I love DC

You can take Susanne out of Virginia, but you can’t take Virginia out of Susanne.  I do love traveling, discovering different areas, but it’s nice to go home sometimes too.  Time and time again, I’ve left for various reasons and returned to the DC area for various reasons.

Grew up in northern Virginia from 1972-1986.

Lived in Roanoke and Lexington my first two years of college, 1986-1988. Lived in Virginia Beach summer 1987.  Worked for Greenpeace in DC summer and fall 1988.

Moved to Wyoming to complete Spring Semester in the Rockies (WY, CO, UT) 1989.  Click here to read about it.

Moved away to Colorado in 1989 (Boulder, Telluride, Durango).  Click here to read more about life in beautiful places.

Finished college in Prescott, Arizona 1993.

Moved back to Virginia with my oldest daughter and went through a divorce 1994.

Worked for Greenpeace in DC 1994-1996.

Got my master’s degree 1998.

Moved away to Nevada 1998-2001. Taught sixth grade.  Remarried 1999. Had another daughter 2000 and son 2004.

Moved back 2001-2004 so my husband could attend law school while I taught sixth grade gifted/talented.  Click here to read more about that.

Moved away to Texas in 2006, visited Virginia in 2008 for a high school anniversary reunion, for a short weekend wedding this summer, and again last week to help my mom through a single mastectomy.

Cancer brought me home this time.  It changes everything and puts everything into perspective.  Cancer runs in my family.  My father had kidney cancer and then liver cancer. He died from bleeding complications during surgery.  It was a surprise to all of us because we knew about the previous kidney cancer but did not know that it had spread to his liver.  Knowing my mom was facing it alone, I did what I could to help.

When I go back to visit, it feels like home. The city, the suburbs, the culture and history are all a part of who I’ve become. Landing and taking off over the monuments and seeing Washington, DC by air reminds me of so many parts of my past there. It’s where I grew up, and it’s still intertwined with my life in Texas. Back home in Texas where I am comfortable with my family and it’s another beautiful sunny day, I appreciate both places for what they offer and know that Virginia/DC will always be my home. Texas is my second home, a place where we can spread out and my kids can grow up and call home. This is where I’m growing roots after transplanting from the east coast.

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This is a picture of the house where I grew up in Northern Virginia. My mom bought it and we moved in during 1972. She is still there today. There used to be a big pine tree in front of the left side of the house. I used to climb it as a child and sit high up in the branches, sticky with sap, looking over the neighborhood at roof tops and trees. Those moments were times I would steal away, sit back, and observe life around me. I remember doing roundoff-backhandsprings all over the front and back yards and wonder today how I did it when I see how sloped the front yard was. There were birthdays, homecomings, proms, Halloweens and Christmases in this house. Years upon years of memories, both good and bad reside here. What a trip to go back as an adult and re-experience it from another perspective.

This is truly the “house that built me.”

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This is where I went to take a walk while my mom saw her lawyer to get her will in place. It’s a familiar park near my house where I used to go all the time when I lived there. It was a heavy day emotionally, writing her advanced medical directive and discussing her wishes just in case anything went wrong in surgery. I lost my dad to complications from his surgery for liver cancer and didn’t know he was having surgery or that he had liver cancer, so this experience with my mom was the exact opposite. I did get to contemplate in advance what would happen if she didn’t come out of surgery ok.

Driving into Lake Accotink Park in Virginia, the road meanders through a secluded forest in the middle of suburbia. Tall trees line the road, and the speed limit slows to a pace where it’s impossible not to appreciate the surroundings. During any season, this is a beautiful drive into a pretty piece of nature where you’d least expect it. It’s a man-made reservoir, but it is a beautiful lake with trails around it. It’s a perfect park for picnics, bike rides, runs along the trail, boating, and parties at the facilities. As a kid, I used to ride my bike all around the park and had fun rope-swinging into the muddy water with friends. I loved getting out in nature. As an adult, I ran the dirt trail around the lake and rode single track mountain bike trails off the beaten path.  One of my favorite mountain biking memories is from riding single track at Accotink in the rain.  The trail was really muddy, and I got soaking wet but it was a fantastic time!

