Monday, November 25, 2013

What gratitude means to me

I have really enjoyed reading all the posts about Gratitude over this past month. I have posted a couple of times, but am undoubtedly grateful for so many things. This is a list:

I'm grateful I have a nice car that won't break down, hasn't been impounded or at risk of being towed to the Quik Pawn Shop. There was a time...

I'm grateful that I have more than a job, but a calling and a career. There was a time getting hired for minimum wage as Christmas help was a difficult task for me.

I'm grateful the electricity is on, and I can afford to run the heater. I've been cold.

I'm grateful that I can walk up and down stairs without fear of falling. There were times I was shaking so bad, I couldn't grip the banister.

I'm grateful that this warm child is snuggled up to my side. I've never had anybody love me like he does. I've never loved anybody like I love him.

I'm grateful I have a home. There were times I was couch surfing. 

I'm grateful I have a relationship with my Dad, there was a time we were estranged.

I'm grateful I have dozens and dozens of friend, and a few very close friends. There was a time I worked hard to destroy the ties I had to anybody who loved me.

I'm grateful for my husband. There were times I thought I would die young and alone.

I'm grateful for plenty to eat and choices. I lived a whole summer on cheese sandwiches. Cheap cheese, like Generic Kraft. (Ew)

I'm grateful I can answer the phone without fear it will be a bill collector. There was a time I didn't even have a phone to answer.

I'm grateful I can wave at police officers when I pass them on the road. There was a time I feared they were going to pull me over and send me to jail.

I'm grateful I don't have to visit the Jefferson County Courthouse once a month. Yes, there was a time I  had to do that.

I'm grateful I have sock choices. There was a time I only bought white athletic socks because I could manage to match them.

I'm grateful I lived yesterday without harming anyone, including myself. There was a time I tore through people like a tornado. 

I miss my Grandmother so much, but I am grateful she saw something worth saving in me and lived to see me sober, married and teaching. There was a time I couldn't bear to look at the disappointment on her face. 

I am grateful that through my difficulties, I found a God of my understanding. And I am grateful that at this time I am learning about that same  God's Grace on this miserable sinner. There was Time when I was morally, spiritually and physically bankrupt. I did not know God. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

More About Religion

I know I have written about religion before, so I was reviewing my past entries to see what I had written. I talked some about moral and ethical issues, but not so much about where I stand on religion. It's a sticky topic, but I spend a great deal of time thinking about it, so I wanted to write about it. Maybe get an idea of where I stand.

A little over 18 years ago, I had a spiritual experience where I felt God convince me that I had to leave the life I was living. I had a burning bush experience. It is etched deeply in my memory, and I can attest to a strong and unshakable belief in Gad. I would not be here today otherwise. Immediately after that experience I was introduced to AA. The first 2 or 3 years I was a member I attended anywhere up to 11 meetings a week. I learned to pray and think about God in a way I could understand in a roomful or people from all walks of life, poor and homeless to wealthy steel heirs, from followers of Islam to Christians, to Jews. I attended meetings that were predominately gay,only women, newcomers, in mental health centers, the veterans administration hospital, the Birmingham City Jail and at the Salvation Army. Some meetings I went to, I was one of the few white people there, many meetings I went to, I was one of the only woman there. I went to meetings when I went out of town in New Orleans and even in Paris. (yes France). I was a regular in meetings in Beaufort, SC. Occasionally I went to meetings where I may have been only one of two people in attendance not locked up.

All 12 Steps are necessary for recovery, but none are more important in my view than the first 3 as written in the 2nd edition of Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 

That brings me to what's been on my min and "as we understood Him." This is what I know about God. He is a being of my own understanding that guides me. I learn how he guides me when I am vigilant about morning prayer and meditation and I listen to or feel His guidance. That's the whole thing for me. It's really very simple.

 Then there is religion. I'm trying to come to grips with religion. I want to bring my son up in a caring, responsible way, and I want him to find God of his understanding without having to crawl into the bottom of a bottle. The only way I know how to do that is by sending him to a local church and setting a good example for him. So I find myself once again at a crossroads of whether or not to attend church and what I hope to gain from that.

This is what I'm thinking. I want Sunshine to identify strongly with his community, and I want to be a permanent part of a community.I want to do good works. I would love to be part of missions, particularly to serve the poor or mentally ill. I want to be part of a group of people that are trying to live the best life they can by exemplifying the teachings of Christ. I want to learn how to lead a better life and develop the kind of relationship I had with God when I went to AA. I want to be a good example fro my son.I do want to sing loudly and joyously.

I don't want to be put into a box where there is only one way to believe and one way to get to heaven. I don't want to be judged because my religious and political views are a little different, my personality is a little odd and my clothes look a little funny. I don't want to feel nervous or pressured.

