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Saturday, April 28, 2012


“Every day I have a choice; I can sit down and cry, or get up and laugh.  I choose to laugh” –me (as far as I know)

          This is my basic philosophy, and it generally serves me well.  Some days it’s a difficult one to live by, but I do my best.  Aside from the stress level that’s the norm for someone caring for a child who has severe multiple disabilities, works a part time job, and living as typical a life as anyone, I’ve entered into a period of chronic pain.  I’m hopeful that it won’t always be so, but for now it’s been almost 2 months of back/hip/leg pain, a couple of tests, phone calls, treatments and not sleeping enough.  The well of tears that for years I’ve managed to keep from overflowing daily is running a little high.  A few days ago the well overflowed, and wouldn’t stop—while I was at work, no less!

          I’m employed as a “lunch lady” in our local high school.  I work with 9 other ladies who are mostly easy to work with and we have a lot of fun as well—a great mix of personalities.  We serve the whole school at the same time, which is a couple of thousand potential customers.  Not everyone can fit into the lunchroom at the same time so tables are set up in the gym, and we take 3 serving stations out there every day.  For the month of April I was manning the snack kiosk out there. 

          There’s a team of custodians who help us get all our things out to the gym and back, a process that takes about 10 minutes total to get all three kiosks, snack racks, coolers, and warmers safely moved out of the way before the students are dismissed from lunch.  The other day it was getting late and some of the students were dismissed already, and the custodians were short staffed so we were taking a different route back, going through the rows of tables and out the back of the gym rather than down the hallway near where we set up.  It’s a bit like a parade when we’re on the move, the big blue kiosk, me with the snack rack, and someone behind me with the pretzel warmer, the big plastic pretzel on top quivering.  Rushing to keep up and trying to avoid running into any staff or students on my right, I didn’t realize there was something dangerous on my left until, in what I imagine was a spectacular display, the cart stopped, I didn’t, and the momentum took both the cart and me to the floor with a crash, and a spray of chip bags and cart pieces exploding around me!  One moment I was rushing to get back and count my inventory and money, the next I was being helped up by the custodian who had been behind me asking if I was ok as staff and students picked up the cart and chips.   All I wanted to do was cry.  Crazy emotions!  I made it back to the kitchen (almost) without any tears, but once I got to the coat room and restroom they flowed.  They flowed and flowed and flowed.  No matter how many times I washed my face, took deep breaths, and gulps of water.  I almost had it together, I brought back my leftovers and all the sudden there was Linda, the mother of 4, asking if I was ok, saying my pants were ripped, pulling up the leg and telling me I was cut and needed to go to the nurse.  Then Anna, asking if I wanted her to sew the rip for me.  And I cried, every time one of the ladies asked what happened and was I ok, hugged me, patted me on the back, helped me with my work, gave me a candy bar. Every kindness made me cry more.  Honestly, the whole thing was not worth crying over, yet even after I got home, I lay on the bed and cried, got Hillary off the bus and cried. And. I. cried.   I finally managed to stop before bed.

          Was it the medication that I’ve been taking, or being worn down from chronic pain?  Well, probably it was the perfect combination of those things and ignoring what is truly a basic human need—the occasional good cry.  I regularly laugh until I cry, sometimes I think I should have been named “Silly” instead of “Susan”, but rarely any more to I allow myself the luxury (yes, LUXURY) of a good cry.  It’s an outlet that keeps things on an even keel for me, able to handle most anything thrown at me.  Just as laughing releases tension, so does crying, whether it’s from a sad movie, a moving story, or out of frustration, crying acknowledges that not everything is ok, but that’s not a bad thing.  Holding it in works in the short term, but those feelings need to be released so they don’t keep collecting, eventually overflowing at an inappropriate time (like at work over an accident).  So what have I learned from this incident? I need to slow down a bit and take time to cry occasionally over things that happen, or things that scare or upset me.  A few moments of tears helps keep those negative things from collecting so much that a meltdown occurs.

          (Oh, and of all those bags of snacks that went everywhere in the gym that day?  Not one was missing.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Monday Thoughts

Time again for some Monday thoughts:

If Tuesday were the first day of the work week, I wouldn't like Tuesday and Monday would be fine.

I have really odd conversations with people much of the time.

I swear that one particular squirrel still wants to move into my house.

I'm convinced the neighbor's cat understands everything we say to it.

Sometimes my imagination gets the better of me.

Many rules are seemingly unthought out as to the consequences of following them.

40 degrees feels different in February after a string of 25 degree days than it does in April after a string of 75 degree days.

Teenagers are unpredictable as to what they might like to eat one day to the next.

The staff at the doctor's office shouldn't leave me sitting in the waiting room with the copies of my test results if they don't want me to read it before seeing the doctor.

The laundry hamper is never completely empty.

Some days need to include a big glass of chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookies.

There is something comforting about the hum of the refrigerator late in the evening.

Looking at old vacation photos is a great way to lift your spirits.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy 100th Post, Some of Sue’s Thoughts!

