, a mindfulness teacher, is amazing, and you should definitely check out her blog. In general, however, I struggle with rules.

Questions Posed to Me:

1. What is the best present you ever received?

On the Holy Lands of the Aegean coast, Kody slipped a sapphire ring on my finger, gazed into my eyes, and proposed marriage again, and this time I knew without a doubt that our relationship would last forever. The sapphire symbolizes sincerity, faithfulness, and new beginnings. Mine will always remind me of my parents’ example, God’s presence, and the deep sapphire blue of the Mediterranean Sea.

2. What are three small sources of joy for you?

Practicing gratitude, knowing I’ve made a difference, dancing when the music plays, beating my husband at darts, sunshine in my day, my toes in the sand, the wind in my hair, my family, and my friends who are like family, oh, and my dog Rain, oh, and my grand dog Boozer. Do you see me rule-wrestling? But, seriously, we’re talking about joy here.

3. Where is the last place you traveled and why?

At question #3, I begin to wonder, ‘Who cares?’ Nothing extraordinary happened during my last travels. No disrespect, Julie! I’m just digitally processing here. Almost every time I write a blog post, I ask myself the ‘Who cares’ question, and my internal dialogue continues, ‘Who are you writing for anyway?’

‘Me,’ I usually say.

‘Then, why are you sharing it with the world?’

‘Because maybe someone else needs to hear it.’

As an observer of my own conversation, I realize I write when I’m inspired. Hence, the current wrestling. Back to question #2, writing gives me a small source of joy, especially when people find it relatable. Today I realize I’m writing for the award, and I find myself wondering, ‘Will my Sunshine Blogger award be revoked if I don’t answer all of the questions?’ And I try really hard to refocus on question #3 and answer the rest, and I hope someone connects in some small way.

Kody, Lauren, and I drove from Houston to Dallas over Memorial Day. Kody golfed with friends for three days, I saw a dear friend and we soaked in some sunshine at the Marriott pool, Lauren saw friends and went to Six Flags and to church with me. We dined (see question #9), we shopped, and in a blink, we found ourselves home again. It’s the little things, right?

4. Where is your dream vacation?

Thailand and Barcelona are tied for the top spots on my bucket list for cathedral and temple tours, not to mention question #9.

5. What did you want to be when you were little?

I wanted to dance on Broadway, 👯‍♀️ and someday I will. Okay, probably not on stage, but I’m okay with dancing in the street…

6. When did you feel that what you said or what you did really resonated with your soul?

I feel it almost every day, teaching. One of my favorite moments of this past year was when I told my students about that time I fell on my face.

7. What are you afraid of or what fear have you overcome?

I wouldn’t call myself fearless, but I don’t tend to worry about things. I suppose my biggest fears revolve around tough conversations and potential outcomes. I tend to leave things unsaid. Later those things may or may not matter, and often when it matters, there are more chances to get it right.

8. What is one of your favorite books?

So. Many. Favorites. If I could be more like any author, I choose Maya Angelou. I love Why the Caged Bird Sings

9. What is your favorite type of cuisine?

Thai…Thai Herbal Chicken Fried Rice, Thai Sweet Chili Paste with Beef, Shrimp Tom Kha Soup, Fried Crab Cream Cheese, all on the menu at Jasmine in Plano, TX, where Kody and I had a standing Friday night date for many, many years.

10. What is one of your favorite songs?

These favorite questions are killing me. I love variety and gravitate toward Indie rock/pop, like Hippo Campus “South,” 90s grunge, like Chris Cornell “Seasons,”and gangsta rap, like Rick Ross “Hustlin’.”

11. What is one of your favorite movies?

I will drop everything and watch Dances with Wolves, Moulin Rouge, or anything directed by Wes Anderson.

My Nominees: I chose blogs written by people I know personally. Let me introduce you to friends of mine.

Patricia and Marisa are beautiful and inspiring young women, my former students, rays of sunshine for sure, and Marisa has been a friend of my daughter since 9th grade. These ladies share a zeal for life and the University of Texas. Let’s see if they take on one final writing assignment. Regardless, please check out their blogs.

I’ve known Renee practically all of my life. We grew up together, same church, same dance lessons, in a small Oklahoma panhandle town surrounded by fields of corn and wheat that kiss the endless blue sky. Today Renee knows food and wine, travel and writing, and she leads a life of adventures. Click the link to witness joy in motion.

I met Shannon in the bathroom. Isn’t that where you meet your friends? We were both attending the Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Conference, where we sat around a table in an intensive writing workshop, and I bawled like a baby when sharing my writing. We ran into each other in the ladies’ room so many times over the course of that weekend, we became more than bathroom buddies. Shannon is my BB to this day, she has a passion for helping the homeless in California, and she totally helped me revise what is now this clickable post about my son’s journey with paranoid schizophrenia. Plus, the hilarity, check Shannon out.

It’s my honor to share with you my talented friends.

Broken rule #1, I have four nominees. Broken rule #2, I have one question, more of a writing prompt. I’m an English teacher.

Patricia, Marisa, Shannon, and Renee, here’s your question:

In honor of this Sunshine Blogger Award, will you write a post (any genre) that feels like sunshine?

I realize that some of you may not participate in awards, so no pressure to conform. I totally understand.

Patricia @ allthingspatricia.com

Marisa @ moonbeamzyoga.com

Shannon @ ramblinrandol.com

Renee @ connectorcreator.com

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Thanks for stopping by and reading today. May your day be filled with sunshine!

Food for Thought and Mental Health

Thanks for participating in #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth.

Family and friends often ask, “How’s Drew?”

I wish I could say, “Phenomenal.” In reality, he’s okay, and I remind myself of our baby steps forward…(click this link for our story and a prayer).