So tomorrow I go.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm Mad

 I'm mad and I'm going to tell you why. I'll start with an anecdote then explain what I mean. Last year I earned and was awarded what is often recognized as the highest honor in the teaching profession, National Board Certification. At the beautiful reception the President of National Boards talked about how teachers should be treated more like professionals, such as doctors and lawyers but we had to present ourselves as professionals and fight for that treatment. Oh, I agreed wholeheartedly when I was listening, I surely did. I swallowed it hook, line and sinker, but the obstacles are invisible and in this society nearly impossible to hurdle.
    So here is why I am mad. Maybe you see all those funny Memes on Facebook and Pinterest about how a teacher brings her/his work home and is always working on lesson plans or whatever. THAT IS NOT A JOKE! I read countless emails, professional journals and websites on nights when I don't have any other work to do. I communicate with parents and teachers on my off hours daily. I work on newsletters, websites, promotions and planning hours and hours a week, and I'm not even what you would call hard working. My colleagues do all of this, and grade papers, and papers and papers. Their life is consumed with their work, their practice, their career, however our compensation and level of respect is cursory at best. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, we do this because we love it. We love kids. But heaven help, people need to realize we are professionals.
    Another point, I tend to a liberal political view, but this whole pay fast food workers a living wage is bullshit. I'm barely paid a living wage, in fact I would be hard pressed to make it on a single income and I have two master's degrees and am Nationally Board Certified. Pay me a comparable wage! And no, I did not have the benefit of a loving, supportive family that helped me achieve my goals. I worked for them! I paid for them! I am still paying for them! And no, I'm not shocked at the amount of my student loans, I signed the papers.  If the bleeding heart commies want people to make a better wage, why don't they work for dully funded schools that offer alternative job training and leave the fast food jobs to teenagers, who need to work and stop living off their parents!
    So often I see little quotes about how precious our children are, how they are the future, we must educate them! YES! But put your money where your mouth is! Fund schools! I spent all day telling kids they couldn't afford to buy things in my book fair because they didn't have enough money. Why the hell do I have to run a book fair anyway to buy library books and electronics? Aren't the nations's future leaders in my hands? I should spend 30 hours running a store and dressing up like a funny character to raise money when Nick Saban (yes, I'm attacking the Almighty Saban) makes 5 and one half million dollars a year to coach football! Really?
    This whole idea of an educator working in any kind of public school setting just being grateful they have a job is wrong! Teachers as a lot are taken advantage of because we are care-takers, we just want to teach, we don't want to rant and rave. Heck, we don't even mind so much all the extra time we spend preparing for our job. But we are educated professionals, and we should be treated as such. Remember, we are teaching the future. We shouldn't have to fight to be recognized as professionals, but revered because we teach. Every single parent who has enrolled a child in a public school, and has uttered the words I want what is best for my kids, should be fighting for us to be valued as professionals.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Let Freedom Ring

Yesterday was such a remarkable day in American history. Bells for freedom rang all across the United States as we commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King, Jr delivered  what I consider the most moving speech I've ever heard. As I listened to the reports and the coverage of the event yesterday I was moved by the speakers yesterday and the people,who remembered the original day. Here are a few things I heard as I also taught school, cooked supper, ran errands and other little things we do on a daily basis.

Bells rang all over the US at 2:00, the bell that rang at the Lincoln Memorial was the bell that was in the 16th Street Baptist Church when the church was bombed less than a month after the original demonstration.

Former President Carter remembered visiting separate schools when he returned from WWII. He said there were many more black schools than white schools, because their schools had to be close to home since they didn't have bus service. I can't quote exactly, but he remarked that they met in churches, homes and sometimes even barns and their books were old and worn out, and every book had a white child's name written in the front. 

Former President Clinton remembered watching the March on TV alone in Arkansas at age 17.

Oprah tried, but she was out leagued.

President Obama spoke about the people that are still marching by their actions to continue moving toward equality.

As a result of the Civil Rights Movement JFK, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evars, and  four little girls were killed. 

Two Civil Rights bills were signed in to law in 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act was passed. Other Civil Rights groups have seen progress toward equality including women, gays and other minorities. Our government has more color and flavor and for the most part represents all the people. But we know there is more to do. 

This is a great time to reflect on what has happened in the past 50 years and look to what me need to do,to continue progressing in the next 50 years. At the 100 year commemoration, nobody will be alive who remembers hearing MLK Jr. I wonder what the reflections will be at that time. Maybe equality won't even have to be a discussion. 


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Cluttered Gardener

 I've wanted to write a post about my garden for a while, but I have been waiting until it is complete and ready to grow. So, a month later, I came in here into my office to write. And I noticed something that is a thread through everything I do. Clutter. I don't hoard, I don't by any sense mean you can't walk through my house or are going to be grossed out at the sight of it all, it's just cluttered. I have clothes and puzzles to give away, a bass amp, pictures, statues, papers, school bags not in use right now, books, you name it, just in my office.