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I took a long walk and did some yoga in a secluded flat spot by the lake. Afterwards, I laid down on a bench for a while to let the sun’s rays caress my skin while my body relaxed. Lying in the sun is one of my favorite things to do; plus vitamin d is good for us (the sun is the only natural source of vitamin d).  The fall air was crisp, and the sun was warm, warmer than I expected and warmer that day than the rest of the week. I opened my eyes, looked up and saw this beautiful view of a tree with spectacular fall colors. The striking orange against the clear blue sky reflected a calm yet vibrant spirit within. I truly loved taking in my surroundings at that moment. Pale tree trunks reflected the loveliness of the place with initials inscribed surrounded in hearts with arrows. It was obviously a place where many others sat to enjoy the moment.

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In the final moments before my flight back to Texas, this was my view outside the airplane window. It was a beautiful morning at the end of a special week. My mom survived breast cancer surgery and was in good hands with friends, family, and a home health nurse. I was able to support her through a difficult experience. We mended fences and forgave each other for the past, and I focused on a zen mindset of being calm.

Dream Board 2013

Dream Board 2013

I also got a chance to reconnect with old friends and family members I haven’t seen in years. I appreciated my time there despite the circumstances. I felt reconnected with the place I’ve left so many times.

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US Capitol Building as we began our ascent out of Reagan National Airport.

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Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, and Jefferson Memorial

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Washington Monument, National Mall, and US Capitol Building

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Lincoln Memorial

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Inspired by These Female Celebrities

rachel pinterest

http://rachelbrathen.com/

Rachel Brathen is a yogi living in Aruba, spreading her love of yoga each day over her social media accounts.  She travels the world to teach yoga and inspires me every day to look up to the sky, be humble and grateful.

laurenrudick

http://blog.backtoeden.ca/2013/09/11/the-365-day-handstand-challenge/

Lauren Rudick is the yogi who inspired me to start the #handstand365 challenge.  I only did 29, but I tried. And I felt inspired. I am still inspired daily by her pictures, her messages, and I also love her yoga jewelry that she hands makes with care.

Jennifer-Aniston-Sedu-Hair-Styles-Icon

http://www.jenaniston.net/

Jennifer Aniston. Where do I start? I love her. She is probably my favorite actress. And she does yoga too.  I think I’ve seen every movie she is in.  I think my favorite role was when she starred in the Good Girl.  She is regular and ordinary, yet cool.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZXynl7z4hU

gwyneth-paltrow-435

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwyneth_Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow became my idol when Brad Pitt asked her to marry her.   I also love how classy she is and how she can adapt to various accents in her acting roles.  My favorite movie she was in was Shakespeare In Lovehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Zi2N1Q8-Y

Leelee-Sobieski-016-1280x800

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leelee_Sobieski

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wknrgJlv_Y

Jewel-Closeup-In-T-Shirt

www.jeweljk.com

avril

http://www.avrillavigne.com/us/home

Sororities Suck

I don’t often slam people or things, but today I’m going to. Sororities suck.

I’ve never been in one and have never understood it, but now I know for sure that they suck. I never went to a school that had sororities, but I did spend one year on exchange at Washington and Lee University (the first year they took women) and got a taste of fraternity life. Partying there for two years (both freshman year when I went to a neighboring womens’ school and sophomore year while there on exchange), fraternities seemed like nothing other than a way to separate boys into houses. There were southern boys from Texas in one fraternity. Hippies in another. I hung out at the house with the surfer type beach dudes. It was all about partying and fun.

