Monday, December 27, 2010

Everyone Has a Story

It's the holiday season. Two days after Christmas, I am sitting in my mother's living room typing on a blog I created about a year ago. So far it has been an interesting journey.

A few days before my Christmas break started, I had the idea to capture the stories of my parents in writing. Over the years, my parents have shared their stories, their lives with us, but I have a hard time remembering them all. I always had good intentions of getting the stories of my grandparents, but failed in that endeavor. So, when Christmas break was approaching and I had the idea to write the stories of my parents, I knew I needed to actually do it and not just think it was a good idea. This holiday season I actually sat with my dad, my mom, and my step-dad and asked them to tell me their stories.

It has been an interesting journey. Even though I haven't had time to delve deeply into the stories yet, I am scratching the surface and especially with my mother, I am finding many parallels in our lives.

We think we know our parents yet we can find ourselves completely shocked by the things our parents have experienced and felt. But in unearthing the truth, we find that we can connect with them in new and more meaningful ways. I think parents are worried about telling us the truth. Worried that their truths might encourage us to follow in their paths. I also think what they don't realize is that their reality helps us connect with them and realize that we are not crazy, we are not complete dumbasses, and that our parents have made the same damn mistakes as us and that's why they seem like such overbearing buttheads. They've made the mistakes. They don't want us to know they have made the same mistakes. They want to prevent US from making those mistakes.

I am looking forward to getting deeper and deeper into the stories of my parents. The small amount of information I have gathered has shed a new light on my own life experience. It is helping me to better understand and appreciate my parents and what they have been through.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Truth

The following is something I wrote a year and a half ago. At the time I was going through some very tough times in my life. I grabbed my laptop and headed to Panera Bread to write. Sitting there, unsure of what I even wanted to write, I wrote the following, almost as a letter to myself. I thought I would post it here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You are still here, Kelli. You are healthy, strong, smart, capable. None of this has "killed" you, therefore as the saying goes, you must be stronger. And you are. You are much stronger than you realize. You have withstood all of Tony's attempts to destroy you. Financially you may not be where you want to be but you are letting go of the things you no longer need. Material things...emotional things...ideas of what you thought your life was supposed to be. All of these "things" in your life that you have held on to so tightly that you couldn't bloom.

Anais Nin said, "And the time came when the risk it took to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." You've been holding on so tightly that you couldn't bloom. A flower doesn't strain to stay in the bud...it just blooms, naturally. No emotional baggage. No tears.

By letting go of the life you thought you had to have, you will now be able to live the life you are meant to have. This life will enrich you, uplift you, inspire you, and encourage you to be your best. You will bring joy and love to others simply by being yourself because that's where your true beauty is.

You have never been one to fit in with everyone else. In conversations, you take things to the next level and the next while most people keep it at a fairly shallow depth. Your beliefs are strong and solid, yet you are willing to listen and try to understand the beliefs of others. You have always felt as if your destiny was different from that of the average woman. So why would you expect that your life would be lived like that of the average woman?

While holding on to the dream of the life of a housewife with a husband, kids, home, family celebrations...inside you know that you are not meant for this life. You know that, deep down. You are meant for adventure...travel...solace at times.

You are not meant to shop at the trendy boutiques and wear the latest fashions. "Backwoods" is more your style. You'd rather spend $150.00 on a good pair of hiking boots versus a trendy skirt. You would rather be driving your 4-Runner off-road somewhere in the mountains in jeans and a boony hat versus driving a cute sports car around town. You'd rather have your hair sun bleached naturally by the sun from hanging outside versus spending $100.00 every six weeks on a good highlighting job.

As much as you love your daughter, you can now accept that she is many of those things that you are not. And that is ok. She will find her own way. You find yours. You know the path you need to take. And it is far removed from the path you thought you were supposed to be on. When you finally find yourself on the right path, numerous doors will open for you, welcoming you in. You will now be swimming with the current of your life instead of trying to swim across it in the opposite direction. Your life will flow easily now.

You are one of those independent women you always look up to. The women of Santa Fe that so inspire you...you are like them. You are strong-willed, passionate, and independent. You will do great things and you will touch many people, millions of people.

So, Kelli...write, paint, create...live. Live your life the way you know you were meant to live it. Live with Passion, live with purpose! Follow your heart. Take this time to purge things from your life that are unnecessary, that weigh you down, that slow you down. Find out what is important in your life. It's not the standing mixer or the nice house. It's not the image you present to people. It's what you present to people, in yourself. That's how you make a difference...with yourself...not with your stuff, not with the kind of home you live in...not with the kind of car you drive or the clothes you wear.

You are meant to live an EXTRAORDINARY LIFE, Kelli...start today!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

6 Pages

It is Sunday, October 24. Despite the fact that I said I absolutely did NOT want any teenagers in my house over Fall Break except the two I gave birth to, I had an apartment full of them last night. Caroline's best friend spent the night as did Brad's best friend and then two friends from Texas.

For the last few hours, I have holed myself up in my bedroom as they slowly found their way back to their own homes. It has been a productive time. I've written six, typed pages of a story. It's just flowing out of me. We'll see what happens, but it feels really good to be writing something other than just blog posts or writing exercises. It feels natural.

The thought of returning to school tomorrow is honestly, ugh, I'm really just trying to NOT think about it. The last four days have been a little slice of heaven - curled up reading, writing, cooking, sleeping. I even did a little shopping and got a few things for myself. It was so nice to just relax and take care of "me". And the end result? Six pages written this afternoon. It's amazing what you can create when your brain doesn't feel as if it is being squeezed by a giant vice. This feels right. When I am at school, it never, ever feels "right".

