Tuesday, April 19, 2005

10 things that never fail me

10 things that never fail me

1. unconditional love and acceptance from my family
2. the joy in/of my children and grandchild
3. sense of humor
4. love of music
5. my open friendliness
6. appreciation of nature
7. desire to learn/explore --> curiosity
8. excitement in my career - teaching
9. drive to succeed in life
10. God

Thursday, April 07, 2005

the perfect revenge

i had a very nasty divorce from my children's father. it didn't start out that way, but that's the way it ended up. i planned to be fair and mature about things, and he was pretty good with it until he figured out that we weren't going to be working things out and getting back together. then he started to be a real pain in the ass about almost everything. i'm not sure if he did it just to get back at me for leaving him or if he really felt that way on those issues; regardless, he was willing to hurt his children to get back at me for whatever sins he was sure i was guilty of, and that is not a way to earn points with a mother.

i honestly felt like what happened between us should be just between us. i didn't tell his parents anything. i didn't communicate with his family or any of our friends. i never even told our own children why we were divorced. when they asked, i just said, "we just can't live together anymore." and left it at that. i didn't figure they needed a real long explanation that would make them feel like they had to choose who was right and who was wrong. "we just couldn't live together anymore" was enough information for them at 6 and 8 years old.

i had $20 in the ash tray of my car when i left to visit my parents that weekend, not knowing that i was leaving him yet, but knowing that if i could just get home, my parents would help me with what i needed or help me to get back. while i was at my parents for the weekend, he threatened to kill me when i returned, so i decided that i was no longer staying in that relationship. when i left him, i only took my personal possessions, those items that my family had given to us, and the children's belongings. i left him all of his personal possessions, all of the things that his family had given to us, and half of the furniture that wasn't mine personally before we married. i thought that seemed fair and reasonable. i wasn't out to get him on anything -- i just wanted what belonged to myself and the children. i didn't take the money out of the bank account, but just took my name off of it so he could continue to use it.

well, it wasn't long before the divorce turned really nasty. probably about the same time he found out that he was to pay $600 a month in child support and provide the children with medical insurance. then he started doing some really underhanded things to keep the kids and me from "getting anything" of his. seems weird, though, when i wasn't wanting anything of his other than the assigned child support. i even offered to take all the debts and practically none of the property if he would just walk away. no such luck, though. eventually, he just gave up his job and made no money. that way, he didn't have to pay child support. yeah, they assigned an amount to him -- but they couldn't make him pay if.

the divorce drug out for 10 months. during that time, we were in court 5 times before the actual divorce finalization. none of these trips would count as pleasant and none of these trips would count as cheap. well, i guess they were cheaper for him than for me, as he never paid his attorney fees afterward. he fought every step of the way -- didn't want to pay child support, didn't want to provide insurance, refused to provide documentation that the children had insurance, didn't want to agree on visitation, refused to pay child support, was held in contempt of court for not following court orders, offered to settle and then backed out at the last minute, lied about his finances, lied about his possessions, accused me of stealing his valuable property, and told his whole family some far out stories about the reasons we were separated. it was awful, and i wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy.

i felt so bad for the kids because they wanted their dad to be a father, not a vindictive jerk who was willing to hurt them to get at me. for a while it was good when they went to visit, but that didn't last but just a few months. he knew that the best and easiest way to hurt me was to hurt my kids. i knew that the best and easiest way to hurt him was in his checkbook. every time he tried to get to me through the kids, i would sock it to him in the checkbook -- or try to.

it didn't take me long to see the error of my ways, though. soon i realized that the court wasn't really making him do anything that he was supposed to. i was following the rules because i thought it was the right thing to do, and he wasn't. there was no way for that situation to be fair unless both people are willing to be fair and do what's right. i was in a "no win situation". he wasn't going to behave maturely, he wasn't going to follow the rules, and the court wasn't going to make him. oh yeah, they ordered him to, but that doesn't really make him do it. that just puts the order in the books -- "on this 3rd day of june, 1992, scott docherty appears before this court and is ordered to pay his child support for the last 3 months. mr. docherty has until july 1 to get caught up on his child support. once he has paid the arrears on child support, he shall pay 1/2 of his monthly child support on the 1st of the month and 1/2 on the 15th of the month." this was now a court order. he had until july 1 to defy the court again, and he did. at that point, if i took him back to court (and paid the fees), about the same thing would happen. nothing scary or harmful or damaging, really. he would just smile and agree to do whatever the court told him to do and then not do it.

my children were the victims in this situation, and there was nothing i could do to protect them. he denied doing anything to them or anything wrong to the court. he made them cry, he made them afraid, he made them sick, he made them sad -- and there was nothing i could do. if i didn't make them go, i was in contempt of court. the court system didn't care what the problem was, the kids had to go see their dad. after all, if they could just force them to spend some time together, they would probably end up liking each other. wrong!

well, i didn't think very nice thoughts about him during this time, and the thoughts got worse in connection to his actions. i would've done just about anything to make sure my kids were safe and happy. this included eliminating the reason(s) for their unhappiness and distress. i had already tried working w/ him and being cooperative. next, i tried to cut down on the amount of time that the kids went there and the interaction that they had with him. or trying to re-arrange the schedule a little bit to be more accommodating to the kids' social schedule. i finally took him to court requesting that visitation be cut down to once a month instead of twice a month. that didn't work, though, as the judge just split the difference and then gave him 6 weeks in the summer to make up for the time he was losing. the judge also refused to listen to the kids and/or let them speak out in court. they were barred from the courtroom.

