Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spot on satire!

Satire at it's finest here. 

I really want to be Micah J. Murray when I grow up. 


love this outfit! and i want my hair this long!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ready to take on the world

This week I will drive to Indiana and pick up Selena from college. Where this first year of her college life has gone is beyond me, but she has loved every minute and is working hard at her nursing degree. Her tenacity for study has astounded me, and I’m very proud of her, just as I am my other two children who are working hard for their futures. It seems we’re all working hard to attain, to achieve, to go one step further and strive for that hard-won prize. 

I wasn’t much for studying in high school. I would wait until the night before a test to cram some information into my brain, hoping that the grade I would get would be at best average. English papers? Those were mostly done the night before as well, and I could always squeak out a solid A- or B+ on my writing skills alone. College wasn’t on my radar back in the mid 1980s as I just knew that the collegiate life wasn’t for me. I wanted adventure and foreign countries, plus I wanted more than just books and learning. Most of all, I knew I wanted to get married and have children, as old-fashioned as that sounds nowadays. I couldn’t see a career beyond any of those things I just mentioned. 

There are times I regret not going to college. When I go on college visits with my children, especially the one to NYC we took with Hunter, my heart pines for what I think I may have missed. Dorm life and the lifelong friends you make, the halls filled with books and words, late night coffee drinking and all the things you associate with college. My mind right now is filled with the thought processes of getting ahead in the fields that I love: writing, freelancing, and social media. They take up my brain day and night, filling my head with ideas and ways to make my words better and my skills deeper. I believe now, at age 45, I’m ready for college. I’m ready for those brain cells to fire and to learn as much as I can. It’s interesting how life works, and even though I won’t go back to college, I know I’m at the place I should have been some 27 years ago. It just took me awhile to get there.

I wouldn’t trade my voluntary service trip to San Antonio after I graduated because I met George there. The trip we took to Mexico, driving down and up tiny roads filled with gravel and danger, and living there for eight months—those are times I treasure. Having each one of my children because I was ready for them—ready for the responsibility those tiny souls needed—is something I would never trade even though we were young. I am now facing the empty nest and I’m ready. I did what God called me to do at a young age, and now I’m listening as he’s directing my life in my middle age. He’s full of surprises and the things He puts in our hearts. Take heed and listen because you never know what type of path, fraught with new and exciting things, he might lay out for us. I don’t want to miss one second of it.

Find this and other columns of mine on The Holmes County Bargain Hunter

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Confidently cutting the strings and grabbing hold of me

For most people, confidence comes easy. They stride into a room like they belong there, not caring what anyone else might think of their swagger. People gravitate unknowingly toward them and their persona that reaches out and snares people—not in a bad way. Snare might be the wrong word, but you get the picture—confidence with a capital C. This is, for many of us, a struggle-trait. You know, the one thing we wrestle with on a daily basis, and I mean wrestle down to the ground and put a choke hold on it. It’s a visceral thing that can be seen, felt, and actually tamped down. 

I have struggled with confidence for years, even though that may come as a surprise for most of you. I was the one who had my own thoughts, yet didn’t voice them. Or if I did, the ones who said they would have my back slunk slowly into the corner, making me look like a fool—like I was standing alone. Maybe the confidence I have now was always there, I just let others hold it down, like a volcano ready to erupt. A better analogy would be like Old Faithful, which I was, predictable and doing the same darn thing every single day. I didn’t know I was ready to boil over inside.

When I got married, became a wife, then a mother, I put all those things, once again, on the back burner and didn’t let my confidence show. I’m not much of a confronter, so it was easier to just live every day putting my dreams on hold. If I had had more confidence, it may not have taken me so long to pull them to the forefront. I was a prolific poet and storyteller in my teenage years, and somewhere, somehow, I lost that folder of poems that meant so much to me. I may not ever find it, but I’ve amassed a new folder—one filled with dreams beyond imagination that I hope will never fill up.

It’s easy to live a life for others, making ourselves not important in a life that is actually ours. We lose ourselves in our children, our marriages, or our exterior personas, never taking the time to nurture that wild tangle of life that’s inside of us. It needs our breath, hot and full of mystery, blown on the spark so it dances and comes to life. Even though my children and spouse always came first, it wasn’t until I could see in the faint distance a life without my children at home that I could see myself and how I had neglected her all these years. My husband pushed me and pushed me to find that spark inside myself. He pushed me to find that confidence. When I finally found it was when my first daughter flew free of the nest. I could see who I was without her and what I needed to be as life moved forward. I’ll always be mom, but now I need to be Missy as well.

Seasons of this life ebb and flow, and I feel I’m on the edge of a vast, warm sea with the waves licking at my feet. I’m ready to embark on the journey that is mine, whether it be in the work I know I’m meant to do, or the words I’m meant to write. My husband is living his dreams and feels the tug toward more, and so it seems we are embracing our lives post children in the home. Those wonderful souls that took our time, love, and brought so much joy. I see now how God moves and weaves this wonderful, yet separate web for us as a couple and for the kids and what they dream of and are pulled toward. It can never be one piece because we are only here to raise them and send them off. I feel the strings being torn asunder and I can only smile. My confidence and verve for life have been found and the execution of it has begun, and my nerves hum with excitement. And I’m off.