If you were to walk in my library today, you would also notice it's cluttered. The classroom and circulating part are not, but the office, oh my. Books to catalog, fix or get rid of. Those three or four paper plates and cups left over from the countless events I've had. Art supplies, paper, binders of binders, teacher guides, an old Sears Heading List book from whenever. (I'm going to take it to Antiques Roadshow, lol), posters, batteries  a cabinet full of small electronics, glue. I have two tubs of glue.I have a bean bag couch and seat cushions and pictures and posters my students have made over the years hanging in the window.

What, you may say, does this have to do with a garden? I'm going to tell you the story of my garden, mostly in pictures, then I'm going to tell you why it related to my clutter.

I always want a big project over Spring Break. I guess I like that sense of starting something else and not being able to finish it. (sarcasm button). So I bought a book called Gardening for Dummies, yes I did. Then  consulted with a Facebook friend/soccer team Mom, the lunchroom ladies, and Pinterest. We were ready.

Step One:
Buy a hand tiller and a kid shovel at Lowe's

Step Two:
Layout the plot. I though a 10x10 plot would be perfect for what we wanted to grow.  We measured, set up our stakes, and started removing sod.
Step Three, make friends with the underground creatures. Sunshine named this little guy Wormy. He's very creative.

Step Four, pick out seeds and plant them. This seemed like a great idea. The investment, with starting soil, trays and seeds was probably less than $50.00 and enough to plant an acre.It was really great fun planitng them and watching them grow. The seeds germinated and took off very nicely.

Step Five, add dirt and mulch to the red, rocky soil underneath the sod.
We bougt 20 bags of manure, and 20 bags of topsoil. So far, the most expensive part of the garden. This cost about $120.00. The I realized I was going to have to use that hand tiller to sow all that dirt and manure into that beautiful red soil, then add  more stuff to the soil to make anything grow. Well, I'm by nature lazy. And my Facebook friend had just posted a picture of her beautiful raised beds that were ready to receive plants. Hmmm, I thought maybe I could build a raised bed. I went to my favotire do it yourself website, Pinterst, and found all kinds of plans to build a raised bed. I had a list with my materials and I headed back to Lowes.

It turns out, Lowe's had these beautiful cedar kits, 4x4, that cost $40.00 each. I said give me two.

Step Six: assemble and fill the new boxes. This only took us two afternoons They look greatt, though.

Step seven: Build a scarecrow. Sunshine and I made a trip to the thrift store and picked out a suit of clothes and hat for the scarecrow. You can't see it, but Sunshine drew a great picture of mad eyebrows and spelled out go away crows on the face. This cost another $15.00, but it was better than a new toy.

Step eight: mulch the extra area abound the boxes to make them look neat to  keep the Husband from mowing too close.

Step nine: Add the seedlings.

Step ten: This is where I had to completely re-think the garden. See, all those little seedings died. I didn't follow the proper procedures for hardening, it rained and stormed, and then got cold. I think it was a combination of those things that killed them. So today we went to a most delightful little garden store in Mt. Olive called Roo's Place. (again on the advice of a friend.) There, I found a wonderful assortment of bedding plants, grown in Alabama at a really good price. I decided one bed would be a salsa garden and we would try out some canteloupe and watermelon in the other bed. I put all of thes things in this evening, alone, because Sunshine's allergies are in full gear and now we are ready for veggies! A little bit more money, $34.00, but these girls were awesome, go see them!

Now, back to the clutter nonsense. See,I couldn't plant in this nice little scheme and vegetables only. In the back you can see a pot, and the scarecrow. I also put a tomato plant in that pot. In one corner is a lantana, and throughout the bed are marigold seeds. Along the back of the boxes, I planred sunflower seeds, and in the front right corner there is a garden stone shaped like the United States. (Sunshine's choice.) So in June and July, when this garden is in full swing, I hope it will be beautiful, bountiful and cluttered!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

I don't really love to cook on a regular basis, but I do love to cook a great holiday meal. I don't aspire to be a gourmet cook, but to make everyone happy with food. So today's blog features our Easter Dinner.

We started the morning with a traditional Easter breakfast of bunny ears.
We had plenty of ham for Sunshine. He loves this kind of "steak". This is a Smithfield picnic ham baked with brown sugar in the crock pot  It doesn't make the prettiest presentation, but I cooked it over-night and didn't even have to slice it. The ham tasted like the ones my Grandmother used to bake. Delicious!
Christy is also a big fan of my Grandmother's cooking, so I made sure we had plenty of southern style potato salad. This is just potatoes  mixed with dill pickles, onions, boiled eggs, mayonnaise  a quick dash of mustard, salt, pepper and dill. No measuring, this is a by instinct recipe, so results may vary. I did get the thumbs up today, though.
Chris loves Deviled Eggs, so I took these up a notch by dyeing the whites a la Pinterest. The cute plate came from Christy. Thanks! (See the salt and pepper chicks?)
Another favorite around here is broiled fresh asparagus. I just lightly coated the stems with olive oil, salt and pepper and broiled for about 5 minutes. The cup behind the asparagus has homemade hollandaise. The asparagus was delicious, the hollandaise was a novelty. 
Dessert was something called a Magic Cake, again a la Pinterest. The cake bakes into layers and tastes like an egg custard with a crust. Very good. It's light (not not in calories, just in air) and not too sweet. 
And my favorite people ready to dig in! 
Happy Easter! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We Agnostics

When I started thinking about this post last night and this morning it looked very different from what I think I may write. (No, I'm not always sure.)