I have to do what feels right, even if everyone around me cautions me against it. They don't know what is right for me and although I know they have my best interests at heart, they don't know what it is that I need. I do know, however, and starting now, that will be my main focus so that I can be there fully for those around me that need me as well.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Life

When I was younger, daydreaming about the life I would one day lead, it was very, very different from the one I now find myself living. According to my dreams, at this point in my life, I would have been married for probably 20 years, married to my soul-mate, the man who still made me laugh like no other, the man who loved me like no other, the one who touched me like no other. Together we would be raising our children and preparing them for their independent lives. We would travel together, come home to the family, spend time together, laugh, relax..... I would spend my time pursuing my creative talents - art, photography, and writing. Fulfilling myself so that I had plenty to give to others.

Instead, I find myself divorced for ten years or so, thankfully, living with my two children in an apartment. There is little time to pursue my creativity as I am always working or running or collapsing into bed from exhaustion. My finances are limited which inhibits travel, time is limited which inhibits pursuits of passions, and the soul-mate....he's there, just in a different capacity for now.

I listen to my colleagues expressing their exhaustion at work this year. Never before have I heard so many people talk of retirement or finding a different career. Our teachers are spent, totally worn out and we haven't even made it to Fall Break yet. I can't help but wonder how many of them are ready to throw in the towel and perhaps search for something much more fulfilling.

I will admit that teaching wasn't necessarily a passion of mine. I loved kids and loved to teach, so it seemed natural to go into teaching. But over the years, in fact every year, it gets worse. The kids are worse, they pile more onto us, expecting more out of us as teachers and less from the students and parents. The spirit of the teacher is drained. This is not the life I envisioned for myself. I think it is safe to say it is not the life many teachers envisioned for themselves.

So what do I do? I am working two jobs, running around like a crazy woman. I get on here and express myself periodically. And quite frankly, I used to be nervous about expressing myself on here. I went back and forth between being totally honest and censoring my words for fear of who might read them.

So, again, what do I do? I know this much, the writing that I do here is liberating. As with most people, I want to be heard. I want my feelings validated. I don't know the answers but I know that they are there. I know that I have talents that when nurtured will allow me to bloom fully. My job is to make sure that I make time for that nurturing daily. My job is to make sure that I do not overwork myself so much that there is no energy at the end of the day to take care of me. Because if I don't take care of myself, how can I possibly take care of anyone else?

This is a short week at school for me......Fall Break. Thank God for school holidays. It helps us maintain our sanity. There are cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast, which for me is heaven sent. It means opening the windows to breathe in the refreshing scent of rain. It means dark, cloudy skies outside that make it perfect for curling up with a good book and a soft blanket on the sofa. It means a cup of hot tea to warm me as I look out the window, grateful for the time to just be. That is what will help me get through the next two days. The promise of peace, quiet, time to just let go and be.

But for now, I have to check on the pork tenderloin I am cooking for Bunko tonight.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Am

I am.....

I am the comfort they need when they are down

I am the voice that tells them "yes, you can"

I am the smile that won't go away


I am


I am the wind in the mountains of New Mexico

I am the essence of pinon that permeates the air

I am the solitary snowflake dancing through the night sky


I am


I am the passion that burns deep within

I am the love that consumes

I am ever present


I am


I am always hopeful

I am always searching

I am always strong


I am


I am listening

I am waiting

I am ready

Karma?

I often wonder if I was a brutal person in a former life and that's why my life has been non-stop drama and stress. You know, paybacks can be hell.

Or maybe, it is simply me. According to many new-age thinkers, I am living the life that I created. I certainly didn't intentionally create this mess. God knows I've tried my hardest over the years to do my best for others, for myself. Yet still I find my life exhausting on a daily basis. It seems as if no matter what I do I never get ahead whether financially, physically, or even creatively.

I've always thought I was a good person. Not perfect, but good. Good to others, always. I'm hard on my students, yes, but that is to get them off their butts and realize their potential and actually do something about it. I get frustrated and fed up with people and their utter self-absorption, but for the most part, I am kind and giving and have for the most part learned to just turn my head with the self-absorbed population. I always let people go in front of me in the grocery store line when they only have a few items. I give to charity constantly. I give my time to others trying to make them feel better. I even try to give some time to myself. I've always been fair in everything I've done, even with my ex-husband when he was trying to totally annihilate me.

Regardless of what I keep hearing from others, I can't help but wonder, what did I do wrong? Are there so many life lessons that I need to learn that God keeps sending me things to face on a daily basis? That which does not kill you makes you stronger????? How freaking strong does God think I need to be? I mean, really? When is it going to get better? Is this what life is about? Because this isn't all that great to tell you the truth.

Don't get me wrong....I have plenty to be grateful for. I have two wonderful children that I adore. I have a full-time, secure job in addition to a second part-time job that pays the bills and keeps us fed, even if it isn't the kind of food I would prefer to feed my children and myself. I have my health, a working vehicle, and a solid, secure roof over my head with all the comforts I need. My best friend is back in my life on a regular basis. I know I am loved by many and have done lots of things to be proud of. I know that I have made a positive difference in many lives. I have many, many things to be grateful for.

But when it comes to day to day life.....is this really what life is intended to be? Running around at breakneck speeds, never having a moment to enjoy the good things in life, not the fine wines and exotic locales necessarily, but just the good things in life, like the laugh of a child, or the touch of a fall breeze on your skin. Are we really supposed to be so exhausted at the end of our work day that we have nothing left to give others, so broke due to medical bills and unexpected expenditures that we can't afford the basics at Wal-Mart?

How do I continue to try to teach my children that doing the right thing pays off when I feel as if I HAVE done the right thing my entire life and it doesn't appear to be paying off for me so far, in fact, it all seems to be going downhill. How do I show my children how to pursue their dreams and do what THEY want in life when I can't seem to do it myself? It's not for lack of wanting or trying, but to the sheer exhaustion and frustration of my current life and not feeling as if I can make any steps in the right direction due to the neverending stress that I face daily.

I believe passionately in following your dreams and living the life YOU want to live. Oh how I wish I had learned this much earlier in life. Although had I had the courage to do what I really wanted 26 years ago, I wouldn't have my two children that I adore today, nor would I have certain people in my life that have enriched it so much. Having said that, I do think that once you reach the point in your life where you realize you need to pull your head out of your ass and actually be the authentic "you", it's a little crappy that you keep getting pummeled with life's little problems such as child custody suits, cancer, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and job stress on top of life's other daily issues.

