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!

Going home

Today, I am flying home to Washington, DC after moving away about seven years ago. I went back for a quick weekend wedding in June and we went back as a family in 2008. It’s been a long time away, and as I’m on the flight I feel both anticipation and dread for the week that lies ahead. This isn’t a so called fun trip; my mom has breast cancer again after fifteen years and is having a single mastectomy on Wednesday. We’ve had a strained relationship and a very rocky road especially the past few years, but cancer changed everything for me. It’s a reason to forgive, let go of past difficulties, and offer unconditional love and support. She lives alone, and I feel it is the right thing to do to go there and help her as she goes through this unfortunate process. As a secondary focus and added bonus, I do look forward to reconnecting with friends and family in the area whom I haven’t seen in years.

It is odd and a little disconcerting to leave behind my husband, kids, and pets for so long, but I am thankful for their support and confident they can take care of everything for me while I’m gone. I know day to day that although I don’t work outside of the home, my job is busy, challenging, and stressful at times, I laughed this morning about how long the list of things I usually do and manage really is. All the tasks I take care of may seem like low level jobs, but they hold our family and household together. My husband works long hours and I’m not sure how focused he is on all my little jobs, so I gave him a long list or reminders this morning:

Please remember to:
1. Feed, walk twice a day, care for the dogs, and don’t let them run away.
2. Feed the fish as much as they will eat in five minutes twice a day. (I cleaned both fish tanks yesterday so they would be ok this week. Last time I went away he forgot to feed my fish).
3. Mail a bill on Monday that I already put in a stamped envelope.
4. Water the hydrangea shrubs every day. Water indoor plants when they are dry.
5. Make sure dogs are in the fenced run when outside because the puppy eats my plants and digs holes.
6. Take our son to Taekwondo Monday and for his belt test Friday(got his uniform ready for him last night).
7. Attend our son’s musical at school Thursday.
8. Take and pick up our daughter to and from school and to and from dance classes (m-Th &Sat). And make sure her dance bag is packed and that she put it in the car. She also needs something for dinner since she is there until 9 or 9:30 at night.
9. Make sure kids take their medications and vitamins every day.
10. Make sure kids have lunches or lunch money.
11. Take our daughter to the orthodontist Wednesday.
12. Take our son for allergy shots on Friday. Don’t forget to bring the epi-pen.
13. Pay any bills that come in the mail.
14. Check our son’s folder for checks from other parents in his class and file them away with the ones I’ve collected so far. (I’m class mom and am in charge of the class parties).
15. Trash goes out Saturday and Wednesday. Recycling goes out Wednesday.
16. Remind kids daily to do homework and chores.
17. Change the laundry often because it will stink if it stays in the washer too long.
18. Our son has a guitar lesson and baseball end of season party today.

He is going to have fun being both mom and dad this week and getting a closer look at my daily life as a stay home mom. I’m thankful for his help and support as well as for his mom because she will also be helping with the kids this week. I know they are in good hands.

As for me, the trip will be a practice in zen and a trip down memory lane. My mom still lives in the same house that I grew up in. We moved there in 1972. Of course, there are many memories from the past and I will choose to focus on the positive ones. I used to climb a big pine tree in the front yard and sit up high looking at the surroundings. I ran wild outside and rode bikes with friends until it got dark. We played kickball in the culdesac below us.

Life was so different back then.

As for the zen part, I’m determined to keep my inner peace and strength regardless of what goes on around me.

Thankfully, I got to see two great friends when I landed at the airport! I arrived from Texas right before another friend was departing for Florida. We stopped and visited over some chardonnay. Talk about serendipity! I love it when things work out like that.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Pets

I’m a dog person because I am terribly allergic to cats and have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember. I had several pets as a child and have owned at least one dog since 1990. Pets bring life, love, and companionship into life. While some people consider their pets part of their family or as ‘furbabies’ the reality is that they are animals, not humans, and usually want to get away from us. That’s why we have to have cages and fences and tags and collars and leashes. Given the opportunity, they run away and sometimes find new families. I can’t help but wonder what goes through their minds. They truly do become a part of the family and defend their owners and children, sensing emotions, danger, and ill will. Yet, from day-to-day, it’s as if we are keeping them prisoner. Anytime the door is left open, or the gate is accidentally not closed, or if there is any gap in the fence, they will disappear. Nice people may return the pets, but there also is no rule they have to. They can capture the animal and begin keeping it prisoner until it makes its next escape.