he became more vicious, doing outrageous things to pay me back for trying to "run his life". the problem was, i didn't want to run his life -- i just didn't want him to run mine! and i definitely didn't want him to ruin my kids' lives just because he was trying to get back at me. i began to think of how nice life would be without him in it. i wasn't imagining his death, but just his non-existance. how nice things would be if he would just "not be". the kids didn't care for him, and i had very strong negative feelings about the man who caused so much pain to my children. yeah, he did mean things to me, but i didn't really let those bother me because he just hated me (in reality, it just killed him to admit he had no control over me). but when he was mean to OUR children because he hated me, that was crossing the line.

these ridiculous actions continued. he wouldn't bring the kids back at the time he was supposed to, but 3 hours late and just leave me sitting at the meeting point (johnson's general store in fredonia). he refused to let the kids bring their personal possessions that they took to his house back home with them. he threw rocks and screamed filthy names at me as i loaded the kids up in the car -- so bad that some truckers restrained him so we could leave. he blocked my car door so that i couldn't shut it to leave while he yelled at me and called me names. he parked where he blocked my car in and then refused to leave. he threatened to fight me for custody of the kids. he accused me of being an unfit mother and threatened to lie in court and have his friends lie in court for him to have the children taken away from me.

finally, in the summer of 1997, he took the kids for his 6 week visit. this is the first time he had ever done that, and i'm sure he did it this time to pay me back for requesting less visitation for him. he did his best to cut the kids off from me totally -- not letting me talk to them on the phone, intercepting any letters/cards i sent to them, not returning them when he was supposed to, demanding to meet at different times and places. during the last 2-week stint of the 6 weeks visitation, he moved away and took the kids with him == kidnapping. fortunately for me, my kids had been trained on what to do if this happened, but that didn't make it any less serious. the whole situation was miserable.

i was sick with fear for my children's safety and well-being. i couldn't eat. i couldn't sleep. i would fall asleep where i had dropped from exhaustion. i had been this way the whole 6 weeks they were gone, but it was worse now that i knew he was attempting to hide them and keep them from me. i couldn't think of anything other than the situation that my kids were in and the jackass that was causing it. i began to think of ways to take care of it myself, but i couldn't come up w/ a method that was definite success without drawing obvious attention to myself. trust me, i had a 100 or more possibilities, but no definite choice. it was no secret about how i felt. i had even discussed the plausibility with my attorney. people knew and had heard me say that i wished he was dead. i never said i was going to kill him, but if he showed up dead -- it wouldn't have bothered me in the least. in fact, i probably would've been happy because it would've spared my children the pain they were going through by dealing with him. but, i wasn't willing to spend my life as a sacrifice to the legal system because he was a jackass.

i wished him dead. i didn't broadcast it, but anyone who knew me well knew that. unfortunately for me, no one obliged me by taking care of him. i always thought it was such a shame when a partner/father was killed in one of those perfect little families and this awful person was still walking around. after the kidnapping, the kids refused to go back to see him. by an unusual chain of events, it worked out just that way. the last time they saw him for visitation was august 9, 1997, when the police removed the kids from his care and turned them over to me.

he didn't see the kids again after that, partially because the kids refused to go and partially because he didn't make arrangements on time to meet them and partially because i refused to take his phone calls. thank God for caller id, which came to our town that summer. i no longer put out any effort to communicate with him or to cooperate in any way on the children. he didn't treat them well and was often abusive (physically or mentally or verbally), he had never put their needs/wants before his own, and he didn't pay child support. in my mind, he was an unfit parent and didn't deserve parental rights. i felt no sympathy for him that his children no longer wanted a relationship with him.

it was probably a couple years before i no longer wished him dead. not that it matters, though, because he's still alive and well today. i'm convinced that he won't make it to heaven and hell probably doesn't want him either. but that's just my opinion. the bad thing is when someone can look at another person's life and say "you know, (s)he is worth much more dead than alive." and be totally honest and sincere -- without malice (and it's not just me thinking that!). not that i'm saying i didn't have malice, because i did for a long time. in fact, at the time of the kidnapping (5 years after i left him and filed for divorce), i told my attorney that if i had just taken care of it differently the first time, i could've been on parole by then instead of trying to find my kidnapped and abused children. the bad thing -- he totally agreed and wasn't joking. so, had the opportunity presented itself, i'm not sure i would've turned it down.

we healed and recovered from the kidnapping incident. it was a terrible thing to have to live through, and this summer of events has affected my family forever. it's odd, too, that those feelings and memories come over me at weird times, too. like one night when we were watching one of those crime scene shows, explaining how to kill someone and get away with it . . . or not. in this particular show, the person who officials were certain had committed the crime was actually innocent and spent several years in prison before being exonerated.

that really hit home with me -- for obvious reasons. IF scott had been killed or had died under suspicious circumstances, i would've been the obvious suspect. i had motive, and plenty of it. i had opportunity, ability, attitude, access to weapons, and the intelligence to plan out the situation. on top of that, there were witnesses who could testify that i had said i wished he was dead. uh-oh, this could be real trouble.