Several things have happened this week that have caused me to question or at least examine my views on certain issues.

1. This past weekend I witnessed a non-traditional public joining of a couple. They did not use the word marriage, but instead called the ceremony a binding or handbinding. It was no less than a public commitment ceremony between two people who love each other than what I would traditionally define as a wedding.

2.The United States Supreme Court has heard two cases this week concerning gay marriage. Another non-traditional view of a public declaration of commitment between couples. In the first case, the Supreme Court listened to arguments to determine if the repeal of Proclamation 8 in California was constitutional. Essentially, California legalized gay marriage, a bunch of people got married, then the government said, never-mind  its actually illegal, leaving many couples in limbo. The Court is also hearing arguments about DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act. This Act restricts who may receive federal benefits in a marriage. For instance, if Massachusetts has legalized gay marriage, DOMA will still prevent a spouse from receiving any kind of social security or death benefits for a spouse, and insurance companies can restrict family coverage.It will be a while before we hear the findings of the court, but many view this as important to Civil Rights as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

3. A dear friend of mine expressed concern for my eternal life. She is not the first, but is one of the few that I take seriously. She is not a Jesus Freak trying to convert everyone to her view, rather she is a humble and Godly woman with strong faith in her beliefs.

4. At school today, a very tricky situation arose. I knew in my heart how to handle it, but still waffled when I felt like I might upset someone or cause an uncomfortable situation, maybe at the cost of kids.

So what in the WORLD could these four things have in common. Quite simply, they all required me to search my moral and ethical belief system. They have all caused me to look at myself and evaluate whether or not I  I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth to keep everyone around me happy or am I standing up for what I believe is right. Here is as honest an answer as I can give.

1. I was extremely skeptical about the handbindng ceremony. I did the same thing I so despise in others. I judged a person's faith and personal religion. I will be the first to defend the United States Constitution and Freedom of Religion. I'll pat myself on the back and brag about having Jewish friends and attending Catholic Mass.  I expect all of my friends and family to simply accept my views as my own. However, I have been guilty too often of not giving these folks the same consideration. As I thought more about the ceremony, it occurred to me that I was scoffing at another's beliefs. Then I realized how brave and true they were to stand up in a very public place among friends and family and proclaim their love and commitment to each other in
an honest way. Oh.

2. I support Gay Marriage and Gay Rights. I support Civil Rights for all people. I hope I have always lived that. I do not plan to wear a PFLAGG shirt to work tomorrow, but I will answer this question honestly. I think that's right. I'll leave the red equal sign on my Facebook page until I have such an adorable picture of my son that I can't stand it, and I'll change the picture. I don't care if it's contentious. It is an incredibly small way to show my support. I can't wait until Nina Tottenburg reads the Court's decision on the radio in a few months.

3. I love my friend dearly. When she initially commented on my after-life, I was tempted to edit my response about the after-life to conform more to her beliefs, because I respect her and don't want to cause any reason for her not to "like" me. Please, that is so high school. After I pondered it last night, I answered her as honestly as I could. Without blubbering detail or rationalization. That was an epiphany, too. I don't have to defend everything.

4. And last, at school. I made a promise to myself a few years ago to protect kids when I felt like they were in a bad situation whether it had to do with a teacher, parent or whatever if I saw something difficult happening. I don't seek these situations out, but there have been too many times that I have sat on the sidelines and watched something happen that shouldn't have. Because I plan to post this publicly, I do not want to go into any detail. I would just like to say it took me more than 20 minutes to react to a situation. Twenty minutes a student should not have had to experience because I did not want to cause a scene or make anybody uncomfortable. I plan to work on my reaction time.

I feel like I should make some proclamation or some kind of summary here. Instead, I think I'll just leave alone.

Note: I took the title of this post from the Chapter 4 of the 2nd Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. This chapter has probably made more of an impact on my spiritual belief system than any other one thing.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This song remains the same

If you are a friend that wonders where I am and why I have not posted all kinds of wonderful news about the tons of weight I have lost from my resolve to stick to a plan this year, I bet you can resist the cookie or the second helping.

 If, however, you know where I have been, I can just bet you are a little bit like me. Perhaps you have decided to just be happy with your size. Or maybe you decided you are too grouchy when trying to diet, screw it, it's not worth it. Or maybe, because the weather has been so grim, you just couldn't possibly exercise. It's too cold for heaven's sake. Or maybe you're just tired, hungry, or think oh a nibble won't hurt, give me the whole damn piece,I can't stand to make such a careful grocery list and cook evERY NIGHT WHEN LITTLE CESAR'S PIZZAS ARE 8 BUCKS I'M GOING TO LOSE MY MIND, GIVE ME A DAMN COOKIE AND A PIECE OF CHEESE...