One of my two dogs has been missing since Sunday 9/15/13, and it’s been a rough week looking for him and adjusting to life with one dog again. We got sibling Boston Terriers in the spring of 2008. Marley (the female) and Tom Brady (the male) had not been separated since birth…until now.

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Marley (left) and Tom Brady (right) in Coppell, TX 2013

The female was picked up on a busy street near construction by the owners of a local grooming salon. They took good care of her, including giving her a bath, hung up signs and kept her until I picked her up. They said there was no sign of her brother.

Thanks to a weak spot in our fence, they both got out, and they were both not wearing collars because my daughter likes to take them off to pet them etc. Also, Tom Brady had a little rash on his neck from his collar. They got out in April, and I thought of getting them microchipped then, but they were both found in the neighborhood and returned the same day. I got new collars and tags and thought that would be enough. Now that Tom Brady has been missing for so long, I think I will take Marley in to be microchipped!

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I planted two new hydrangea bushes in an open spot under some trees in our backyard garden.  Disturbing the soil and watering it must have caused the fence to break. 

See the crack?

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Here is a closer view from the other side. I had no idea they would push it open enough to get out!

 

We miss our boy and really hope to get him back, but after six days I think somebody must have picked him up and is keeping him because they like him. If they were going to turn him into a shelter, they have had all week to do it. Today, we are on our way out-of-town to visit our college daughter, and I have a sad feeling inside as we get farther and farther away from home knowing he is missing. It rained last night and is still raining today, and the ink on the flyers I put up this week is running and faded now.

He was such a sweet boy, very shy and absolutely LOVED attention. He would tuck his ears back and hold completely still for us while we held him like a little baby. He learned how to sit and would simply refuse to lie down upon command. Despite being a male, he let his sister dominate him. She learned commands faster and listened better than he did. She wouldn’t let him eat or drink when she was around, so I would separate them to make sure he was getting enough. The two dogs used to follow me around the house and lie down right next to each other in whatever room I stopped in. If was playing guitar, they would lie down and listen at my feet. If I worked on the computer, they would lie down next to me, sometimes curled together heads to paws like a little yin yang. They shared a crate, and I used to find them cuddled up together every morning. I’m thankful now that I spent some time videoing them playing and roughhousing in the back yard. I thought at the time it was kind of silly to videotape dogs playing, but I didn’t realize he would run away and we would never see him again. He loved rolling on his back and curving left and right as he massaged his little spine on the carpet beneath him. He snored when he slept and when being held. I’m slightly allergic to dogs and get a rash on my arms and hands if I pet them, so I used to wrap him up like a little burrito in a towel and hold him on my lap. He would cock his head back with his ears back and snore in my arms.

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Tom Brady, our Boston Terrier who has been missing since 9/15/13

 

 

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Marley chilling next to me on the carpet in our house 2013

My first inclination was to get another dog, but I have done that before and it turned out to be a bad idea. After discussing it with my husband, I think I will focus on Marley as the ‘only’ dog and give her even more attention. She has been acting differently without her brother this week. I took her out and got her a new bed and have been spending more time one on one with her this week.

Since none of the shelters have Tom Brady, I am assuming someone has him and wants to keep him. All I can do is hope he loves his new family and they love him too. I hope he will get more one on one attention in a new home, if that is how it has to be. We do have coyotes and bobcats in our area, so it’s also possible he met his demise, but I prefer to think someone has him. I will keep looking until I have a reason to stop.

I got my first dog when I was in college in Arizona in 1989. Kelsey was half Rottweiler, half wolf. She looked like a Rottweiler but had slightly longer hair and a longer snout. I spent the summer in Colorado with my boyfriend, and she had a litter of puppies with a Siberian Husky the next fall. We gave most of them to our friends but kept two females (Jordan and Freya) and a male (Orion). I took the following year off school and lived in Colorado with Kelsey and her three pups.