i really began to worry about what would happen to me if something happened to him. it really could create a problem. i didn't have a alibi all of the time. it's not reasonable, but people would think i had done it if i couldn't account for all of my time. what happened if he got robbed? what happened if he made someone else mad? what happened if he committed suicide? i was really worried. this could negatively affect my life for a very long time, even though i didn't have anything to do with it.

i began to pray for his continued well-being, even though it irked me so bad i couldn't hardly keep from gagging. i now was concerned that the person i most despised might not live a long life. rather ironic, don't you think? what's even more comical -- this man had so much hatred for me that if he realized the situation, he probably would've commited suicide just to make me prove i didn't kill him. fortunately for me, he didn't realize the trouble he could create in my life!

i no longer waste any time thinking or wondering what my children's father is doing in life. there will be weeks or more go by that i never even think of him. his existence is not noticeable to me, nor does it collide with my existence -- ever. we live over 200 miles apart, which is probably a large part of the reason we're both still alive. our social circles are not connected, even though we know many of the same people. we have different associations with these people. every now and then, someone will mention him to me and i'll be reminded that he still exists. but that thought doesn't last for long. now that the children are both over 18, there is nothing he can do to me that would matter.

the more i thought of the difficulty his death or disappearance would cause me, the more my ornery and rebellious nature came out. if the situation were reversed and i knew someone had openly stated that he or she wished me dead -- what would i do? i guess that would depend upon how much malice i harbored for that person. or maybe it would depend upon how much time i had on my hands. or maybe it would depend upon whether i felt like having an adventure.

but let's suppose it was my ex-husband, though. that certainly offers some promising scenarios, as i did carry quite a large amount of ill-will toward him for a long time. so, how could i use that situation to my advantage? well, if i had thought it through far enough and knew what would happen, i would've realized the difficulty i could have caused him in life. that would've been a real problem, too, because once i realized it -- i would've wanted to make it happen. something to provide the perfect payback for all the things that he did to the children and to me. and it would've been the perfect revenge.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

my view of heaven

i love being outside at night for almost any reason, especially if i have time to just sit and relax. something about the night just offers privacy, a chance to reflect on the past and imagine the future. i'm surrounded by the darkness like a blanket of insulation that brings peace and quiet while i marvel at the beauty of the night sky and the infinite display of shining stars. totally awesome. really brings home the reality of God's greatness.

i've always loved being outside at night, and many summer nights growing up i chose to sleep outside. when i was little, we only had window air conditioners that we turned on when we came in from the field at night. obviously, the house was quite hot for a while, and it wasn't easy to go to sleep in that. after a shower, dinner, and any chores i had, i would sit out on the porch waiting for the cool night air to come. sometimes dad would sit out there with me, but usually it was just me. sitting there, waiting on the cool air and looking at the stars.

we camped quite a bit when i was young, so we had all the supplies for living in the wilderness for extended periods of time. i could use them to sleep in the yard at night if i wanted to, but i didn't really care for sleeping on the ground. i didn't care for the bugs that crawled around, and i never was too excited about the idea that a snake might find its way into my sleeping bag. not big motivators to sleeping outside.

when we got a trampoline, i had a whole new outlook on sleeping outside. i could fall asleep looking at the stars, not be lying on the ground, and not be a tempting bunkmate to snakes. it was the perfect solution for me! from that point on, summer (starting in march and going until
october) meant sleeping outside. this added a whole sense of freedom to the summer.

mom always worried about me sleeping outside, but really mom just always worried. there was really nothing to worry about -- i was right next to the house, i wasn't doing anything other than sleeping, and i had a guard dog with me. i didn't feel there was much danger, but because we lived on a major highway there could have been other problems. of course, this is the same woman who wonders what would happen to all the people in an area if a water tower bursts (and thinks this as she's driving under the tower!). so yeah, it's not surprising that she was worried.

when i was grown, i had my own family. before long, i had moved away from home and lived in town due to a job transfer. i wasn't enjoying the night sky anymore because i was busy rocking babies and giving baths and reading bedtimes stories. i was in a different phase of life, and there was just no time to sit outside and look. we also had neighbors, and they were always "right there" no matter what we were doing. even though we had good neighbors, they still drove me nuts. always coming over, always making noise, always mowing their yards, always letting their kids run loose, always just "right there". since i didn't care for that much "neighborliness," sitting outside to look at the stars (attract their attention) was not that tempting.

i moved back to the country in december of 1999, to a house that i designed and had built on a piece of the family farm just 3 miles from where i grew up. i lived on a gravel road, with my closest neighbor a mile away. it's usually fairly quiet out there, especially at night. even though my life has still been quite busy since i moved there, i find myself drawn outside -- especially at night. i have a large porch on the front of the house where i sit/recline on the steps and just soak up the night. i like to go out around 10 and experience the night just as long as i can stay awake. feeling the cool, damp night air, listening to the creatures of the night, looking at the sky. something about being out in the night creates a sense of freedom. breaking out from the norm, thinking out of the box, exploring something different. something i just can't find when my mind is crowded with the presence of other people, the stresses of everyday life, and seeing everything in full light. the night just adds a hint of mystery and yet allows me to comprehend, almost like i'm on the verge of true enlightenment.