My oldest daughter wanted to rush a sorority last year when she started college here in Texas. I told her I’d support her in it even though I didn’t understand it and it was an extra expense for us. During orientation, we attended a session introducing the Greek system and telling the girls what to expect when they started rushing. When it was question and answer time, I was the mom who raised her hand to ask exactly what are they looking for when they accept new members. Honestly, I was trying to understand. The answer I got was totally strange, something like, “Well if we absolutely can’t stand to talk to the girl, she won’t be accepted.” Nothing concrete. No real information like they are looking for girls with academic strengths or a strong volunteer record or even possessing specific talents. I left the meeting with a sick feeling in my stomach and told my daughter it sounded like nothing more than a popularity contest. I didn’t understand why she wanted to join a sorority, but she did, so we supported her. She rushed and was accepted into ZTA (Zeta Tau Alpha).

Zeta Tau Alpha

Zeta Tau Alpha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first I thought it was a good thing. She was busy with all the structured activities, and they participated in philanthropic activities. She had an immediate identity and group friends. All sororities have a color and a theme, and her world was filled with teal and silver, crowns and strawberries. Why? I have no idea. But whatever, it made her happy so there you go. It made me happy that she was happy. We paid all the extra fees and bought her all of the things they told her to buy including specific color dresses, shoes and clothes to wear to special events. We paid over a hundred dollars so she could make a paddle for her ‘big’ sister (what the heck do they do with a hundred-dollar paddle?). She had to decorate coolers for her dates for parties. She was happy though, so we went with it and just paid for everything. We liked that they had a minimum grade point average and study halls built into their codes. While her grades weren’t stellar, she was keeping up with everything and proud that she was a ZTA. Last year, her freshman year, I was working full-time and had my fifth knee surgery, so I was never able to visit her for family weekend or ZTA mom’s weekend.

This year, I did fly out for mom’s weekend. The sorority house was impressive, and I was happy to participate in the activities. I wrote about it here. I had no idea what was about to happen next.

Then, she told me the lady in charge didn’t like her and she wasn’t allowed to rush any of the incoming freshman in the fall. It was troubling to hear about personal politics, but I’m aware that kind of thing goes on all the time unfortunately. I suggested she talk with the lady, find out what her concerns are, and then do whatever she could to fix the problem. Not being there on a day-to-day basis, I had no idea why my daughter wasn’t liked and wasn’t allowed to participate in rushing (even though she went to school early for rush and I still bought her everything she needed to participate in rush). Her grades this year weren’t stellar, but they were still above the minimum GPA.

Then the hammer dropped. She got financially expelled. Why? Because we had fraud on our debit card, and the bank shut it down and gave me a new one. It was the same debit card that we used to pay for her sorority’s account. They automatically withdrew money all the time to pay for dues and this and that. Apparently, my daughter had it set up so it emailed just her, not us, in the case of any problems. So, I never realized they needed a new card number or I would have gladly supplied them with the new one. She didn’t check her emails regularly and after two months of non-payment, they expelled her. Keep in mind this happened about two weeks after I was out there for mom’s weekend. When I talked to the lady in charge, she said that we shouldn’t have been allowed to participate in mom’s weekend. But we were. They allowed her to pick up her T-shirts, and we fully participated in all the events. Nobody told us there was a financial problem. I thought everything was fine.

She was very upset when she found out she got financially expelled, and I called the lady in charge and she said if we paid the bill, my daughter could reapply. So we did. We paid the bills immediately, and she went through the steps of reapplying to the national organization. We waited and waited, and then nationals wrote her back and told her that they denied her application because there was no support in the local chapter for her to be reinstated. I called the national office and spoke with the financial person, and she told me everything was fine on the national level. We paid her bill, and she was cleared through the national office. However, the local chapter voted not to reinstate her, but she didn’t know why. So, my husband called the lady in charge of the local chapter (the same lady I spoke to earlier), and she told him she had no idea what was going on. She told him there was no local vote and that she knew of no reason why my daughter would be rejected on a local level. She said she would look into it, talk to my daughter, and try to work things out to help her get back in.