All of my other friends, co-workers, etc. all have family to lean on. I have family who have been very supportive over the years, but none are here. I have no one here. Ok, that's not entirely true. I have my kids, my best friend, and my co-workers, but no one on a daily basis who is just there. I don't have my family nearby and that's such a blessing to have. For those of you who have them close by and they drive you crazy, think what it would be like if they weren't there. It's hard doing this alone. And honestly, I've been "alone" since I left high school. Even married, I was alone.

I'm tired. Very, very tired. And I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of trying to turn to people for help and all I get is "I don't know what to tell you". I'm tired of all the crap. This isn't right. I know other people don't feel this way on a daily basis. Some do, I know that. But, damn. What's it going to take? I know people out there who are complete assholes and seem to conquer the world.

I'm frustrated. I'm tired. I'm broke. I'm not going to worry about who is reading this or what their interpretation will be. I know the truth. I know my truth. That's all that matters.

Well, this was a "fun" blog, now wasn't it!! :) I needed to vent.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Education

Stephen King, author of over fifty bestselling books, was once an English teacher. At this time in his life, for the first time, he found writing to be hard. He writes in "On Writing by Stephen King - A Memoir of the Craft" that "The problem was teaching. I liked my coworkers and loved the kids - even the Beavis and Butt-Head types in Living with English could be interesting - but by most Friday afternoons I felt as if I'd spent the week with jumper cables clamped to my brain." He goes on to describe what might have happened in his life, thirty years later, still teaching, wearing the same shabby tweed coat, a beer gut hanging over his pants, smoking cigarettes, and merely dabbling in writing from time to time. Lucky for him and his readers, he had someone supporting him fully in his dream, his wife Tabitha.

The main thing that struck me about his words was when he said "The problem was teaching." The analogy of spending a week with jumper cables clamped to his brain really hit home for me. I think people often think teachers have a very easy job. We all get to leave at 3:30pm, right? Summers off, Fall break, Christmas break. What are we complaining about?

Most days I am at school by 6:30am. As the morning daycare director of our on-site before/after school daycare, I need to have the cafeteria opened up by 7:00am. That means arriving at school around 6:30am to get my computer turned on, turn down the a/c, check e-mail, prep my classroom, and maybe get in a quick bathroom break before I head down to the cafeteria at 6:55am.

Sometimes there is a student waiting at the door for me, other times they straggle in. But the next hour and a half of my day is spent in daycare, watching the kids, but mostly handling the financial aspect of the daycare. I take tuition, track it, call parents who haven't paid yet, write receipts, and turn it all in to the financial secretary at 8:30am.

From 8:30am-8:55am I try to make it to my classroom without getting caught by someone. There is always a ton of work to get caught up on whether it is grading or making copies or phone calls to parents. I try to sneak in one more bathroom break before the first bell rings because once the students are in the classroom, a bathroom break is out of the question. Don't even THINK about leaving those kids unattended.

8:55am. They're b-a-a-a-c-k! Regardless of how many times we go over the procedure for entering the classroom quietly and orderly, it never seems to go that way. Wait, it did ONE day last week. Once. The entire year so far. I'm beginning to question my classroom management.

Anyway, the kids are in, we do lunch count/attendance and get started on the day. It is non-stop until our unbelievably early lunch. We line up at 10:50am for lunch. I walk them down to the cafeteria, grab my lunch and scurry back to my classroom for a moment to myself before the kids who didn't finish their work last night come back during their recess. If I am lucky, I have fifteen minutes to inhale my lunch in peace. At 11:35, recess is over. Go get them again.

We do take about ten to fifteen minutes after recess for read aloud time. I recently got a used gliding rocker with gliding ottoman at a garage sale. It is so comfy, and I sit there with my students surrounding me as I read to them. But then, it's back to work. I look forward every day to my "planning period" which is technically thirty minutes but by the time you get the kids where they need to go and get in yet another bathroom break and pick them up you are lucky to have twenty minutes. I relish this time! It is finally quiet.....because........

Throughout the entire day, as I am trying to teach, there is the constant, "Sit down, pay attention, stop playing with your pencil, put your pencil down, pick your pencil up, pay attention, no we're on number four, not number five, I just gave you the answer to that, sit down, put your chair on all four legs, single file, eyes forward, no talking, no you can't go to the bathroom, where's your work, where's your book, where's your folder, sit down, bring it here, do it again, pay attention, ......................................................................." It is exhausting because you do this all day long. Every day. All day long. Every day. Again, I am questioning my classroom management skills.

The day is finally over. We line up at 3:25. I have an after school duty, so my class leaves a couple of minutes early so I can go stand in the middle of the street crosswalk with a stop sign and let people try to run over me. Watching parents completely disregard rules on a daily basis and pretty much do whatever the hell they please makes it very clear why the students we are attempting to teach today have so much trouble. There is no discipline because they, and their parents, feel as if they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and who are YOU to tell them otherwise? Last year I used to try to deal with parents. Now I simply ignore them. I found, at least in my particular situation, it is best to just keep my mouth shut. Tight.

3:45pm. I drop off the stop sign at the office. I usually need a bathroom break again. Then I head back to the disaster that is my desk. This is hard for me. I am, by nature, a very organized person. I don't understand people who can live in a continual mess. It clouds the brain. But in teaching, there is very little time to keep your desk organized on a regular basis throughout the day. So, I sit down and try to sort through the chaos. If I took all the time I needed every day, I'd be there for an hour or two. Many times I have stayed for that hour or two. So, after arriving at 6:30am I might leave at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. Some nights I have stayed longer.