i tend to sit outside at night more in the springtime, probably because of the increasing temperatures and i'm so eager to "get out" after the winter. i am anxiously awaiting the arrival of honeysuckle this year, as it adds a whole other level to sitting outside in the night with the strong sweet smell teasing the senses. the kind of smell where i feel like i should take bigger breaths so i can inhale it faster. someone recently asked me if honeysuckle was my favorite smell. no, it's not my most favorite smell, but it's real close to the top. when honeysuckle is mixed with the arrival of spring, the balmy night air, and stargazing -- it's now a part of the whole image of spring. that scent is now synonymous with spring, so it has transcended beyond just the smell of a particular plant. the smell of honeysuckle -- sweet, heavy, intoxicating. m-m-m-m.

i recently found myself sitting on a park bench in joplin at midnight and took some time to look at the stars, wondering if my friends saw them the same as i do from home. i'm not used to the city lights being around and hindering the view of the stars. maybe it was just coincidence or maybe it was just prejudice, but they certainly didn't looks as bright that night from town as they do from my own porch. i even got up and walked to another area to make sure i had a good view, and still not as good. i guess i'll need to add "compare the view of the stars from multiple locations" to my list of things to do while wanderlust is in control. maybe it was just the noise of the traffic nearby, or knowing that there were other people near, or being alone in the dark in a strange place. whatever, it just didn't feel as good as "my view of heaven."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

10 sounds

10 sounds that please me
1. laughter, especially baby giggles
2. the voices of my children/grandchild
3. music -- almost every kind
4. church bells
5. rain (especially following a huge thunder and lightening display)
6. mockingbirds (or any birds, really) in the early morning
7. someone singing/humming/whistling because of happiness
8. crackle of a fire
9. purr of a kitten/cat
10. rumble of bike w/ big pipes or a hotrod motor

10 sounds that annoy me
1. whining voices -- no matter who it is whining!
2. cell phones in the classroom or w/ annoying ring tones that they take forever to answer
3. the telephone ringing
4. the bells at school
5. the ding of the school intercom in my room
6. the noise of the school cafeteria
7. lawnmowers/weedeaters/chainsaws/4-wheelers
8. trains that pass through the peace and quiet, especially at night
9. glass shattering on the tile floor
10. beep! beep! beep! this is only a test. this is a test of the emergency broadcast system. if this were a real emergency -- i don't know what i would do. i change the station before they say any more because this is so annoying!

10 sounds that my grandparents wouldn't have heard in their time
1. thumping bass in stereo systems
2. cell phones
3. excessive profanity
4. a house alarm
5. rap music
6. disrespectful tone of voice from their family
7. the hum of an electric car
8. pagers
9. computers - chimes for chat
10. mp3s or midi music


i can feel it pulling me. calling to me. tempting me. urging me. teasing me with visions of places unknown and unseen. luring me with the possibilities of the people i might meet. taunting me with the possible adventures that i might have or might miss. gnawing at my spirit to break away and run for freedom and seemingly mocking my self-control.

the season pulls me. the spring weather pulls me outside to enjoy nature. each year when this happens, i realize that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, i must have been a cat or a follower of the sun-god, Ra. either way, i can't think of anything more enjoyable about spring than finding a nice big patch of sun to soak up and soothe the soul. just the joy of watching things come back to life after the dormant season makes me feel like coming back to life myself. it inspires me with the drive to LIVE life, to sit "out there," to go, to do, to have, to experience, to BE. once this devil is loose, it's very hard to get him back on a leash. it may take me weeks or months to get these reckless feelings back under control and be able to walk outside without the intruding thoughts of wandering loose. but without fail, spring time starts building the inevitable feelings of wanderlust.

the road calls to me. the sounds of traveling and going are everywhere. the lonesome car that passes my house, the "swush" of the tractor trailer truck that passes me on the highway, the sounds of the cars and trucks on the interstate near the olive garden parking lot. whistling cars and trucks pass, thumping tires on the pavement, honking horns, racing motors, squealing tires, sounds of laughter floating on the wind. when i see and hear these things, i am reminded of the building anticipation i have each time before i travel. the expectation for excitement. the knowledge that adventure is pending. the fear that time will rush by before i'm done exploring. i am mesmerized by these sights and sounds. almost hypnotized, i am tempted to just get back in my car and join the pilgrimage on the road, traveling into the future.

my schedule tempts me. spring break has just happened, and summer break is approaching very quickly -- but never quick enough. with summer comes a welcomed break in my work schedule. a full 10 weeks with only working one job. no extra responsibilities, but no extra money. the anticipation of freedom is so prevalent in my mind that i can almost taste it. hot, dusty, gritty, metallic. soon, very soon i will have the freedom to spend time outside and on the road. the luxury of time is a great thing for adventure. during the school year and working two jobs, i don't have much time to seriously be tempted to travel. with time off during the summer, i have the opportunity to imagine, to envision, to conjure, to dream.