From The Holmes County Bargain Hunter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Embracing the “word nerd” inside of me

Joy is an elusive thing that we try to grasp for daily. Realizing when we have it in our palm is the hardest thing. Aside from family, what brings you joy? Is it the click of numbers as you do accounting for people? Maybe you are a firefighter that puts out fires and saves people’s lives. They say that our hobbies are our passions – where does your heart lie? What do you do every day that you could turn into your profession?

In elementary school I had a teacher that I loved. She was hard yet fun in the classroom and I loved her. She was the first one to notice, really notice, the writing abilities I had. She asked me read a ten page story I had written in front of the entire class – and I was enthralled. I realized then that words had power. So much power to use for good, bad, or to take a reader to heights they hadn’t imagined.

I am an admitted “word nerd” and anyone in my family can vouch for that. If my kids use wrong vocabulary or ask me how to spell something they know they will get a look from me that contains daggers and the phrase “you aren’t my kid until you spell that correctly.” All pressure aside, they know I want them to speak well and convey themselves in a way that exudes confidence and know-how. Excellent grammar and spelling follow you all the way into adulthood, and even though they know I’m kidding they also know I mean it. All three have excellent grammar skills and it makes me proud.

When social media made its debut I jumped into the fray headfirst. When I first started blogging I never thought anyone would read it. What in the world would they care what I have to say? But like life, your passions unravel slowly and surely and the blog took off. Then came Facebook, Twitter, and all other forms of social media that require crafting of words and ideas. I was in heaven being able to post quotes, articles, and anything else that came to my mind. When you do what you love, even just a little, other opportunities come along and soon I found myself writing my column for the Bargain Hunter. Now, along with that I find that more has presented itself and I’m going to jump – headfirst.

What are you doing with your passions? Are you simply treading water and living your life? Do you grab opportunities as they come or do you back off and stay safe in your cocoon? I’ve finally grabbed on – and I’m not letting go.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My sister-in-law Malena: An update

The sands of time keep softly falling and we are now several months out from when we first found out about my sister-in-law Malena. For those not following her story, she is married to my husband's brother Chucho. They live in Mexico and she has six children, and numerous grandchildren. She was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor, a very large one. She is only 48 years old. We found out about her condition, or details of it, right at Christmas. The condition she was in was not made known to us the way we would've liked it. I wanted the nitty, gritty details and I wanted them now. It was slow in coming, as is the very measured way in which Latinos give information (if they do at all), and when we finally found out how bad it really was we were simply floored. It took my breath away. 

They sent us pictures of a Malena that I didn't recognize. I like to say that I'm a robust, zaftig woman as was Malena. The pictures I received from her girls of her appearance now was a very slim woman - one that did not look at all like the Malena I had known for twenty-five years. Protruding from her stomach was the tumor, and I had to look away. It turns out she had not felt well for a year or more, brushing it aside because in Mexico if you don't have money, you don't get care. 

My eldest daughter said, "Mom, we need to help them. We need to do something." She needed surgery, to explore and to find out exactly what needed to be done. The day after Christmas she set up a crowd-funding page for Malena and off it went. By the end of the set time of 2-3 weeks, we had raised nearly $4000 given online and in person. My husband and I wept with the generosity that had been shown. People didn't know her, yet they gave. 

We sent the money to them, every penny, nearly a week later. Within two weeks or so, she was heading to her surgery that had been postponed nearly three times. We waited to hear, texted with the girls, and prayed. After a long day of waiting, and nearly several more of getting the exact details, we found out what we had hoped wasn't true. The tumor was too large to remove as she had been bleeding out on the table. The cancer had spread and was wrapped around nearly every vital organ in the stomach and mid-region of her body. They closed her up and sent her home to recover. We questioned them about chemotherapy and had found out that the doctors had already talked to her about it. Too costly to afford, and for Malena, something she didn't want. 

She is now at home, having healed from the surgery. She goes about her days, content in the knowledge that they did what they could. She says she is ready and wants nothing like chemo to take the joy out of the final stages of her life. I text her when I can, telling her how much I love her. Her kids are ever close to her side, as is Chucho - with whom she's been with for over thirty years now. My husband mourns for him and the loss he will suffer in losing his best friend. I am thoughtful and pensive thinking about how Malena befriended me when I was a naive American girl in a foreign country. No language but Spanish to learn, and how kind she was in her ways and with the foods she always prepared for us. I want to sit in her kitchen one more time and eat homemade quesadillas gently stuffed with mushrooms and herbs, topped off with queso de Oaxaca. I want to taste the burn of the salsa rojo that melds with the flavors of the quesadilla and satisfies my hunger not just for genuine Mexican food, but for the friendship it brings. 

I want to see her one more time, and if God and favor provide this may happen yet. I want to travel those bumpy, pothole-filled side streets to her house and gather her in my arms. We will see. For now I am content in knowing this past week they were able to travel the several hours it takes to go to the coast of Veracruz. She was able to spend a few sun-filled days basking and enjoying life one minute at a time with her husband and youngest daughter, who is 12, at her side. 

It is about each minute, isn't it? 

** A hearty thank you to each and every soul who donated money to Malena's cause. She had no idea we were doing it and was floored that anyone who didn't know her would care enough to give. With your help she was able to get the surgery, find answers, and rest easy in the days God is giving her. Thank you, my friends. Your generosity will not be forgotten.