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Kelsey as a puppy in Prescott, AZ  1990

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Kelsey as a puppy in Prescott, AZ 1990

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Kelsey and my ex-boyfriend in Telluride, CO 1991

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Jordan at my first wedding in Prescott, AZ 1994

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Jordan in Lake Tahoe, NV 1998

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Jordan swimming in a lake to fetch a stick NV 1998

On my twenty-third birthday in 1991, my boyfriend accidentally ran over Freya, and she died in my arms. Heartbroken over the loss, we rushed out and got two more wolf-hybrid puppies (this time they were 96%) We went for one new puppy and loved two of them, so we got them both. Lupus was a golden tan color with yellow eyes. She was beautiful and wild. Grey Cloud was a black wolf, with kind of grey coloring and yellow eyes. She was timid and gentle, a real sweetheart. They were both very smart and loved our lifestyle, living outdoors and taking daily hikes through the mountains. With our five dogs, it felt like we were one big family, a pack. While I’m still not sure exactly what drove me to get and keep five dogs, but at the time it meant the world to me. I liked the lifestyle too and preferred it over one in a house with no pets. I lived outdoors like many other young people there did for about a year and a half, sometimes in my VW camper bus, sometimes in a tent, sometimes in a shack in the woods, and in a teepee for the second summer I was there. It was a completely different lifestyle, one where I felt wild and free too, like I was one with nature.

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Jordan in Telluride, CO 1991

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Jordan (left) and Freya (right) in Telluride, CO 1990

This is the only picture of Freya I have, and it’s also the only picture of me when I grew dreadlocks.

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Jordan and her sister, Suki in Telluride, CO 1991

My boyfriend and I broke up, and I took Kelsey, and Jordan. He took Lupus, Grey Cloud, and Orion.
Grey Cloud ended up running away, never to be seen again, and sadly Lupus died from accidental hanging at an animal shelter when they put her in a cage with her leash on. Orion went on to live a long, healthy life in Colorado with my ex boyfriend. I think he said Orion was sixteen when he died.

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Jordan (left) playing with her littermates Suki (middle) and (Orion) in Telluride, CO 1991

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Grey Cloud as a puppy in Telluride, CO 1991

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Grey Cloud in Prescott, AZ 1992

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Lupus as a puppy in Telluride, CO 1991

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Lupus in Prescott, AZ 1992

I had to get Kelsey put to sleep when she was about three years old because she bit a few people. It was heartbreaking because she was very sweet and gentle with me, but she would jump and bite people for no reason with no warning. After it happened a few times, I didn’t really have a choice. It was awful having to do that. She is buried in Vermont in the yard of my ex-husband’s parents’ house. She is in a beautiful forest in a beautiful place, and I will always remember her.

Then it was me and Jordan for a while. She was the perfect dog, smart, well behaved, friendly, loyal. She loved taking walks off the leash and would alternate lagging behind me and running ahead of me on the trails. I never worried about losing her because I felt a mental connection with her like I just knew she would catch up or wait for me. And she always did. When catching up, she would run full speed, pass me and continue bounding down the path with her curly tail bobbing in delight. She loved water and never missed a chance to take a dip. She got along with other dogs, and she loved to play in the snow. She used to pounce like a cat when I would throw a snowball for her to catch. She’d bury her nose into the snow looking for it and then pop her head up with a funny expression, snowflakes on her nose. She loved chasing us as we went sledding down hills in Nevada and Virginia. She lived until almost fourteen years of age. I was pregnant with my youngest son (who is now 8) on her last day. She had been very sick and weak and slept outside on our back patio area because she kept having to go to the bathroom or throw up. When I went out there that morning, she looked lifeless in the garden, lying flat on top of the day lilies. I took her to the vet knowing it would be the last trip. The kids said goodbye to her before we left, and sure enough, I came home with her collar and leash but not with her. Again, I had to make that terrible decision to put her to sleep. She was getting so old, and there would be extensive testings and surgeries with unknown outcomes. We had a few moments together to say goodbye. I thanked her for all her love over the years and told her what an awesome dog she was. I told her how much I loved her and didn’t want to see her in pain. It was seriously like saying goodbye to my best friend. Then she was gone, just like that (June 2004). I keep her ashes in a special sealed wooden box from the vet and her collar next to my bed still.