my curiosity urges me on. pushing me to find new and fulfilling experiences and adventures. the chance to relax is only tempting for a few days, but soon i am looking for something more. something that pushes me into new experiences and pushes me out of my comfort zone. the chance to expand my mind, my attitude, my personality, my vocabulary, my awareness, my appreciation for life. the excitement of planning and executing the perfect adventure is thrilling to hold and possess. enough to keep me awake at night. the atlas laying on the floor, various guide books scattered around, a mileage calculator holding the maps open, and notebook ready to record future and possible adventures. always a fun haven for the imagination.

new places tease me to come and see for myself, to explore all they have to offer. advertisements in the mail, travel shows on television, glimpses of scenery in a movie, travelzoo emails, or conversations with other travelers. i'm bombarded from every side with ideas and suggestions for future travel. i'm intrigued with what is available but unknown to the travel authors and publishers. what might i find if i were there? what is just around that curve in the road that i can't see in the picture? is that suggestion the best thing to do in that area? is that what i would suggest if i was from there? i want to experience these places for myself. to become familiar with what they have to offer. to know what was before unknown. to have those visions embedded in my mind to look back on and remember.

interesting people lure me to invest time in society and the different cultures. people that i might not normally talk with can provide me with an amazing amount of entertainment and/or information. getting to know someone new provides me with the opportunity to learn more about myself through learning more about someone else. pondering someone else's culture and beliefs makes me analyze and understand my own culture and beliefs so much more. i like it, i don't like it, i don't understand it, it scares me -- whatever. but it does push me to think of things in a new perspective. i know it sounds generic, but most people here are the same. we're homogenous. we have the same history, the same background, the same present, and the same future. i get so tired of people who can't think out of the box and/or can't think for themselves. meeting someone from a different culture or area provides me with a new perspective, a variety of mental stimuli. fascinating!

possible adventures taunt me with their elusive dance. they twist and turn and then dart just out of reach, leading me further down the roads of adventure. when i try a new adventure and learn something new, i realize that there is so much more that i want to do, to learn, to achieve. the more i learn, the more i realize what i don't know. i have a need for knowledge, much more than just a thirst. a driving force that's pushing me to satisfy my desire for more knowledge. i want to know, as well as understand, to think, to solve. by experiencing, we learn. i want and need that for my happiness and self-satisfaction. adventures present different circumstances than we already have; therefore, they present the perfect learning opportunities. if i don't go and have these experiences, what might i be missing? that just kills me!

wanderlust is gnawing my spirit, continually pointing out what i want that i don't have. i want to wander, i desire to wander, i need to wander -- but i can't. it's like looking at what i'm holding in two different hands -- this is what i want and this is what i've got. want. got. want. got. want. want. want. need? want? need? need. need. need. pretty soon, all i can think of is how to turn my want into a reality. where can i work? what can i do? how can i afford? how can i acquire? i've got a new goal. i've set a new summit to reach. now what do i have to do to climb that hill? i plan and prepare, almost willing to move mountains to succeed, hoping to add another adventure to my growing list of memories. just another something to satisfy the unsatisfied cravings to wander, knowing that the cravings will never be totally satisfied.

wanderlust seems to be mocking my self-control. like it's standing just out of reach saying, "look. you can't catch me! can't catch me!" a challenge issued. a line drawn in the sand. it knows i want it -- want to hold it and control it. want to conquer it. but i can't. or i don't really want to bad enough to do it, but more like i want to try and fail and keep failing so i can keep chasing it. and that be my excuse for continuing to chase it -- because i'm trying to conquer it. i tell myself over and over to ignore it, that it'll go away, not to think about it. it doesn't work, though. it's still there, just waiting on me to look up and see if it's still there. then i'm sunk. i want it again and have to start all over convincing myself that i don't. sometimes it seems the harder i fight it, the harder it tempts me as if it knows that i'm about to break and crumble.

someday soon, i can just give myself up to the wanderlust and let it take control of my life. i've been thinking of this day for many years and knew that at some point i would just "up and go". i couldn't do it previously because of kids and life responsibilities, but that time is coming to an end soon. not quite yet, but soon. and it's close enough i can wrap my senses around it. i can feel the wind in my face. i can smell the springtime in the air. i can taste the excitement and the grit in my mouth. i can "see" the beautiful places racing by. i can hear the rumble of the motor. makes me feel daring, makes me want to take chances, makes me feel reckless. i want to just totally lose control, or release control, and just allow myself to do what feels good instead of what i think i have to do. i want to experience that total abandon that comes with total freedom. i want to run, and just run free. the ability to have no restraints. the ability to be totally free to roam. free to discover. just free. knowing the whole time that home awaits me when i grow tired of all of that freedom.