She lied. Instead of doing what she said, she called my daughter down to the house and sat her down outlining reasons why they didn’t let her back in. Her grades weren’t very good (true but still above the minimum and never any disciplinary action taken), that her social media was a problem (again, never any disciplinary action taken), that they sent her to judicial before (which they didn’t) and that she didn’t participate enough (again, she was not allowed to rush and the lady in charge forced her to sit out). As far as I can understand, each and every reason they gave her was bogus. If they wanted her out for those reasons, why did they never state that? Why was she expelled for financial reasons and then kept out for other reasons? I will tell you why. Politics. Mean people. That’s why.

I lost my teaching job the same way. Completely blindsided with bogus reasons. No disciplinary action. No former notice. No help. Just lies and personal dislike. And when people don’t like you and don’t want you around, it’s not worth fighting to stay. It’s an ugly beast that you can’t beat with logic and reason and truth. It’s a tough lesson to learn.

Life is so unfair that way sometimes, but unfortunately that’s just the way it is. It’s left a very bitter taste in our mouths, and it shows how sly and conniving people are. It’s sad to me that an adult woman would use personal politics against a college aged kid. It’s sad to me that she would be dishonest to both me and my husband when we tried to get information about what was going on and how to help. I’m calling her out on her lies and manipulation of the situation.

Shame on you lady! How can you sleep at night?

All I have to say is I was right. Sororities are stupid. They are nothing more than popularity contests and an organized way to party.

Mean People Suck

Mean People Suck (Photo credit: Steven-L-Johnson)

 

Pearls on a String: One year later.

One year ago today, I quit my teaching job. Why? I wrote about in this entry: Pearls on a String. Since then, I’ve been adding pearls to my string of wisdom and experience. I’m a numbers person, and I can’t help but remember the day that my life changed unexpectedly, March 9, 2012, the Friday before Spring Break.

Today, my oldest daughter (19) is on spring break from college and enjoying her first vacation (Destin, FL) without her family and just with her friends. My two school aged kids (12 and 8) started their spring break yesterday too. My stepson (20) is an infantryman in the U.S. Army stationed in New York.

English: Beach in Destin, FL

English: Beach in Destin, FL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last month, I renewed my Texas teaching license (Generalist 4-8), and last week, I passed the licensure test for Math 8-12. I tutor privately at home and on Skype and am a full-time mother.

Math Dances

Math Dances (Photo credit: Dylan231)

 

A year ago, my daughter (12) was coming home alone after school until about 6:30 when I picked up my son (8) from after-school care. There was no after-school care for her; sixth grade is the fist year of middle school here in Texas. Now, I am available for both of them after school, and I’m able to provide transportation for her to take dance classes sixteen hours a week. She’s grown tremendously in all aspects over the past year. She’s keeping up her grades at school, and she’s grown by leaps and bounds in her dance skills (pun intended). My son is also thriving at school and in his sports: taekwondo and baseball. My stepson (20) was able to visit us last March, and we saw him at Christmas. I was able to visit my oldest daughter (19) for ZTA mom’s weekend last month.

I’m able to set my tutoring schedule around our family schedule and am able to spend time pursuing other interests like guitar lessons and blogging. My husband made partner at his law firm in the past year. At first, I was devastated, but I can honestly say I am truly grateful for the opportunity that fell in my lap. I miss the kids, but I still get to work with wonderful students. And most importantly, I’m able to put my family first.

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Fiction Friday #4: The Gun

Every Friday this month, I’ve been posting fiction as part of a challenge by my friend, Molly Field, over at her blog Grass Oil. Today is the last installment of the month. If you missed the first three entries, here are links. If you haven’t read them yet, you might want to catch up since this is part four of the same story.