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Me, my oldest daughter, and Jordan in Northern California 1998

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Jordan and another doggie friend running in the snow Lake Tahoe, NV 1998

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Jordan and her buddy, Sunbear AZ 1992

We didn’t get another dog until we moved to Texas in August 2006. With a newborn son in the family, there was a lot to keep me busy, and my heart also needed some time to heal from losing Jordan. My husband liked boxers, so I went out and got a boxer puppy. We named her Honey. We learned the hard way that boxers are called boxers because they stand up on their hind feet and ‘box.’ She was strong and fast and kept knocking over my two young kids. We realized we made a mistake and should have done some research on the breed first. We found a family in Austin looking to adopt a boxer and gave her away. They knew what they were in for, and they spent a lot of time outdoors hunting and camping. They had a large lot where she could run too. Honey was happy, and we started over with the Boston Terriers in 2008.

Five years later, we are back to one dog, and now I also have two fish tanks. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about them running away. I set up a ten gallon tropical fish tank in the kitchen, and we also have a thirty gallon tank in our master bathroom with two goldfish (for good luck/feng shui). They live their entire lives in the tank and eat and secrete waste into their aqueous environment. Nature is amazing that way, that the chemistry works out to support life in a mini-ecosystem like a fish tank!

Between dogs and fish and children, I find that I spend much of my time caring for others who depend on me. It’s always been part of my nature to care for others. And I’m learning slowly to enjoy the time we do have together and learn to accept it when the time comes to an end. Much like human relationships, having animals is a lesson in living, loving, and letting go. 

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

 

 

 

 

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 26 Home

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This is a picture of my house and home. We moved to Texas from Virginia seven summers ago to take advantage of the housing market. We were able to buy more than twice the house for less money than in the DC area. Although I miss my hometown in Virginia and being in the DC area, I’ve always wanted a nice big house where I can raise my kids and then they can return when they are home from college. Now that my oldest is finished with her sophomore year of college, that dream has already come true. She says she appreciates that she can come home and have her old bedroom. Moving into this house literally changed our lives overnight. We were all able to spread out; each kid got their own room and walk-in closet. We went from one living room to four living rooms. I love coming home to our house and hope to be there for a long, long time!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 18 Memory

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I remember the day we moved into our house almost seven years ago. It was 106 degrees outside that day! We moved to Texas from Virginia and were super excited to spread out into a bigger house. It was a major change in our lives. We’ve gotten used to the triple digit summer heat and still love our home.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Daybook 4/2/13

http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com

Outside my window…It’s getting dark. The sky is a soft pale blue gray with clouds and the sun peeking through as it sets. It rained lightly today, so the ground is a little wet. Yesterday it was sunny and 80 degrees! It’s still warm today, but it’s cloudier. It’s warm enough for the outside pool to be open at our gym. I fell asleep outside there this weekend while I was waiting for a lap lane to open up.

I am thinking…my foot hurts. There comes a time during the day when I have to sit down. We just got back from Thomas’s Taekwondo class. He goes twice a week. Zoe is at dance for five hours tonight.

I am thankful…for life, for my husband and my kids and my relative health.

In the kitchen…dinner is almost ready. Tonight, we are having chicken, vegetable, and rice noodle soup. I roasted cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, and asparagus then put it all in the food processor. The soup is very thick and chunky with veggies. Yum!

I am wearing…light blue sweats and a black t-shirt from Painting with a Twist (that I won from the weirdest thing in your purse contest during ZTA mom’s weekend).

I am creating…this week’s fiction episode. I have the prompt and am thinking about where to go in the story with it. This week, I compiled all thirteen episodes in one document, Handle with Care, and it was over 14,000 words. I also entered a fiction contest with a $1000 prize and publication with just under 5,000 words.