Friday, April 01, 2005


125. it's not a bad number, overall. i mean, if that was my bowling score -- it wouldn't be too bad considering that i've only bowled once in my life. if i paid that much for a concert ticket to see someone i really wanted to see -- it wouldn't be too bad if they put on a good show. if i won that much playing video poker or scratching a lottery ticket -- it would be good. if i found that much money in my coat pocket left from last year -- that would be really good. if that was my weight -- it would be fantastic!! but as a bottom number on my blood pressure -- it's a bitch!

i guess 125 could just sum up my week. i have seen that number on the machine every day this last week. i don't normally check my blood pressure because i can tell when it's up. once it's up enough for me to notice, then i start monitoring it every day until it's back down. i've been dealing w/ it for a long time, and taking medication seriously since i was 32. i don't toy w/ it and i don't skip doses. it's just not worth it. so when it flares up, i don't need the machine to tell me. my face is red, i feel hot, my mind feels like a gerbil on a wheel running and running, and my head hurts. not just a regular headache, but a headache that hurts w/ every heartbeat -- kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom.

pretty soon, it's all i can think of. pain w/ every heartbeat. and hope to God i don't have to cough, sneeze, or tie my shoe -- because those things are extremely painful now. sure, i've tried bio-feedback, and it can be helpful. deep breath. relax. deep breath. relax. kaboom. kaboom. . kaboom . . deep breath. kaboom . . relax . . . kaboom. deep breath. . . relax . . kaboom. think of something calm. kaboom. . . kaboom . . . deep breath. . imagine waves washing up on the shore . kaboom. . . sandy beach. . . deep breath. . . relax. . . kaboom. . . waves. . . slight breeze moving the palm leaves. . . waves. . . deep breath. . . kaboom. . . now put myself there . . . deep breath. . . sun on my face . . . kaboom. . . hear the waves . . . roll over to work on my tan. . . kaboom. . . relax . . . waves. . . . . deep breath. . . imagine the warmth of the sun. . . kaboom. . . boom. . . imagine the waves roll up onto the sand. . . slight breeze still blowing swishing sounds from the palms . . . boom. . . deep breath. . . relax. . . waves. . . warm sun. . . boom . . . relax. . . deep breath. . . beautiful view of beach and ocean. . . deep breath. . . boom. . . tired. . . warm. . . sun. . . waves. . . breeze. . .swishing. . . waves. . . ah, there we are. welcome to my perfect world.

the problem w/ this scenario is that there are no people in my perfect world. no one on my beach, no one on my ocean, no one on my island -- except for me. and i'm not even there until i imagine me there. so there i am on my imaginary island, lying in the sun, listening to the waves wash up onto the shore and the breeze blow through the trees, feeling comfy and relaxed. then guess what happens -- some idiot comes up and starts talking to me and poof! it's gone. the world i just worked so hard to create is gone!

the kabooms start to intermingle w/ the booms again as it progresses back to all kabooms. depending upon the person and what he or she wanted, of course. as i plaster an appropriate look on my face, my mental self is ripping their face off and tacking it to the wall and chalking up another tally. i'm not seeking victims for my wall, but if they wander in my path . . . but of course, ripping in to someone or throwing a temper tantrum would be inappropriate, so that behavior is not an option. unfortunately, that just puts more stress on me -- i can't break and can't show the stress that i'm feeling. i just bottle it up.

"jill, would you type up this letter and send it out to the family?" swallow, blink, smile before responding "sure, i'll do that this evening."

"we sure wish you had more time to come visit us." swallow, smile, remember everything they've always done for me and say, "i know. i'll try to be more careful. maybe my schedule will be less crazy soon."

"jill, did you know you missed trash day today? you guys didn't get your trash out to the road on time." smile, mentally tell myself to be nice, swallow, and say "yeah, mom. i know. it's not the end of the world, you know."

"honey, you know if i were you, i would make my kids do more around the house to help me out. it would be nice if your house was always ready for company." swallow, count to five, think how ridiculous that request is b/c i don't have time to have company anyway, smile, remember that this is the woman who birthed me, swallow, count to five again, plaster a smile on my face and say, "i know, mom. but our lives are different than yours was. i am the sole support here and that means working double."

6:30 on my day off for easter break the phone rings, "so, what are you doing today?" deep sigh, count to 5, swallow, smile, "well, so far, i was sleeping. when i'm done w/ that, i guess i'll get up."

"you know what you could do today? you could (insert shitty job here)!" like maybe i didn't know i needed to get that done and all i was waiting on was someone to tell me about it. typical response -- swallow, deep breath, count to five, and say "yeah, i know it needs done, but i have other things i have to do first."

"oh? like what?" deep sigh, count to 10, remind myself that i'm lucky to have a caring mother who really does care even though she drives me nuts most days, smile and say "like grading papers, averaging grades, planning my lessons, writing an article for my boss, responding to my review from work, writing a proposal to present at a state seminar for writing teachers, filling out a grant request, getting the oil changed in my car (in the drive-thru thingy)," ---- and then list about 10 more things so she knows that i do have an idea of what needs done in my life.

"mom, can i have $20 for gas?" deep sigh, struggle to remember where i have hidden money, smile and thank God that i have my children, and say "yeah, let me find some."

"mom, would you tell scott to make sure i get my phone messages?" stare, mentally rip her face off 2 times and make 2 tallies for that, take a deep breath and say "yeah, i'll remind him to be more considerate."

"jill, you need to talk to mom about her shed. the roof needs fixed. she won't listen to me." swallow, blink, count to 5 and wonder why he thinks i care if the shed roof leaks, deep breath, and say, "i'm sure she'll be calling here soon. i'll bring it up."

"did you proofread my paper?" deep breath, mentally whack him w/ the golf club before ripping his face off for putting paper off until the last minute to write, make his tally on my wall, look down, reply "no, i haven't gotten to that yet."