Well, maybe that's where I've been.

But I bet you could've guessed that.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I was fussing the other day about something, and a friend of mine commented it was just because i was had "wanderlust." I know this word and have used it on occasion, but I looked up the specific definition. Google dictionry defines it as "a strong desire to travel." Dead on. So I started refelcting on all the different places I've live and different jobs I have had. Following is a brief and probably inaccurate timeline of my wandering.

I lived in a small trailer with my Mom and Dad on Parris Island, SC

I lived with my Mom in the same trailer across the street from my Grandmother in Mac's Chapel while my Dad was on deployment to Vietnam

I lived with Mom and Dad in a trailer park in Jacksonville, NC. I'm not sure if it was on base or not, but there was an interesting old man who lived next door who had a white beard and a cane. He gave us cookies and told stories.

We lived in a trailer park in Cherry Point NC. My sister was born while we lived here. I got my first stitches, learned to ride a bike and bought a plastic peace sign at a yard sale for 15 cents. I have a horrible memory of kindergarten, but I remember a very sweet 1st grade teacher.

We moved to a place called Daisy City outside of Graysville AL while my Dad delpoyed to Japan. My parents divorced for the first time during this period. I remember learning to suck the nectar from honeysuckle, playing red light green light in the field, Brookisde Elementary and phonics, and buying ice cream from the truck. I also checked ou Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from the library

My sister and I moved to Millingotn and lived in an apartment with my Dad until we moved the trailer up from AL. Or did we buy a new one? Can't remember. I have great memories of this time. We had races in the road, built forts in the woods and played out until the last minute always. I remember watching Elvis Presley's funeral on TV while I changed into play cltohes. I had sweet teachers, except 4th grade, and my librarian turned me on to Bridge to Terebethia and Judy Blume books. I kissed a boy behind the coat racks in 6th grade. No idea who.

My parents remarried, and we were transferred to Beaufort, SC, back to where I began. I lived in a house on base with my sister and parents until they divorced again in 1984. I have too many memories from this time, but I can still smell the marsh and wish I could still ride my bike to the river to get some crabs. I also had my first of many jobs here. Babysitting and working at a convenience store.

I lived with an older man in Beaufort Not going there.
Worked at convenience store, started and failed out of college.

I moved in with my Grandmother for the first time and started UAB. I worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield for a bit, then Sam's Wholesale Club on Lakeshore Drive.

Fluff Chick and I rented a house in Minor for a while. It was like all the movies you've seen about college. Wild! I worked mainly at Sam's during this time, but also part time as a convenience store clerk.

I lived in a great little apartment on Southside just up from UAB. I have the fondest and the worst memories of this time. This was the period that my addictions grabbed me, chewed me up and spit me out. I loved that little aprtment, though. It had a claw foot tub. I worked first at Sam's, then Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook, then Bruno's in Irondale and a short stint at Toys'r'us in Hoover. I moved from here to my Dad's house, to my Mom's house in SC, back to this apartment, thne finally back to my Grandmother's. Oh, I forgot all about Re-Print, the school supply place I worked at for 3 years. They took really good care of me. Thanks Ray Pate.

Moved back in with Gran, finished that degree! I wroked off and on at Re-Print during this time. I started teaching full time in August of 1999 at Minor High School as the FACS teacher. I had the best mentor teachers ever, and this was before we had "mentor teachers."

February 2000-July 2000
Lieved for a brief time with a friend in Cottondale. Bad move. Long story.

Worked at Erwin High School as a special ed teacher, learned to drive the bus during this time. I rented my Great-grandparents house from my uncle in Mac's Chapel.

Worked at Counseling Center as a teacher where I met Chris. During this time I finally moved back to Southside to a wonderful little apartment in the Highland Park area. It had a great tub, too. Then I married Chris and we moved to the most bizarre little rental house in Avondale. I finished my Master's and went to work at Fultondale Elementary as the EC teacher.

We moved back to Mac's Chapel and bought the house I had rented. I transferred to McAdory High School as the Work Instructor.

Spring/Summer 2006
We lived in an apartment in Downtown Birmingham where Metropolitan Gardens used to be while our house was rebuilt after a fire.

Fall 2006
We moved into our new house in Mac's Chapel, Grandmother died, David was born, we started trying to sell.

Fall 2007
I transferred to West Jefferson Elementary as the school librarian.

Fall 2011
Landed in Corner Alabama, but I'm still the librarian at West Jefferson.

My boots are dusty.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Take the Pill!!

I've written about the dieting failures of the last few weeks, but still have not been able to get re-motivated and re-committed. I feel like this week will be better. I want to talk a little bit today about the mental illness that runs through my family, and how just being lazy can affect me.

I always like to say that I'm the sane one in the family. I used to only take a 10mg dose of an anti-depressant, but over the years that has increased to 40mg. It actually does lots of good things for me I forget about until I forget about taking the medicine. No, I'm not suicidal or violent, in fact I could pass as reasonably functioning, but I'm not really myself. Here is the story.