I am going…to PT twice a week for my knee. I hurt it a few weeks ago. Apparently, my kneecap isn’t tracking right. It hurts to walk and to move it, so I’m focusing on it for a couple weeks to see if it will improve. I’ve learned that kneecap tracking issues can be related to quadricep insufficiency and to stretched ligaments. Although it also hurts on the back of my knee, the surgeon said there is no more meniscus left on the lateral posterior side to tear. He should know because he did the last two meniscus repairs (out of five total on the right knee).

I am wondering…how Zoe did on her STAAR writing test today. She said she thinks she completely misunderstood the prompt. But it’s not like her to be off base during testing. In fact, she generally scores in the advanced categories and sometimes has perfect scores. She said she wrote a personal narrative, and other people told her they wrote expository pieces. Not sure what to think about that.

I am reading…fiction written by other bloggers in our group, Friday Fiction Friends. There are thirteen of us now, and we all write fiction based on the same prompt. It’s interesting to see the different interpretations of the prompts and to meet all the different characters. I’ve also been reading some non-fiction about music theory. I’ve been learning about key theory and what chords go in the different major keys.

I am hoping…we are able to go to Virginia this summer. Our friend is getting married, and we would like to have beach week there attached to that trip instead of going to Destin, FL this summer. We haven’t made any plans yet, but I sure hope we are able to make the trip! It’s been five years since we’ve visited Virginia.

I am looking forward to…summer. I hate getting up early in the morning. It will be so nice to get more sleep in the summer time. I also can’t wait to spend time at the pool with the kids and lying in the sun. The kids can take swimming lessons at our gym too. They’ve done it in the past, but not every summer!

I am learning…the solo for “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. I can get through it, but not as fast as the recording and not as good at all. I need to work on speed and techniques like vibrato. It’s hard, but I enjoy it, and I have a guitar teacher who comes over for a lesson every week.

Around the house…got caught up on the laundry today. Rescued a remote-control helicopter from the roof this morning. Refrigerator is majorly full. Sierra’s room is empty again; she went back to college yesterday after spending Easter weekend with us at home. Lots of pictures to frame and hang.

I am pondering…how to get more sleep. Took a nap today, and it was wonderful. I think I need to do that more often. Once I have coffee, I’m usually up for the day and don’t ever try to go back to sleep once everybody leaves for school and work. Bedtime is usually after ten (sometimes I crash earlier) and when the alarm goes off in the morning, I am never feeling rested. Weekends I do sleep in, but getting through the week is rough. I don’t know how some people function on less sleep. I’m just one of those people who needs more than average.

A favorite quote for today…”Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and you can have me forever.” ~Anonymous

One of my favorite things…massages (had a sixty minute one today).

A few plans for the rest of the week: gym/pool tomorrow, PT Thursday, tutoring Wednesday through Friday.

A peek into my day…

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Daily Prompt: Musical – What role does music play in your life?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions charact...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions characterized music of the classical era. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music plays a huge role in my liferuns started playing violin when I was three years old and Also played a little guitar, piano, and clarinet when I was growing up. My mom got her master’s degree in piano and organ, anthese frequently played classical music at home. I am very familiar with many of the classical composers and downloaded some of my favorites like Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi on my iPhone.

I grew up in a DC suburb and started going to live shows at a young age (with a fake ID). I was into all kinds of music in the new-wave, post-punk era. When I was around nineteen years old, I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time. I was never a true “deadhead” who travelled the band around on tour, but I did see many of their shows as well as Jerry Garcia Band shows. I was a REM head from the beginning. Saw them many times. Followed the Meat Puppets on tour from Virginia to Colorado one summer.

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote a separate post listing all the shows I’ve seen, and that list grows all the time. Lots of awesome bands and solo artists come through Dallas, so we get out to concerts quite often. One of my favorite artists to see live is Jewel. Her talent amazes me. She is one of those rare artists who can entertain you with just their voices and a guitar.

English: Jewel 2008-06-05

I typically listen to music every single day. I hit shuffle on my iPhone and see what songs come up. It’s always interesting whenthe mix of songs matches something that’s on my mind or that’s going on in my life. Music makes me feel emotional and reflective. It can also bring out high energy and help to release anger. I like to make playlists for different purposes, and before digital music, I loved making mixed tapes and CDs as a cathartic experience when going through certain changes. I also sing all the time, either with or without music. Even though I irritate people, it’s my way of being joyful. And that is my right, damn it!