Fiction Friday #1: Lesson Learned

Fiction Friday #2: Althea

Fiction Friday #3: The Aftermath

     After Amanda‘s arrest, she and Richard went to bed without speaking. She retreated into herself and didn’t know how to handle the embarrassment. What would everyone say about her? Why did she have lunch with an ex? What would she do to make things better with Richard? How would she go on day-to-day with so many problems?
The next day, she got up and helped Brad and Robert with breakfast and the before-school routine. She and Richard were cordial but superficial to each other. He was obviously upset with her and worried about her at the same time. He left for work without a kiss, and the boys left shortly thereafter.
Once she was alone, she went back to her bedroom and sat down on the bed. She opened the drawer in the night stand, pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and started to write, “My dearest family, once you read this note, I will already be gone. I am sorry for the pain my death might cause you, but I think in a few years it will become something you can get used to. I can not forgive myself for the past, and I know you can’t either. I haven’t been happy in so long.  Please know I love you, and I’m sorry.  I just can’t go on like this any more.” She folded the paper in half and propped it up on the bedside table. She looked out the window and took a few minutes to contemplate the garden of roses growing outside. Life goes on, she told herself, they will be fine without me.   She looked back over the past couple of years and wondered what happened to her family. She wondered what happened to herself. She pulled the pistol out of the drawer. She held it carefully in her hands, and it was as if her whole life flashed in front of her eyes.  How could she ever fix all the problems she created in her family? She blamed herself for losing Ella and Anderson, and she knew Richard and Robert had never fully forgiven her for what she did. Their marriage had never been the same since the accident.  How could she face people after what happened at school?  Maybe it would be easier for everybody if I wasn’t here she thought to herself.

HS2000 9mm Pistol

HS2000 9mm Pistol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amanda never wanted to have a gun in the house. She didn’t have a father growing up, so she was never exposed to guns as a child or young lady. It was never a question in her house. Richard felt it was a necessity to have a gun in the house. He wanted it for self-defense (in the case of home invasion) and for hunting. They owned some land where he frequently went hunting and camping, and he really enjoyed going there to pursue his hobbies.
When she met Richard, she learned of his interest in guns and tried to understand it (even though it was new to her). Part of marrying someone is accepting who they are as a person not changing who they are.  Amanda firmly believed in the importance of each spouse maintaining some individuality in the marriage. She felt strongly that there are some things that are deal breakers like cheating and beating, and other things are part of the territory of marriage that you put up with. You accept certain things about your partner so you can live a peaceful happy life together. So she accepted Richard, guns and all.
She was most worried about having guns in the house because they had children. There were stories all the time in the news about kids who accidentally shot themselves, siblings, and/or friends when they played with a parent’s gun. There were other stories about teenagers who had lost their minds, taken their parents’ guns, shot and killed people in public places like schools, stores, and movie theaters. She really didn’t want her family on the news in a tragic, avoidable story.
They agreed to keep most of their guns in a safe, but Richard insisted on keeping a pistol in his night-side table drawer so he would be able to get to it quickly in the case of emergency. The safe with his rifles was in their closet, but he didn’t want to lose precious minutes if confronted by an attacker in the middle of the night. He signed Amanda up for shooting classes, and she braved the experience to show interest in her husband’s hobby. Once she learned how to handle a gun, she felt empowered and prepared for the possibility of being face to face with an intruder. She thanked Richard for exposing her to a whole new world and could barely believe the dichotomy inside herself as she grew to appreciate something she also feared and disliked.
All of the sudden, her phone rang. It was Richard. He was able to schedule a marriage counseling appointment for them that evening. He wanted to talk to the counselor about the arrest and what led up to it. When he asked what she was doing, she answered, “uh, nothing really, just thinking about things.” She hung up the phone, put the gun away, and threw the note in the trash. Not today she thought to herself.
She ordered pizzas for the boys and put Brad in charge of watching Robert for a few hours while she was at the counseling appointment with Richard. Brad was practicing guitar up in his room and choking down bites sausage pizza in between songs. He shooed his little brother when he came into his room to listen to him play. “Go find something to do! Mom and dad will be back soon. Don’t you have some games to play or something?”
Robert played video games for a while, and then he decided to make a video of himself as his favorite character in his new game. His parents weren’t home, so he sneaked into their room and got the gun out of the drawer. They didn’t know that he knew it was in there, but he did. His big brothers showed it to him before and made him swear not to tattle. He set up his camera and got a kick out of seeing himself on the screen. He pointed the gun right at the screen then right, left, up, and down so he could see it from many angles. He made tough faces and felt like a tough guy. He could still hear Brad playing guitar upstairs, so he knew he wouldn’t get caught.
Amanda was telling Richard about having lunch with her ex at the counselor’s office. Brad just nailed the solo he was working on in his room when out of nowhere, there was a BANG! Brad stopped playing and looked around wondering what just happened. It sounded like a firecracker. He paused for a moment and then realized he knew exactly what that sound was.
“Robert?” He screamed as he started running down the stairs._______________________________________________________________________________________