I've been coming home at night too tired to think. It's one thing to work ten or eleven hours, but in teaching you are going 100 mph the entire time. At least I do. I can only speak for myself. But after that many hours at that rate of speed, I'm worn out. My brain is fried. My body is too tired to work out. All I want to do is stop. Just for a while. But when I do, I'm a goner. One night about a week ago, I was literally in bed, asleep at 6:45pm. I slept until 5:30am the following morning. This past weekend I slept for 12 hours each night. I am entirely too young for that!

Yesterday I had a conversation with my dad about all this. He taught for years and years. He finally convinced me to let it go and just come home. Give 100% while I am there, which I always do and have done, but when the day is over, leave. Ok, Dad. I listened.

So, today, I showed up about 6:50am. I had just enough time to drop off my purse in my classroom and turn on my computer. I left school at 4:05pm. For the first time in weeks, I came home with energy and actually walked after school. It was only a thirty minute walk, but it was brisk and invigorating. I came home and fixed an incredible salad, took a shower and now am writing....what?? WRITING????

Stephen King recognized that teaching zaps you, mentally, physically, creatively. Luckily he sold "Carrie" and was able to pursue writing and leave teaching. I became a teacher because I wanted to teach, to make a difference, and I do, I know that. I have so many students who come up to me years later telling me how much they loved having me as a teacher. My own children's friends know me from school and they all love me. I've had students who I thought would never make it come back and tell me what a difference I made in their lives. I appreciate all of them so much.

But the reality of it all is that we are spinning our wheels today as teachers. Again, I am speaking from my experience, in my school. I know how hard I work and I know everything I try to do to help my students be successful and learn all they need to know, not only from the curriculum I am teaching but also to fill in the gaps they have missed over the years. But every year it gets harder and harder and they pile more and more on us and quite frankly, they are killing the spirit of the teacher.

Students come to us knowing less and less, being able to retain and process less and less. Parents care less and less. Yet we are expected to produce bigger and greater results and in the meantime, our students are with us less and less in the classroom. I am appalled at the amount of time our students spend away from us as teachers. I value most of the activities that they are doing while away from us but they still need more time with the teacher, in the classroom. Yes, I think we should have longer school days and years. It is absurd how our schools are run these days with the summer break and short days. But that I will save for another post. Tonight I am just venting, writing, for the first time in weeks.

I have to let it all go and know that I am doing the best I can but there is only so much I can do. If I want to become a writer, photographer, and/or artist, I have to give myself the gift of time and sanity and I cannot achieve that by spending ten to twelve hours a day at school. I truly believe that I have something in me that needs to be expressed whether through writing, or my photography or art. I don't know yet, but I can feel it, deeply.

I know I need to write. I know I need to create. It's who I am.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bloom Where You're Planted



"Bloom where you're planted," said Mary Engelbreit (and my mother).

I have fought against this idea for years because I didn't like where I was planted: in a verbally/emotionally abusive marriage, a stressful and unfulfilling career, a hot, humid state that held very little beauty for me. My "soil" felt toxic to me, held no nutrients, and was too dry to give me strength and stability. I felt unprotected from the harsh elements that would come to try to beat me down. It seemed as if there were no gardener to come tend to me, to pull the weeds that would grow up around me and try to suck up all the good around me.

Yet somehow, I didn't wither away. I managed to survive through the financial drought, the legal storms that battered the flowers I was so desperately trying to bloom, the lonely times where I felt undernourished in love and acceptance. Even though they are battered and bruised, my roots are still strong and deep. They continue to seek out those precious elements that will strengthen me, nourish me, help me to grow.

It is said we either have roots or wings. Although I always wanted roots, my wings have kept me from planting real roots and blooming. Flying away, far, far away, was my daily agenda. I wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible and plant roots somewhere else. Yet I found myself trapped, unsure of how to get out so I could bloom elsewhere. I tried anything I could think of to get out, but nothing worked.

At times I thought I would just wither up and die. Sometimes I didn't even care. But the dream of becoming the beautiful flower I know I am meant to be kept me going. I know it can happen. I know it will happen. I know the potential inside of me and it gives me strength.

I still want to fly away, but I've decided that maybe Mary and mom are right.....bloom where you're planted because that is the only way you can fly.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I don't know what the title to this will be

I want to write, but I don't know what I want to start with.



My research is done for the book about Ernest Thompson Seton. That would be a logical starting point, yet there are other things swirling through my head about which I think I need to write.



I've decided that I need to write a book called "Letting Go" since letting go is one thing I have had difficulty with in my life. It would be a journey through my life so far, a memoir I suppose. It would chronicle how my inability to just simply let go has impacted my life negatively.



I also want to write a book called "I'll Drink Wine on Your Grave When You're Gone - an Impossible Love Story". It would be a true love story, one whose ending is still undecided.

Maybe I can begin writing all three books. My head swirls with thoughts, memories, hopes, ideas each day, words begging to be given a home outside my brain.

Write.

That's all it takes.

Write.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Church

I went to church today - twice. Brad and I went to the 11:30 am service and then I returned for the 6:00pm service alone. It was the exact same service, but I think I needed to hear it twice.

I'm not an overly religious person, but I do have very strong beliefs. The message today was about having faith and never giving up when we are faced with extraordinary circumstances in life. As I feel that I have been facing extraordinary circumstances in one way or another for the last ten years, it was a powerful message. I continue to find myself dealing with my issues alone and that makes it very difficult. I feel very defeated at times.

After this morning's service I made a decision to explore the church commnity a little bit. I need to get on a new path with my life, meet new people, find a circle of friends perhaps. Who knows? Maybe I'll even find a good man who wants to share his life with me. Even though I have given up on dating for 2010, it would be nice to have someone to just hang out with.

The church I went to seems to have a diverse group of people attending and is large enough that I feel as if I can find a group of people that I would click with. We'll see.