I'm not exactly sure what problems my younger sister has, but she has been treated for bi-polar disorder. She occasionally goes off her medicine and ends up in some scary situations. My youngest sister began having panic attacks and depressive episodes in high school. She has been taking an anti-depressant of some kind since then. Her medicine has changed from time to time as she's gotten older and her insurance plans have changed. (Yes, the good ole insurance companies get to tell you what they think is best.) She has three children and had to stop taking her medicine each time. She was a basket case by the time she delivered.

My Mom finally started treating her mental illness about 20 years later than she needed to. I would guess for several reasons. The medicine used to be pretty nasty and have lots of side effects, talking about mental illness was taboo, and she drank. When she stopped drinking, she finally realized what a mess she was and got some treatment and medicine.

Meanwhile, as this is happening, I'm getting sober, finishing college, marrying, building a family and all around doing the things I think I'm supposed to. Then I faced several personal tragedies and stresses in a short period of time.I February of 2006 I had been married just two year when our house burned beyond repair and we lost essentially everything. Thankfully, we were fully covered and able to build back our house and acquire everything we needed and more. However, while we were recovery from that, my Grandmother, whom I was extremely close to, was diagnosed with cancer and died just weeks before we closed on the new house in July of 2006.  There were many changes in the way the family that I had always known reacted and some damage was done to those relationships that have taken time to heal. My Mom and sister moved to town into her house (next door to mine) after her death, and almost a year to the day, my Mom died of cancer in August of 2007. I also received my biggest blessing ever, my sweet, beautiful baby boy, two months earlier than expected in January 2007. Life was nuts. My emotions were shot. My OB/Gyn started me on a small dose of an anti-depressant somewhere in all this and said I could try to go off of it any time I wanted.

Well, let me tell you, quitting those drugs is a new experience. The first time I really stopped taking them was in the Spring of 2011. four years is long enough to be crazy, right? However, doctors don't remember to tell the kinds of things that happen when you stop. The biggest issue is blood sugar levels. I was out of town when the blood sugar dropped happened. I actually snatched fruit out of my nephews hands to eat because I thought I was going to die. I totally bottomed out and remained shaky until I got home. My sister told me that's what happens when you quit. So I got home,a and went back on them and decided to wean myself off slowly. I did, without ill effects except for the raving lunatic I became. I was raging and Chris took Sunshine downstairs to get away from me. I could not believe he would do that! I really couldn't see clear enough to realize how I was acting. All that serotonin was firing in my brain, and I couldn't handle it. I swore I would never stop again.

At the beginning of this school year, I started feeling a little weird. I wasn't handling things well and had no real drive to do anything. I though maybe my medicine was too strong, so I quit it and after an irrational crying fit I went to the doctor and he doubled my dose. Jeesh, now I guess I'll be nuts forever.

This was several months ago, and except for a little PMS I've been fine. My medicine ran out last week and  kept meaning to get it filled, and just never got around to it. The funny thing is though, this time as I detoxed, I was in a marvelous mood. We watched a play on Thursday that I thought was hysterical! I had dinner with some friends and was live and animated, maybe too much. I fixed up my library saw kids all week and just enjoyed being with them. I just felt great. So this time, I hit manic instead of depressive. Lord help a crazy person. I enjoyed it.l Okay, now the connection with weight loss. I had no resentment or reason I didn't feel like sticking to my diet this week. I ate pretty healthy, but then would be starving and craving sugar.Also, I had a hard time with my daily constitution and had stomach bloating and pain all week. I had headaches, and by yesterday my blood sugar was totally bottoming out. Then it hit me, "you haven't taken your medicine in a week, dope! In Wal-Mart I had to eat a Reese cup and drink a bottle of water before I could even finish shopping. Because now, remember I'm on twice the medicine so the blood sugar things is worse. I squealed into the pharmacy 6 minutes before they closed and got my refill. I feel better today, well, my mood is more even keel, I do kind of miss that high. I haven't craved sugar as much and the bathroom hasn't been an issue.

All that to say, I think I'll do better this week on my diet, and Take the Pill!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflection of my teaching practice

Over the weekend, I read one of those sweet lists about how to treat kids. I like to think I know how, but this thing affected me. I couldn't find it to share it, but one of the pieces of advice it offered was to remember how small they really are.

I have failed at this. Lately, I have been doing several research projects with my students. I have been astounded at what I perceived as a lack of background knowledge to complete certain tasks. These are 8, 9 and 10 year olds I have been putting this pressure on. I forgot how small they really were. I'm the teacher, if they lack background knowledge, it's my fault. These kids have never had another librarian or lab teacher, so if its something they can't do, obviously I haven't taught them how to do it. These guys have barely even began their study of social studies and history, yet I've been expecting them to digest and process complex information while they perform complex operations using a computer. Well, hell yes I can do it, I've got a masters degree. They're 4th graders. Little guys. That trust me. I know my expectations should be high, but then they must be realistic, too. It's the process, not the product. I can think of time and again that I have made this mistake. I plan to resolve this and improve my practice. I wish I could write this into my EducateAlabama plan.