One of my dreams is to write a song one day. I still take guitar lessons and love to play all kinds of music, from rock to reggae, from folk to pop, from rap to bluegrass. Music is my life. When words fail, music speaks. It’s poetry put to rhythm and melody. It’s a sublime way of communicating. It’s math and science.

Thanks for reading this entry! Peace out.

Daily Prompt: The Early Years, (write page three of your autobiography)

I don’t know what I would have done if I was in my mom’s shoes. She loved my dad and wanted to work things out, but after confronting him about the affair he didn’t want to save the marriage or attend marriage counseling. There had been a lot of fighting and difficulties with their cultural differences during their four year marriage. She had no choice but to move to her parents’ house in Maryland and face life as a single mom with my two year old brother and me, a six month old infant.

I don’t remember anything about those first six months of life. I’ve heard the stories of my birth on an icy February day and of how both my parents thought I was dying one day and rushed me to the hospital only to find out that I was bleeding from my ear because I scratched myself so badly. I don’t remember any fighting, and I don’t remember any happiness either.

Fortunately my mom was an educated woman and talented musician and had a supportive family to help her out in her time of need. My grandparents took care of us for two years until we were able to get an apartment in northern Virginia. There were pictures taken of me in a floral suit and bonnet on the beach at Ocean City, MD. there is grainy old video of me and my brother playing in the yard (and him hitting me with a plastic bat). There was another elderly lady who took care of me sometimes. My uncles and cousins lived nearby too.

My mom was a music (strings) teacher in the public school system, and we were able to get an apartment on our own when I turned two. I have some memories from the two years we lived there. I remember swimming at the pool at the apartment complex. I remember the long hallway that my mom says I would run down at night so I could get to her room. There are cute pictures of a miniature version of me dressed in pink footsie pajamas in my crib.

I started pre-school when I was two, and I remember the my mom dropping me off and picking me up. She wore a dress coat with fur lapels, and I loved how soft they felt on my little cheeks. One of the grown ups at that preschool pulled out one of my teeth!

When I was four (and my brother was six), my mom bought a single family house in northern Virginia. In fact, she still lives in that very same house. It’s a two story brick house at the end of a hill that dead ends at a wooded area that connects to some of the local parks.

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Life is Short

Love Love Love

Love Love Love (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

This post is really hard to write. I’ve been trying for a while. More and more tragedies keep taking place. I don’t want to rush to writing. I want to make an informed entry. I want to take my time. As the days go by, I feel more and more pressure to post something. So, here is my disclaimer: I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know if I’m right. I just want to write what I feel right now. I started this entry earlier and thought I’d saved it, but apparently it didn’t save right, so I’m starting over again.

“I hope there’s nobody here to shoot people” my son (8) said on Saturday as we parked the car and started walking into the mall to watch my daughter (12) perform with her dance studio.

“I hope so too buddy.” I said confidently as I held his hand and guided him through the maze of cars to the mall entrance. All the while, I held his hand and looked both ways and did everything I could not to get killed on the way into the mall. And then inside the mall, I kept thinking about how crazy that would be if somebody opened fire in that public place.  I took deep steady breaths and decided not to worry and to enjoy my time watching my daughter perform without letting fear of a crazy shooter take that away from me (and all of us).

Thankfully we made it out of there alive.

When I get cranky about doing housework, one way I try to cheer myself up is to start singing (a silly song).  I had some great conversations with other moms about the drudgery of housework and have decided to take a positive attitude towards it (and motherhood in general – don’t get me started on how annoying it is when other moms complain about their kids).

A good friend of mine in Virginia once told me when you’re a stay-home-mom, a good idea is to get up in the morning, shower, put on makeup and nice clothes just like you’re going to “work.”  Because after all, being a mom is work.  It’s my job.  She said it helps to feel better about yourself.  I shared that idea with another mommy-friend who also shares my love-hate relationship with staying home and doing chores.   She wrote a really funny blog piece about the idea of fighting with yourself over such things – making the house look nice, making yourself look nice, having everything ‘just perfect’ as a mom (and she said, “If you’re going to get in a fight with yourself, you might as well look good doing it.”