"did you remember that saturday is your nephew's birthday?" swallow, sigh, reply "yes, mother. i already have his gift and we'll call him to sing to him."

"hey jill. i'm coming to visit mom and dad saturday so i'll be in town. i'll come by your house around 7." deep breath, swallow, stall, reply "uhm, well, i guess that would work. we'll order out or go to chicken mary's for dinner."

and on and on and on. i keep it to myself for as long as i can, but after a while i just have to have some space. when it gets really bad for me, i'll just look at my kids and very calmly say, "i'm really under a lot of stress right now and i don't feel very well. would you guys try really hard not to fuss at me, not to fuss at each other in front of me, or put any extra stress on me?" that usually helps some, but they get so worried about me and then they start to hover. just hanging around me, talking to me about meaningless stuff b/c they're nervous, checking on me, watching me, being there. and that starts to get on my nerves. it feels like i've only got one nerve left and i'm holding it right out for people to jump on all the time.

what the people in my life don't realize is that sometimes i would just like to say "GET OUT OF MY FACE!" or "LEAVE ME ALONE!" or "DO I LOOK LIKE I CARE?" or "BACK OFF!" or just flat out flip the bird. a double, even. just to make sure they got the message. but i don't. i can't. my personal make-up just doesn't allow me to do that. my sense of self doesn't allow my emotions to rule who i am. i don't want to act in a way that i will regret later, either in private or in public. and disrespect, whether it is to someone i love or someone i don't know, is totally unacceptable to me unless extremely provoked and totally intentional. it will not happen because i lost control. my head says that my temper doesn't get to run the day and my blood pressure doesn't get to run the day either. now get a grip on it and get back to life.

usually whatever sets these spells off is situational or a combination of events, but usually things that are totally, or at least mostly, out of my control. that was the deal this time as well. the baby was in the hospital, i had more month than money, it was easter weekend, plans to get together for family dinner, celebrated birthdays, worried about a friend, a huge grad school project due, students were nuts at school, it was a full moon (if you think that doesn't matter when you work in a school -- you're an idiot!), the mower needed serviced and the yard needed mowed, everyone had spring fever, and a HUGE push at school preparing for the state tests next week, i had a date (which turned out good, but was still stressful ahead of time!), i had concert tickets and had promised scott that i would go w/ him, had volunteered to read at the academic quiz meet, had to notify students who was accepted to national honor society and who was not, and keep up w/ life.

ugh! what a week. and it was even a short week, w/ no school on monday! i should've called in sick on tuesday, but i wasn't prepared enough in my room for that. so i went to work tuesday knowing that i was going to take wednesday off as a sick day. the mental push is just too much some times. i knew if i went to the concert tuesday night and then gambled a little that it would be midnight or 1 when we got home. i already didn't feel well, so add being tired to that as well. didn't make for a good plan for wednesday. i always feel that if i can't go to school and treat other people's children like i would want people to treat mine -- w/ love and respect -- that i should not subject them to my presence. translation == if i feel like being a bitch, i stay home. i may be the only positive person some kids see in a day, and i don't want them to suffer because i don't feel well.

i started taking "chill pills" monday morning; they are the equivalent of elephant tranqs, but they just weren't taking care of it. basically they take the edge off -- of everything. my frustration, my temper, my impatience, my logic, my intelligence, my personality, my common sense, my friendliness, my sense of humor, my empathy, etc. totally deaden the senses. they make me feel like i'm wrapped up in a protective layer, operating simultaneously w/ the world but running on a parallel plane. i'm there, but i'm not there. i'm there, but there is a buffer of separation between me and the rest of the world. they do make it easier to sleep during this time, but i hate the feeling i have when i take them.

so, i took a mental health day. it was probably really a physical health day, as blood pressure was the real problem, but it's partly mental, too. i intended to spend the day at home, alone, in peace and quiet. but it didn't work out that way, as summer was still home w/ raven recuperating from rotovirus. i'm not sure i would've stayed home if i had known they would be there, but it didn't turn out too bad. raven was still kind of fussy and tired from being sick, and she wanted lots of attention. i needed some peace and quiet and time to get some rest.

"MAMOM! UP!! UP!!" standing at my feet w/ her little hands stretched up, wanting up for some loving. nothing in the world about her is upsetting to me. no matter how tired or sick i am. no matter how fussy or tired she is. everything about her is perfect and wonderful. i picked her up, and she scooted up on my shoulder and laid her head down. that felt good. i sat down in the rocker and rocked w/ her while we watched our sleepy time movie -- SWAT. she drank her juice, we watched the movie, and we rocked. she fell asleep in about 15 minutes, but i went ahead and rocked her sleeping body for another hour. it just felt so good and so relaxing to rock a sleeping baby. that's good blood pressure medicine.

my day off didn't help me as much as it should have because i had too many interruptions and not enough peace and quiet. plus, i had to be at work that night at 11, so i was still short on sleep. thursday was reading day at school, so that meant that most of my classes were very calm and quiet. that helped a lot. friday was a half day, w/ shortened classes and students dismissed at 12:30. of course, i would be sitting in in-service all afternoon, and i was dreading it already because they're usually a stupid waste of time. i was really feeling down on friday and stressed as well, so i was glad the week was over.