     Here is the prompt:  “Invent a / your character (who) has two personality traits that are completely incompatible, that don’t fit together at all. For example: this character is incredibly messy and is also a total perfectionist. Or: this character is a pacifist and also has a really explosive temper. Or: this character believes in strict, traditional family values but is promiscuous by nature. You decide. Then think of a situation in which these two sides of your character would be in direct conflict with each other. Write the story / scene.”

     Please visit the other blogs to see what the writers did with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.itsadomelife.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/
http://the-suds-box.blogspot.ca/
http://www.quirkychrissy.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@SusanneNelson1
@ItsADomeLife
@DeBieHive
@MollyFieldTweet
@monsterNbox
@chrissawoj

Thanks for reading! Peace out.

Aside

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Watching the presidential inauguration beings back memories of my time living in and near Washington DC.  I grew up in a Virginia suburb just about ten miles south of the district as the crow flies. I remember going downtown for Fourth of July celebrations year after year as a child and teenager.   In particular, I remember the bicentennial celebration in 1976. I was only eight years old, and I’m pretty sure that’s the time I started being claustrophic.  I tried to hold my mom’s hand and stay with her in the massive crowds, but it was suffocating being caught at waist level between adults all around.  There were massive crowds on the national mall and in every metro station.   As a young adult, I worked for Greenpeace at the national office in DC, and I used to drive those streets all the time.  As a teacher, I helped students to study the design and architecture or many of the iconic buildings so they could make scale models for a class project.  They wired them to light with bulbs and batteries and we created a “city of lights.”

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dccityoflights

     Although I met my husband in Reno, NV we returned to the DC area for him to go to law school at Catholic University in 2001.  Here is a picture of him in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

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     The first inauguration I remember was Ronald Reagan’s.  I’m not sure if it was his first or second time in office.  My mom took me and my brother so we could remember that part of history.  I was young and not plugged into politics at all.  But I do remember all the pomp and circumstance, the cold air outside, and watching as he and the First Lady passed us by on the parade route.

I met President Carter but didn’t go to his inauguration.  I played Suzuki violin with his daughter Amy, and I was fortunate enough to meet the President and First Lady after one of our concerts at the Kennedy Center.

