Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I have been on a bloggy break finishing up some loose ends in my life.

I finished editing the pictures of my trip to Pennsylvania/D.C./New York with Married Daughter and Loyal Sister.
Finished this fun fondue before leaving Married Daughter/Loyal Son-in-Law's home to return to Texas.
Finished looking at the car's thermometer for the remainder of this hot spell blanketing Texas upon my return.
Finished Young Son's four loads of laundry on his last visit home. (PS: He lives in my town and knows how to do laundry; he also knows Mom can be a soft touch. That is why he shows up at dinners with bulky, bulging bags...)
Finished arranging D's shelf in his study with all my favorite mementos.
Finished moving to my new principal's office. This is the wall I face from my desk. You may notice the beautiful picture on the wall. Let's take a closer look:
This wonderful piece of art was made for me by my last classroom in May. It fills me with The Happy each time I look at it.
Finished my desktop. (My students gave me a class picture made the last week of school and made me promise to put it in my new office. Promise finished!)
Finished hanging the picture Married Daughter drew when she was 18. I hope you click on it to see the details. She is an amazing artist and and attended the school where I am again working. She learned so much from the school's former art teacher (V.....Vaughan). It is a reminder of the many rich blessings this school poured over my children and family since first entering it in 1995. I'm ready to give back with all my heart.
Finished hanging this above my desk to remind me of the influence we can have on others. I've mentored a precious teacher for the past several years, and she made this for me. It shows her first three classes, and the words say, "Thanks for believing in me, so I can believe in them." (Reaching for the Kleenex. Thanks, E.)
Finished hanging family pictures, because what office is complete without them?

Do you know what the best part of finishing is?

New Beginnings.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Anatomy of a Blog Post

I am amazed at the people who can post on their blogs every day (or every weekday and take the weekends off.) My three favorite daily bloggers are:

BooMama who makes me laugh every day with her Southern sense of humor and love for all things bacon. Her writing style makes me envious, and I find myself rereading sentences because they are so creatively written.
BigMama lives about an hour south of me, and represents the great state of Texas well on a daily basis. I laugh until I snort most when I read her posts most days.
(And Yes: Boo and Big are friends and often post a podcast together which is really like listening in on a call to your best friends.)
Lots of Scotts is written by a Southern mom of triplets who are now entering first grade. Her perspective is always God-centered, encouraging and inspiring.

I am just not able to do a daily blog, and I appreciate the readers who continue to check back with me until a new post is discovered about once a week. I have this week off before starting a new job and was pondering how I come up with posts on this blog.

This post began last Sunday over brunch with friends I have been blessed with since high school. One of the girls (and yes, we still consider ourselves girls, because I think we have maintained an internal age of 18 and where did these adult children of ours come from anyway?) was mentioning that she had read there is a section of your brain that is only stimulated when you are digging in dirt. God wired us to be gardeners back in the Original Garden, apparently.

This little factoid spurred me to actually take a good long look at my pitiful yard. I have let it go since D left, but this summer we have already had 15 days of 100 degree plus weather. Central Texas is hotter than Arizona at this point, and gardening is more of a survival sport than a creative outlet. Anyway, I decided to go out and dig a bit on Tuesday and started wondering how I did not notice how bad the yard had become. Part of it was the fog o' grief; but part of it was coming home after dark each day because I did not want to spend long nights at home alone. I popped the garage door opener and never gave the yard a backward glance. Now, however, I've decided to come up with a landscaping plan that will include a sprinkler system and a lot of rock work that minimizes the amount of lawn I will have to take care of.

Encouraged by the fact that I once again have brainpower and bodily energy (two-years in the making), I have felt like this is the week I will also tackle the garage (to sort through D's tools) and the study (to sort through the last box of mementos I have saved of D's). Taking the emotional temperature...and I am really ready to do this.The garage filled me with The Happy as I realized all that I learned from D like labeling paint cans with the room and date the paint was used, the careful sorting and labeling of boxes that contained tiling/wallpapering/painting supplies that I will probably need again, and the meticulously cared for tools that look brand new. It was a joke in our house that everything D had he had owned "since college". He never lost or broke anything, it seemed, and this fact led to my biggest laugh of the day.

The entire time we were married, D would always ask me where his triangular drafting ruler was. I assured him over the years that I never saw one, needed one or even knew how to use one. But he reminded me he had never lost one since his engineering classes in college. Well, as I cleaned, I unearthed NINE of those rulers in various locations. They are now proudly displayed in an antique wooden box in the study, and I will have to confess to a little loving and heavenward "I told you so".

So, my blogposts are just reflections that are sorted out and tied together...usually a week in the making. I will arrive at my new job on Monday with the last of the physical objects of D's sorted out. There is a verse that says, "First the natural, then the spiritual", and I am believing that God is at work spiritually healing me as I am cleaning out the final physical corners. We make a pretty good team, I think, and I'm glad that He is always right on time to finish His work in His timing.

And I'll bet He laughed about the triangular rulers, too.

(Ending on a slightly different note: I had a comment from a new reader in Alaska who said that my story of loss was almost her exact story. Except she is getting married in July. Alaska reader, I love to hear from you through email to hear the rest of your story.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Choosing the Right Path

I am back home after a great trip to Pennsylvania/DC/New York City. (More on that in another post.) Married Daughter and her husband will be moving to Wisconsin next month, so I took one last trip to see them before my new job begins next week. Ahh, summer.

D was always intrigued by the fact that there was a defined beginning and end to every school year. In business, the years must just pile on top of each other. But in teaching? There is always a clean line drawn between one classroom full of students and the next.

I like that order, too. I enjoy finishing a school year up and locking the classroom door behind me each May, heading off into summer. I remember my thoughts two years ago as I went home to face a terminal diagnosis with D that came to fruition six weeks later. I know my thoughts last summer were set on crossing the one year anniversary of that loss. I was convinced that some measure of closure would be reached--and it was. This summer? I feel as if I am stepping into a new life that is not clouded by the shadows of the past two years.

It has surprised me to discover that I no longer tell people who are unfamiliar with my past about losing D. If they ask about my family I will volunteer the fact, but I don't feel that his death is the defining point of my life anymore. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know what a huge paradigm shift this is in my life. I think of D often with love and fond memories, but the loss is no longer the largest part of my identity.

I know that I am standing on the thresh hold of a very clear passage in my life. I no longer wear my wedding bands after two years of off-and-on, on-and-off jewelry dilemmas. My goal during this last week of vacation is to put D's belongings I cherish the most on a set of shelves in his former study. I don't want it to be a shrine of any sort: just a special collection that will bring smiles and sweet memories.

In some ways, it feels like I have been awakened from a long, long dream. I realize that I totally let my yard go since July 2009, and am thankful for the grace of the neighbors as I scramble to hire a landscaper. I realized I've worn the same black purse for two years because it was simply easier. I find myself seeking out new colorful purses and clothes with a vengence. The fog has lifted from my brain and I am reading many books at once (oh, Kindle, you are my friend!), pursuing complicated paperwork that was languishing in boxes, and thinking in a pragmatic, clear and organized way that lets me know good changes are ahead.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep."
Robert Frost

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Packing Up and Saying Good-bye

Today, I read my last children's book to a rapt audience of second graders.
Why? Because the bell just rang on the last day of school and now they are third graders!
Lining up for the last time and heading out to a wonderful summer.
The next good-bye was bittersweet:
Farewell to my last day of classroom teaching.
Hello to my new job as elementary principal.

“Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don't forget when you leave why you came." (A. Stevenson)