Dieting: I ate with defiance and disregard today. I made a decision to,count my points this morning, but that oppositional defiance I inherited from my Mom reared its ugly head, and being a Gemini my self defied myself. Hahahahahahaha. One day at a time. Glad this one is almost over.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Drivel of a serial eater.

It's been 9 days since I posted, and I bet I haven't stuck to my plan a single one of those days. I think it was the oatmeal that finally got me. I'm just not planning well. When I didn't have my family, I could rock weight watchers. Now, by no means would I rather not have my family, it's just such hard work. Seriously.

 Okay, I'm going to bitch for a minute. I work all day, and I have my sensible breakfast in the morning, pack my highly processed lean cuisine and two very healthy snacks such as a piece of fruit and a Greek yogurt for  school(However I do sneak 3-5 pieces of chocolate from various stashes in other teachers' rooms throughout the day) and then I come home starving. And tired. So if  I haven't already, I have to figure out what we are going to eat, if Sunshine will even taste it, prepare it, then clean up the kitchen. And another thing, healthy low point meals take way more prep time than spaghetti or hamburger or chicken fingers and fries...After about a month  I'm just tired of it. So here I am. Again.

Another thing, my dear friend posted on her blog that they took Valentine's Day off because, well, it's Valentine's soaked in high calorie sweets Day. We did too. However, she reported how guilty and sick she felt. Well, not this sister. I enjoyed every sweet thing I put in my mouth. I cooked a wonderful supper that included butter, rolls and cheesecake, and today we are officially going out for V-Day. I plan to have my favorite thing of all time, a juicy cheeseburger.

I'm not even going to attempt to post what my plans for next week are. I will try though.

Before I close, however, I did want to make a comparison with falling off the wagon and falling off the diet train. In AA, we always say things like "Keep Coming Back" and "it's the first drink that gets you drunk " We also talk about something called the phenomenon of craving. It seems that as long as we can keep from taking that first drink, well, we will be successful. I have heard many stories, too, about alcoholics that drink again without problems, for a period of time. But the disease always catches up with them again. I am simply too afraid to find out what would happen if I had another drink. I just don't go there. Plus, I'm prideful and like saying I've been sober for 17 years.

My point, once I fall off the diet train, I always have a tremendously hard time getting back on. Food makes me feel so good. Guess Ill "keep coming back."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Today was a train wreck.

I stopped taking the Alli because it made me spacey, but I haven't done as well without it. Binged all afternoon and evening. I'm full, and my belly feels better, but I have that loathsome guilt that I'm not good enough and will never be able to do this.

Danger! Danger! Danger!

Planning to make tomorrow better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I ripped open the Oreos...

The grocery store is such a challenge. Today, I had my day planned for eating. I had what I thought was a hardy lunch, and ate a piece of fruit right after school so I wouldn't be hungry during book club. I had to pick up Chris's shirts and run to the grocery before picking up my son. I felt a little hungry on the way, but figured I could run into the Pig and grab a couple of things for supper and lunch this week.

Instead, I felt like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas when he goes through the liquor store filling up his buggy. My mind was fuzzy, and I took like 5 minutes picking out frozen broccoli. I bought my son all of our favorites: nutty buddy bars, Pringles, cheezits and Oreo cookies. I was good, though, I didn't grab a snack at the checkout (snickers) and thought I was home free. Until I got to the parking lot, and I ripped open the Oreos and helped myself to a couple. They were divine!

Lesson learned: don't go to the grocery store hungry you goob!
Success: I counted the Oreo points and had a healthy dinner. I'm over on daily points, but not by that much.

Now, I've got to deal with having nutty buddy bars in the cabinet.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Week 3-192.8

Lets see if we can find a pattern.

The first two weeks I was vigilant. I stuck to my plan, started exercising on week 2, even counted the pints for each hershey kiss I ate.

Friday, January 11th, I was getting ready for a party, felt a little grouchy and let my husband bring home a viciously good pizza. Although the points were high, I counted them.

Saturday, January 12th, the party. I ate good most of the day, saving my points for a hot dog and some cake. I got lots of activity points going up and down stairs and throwing the party.

Saturday, January 12th, after the party. I had to have another cupcake with that yummy icing and some ice cream on the side.

Sunday, January 13th, day after the party. Tired, lots of left over hot dogs and cupcakes. "Points Free Day!!!"

Monday, January 14th, back to work. I stayed in my points, but it was raining so I didn't walk. Or I drove a bus, something. (see regular life creeping in?) Dug into a few bonus points for a cupcake. (cupcakes are gone, whew!)

Tuesday, January 15th.By a miracle, stayed in my points range. Didn't exercise because it was raining.