In the meantime, today's message keeps swirling through my head about never giving up, keeping the faith, letting go of those toxic people or relationships that don't do you any good. The message was about continuing to do good and you will be rewarded. I have to have faith in that because I feel like I have worked so hard at doing the right thing for so long and I just continue to have more happen. Maybe by cutting some ties, heading in a new direction, I will find that peace of mind that I have been searching for.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photography

Tonight I posted my latest photography on my photography blog: (photographybykellithomas.blogspot.com in case anyone is interested).

As I was going through the site, I found some very encouraging remarks from people. I have to admit it.....I love the feedback I get, especially when it is coming from other photographers - amateur or professional.

Photography is incredibly fulfilling for me. It is something I almost always do alone. My best work has come from spontaneous trips where I grab my camera, hop into the 4-Runner and head out without a clue as to where I am heading. My poor road atlases are ragged and faded, yet are so treasured by me. I carry a yellow highlighter in my vehicle so I can highlight the roads I take, always trying to take a road never before traveled. Oh, the things I have discovered!!

Gotta run for now.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fear (and Writing)


Fear....

Such a small word for such a powerful force. Yet this very word is the reason I have not been writing as I promised myself I would.

Recently I was telling my dad a story about an uneasy moment or two I had on my trip to New Mexico last week. He looked at me, almost shocked, and said, "Kelli, you aren't afraid of ANYTHING!"

He reminded me of the time I wandered around downtown Oklahoma City, alone, at the crack of dawn with my camera and a homeless man followed me around. I reminded myself of the time I drove to the Guads for the first time, by myself, and got up to Hunter Camp alone. Keith was really impressed by that. And when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was more of an inconvenience to me than anything. That really got me to thinking, I'm not afraid of a lot of things, or if I do feel fear, I face it and move on.

So why the fear of writing? This is something I have been yearning to do for years now. Is it the honesty? Am I worried that someone won't be happy that my honesty includes stories about them? Do I worry that people won't like what I have to say? Does it really matter?

I think it is all of the above. What I do know is that if I don't write, daily, then there is really no point in my dreaming of becoming a writer. Strangely enough, writers have to write.

In an earlier post I wrote about commitment, which is clearly a problem I have when it comes to creating the life I want for myself. I can commit to my family, my children, to the man I love, but I haven't been able to commit to myself. I can quote fabulously successful people on commitment, I could coach anyone to become something great, yet have failed miserably in my own life. Each time I read a book, I think to myself, "I could do this....I could write." Countless people have told me I am a good writer, I love words and the power they have, and I have a swirling of ideas in my head daily.

Looking back on the last ten years of my life, I know there is much to tell. I have been through a lot and emerged just fine, not where I'd like to be, but fine. I can't help but think that telling my story can help someone else just as other's stories helped me.

I have ideas for children's books, young adult books, novels...... The life of a writer appeals to me, researching my books, freedom to write whenever and wherever. Not being inside an office building or a classroom all day. Freedom to use the bathroom whenever I like. Freedom to eat lunch when I am hungry. Freedom to leave and do research.

So, it is really quite simple. I need to write, daily. When the words come to me, which they do all day long, I need to sit and release them from their cranial prison.

Daily, Kelli, you have to write daily.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Returning soon

It's been a long time since I've written anything. After a very stressful end to this school year, I found myself swamped trying to take care of things prior to my hysterectomy/bladder lift I had a little over a week ago. As I recover and begin to feel somewhat human again, I am looking forward to writing again, very much.

As always, there is much on my mind....much that has happened....

See you soon!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reflection...

We are almost half way through March.

Seriously? 2010 will be over before I know it.

This is my year of quiet......discovery......solitude......reflection. Please tell me I will emerge from it all somewhat enlightened, more peaceful, happier.

I do feel that the journey so far has been a good one. Different, but good. Who knows what will be happening in my life as 2010 comes to an end 9 1/2 months from now. But I hope it will be exactly what I need to be happening. I'm sure it will be.

In the meantime, I am embarking on a new chapter in my life with some of the same characters, they are just playing different roles. I am looking forward to exploring these relationships in a new light and hopefully cultivating even more meaningful bonds than we had before. There are new characters with whom I am forming new friendships. There are those who come and go in my life as they are needed or as they need me.

This is an exciting time and although I can find myself feeling melancholy at times and wondering what it's all about, each morning brings more clarity and with the clarity comes peace. I like my life right now even though I fully expect to be someplace entirely different in a few years - geographically, emotionally, physically....right now is good. I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I am looking forward to exploring my creativity even more. I have been more creative in the last year than I have in the last 20 years combined! It feels amazing....it feels....honest. Whether through my art, my photography, or my writing, there is release....I can breathe....

Querencia....A Spanish word for which there is no exact English translation. But here's what I found:
*A place from which one’s strength of character is drawn.
*A place in which we know exactly who we are. The place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.
*A safe haven, affection, fondness, homing instinct, den, lair, nest, roost, home, sanctuary.

My "querencia" has always been the mountains....New Mexico and Colorado, but I am starting to find my own "querencia" here. If I can find it here, I can find it anywhere, and from that.....everything else flows.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Being Authentic

It's Monday night.....8:46pm and I'm exhausted. I woke up exhausted.

I was exhausted all last week and all weekend. I'm only 43. I'm too young to be this exhausted all the time.

As I type the word "exhausted" for the fifth time it doesn't look right....you know how that goes.....you write or say a word so many times that it doesn't sound or look right. Well, it doesn't feel right either.

Life is not meant to be lived this way. Life is meant to be lived in a full and abundant manner....joyfully, happily, peacefully.....

When I am not teaching, I am so full of life....exhuberant, happy, giddy, full of hope and promise, loving life, living life! I am a completely different person.....I AM the person I want to be.

Last night a friend asked me if I had been writing. I told him that although there was a great deal on my mind last week, I hadn't written since Sunday. Part of the reason was that I was worried about potential readers who might misinterpret my words or use them against me. I worried that if I complained about my job or last relationship someone would read the words and .... what? I don't really know what I was worried that "they" would do. It doesn't even matter because basically, I was self-censoring. That's not an option.