i was late getting to inservice because i was finishing up an important email. i wasn't too concerned, though, and really not motivated to get there at all. the part of my mind that wasn't listening to kaboom, kaboom, kaboom was thinking about the email i had just sent. i sat down at a table near a friend and plastered on my "i'm totally capivated and impressed" face, tilted my head slightly to the left like i was listening closely, and shut down my mind. well, as much as i could, anyway. there were still things that i was thinking about and/or worrying about, but mostly just trying to be blank. i figured i had almost 3 hours of this and i should be able to get some significant biofeedback done in that time. i started building my mental picture -- beach, sand, sun, waves. i could mentally construct a whole chain of islands in that amount of time!

i hadn't been there long before i was paying attention to the speaker, and he was really good. he was talking about how we need to use LOVE as a verb, an action verb, in our lives because so many students don't get love anywhere else. he was a fantastic speaker, a great motivator, and good example. i wish i had felt better while i was listening to him, because i'm sure i would've gotten more out of it. i worked on my 50 by 50 list a little in the parts that got just a little too sappy for me. yeah, they were meaningful, but if i paid too close of attention it would make me cry. i was afraid if i started crying i wouldn't be able to stop -- so i just stopped it before it started. easy plan. and the 50 by 50 list is a good thing, too, as it helped me focus on a brighter future and built some definite things to look forward to in life.

when i left the assembly, i felt a lot better, both from the speaker and from thinking positively about my future. i said a prayer as i walked to my room, asking for strength for myself and blessings/peace for a couple friends who i was concerned about. i went to my room and just sat down at my desk for a few minutes, head in my hands, thinking. i needed to just let go of some things and not worry about them. i just have the hardest time saying "here God, would you hold these for me for a while." i don't have trouble asking for help w/ things (at least from God), but i have trouble letting go of the reins. i don't know why, though, as i only get to drive until i'm in trouble anyway! i would think by that time i would be happy to let them go!

i packed up to leave as soon as possible. other teachers were standing around in the hallway, bitching about different things, but i wished them a great weekend on my way by because i figured i didn't need any more faces ripped off and tacked up to my mental wall to tally. the sunshine was beautiful on my way home, and i turned up the stereo and sang at the top of my lungs. they do say that music calms a savage beast, and i was probably running close to that this last week -- at least on the inside. life was moving on and i was, too. when i got home, summer and raven had baked cupcakes and were fixing hamburgers for dinner. i worked on a couple computer projects for a while, ate supper, held raven, and went to bed early so i could go to work at 11. i promised myself that some of my worries wouldn't be thought of again until monday, so i had some time off from part of them. my blood pressure was on its way down and would probably be close to normal by tomorrow. the bad thing, now, is that there is usually a crash on the way down, where the body is just so exhausted from the internal pace it has been keeping that it just wants to sleep. i hope so, as natural sleep will certainly be a welcomed treat.

what i always remind myself as i'm going through these tough times, especially if i'm really starting to stress about it, is "this too shall pass". regardless of the trials and struggles, we live through them and we move on, learning from our experiences that we had on the way. i've learned a lot of lessons that i don't think i really needed to know, and if these experiences were for character building purposes, i've got more than enough character, too. maybe i'm just an overachiever, or an OA as my students would say. i guess the real problem is that i just care. probably too much about some things and definitely too much about some people. i can't help but try my hardest and keep pushing myself for more. i allow my life and my priorities to get out of whack and it starts to hurt. it's amazing, though, how quickly those priorities change when i am faced w/ my children or my grandchild -- as they truly are my most important reason for living. after all, who will call them some day at 6:30 and ask what they are going to do today or make sure they got their trash out on trash day? who will say to them "well, if i was you . . . " or come up w/ ideas for their time?

ME, that's who.

10 children's songs

10 children's songs that were important to me when i was little -- this came about as i was listing the 10 songs that brought back memories because these songs are so "attached" to the people who sang them to me. each song and each person were/are so special to me and in making me the person i became.

1. animal fair - mickie sang this song to me all the time. i think she made up some of her own verses, though, and they're a little silly.
2. daisy, daisy - grandma daisy campbell, danor's mom, sang this song to me and i just thought it was so cool that there was a song named after her.
3. bushel and a peck - both of my parents sang this song to me and i sang it to them. just another way to say "i love you!"
4. you are my sunshine - grandpa darrell sang this song, and even though he wasn't a very good singer, it still made me feel special.
5. farmer in the dell - mickie sang this song to me when we traveled in the truck so much.
6. puff the magic dragon - by peter, paul, and mary. was popular on the radio during my childhood, and i loved it!
7. big rock candy mountain - by burl ives. what a song -- a mountain made out of candy. i couldn't imagine anything better than this!
8. this old man - mickie sang this song to me. another thing to keep me busy in the truck.
9. there was an old lady who swallowed a fly - grandma daisy sang this song w/ me as we spent many hours doing important tasks - like playing the paino and singing, counting pebbles in the sandbox, looking at picture books, and reading stories.

10. the air force hymn -- off we go, into the wild blue yonder - grandpa darrell sang this song every time he mentioned oswego, ks, and then he would sing "os-we-go, into the wild blue yonder." i didn't know for many years that this song was NOT really about oswego, ks, but saying something different totally. fortunately, i was very little, so that made it ok.