My how time flies!  This is my 100th blog post, how did that happen?  I want to take this space to review my archives and point out to you earlier posts you may have missed.  My very first post is still the one I like the most.  It’s called “Broken Shells” and tells a little about how I came to accept in my heart Hillary’s disabilities.  The “Rainbow of the Heart” posts give a little insight into my romance with my hubby (no there are no details! Haha!), and “She Grew Up” is a poem and reflection about my Anna growing up and how very fast that happened.  For something a little more spiritual you might like “Spirit’s Vacation” which is short but thoughtful.  According to my stats on my blogger dashboard “Tarantula” is the most visited post of all time, one of the more amusing things I’ve written.  For something else fun you might try “Shut Up And Eat It”, a poem for the current economic situation we find ourselves in.  Occasionally I post work from the writing group I go to, and “Free Dancer” and “Notebook” are two of those quirky poems, or perhaps “rhymes” is a more appropriate term.  If you want something that may twist your brain a bit, you might try the “Flammable Rain” poem which I wrote as sort of a challenge to myself after joking about the fire danger sign reading “high” when it was raining quite heavily for a few days—you know, all that flammable rain falling.  For something lighter I suggest “Bob”, about a carpenter bee, and “Shaky Tail Squirrel”—no explanation needed!   You can learn something about my mother in “Those Hands”, or curl up with “Hot Chocolate Memories”.  I hope you will take the time to check out the older posts in my blog—the work of 2 years and counting—it truly is full  of some of my thoughts!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Memories

Today I feel nostalgic for Easters of the past.  When I was growing up we spent the whole morning in the company of church family.  First we'd be at the sunrise service in the town cemetery, then home to shower and change into our Easter finery and back to the church building for a congregational Easter breakfast.  Immediately following that we had Sunday school and then church service right after, with coffee hour following.  After that, there was an hour ride to our grandparents' house for Easter dinner.  A full day to be sure with just snatches of candy in between.

I remember one year my mother made me a pink Easter dress with a white Peter Pan collar and cuffs with a floppy hat to match.  My mother always made my dresses when I was a kid.

My favorite thing about Easter was the hymns.  "Allelu" and "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" are two of my favorites, I love the "Ha-a-a-a-a-le-e-lu-u-ya", I hum it now as I think about it!

When my girls were small there were always pretty, flowery, frilly dresses, straw hats, lace gloves and of course white "clackety clack" shoes.  Of course there were pictures taken, some of my favorite pictures of my girls together are from Easters when they were small.  It was such fun to make their baskets and see the reactions.  One time Anna wrote a letter to the Easter Bunny telling him to write her back and leave the answer under her pillow.  She was so excited to show us the letter her left her Easter morning!

There was one Easter that we spent in the pediatrician's office with Anna having pink eye, then I spent the rest of the day in the hospital with Hillary who was admitted the day before for seizure control, when it rains it pours, it seems!

I remember how the heady smell of lillies always permeated the air both at church and at home, as we always bought Mom flowers for Easter.  Any time I smell lillies that is what I think of.

So those are some of my Easter memories.  I hope you have many pleasant memories from Easter!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Real Mail

When my mother went away
I wanted so to say
"Send me a letter all my own."

She sent us cards and letters too--
A hanky edged with blue
But no letter all my own.

The day after she came back
Deep in the mailman's sack
Was a letter all my own.

Why did the mail all go wrong
When I was waiting oh! so long
For a letter all my own?

--by Ethel M. Parr

That poem was written by my maternal grandmother when she was a child, although I don't know exactly how old she might have been.  I wish I knew and I wish I knew the story behind her mother being gone, but since it would have been sometime in the 1800's, well, I doubt I will ever know.  That being said, I chose to start this post with this poem because I want to talk about mail.

When I was a child I had pen pals from around the country, which is perhaps why I enjoy facebook so much--it's like having pen pals again--although I don't think words on a screen satisfy me the way a letter written on paper does.  E-cards also don't give me the same feeling that a card sent through "snail mail" does.  While there is something to be said for the relative immediacy of e-mail and facebook messages/postings, I love the feel, look, and smell of a 'real' letter, sent to me.  The choice of paper, ink color, and envelope give me clues as to what the sender may have been feeling/thinking when they were writing to me. I have a friend with whom I correspond with some regularity although since e-mail and facebook have become part of our daily routines we send letters less frequently than years past.  Now when one of us send a "real" letter it is an event for the recipient.  We include a tea bag or two with our letter.  For me, the first read through is immediate and hurried, skimming to make sure all is well with my friend.   Later, when I can have time to myself, I brew some tea with one of the enclosed bags and savor both the tea and my friend's words.  Any time I'm feeling a bit disconnected I can take out those letters and feel my friend's presence instantly.  It's fun to read letters from years ago and get a clue as to what was happening in both our lives, and see how our plans may have changed.  There is also nothing that compares to a "real" card for a special event or just to say "I'm thinking of you".  The comfort and intimacy that comes of holding in your hand the card that someone picked out especially to send to you is not something that can be gotten from a computer screen.

So while I very much enjoy keeping in touch through my computer, I will always prefer a "real" letter, with cross-outs and occasional sloppy hand writing, and a "real" card picked with me in mind out of the hundreds available in a store.  For me, nothing compares to receiving a letter "all my own."