Tonight while in the shower, the words were swirling through my head like an F4 tornado in a furious rage. It was as if the words were debris being cast out of the tornado, yet being confined and restrained within my skull instead of being released onto an unknown trajectory and ultimately being allowed to fall where they may.

That's when it became very clear to me that if I'm going to really write and be authentic and true to myself I cannot worry about what anyone else is going to think about what I write or what the consequences might be. We all have our own interpretations of events. Anything I write here will be my interpretation and how I felt at that particular time. If I am going to do this in a way that is beneficial to me and possibly someone else, I have to be honest, completely honest. It doesn't mean that my perceptions or interpretations are correct or even sane, but they are mine and that is something that cannot be taken away from me.

For many years I tried to be what I thought I should be, what everyone else wanted me to be. With every passing day I am finding out who I really am....the good, the bad, and the ugly. But strangely enough, I like who I am. I have found out that I am a quirky, passionate, somewhat controlling when I want to be, lover of words and beauty. I crave deep connection and intense laughter. I love that I feel deeply and cry like an idiot at romantic movies. Although not religious in a traditional sense, I am very spiritual, but on my terms, no one else's. I don't fit into any mold - religious or spiritual - and I like it that way because I place my own meaning and faith into what I believe. And what I believe, I believe in very strongly.

I like that I am a complete goofball always trying to get people to laugh and see the beauty and romance of life even if my words fall on deaf ears and cold hearts. I love that I never give up even when I say I'm going to... that I'm done, I'm through.....I always come back and try again. I love that I have complete faith that someday, someday, I will find someone who will embrace all the weirdness that is me and fall completely and totally in love .... with me. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

It's forty five minutes later.....I'm finding it hard to believe that it takes me this long to write sometimes. Forty five minutes, really? For just a few paragraphs? It doesn't matter. What matters is that the words are falling where they may, even if only a few at a time.

More words will come tomorrow, because tomorrow I will listen when they are banging viciously on the inside of my skull begging to be released. The peace I feel for the first time today is enough to encourage me to stop tomorrow and write. Just write. Honestly. Without regard for who might, and that's a big MIGHT, possibly read this.

So for tonight.....I'm taking this exhausted body and going to bed.

Sweet dreams......

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Love and Being Single on Valentine's Day



As I begin to write this, it is just after 5:00pm on Valentine's Day.


Valentine's Day....a day of love and romance.


Valentine's Day.....a day I always wanted to be full of love and romance.


Valentine's Day....a day that has never really been full of love and romance.....at least not for me.


I'm a hopeless romantic, I admit it, completely and fully. I want the love and romance, not only on Valentine's Day, but regularly in my life. I want to be with someone who actually wants to be with me.....not 24/7, that would drive me insane! I need my time, too. But someone who, at the end of the day, wants to call me and say "Hey, how was your day?". Someone who actually wants to take me away for the weekend. Someone who laughs at my stupid jokes. Someone who will tell me he loves me.....without me having to always say it first or when he does respond he doesn't mumble it or says nothing at all.


Romance doesn't have to mean flowers and jewelry....in fact, those things aren't necessarily what I find romantic. What I find romantic is when he looks at you and you know just by how he looks at you that he loves you deeply. It's when he touches your hand and gently rubs his thumb over it. It's when he holds you so tight that you know he never wants to let you go. That is romantic.


This holiday, along with most other holidays, does nothing but make me want to cringe. As I look back, the last good Valentine's Day I remember was probably in junior high when my dad used to send me a rose every year. This year I didn't even hear from him.


My memories of Valentine's Days past are not pleasant ones. I'll never forget the year that my boyfriend at the time took another woman and her two daughters to dinner. I sort of invited myself along. Should have been an "aha" moment for me, but it wasn't. There were times that were nice, I suppose, but I just remember wanting for at least one day of the year to hear from that one person I loved that he loved me in return. Because it didn't come the rest of the year. What is sad is that I know he loved me....he just couldn't let himself say it or feel it. And at the end, when it was all said and done and I finally realized that he actually loved me deeply, it was too late. He had made a choice to be with someone else and found himself "confused" over the whole thing. He couldn't decide between the two of us, so I made the decision for him......I left for good.


I'm thinking to myself right now that maybe I shouldn't be writing this, but the other part of me knows I need to. I haven't the foggiest idea who, if anyone, is actually reading this blog, but I do know that I need to write it. There are things I need desperately to let go of so new things can come into my life.


It makes me wonder, and it has for years, if there is something wrong with me. So many people tell me how they think I'm great....I'm so funny.....I'm so caring.....so full of life, etc. Yet it seems that I don't attract men that think that as well, or if they do, then I'm not attracted to them. Why is that? I hate crying....just sayin.....


So...for 2010, I have made a committment to not date....to not search for love. Even though I am telling myself that, I still want love. I still want someone that wants to share his life with me. In my last relationship, I told the man I was with that I wanted someone to share my life with....he told me that maybe I was with the wrong person!! Again....should have been an aha moment, but I was clueless. I was in love. God, the stupidity of love.


Regardless, I still believe in it. Love. I do, very much. I know that when I am ready, it will come to me. As my dear friend once said....."You'll know him when you see him". I'm trusting that.....(you know who you are!)


I don't care what anyone says.....you can have real, true love that is incredibly deep. You can be so very connected to another human being that all the cliches you've heard your whole life finally make sense. I have had that ..... once. That gives me faith that I can have it again,.


I appreciate those of you who speak of the other kinds of love on Valentine's Day....the love of a child or a friend, but we all know that what most of us want is that love from that person with whom we connect on a level like no other. That love that brings you to greater heights as a human being.


I've grown so very tired of trying to be strong and basically not being true to what I feel deep down inside. I want very much to find someone who loves me as much as I love him and will actually let me know that and not run away and hide from it all.


I know I am not perfect, but I also think I have a lot to offer. As my son put it, I make one hell of a salad! Another friend says I'm the artist she aspires to be. Certain students say I'm the funniest person they've been around. I think I've got a few good qualities.