Wednesday, January 16th. Minor PLC with lunch served. Made a healthy plate, looked up and counted all the points. Had one tiny mini cheesecake. Then someone mentioned how good the sugar cookies were. All the tea was sweet. My principal bought a stack of sugar cookies to the table. I had one. One stayed on the table untouched for nearly two hours. I should've thrown it away, but man it was good.

Thursday, Jnaury 17th, David's birthday, having Mexican for supper so screw it all anway. Didn't exercise because it was snowing. "Points free day!"

Friday, January 18th. Counted all my points today, but back to as hungry as the beginning. I really want some chocolate ice cream. I am facilitating the Biggest Winner contest at school, so I weighed everybody and took their blood pressure. Wanted to go out to supper after piano, but didn't. Walked during piano lesson. I feel successful today.

Problem-not folowing plan on any day that's different than typical. I have lots of days that aren't typical. So easy to relax after one or two bad days.(this is my pattern). Also, the scale does go down quickly, and I tend to think that I've got another day (Scarlett) and those days pile up.

Success-back on today, even though I want that ice cream, and I would've eaten out if circumstances had been different.

And blah, blah, blah...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This is so me...

Quote from Susanna Sonnenburg's book "She Matters". " I longed for intimacy, for the reassurance I like you, you like me-but I always grabbed for it too soon, thinking that a lot meant intimacy and a lot never seemed like enough anyway. That made the girls quickly awful, at once too significant, and it probably made me awful to them, my alarming, unexplained hungers. We ignited large and flamed out."

I know this, but at 45 I'm still trying to learn it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 2 194.8

Today I was faced with a bit of a challenge at school. We had a baby shower in the library. The cake and nuts were set up early, and all I could smell was cake. Well, in a true self-centered panic, I texted my friend, basically, whoa is me, cake smell all around, boo hoo hoo. And while text messages do not have a tone, she texted back cake and nuts won't kill you, in a tone that sounded to me like, get over it! That immediately diffused the situation for me.

Back to the AA analogy, we use an old cliche, "don't take yourself too seriously". I had that bit of an ah ha moment, Jen, it's not about you, you idiot. So, I helped serve the cake, had a bit of a taste, helped do,the gift thing and tried to keep all attention on Kristy, not me. I didn't over do it and I didn't feel deprived. Then, I went out and walked for 30 minutes.

So, I'm feeling pretty smug about these successes, and when I get home, my husband has planned a supper of nachos for the big game. Well, needless to say, I ate them, I enjoyed them and I counted them. I don't feel guilty, only human. I still count this day as a success, even though I ate more than I planned.

Goals this week:
* stay in points range for week
* walk 3 times for 30 minutes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

So far...

First day back at work yesterday, first question, "want to go eat Mexican with us today?" Fortunately i had a workshop, so I couldn't go. I can see my line of thinking. I love to socialize, so I would've wanted to go. I may have been able to resist pigging out on the chips, but I would have had some. Then I may have ordered something semi healthy, well for a Mexican restaurant, and finished all of it. I would,think in my mind, well, I can count these points and recop at supper, just have vegetables and water. By supper, I would've been starving and thought, well, I've already blown it, might as well eat. And since yesterday was Wednesday, I could've convinced myself that this was a crazy week to start anyway, I'll just start Monday. See? Nuts!

* 3/3 days in points range
* 1/3 days exercised

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Week 1 197.8

I have struggled with my weight always. The only times I was truly thin was when I was sick with addiction.
 I have successfully given up any substance addictions besides food.
I was not able to control my drinking until I hit rock bottom and surrendered to God for help.
With this Blog, I am admitting that I have hit rock bottom with my weight and am willing to surrender to God's help and do the foot work neccesary to live a healthy life.


I have a very successful lfe. I have a beautiful, bright child. I have a responsible and moral husband. I live in a desireable neighborhood in a nice house. I have a solid career where I am paid well, and I love what I do. For the first time, I have a group of friends that I can be myself around, who I truly love and respect, and feel that they also love and respet me. I don't want to waste any of my good fortune on poor health, depression about they way I look and early death.

 Doesn't that sound easy? Who wouldn't want to live healthy with suh a life? What's the hold-up?
I don't know, but it's time to solve it.

My Plan

I have tried enough diets, read enough articles, watched enough Dr. Oz to know what I have to do. Diet and exercise. There are no magic cures, just like there was no magic cure in AA. It is simply a living process that will, in time, become habit.

I will:
Follow Weight Watchers plan. Its truly the best plan out there, and allows for a variety of food in all groups. I allows for some slip-ups, is well established and has lots of support. I have had success with Weight Watchers, but "quit before the miracle happened." I also plan to use the over-the counter- weight loss drug Alli for some extra help in sticking to the Weight Watchers plan. This was suggested my my physician. I will post progress in as most honest a way as possible on this blog. I will use the method of writing to discuss what is bothering me and swirling around in my head that I have used as excuses for over-eating in the past.

I WILL EXERCISE! at least 3 days a week. I am starting small here so I will have a better chance of success. I will walk and use my yoga video.