     When President Clinton was re-elected, I was temping for a democratic advertising agency in DC.  My job at Greenpeace was moved to the international office in Amsterdam, and since I was a single mom at the time, it didn’t work out for me to go.  So, I worked as a temp for about six months before going back to school to get my master’s degree.  We celebrated at a bar in DC, but a few days earlier, I was able to sneak into MTV’s pre-inaugural ball at the Corcoran Art Museum with a friend.  My girlfriend and I saw Joan Osborne at DAR Constitution Hall.  Remember this song? After the show, we were walking to the car and saw people lined up on a red carpet with a white tent above the entry way into the museum.  We wondered what was going on inside.  It was obviously some kind of VIP event.  After seeing people going back and forth to and from a van parked by a nearby door, we dared ourselves to go in somehow, just for the fun of it.  We watched for a few minutes as people were getting gift bags from the van and taking them into the door.  We walked up to the van, and they handed us some gift bags unwittingly.  We went along with it, and we walked nonchalantly into the door, put the bags down on the table with the rest of them, and instead of going back outside to the van for more bags, we slipped in between people and mingled with the crowd.  All of the sudden, we realized we were inside the party and began to act accordingly, getting drinks and snacks and socializing.  Several reporters thought I was Jewel, the singer/songwriter, and I laughed as I turned them away from interviewing me.  We met several celebrities that night including Kevin Spacey, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Smits, and Chelsea Clinton.    What a fun night that was!
     When George W. Bush had his second inauguration, my husband was a new associate at a law firm in DC right on Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was a big party that day, and we got to see the parade from the office windows (several stories up) after a catered lunch with an open bar.  There were snipers on the rooves of the neighboring buildings.  I remember drinking gin and tonics that day and had such a good view of the President as he walked by on the street, I made a wise-crack about him and realized I should probably have kept my mouth shut!
     I’ve lived in Texas for the last two inaugurations.  Four years ago, President Obama‘s speech was inspiring, and it was amazing to watch history take place as our first black president was sworn into office.  Four years later, I am equally as inspired to hear him speak today and was happy to hear him outline specifically some of the important issues we face as a country including equality and opportunity for all, safety from gun violence, education, energy, and climate change.   Watching all the coverage makes me miss my hometown, and seeing all the buildings and familiar landmarks and streets makes me nostalgic about growing up and living so close to the nation’s capitol.  The inauguration is a time to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power in our democratic society.  I’m proud to be an American.  I’m grateful we all have a say in electing our leaders. We face many challenges ahead, but I hope in the next four years our leaders in congress will find ways to work together to solve our problems.

Inauguration Day 2013

Daily Prompt: Time Capsule 2012

“The year is drawing to a close. What would you put in a 2012 time capsule?”

1.  A dance bag with ballet, jazz and hip hop shoes and gear. This is the year my daughter (12) became super serious about dance, and our lives now revolve around her practice schedule.

2.  An iphone.  Four out of five of us in the family have iphones. They are definitely a sign of the times.  They have itunes libraries reflecting today’s music too.

3.  My Obama victory magnet.  It’s on the back of my car. I’m happy that he won reelection this year!

5.  Camoflauge pants and combat boots to represent my stepson (20) who is now in the army, stationed at Ft. Drum NY.  He is an infantry man. We are super proud of him for his sacrifice and service.

6.  A Texas Tech flag and a Zeta Tau Alpha sign to represent our daughter (19) who is a ZTA at Texas Tech. She loves going to school there!

7.  My son’s (8) last baby tooth in the front that finally fell out (the yellow one).  It was yellow because when he was a toddler he fell down the stairs and whacked his face and mouth on the tile floor. It cut off blood supply to his tooth, so it turned yellow.

8.  My husband’s business card. This is the year he made partner at his law firm.  He also turned 40 this year (officially over the hill).

9.  An Algebra 2 book because I’ve been studying it a lot this year.  I’m a private math tutor, and I have kids everywhere from Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2 and in between.  This year, I have lots of kids in Algebra 2 and have been enjoying working with them.

10.  An electric guitar because this is the year I’ve been taking lessons consistently and finally learning more about music theory and writing solos.

My Son for President

 

My son made this thinking map at school outlining his ideas if elected for President of the United States. I love that they had a chance to think about what they would do if they won the election and had presidential power. When he first told me about it (before I saw the paper) he said, “I would hide my phone number.” Pretty clever guy. I’m not sure what made him think of that, but it’s true, presidents can’t be giving out their phone numbers to just anyone.

Then, there is the demand for free pancakes and donuts. What a socialist. Doesn’t anybody feed that kid? I eat gluten-free, so I admit I am not the first person to think of eating pancakes and/or donuts. But I do my best to remember to buy junk food and processed white flour products to meet my kids’ desires. Before seeing this assignment, I had no idea pancakes and donuts were so important to him.

I absolutely LOVE the idea of extending the weekend by one day. Americans work too much and stress out too hard. It would be wonderful to have three day weekends. He said he misses being home with me during the day like when he was little. So sweet.

Surprisingly, he gets down to some serious issues with the idea of not letting anybody cut down the rainforest. That’s my boy, a chip off the old block. He’s inherited my love for the earth and my passion for protecting the environment. He is smart enough to understand some of the science and seems to genuinely care about nature.