My passion for life translates to every area in my life.....that can be good or bad, but if you focus on the good it can bring to you, it makes the bad a little less pronounced.


I love very deeply.....at least in my limited experience I did. But that tells me I can do it and will do it again....love very deeply. I know there is someone out there for me.....I just haven't met him yet. Or, maybe I have, and our timing wasn't right when we met. It doesn't matter. It will happen for me......that I know for sure.


So, Happy Valentine's Day......ugh.






The Journey Continues

Saturday morning, after stuffing myself silly with my ham and cheese omelette, I headed north on the Turquoise Trail. My first destination of the day was Sandia Crest, the highest scenic drive in the southwest. Located a mile above my starting point and two miles above sea level, I was anxious to make my way to the peak, camera in hand, ready to capture some phenomenal images. Unfortunately, the fog that had plagued me on my drive to New Mexico was hanging over the mountain that day like a wet blanket. At times I was able to get a peek-a-boo glimpse of the amazing vistas I knew surrounded me, but mostly, the fog enveloping me required me to simply slow down and focus on the beauty of the aspens, scrub oak, and hardy pines.
And slow down I did.

I opened the sun roof on my 4-Runner, turned on the seat heater, cranked the heat up a notch, and took it all in. The forest was draped in white... branches of firs and pines drooping heavily with burdens of snow. As I got closer to the peak, the whiteness of it all began to close in on me. It was breathtakingly beautiful and serene.

When I made it to the peak, there were three cars in the parking lot. I wondered what they were doing here because I didn't see anyone around. As I was exploring the area, a woman drove up and asked where she could find the cross-country ski area. Of course, I didn't know, but I thought how brave she was to be going cross-country skiing by herself on a day like this. But it is this attitude that prevails in New Mexico.....an attitude very different from what you'd find in Oklahoma. In fact, despite the dreary day, I passed many people making their way to the ski resort or to one of the numerous areas where you can pull over to hike or sled or just simply play in the snow.

From Sandia Crest byway, I drove northeast along Highway 14, making my way towards Madrid, the town famous for "Maggie's Diner" in the movie "Wild Hogs". I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had heard this little community was becoming quite an artist colony so I knew I would spend some time there.

Coming into the town, the first thing that struck me was the rusty sculpture tucked in throughout. Whimsical and clever ironworkings were everywhere. An angel, a guitar playing cowboy, an Indian skeleton, a bull skeleton. Each of them had a colorful story to tell, I just knew it. They each seemed to be grinning, knowing their secrets were safe for eternity. You could almost imagine them coming to life when no one else was around - dancing and drinking around a fire under the New Mexico sky.

The shops of Madrid were a kaleidoscope of colors. I knew immediately I wanted to return here when I had more time and more money. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see and that's before you even enter the shops. I could have spent hours just wandering around this tiny village with my camera. For such a small town, it was packed with people. The narrow street that winds through its heart was lined with cars, but even so, Madrid had a very laid back atmosphere, one that was very gracious. It welcomed you to come in and just enjoy what they had to offer. I can't wait to go back.

Leaving Madrid reluctantly, I continued towards Cerrillos, another tiny historic village a few miles away. I had met a man in Madrid who asked about my travels. He highly recommended that I stop there after I told him I was on a photographic journey. Apparently, there were many interesting things to photograph in Cerrillos. He was right.

When I first turned left off of Highway 14 and headed into Cerrillos I have to admit I was questioning the man's sanity. But I listened to my instinct which told me to keep going. This ancient mining village is officially listed as a "ghost town" despite the fact that it still has many permanent residents living in a variety of adobe homes throughout the town. As I drove up and down the few muddy streets it has, I was overwhelmed with the number of interesting things to photograph. The man was definitely right.

The residents of Cerrillos express their individuality in their surroundings. And because this village is so old, it was brimming with dilapidated, ramshackle structures with peeling paint and decaying foundations. The colors and textures were overwhelming to the senses. I think I shot more photographs here than anywhere else. The Casa Grande Trading Post has a collection of dusty bottles displayed in their window that caught my eye immediately. Some of my best photographs came from this display.

(Just as a side note, photographs from this trip will be posted on my website artbykellithomas.com)

From Cerrillos, I once again traveled north on Highway 14 until I got to a sign that pointed east to Galisteo. Galisteo......I liked the name. Sometimes that is all it takes for me to change direction in my journey. So.....Galisteo it was.

Galisteo is another tiny village with only a few hundred residents. It is a community of artists. Like Cerrillos, individuality was definitely expressed here. As I drove through the town, I came upon a group of mailboxes lined up together.....all vividly hand painted. I love the little surprises you find in life when you get off the beaten path.


Next I thought I would head up from Galisteo into Santa Fe and spend some time there. Yet as I drove, I saw a sign for Lamy. Once again, something inside told me to go a different direction. So I did.


I knew nothing about Lamy, but I knew I was getting hungry so I hoped to find a place to get something to eat. Driving into Lamy my hopes were diminished as I saw what a small town it was. I pushed on....you never know. Crossing the railroad tracks into town I came upon a train station. Across the street from it was a restaurant! But it was closed. I looked back across the street at the train station and situated next to it was an old train car. It was the "Talladega", the Lamy Station Cafe Dining Car. People were leaving the car, so my hopes were up again that I might find lunch!

Walking around to the back I saw that the railroad tracks were maybe forty feet from the dining car. I've never been on a train, so this was a new experience for me. Walking up the steps I didn't know what to expect. I opened the door, and sure enough, it was a railroad car. Very narrow with seating on either side. There were maybe eight or ten tables in the place. It was cozy and intimate.