Since I love singing and I want to bring levity to my daily chores, I’ve started singing a silly song when I do laundry. It goes something like this:  “I love doing laundry. It means I have a family to take care of.  I love washing, drying, and folding clothes for my boys because is means I have a husband and a son.”  My oldest daughter (19) is off at college, so I don’t do her laundry. And my twelve year old daughter does her own laundry. So, when I do laundry, it’s for me, my husband, and my son.

Tonight, as I was folding clothes at the dining room table and singing my song, my son said, “Mommy, you know what makes me sad?  All those mommies of all those kids who died are probably doing their last loads of laundry tonight. And they won’t get to do any more loads for their kids. They won’t have families to take care of.”

If that didn’t hit me right in the heart, I don’t know what would.  It hit me to my core.  He is so right. They probably are doing their kids’ last loads of laundry. They probably are wishing they had their kids back so they could make a mess in the house and dirty up some more dishes and laundry. My heart breaks for them.  I can’t imagine their pain.

The school shootings in Connecticut have rocked me to my  core.  In my forty-four years of life, I’ve experienced way too much loss.  My personal losses deserve a separate entry of their own (another incredibly hard post to write that I’ve started but never finished).

I understand there is good and there is evil in the world. I understand that people act out when they are upset.  But I just cannot understand WHY someone, anyone, would harm innocent children.  They didn’t do anything to anybody.

What was his point?  What was he trying to accomplish?

I’m one of those people who seeks answers and wants to know details of how the tragedy unfolded. I don’t know why, but I do want to know.  Knowing the details can help us piece together the puzzle of what went wrong and how to avoid it again in the future.  There is too much heartache in the world. There are too may killings.  There is too much hate.  Some of it is aimed at children in our country and abroad, and some if it is aimed at other adults.  Either way, enough is enough!!

Death is one reason I don’t understand or agree with religions.  I think we as a human race made up religion to try to answer unanswerable questions like….

Why am I here?

Where did I come from?

Where will I go after I die?

To me, the answer to all of those questions is, “I don’t know” and “You don’t know either.”  And you don’t. You might think you do, but you don’t.  All I know is in the face of evil and hatred, my answer is love and kindness.

We need to love each other and be kind to each other. We need to spread kindness around the world, not hate.

Look around you and see where you can show happiness and bring kindness to someone else’s life.  If someone doesn’t have a smile, give them one of yours.  Let’s replace hatred with love.

I have so much more to say on this topic, but my time is limited.

30 Days of Truth: Day 20-Your Views on Drugs and Alcohol

My views on drugs and alcohol…I think they are things people use to make themselves feel different. They alter our moods, physiology, and psychology. People use them to escape stress and to celebrate happy times. People use them recreationally and the effects are as broad ranging as the products.

Alcohol:  I love my wine, chardonnay with heavy oak to be specific.  I no longer drink beer or liquor (except for the occasional tequila shot) because they are all distilled through grains, and I am intolerant of wheat and corn.  I also avoid sugar, so anything mixed with liquor is a no-no.  I will stick with wine thanks.  I associate drinking chardonnay with time with my girlfriends.  It’s so fun to hang out with a group of friends and unwind while the kids play and eat snacks.  I started a happy hour tradition in Virginia with some other mom-friends, and since we’ve moved to Texas, it’s morphed into neighborhood parties occasionally.

Medicinal use of drugs is one thing. People take prescriptions for various physical ailments and conditions. Medicinal marijuana is legal in some states and helps people cope with debilitating symptoms.   I don’t see anything wrong with medicinal use of drugs.  In fact, I keep a few pharmaceutical companies in business with all the prescriptions I take for chronic conditions.

Using hard drugs sucks.  Drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth are addictive and deadly.  As a parent and educator, I would tell young people to stay away from them at all costs.   I’ll never forget the first funeral I took my teenage daughter to in 2007.  The big brother of one of her friends OD’d by accident during his senior year of high school.  It was heartbreaking to see him lying there in his coffin, knowing it was an awful mistake that could never be taken back.  His entire future was lost because of doing drugs.  Not worth it, in my humble opinion.