Lowering prices and making more jobs to build the economy…I think he must overhear the news quite a bit at our house, and obviously he is picking up on some of the key vocabulary and hearing people discussing jobs and the economy. My husband and I frequently discuss politics, and the news was constantly on during election season. I’m impressed these were areas he would address if he was elected.

Maybe he will be President of the United States one day. I would vote for him!

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30 Days of Truth: A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Dear Self,

How do I love you? Let me count all the ways. This is a difficult but important task, assigned to me in the past by a therapist, but I never completed it. I started writing things down and then felt funny about saying good things to myself. Since this question has come up again in my life, and I am working on keeping a mental list on this subject, perhaps it would be helpful for me to finally put some words together about it.

Self, I have never met anybody like you. You are unique. You’re not like most people for some reason, and sometimes you think this quality works against you, but I think all in all it works in your favor. I love that you are different and have reasons for being different and are learning to become comfortable in your own albeit different skin.

I love that you love learning. You study math just for fun when nobody makes you. You take guitar lessons so you can play along with the songs you like. You’re even learning how to solo and about music theory, and that’s not easy stuff.

I love that you reflect on yourself in an effort to understand yourself, your actions, and your effects on others around you. Sometimes you can come across as confrontational and opinionated, but deep down inside, I know you are looking for common ground and the opportunity to share information and debate and discuss ideas.

I love that you are a free thinker and don’t take what people tell you at face value. You question things, and you search for your own answers, even if you never find them. You’re ok with saying, “I don’t know, but I know where to look for that answer.”

You are kind and loving. You are friendly and can be funny. You can be authoritative and you aren’t afraid to speak in front of crowds. You aren’t afraid to video yourself playing guitar and singing even though you know your performance isn’t perfect. You express yourself and seek connections with others even if they are different than you are.

Don’t get me wrong self, I know you have experienced a lot of things in your lifetime, both positive and negative. You’ve had to bounce back several times from obstacles thrown your way. Even though you can get frustated and upset, you try to find the positives in the negatives, and you try to see problems as opportunities for growth. I love your resiliency. Your parents got divorced while you were a baby and your dad did not take a very active role in your upbringing, but you became a strong, self-sufficient woman anyway.

You edited and self-published your dad’s book for him after passed away.

You were a single mom for four years and handled it with grace. You worked hard on your master’s degree (earned a 4.0 GPA) and got yourself into a professional position as a teacher.

You tutor kids in math and pass on your enthusiasm for the subject and for education in general.

You inspire people.

You care about health and fitness and make healthy choices as much as possible day to day. You educate your kids about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise

You prioritize family, and you’ve built your life step by step with your husband. You are goal oriented and know how to take steps to reach your goals. You’re reliable. When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. You can be counted on when a friend needs support.

I love that you are both tough on your kids and loving with them at the same time. They know they have high expectations, but they also know they have your help in achieving them. You express love freely and love hugging. You think ahead for your kids and do what you can do today to get them to where they want to be in the future.

I love that you care about the Earth and all its inhabitants.  I love that you spent 95 days outdoors. I love that you put your life on the line to speak out for the environment. I love that you notice all the little things like pretty skies, sunsets, wildlife, and flowers around you. I love that you are interested in space.

I love that you are committed to working on different areas of yourself. You aim to be the best you can be and work on being a well-rounded person. Take this blog for example. Your mom read your diary and you got in trouble for it when you were a teenager. Ever since then, you’ve had writer’s block when it comes to writing about yourself. I’m proud of you for blogging, even if you don’t get to it every day, and no matter how many ‘likes’ it gets you on facebook.

I think the thing I love the most about you is that you get along with pretty much anybody. Keep being you self. There’s nobody better qualified!

Love,

Susanne

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Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving 2012. It’s the time of year we pause to be thankful for what we have. And it’s the beginning of the Christmas season.

I am thankful for my husband, his job, our kids, friends, and families, our house, the earth and sun, and all of life’s experiences. I am thankful for every day.

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