Seating me at my table in the far end of the dining car was a tall, thin man in a chef's jacket. Later I would realize this was Chef Michael and this was his domain. Tucked into one corner of the quaint dining car was a man with a guitar, gently playing to the small crowd in the dining car. He had a bucket on the table for collecting tips. There was a couple who seemed to be having a minor disagreement as they ate. She was stunningly beautiful, he was handsome even with his dreadlocks pulled back into a ponytail. They looked very sophisticated to me. Next to this couple was a mother and her young daughter. Apparently they were waiting on the train to arrive. Seated at the table closest to me was an older couple. The older gentleman seemed to be having difficulty with very mundane tasks and his wife patiently encouraged him to try to do what he needed to do, guiding him without him even realizing what she was doing. It was beautiful.

The waitress, in her colorful bracelets and long braids, brought me the menu. What a selection.....the prices were reasonable and the entrees sounded scrumptious. Even though it was only a late lunch, a glass of wine sounded perfect. I chose the Ziti Pasta with Wild Mushrooms, Leeks, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Gruyere and Garlic Toast. The waitress brought my wine and as I waited for my food, the older couple left and another man came in and sat in their place. Soon after that, the artist I had seen painting outside the station also came in and took a seat across from me. Drinking my wine, I picked up my camera to review the photographs I had taken so far. I was pleased. The older man sitting next to me struck up a conversation about my trip and soon the artist joined in.

The next hour or so, the three of us sat... chatting about trains, travel, and other miscellaneous topics. We ate our lunches while talking with each other at our separate tables. It was the most enjoyable lunch I'd had in a long time....excellent food, wine, and company. I didn't want it to end, but we all had other things to do. We exchanged information and went our separate ways. Something tells me there will be more to this story....

Charlie, the artist I met, suggested I head towards Los Alamos. He told me it was beautiful countryside and since I'd never been in that part of New Mexico, I followed his advice. Parts of the drive were some of the most stunning landscape I'd ever seen. And despite, getting slightly turned around in Los Alamos, it was well worth the extra time I took to make the journey. The photographs I took revealed an expansive landscape that makes you feel so very tiny in comparison to it all. I didn't want to leave. But I did.....I still had several hours of driving ahead of me and honestly, I was getting sleepy from all the driving I had done in the last 48 hours.
I continued on, traveling through Jemez Mountains. At this point, I was so tired that for the most part, all I did was drive....anxious to get back to Albuquerque and my bed where I could once again look at the photographs I had taken throughout the day. The sun was beginning to tuck away on the horizon so taking more photographs was no longer an option. So I drove, silently reflecting on the day I was wrapping up.

I have a ragged New Mexico road atlas that goes with me on my travels. As I make my way through the Land of Enchantment, using a yellow highlighter, I highlight the different roads I take with the goal of traveling on the same road as little as possible. Since I bought this atlas a few years ago, the yellow marks of my adventures are quickly filling up the cobweb of New Mexico byways on which I have driven. Each mark is a memory of an excursion with my camera....sometimes alone, sometimes with a companion. Each excursion is memorable and precious to me.

My travels in New Mexico always renew me. When life is bogging me down and I feel as if I can't breathe, New Mexico quietly beckons me......come home.....come home....... And although I have never lived there, it feels like home to me. It is there where I am my most creative and spiritual self. It is there, amidst the mountains and desert, that I am at peace. It is there, in the Land of Enchantment, that I can finally.....breathe.......

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Mexico...

February 6, 2010

Cedar Point Grille in Cedar Crest, New Mexico at the southern end of the Turquoise Trail...my coffee and orange juice are on the table and I'm filling my time waiting on my Ham and Cheese Omelette Supreme by working on my blog. People are looking at me funny because I'm sitting at my table, alone with my mini lap-top, typing away (at least I hope that's why they are looking at me funny).

I like this place. It has good character and the people are all friendly even if they are wondering what I'm up to, pounding away on my keyboard. This little cafe at the base of the Sandia Mountains is good for writing. I'd like to come here for breakfast and write every morning.

Today begins the second day of my adventure in New Mexico. Driving west on I-40 Thursday night was an adventure in itself. I drove through varying degrees of fog most of the way. At times it was so thick I had to slow down to almost 50mph. Inside joke...even the fog doesn't slow me down much. However, at one point I had maybe 20 feet of visibility and turned on my hazard lights just so people could see me coming more clearly.

Arriving in Santa Rosa around 10:30pm Thursday night, I was already exhausted because I had only about three hours of sleep the night before, taught fifth graders all day, and finally drove for six and a half hours in the fog. Just as I was falling asleep a young couple with a screaming baby checked into the room next to me, completely oblivious to the fact that there could possibly be other people in the hotel trying to get some sleep. Their child screamed off and on for the next two hours resulting in me getting only three hours of sleep that night, too.

The next morning, my alarm went off much earlier than I would have liked. Eyes heavy and a sleep deprivation headache starting, I rolled out of bed and stumbled next door to the office, travel mug in hand, anxious for the caffeine jump start I needed. I walked through the outer doors, looking for the coffee that I was told would be in the office at 6:00am. But the office door was locked and the woman behind the counter looked at me rather rudely apparently wondering what I wanted so early in the morning. When I held up my empty coffee mug, she pointed at the clock. It showed 5:00am. That's when I realized I hadn't changed the clock on my Blackberry from Central Time to Mountain Time. Coffee wouldn't be ready for an hour. I dragged myself back to the room and took a shower.

The excitement of the day ahead of me energized me quite a bit. Before leaving Santa Rosa, I stopped and bought a large cup of coffee and began my journey. Once again driving west on I-40, I was jamming to the music playing on my XM radio. The New Mexico sunrise was at my back and I was heading to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary located southwest of Grants, New Mexico.

My morning excursion took me through Albuquerque. As I came upon the Sandia Mountains, located just east of the Duke City, I was once again reminded of why I love New Mexico so much. The reddish color of the mountains is immediately warm and welcoming. It is said that they were named the Sandia Mountains because of this sanguine hue. Sandia, in Spanish, means watermelon.

Continuing on, I made my way west to Grants, turning south on Highway 53 and eventually headed further west, to the isolated wolf sanctuary where I found the most incredible animals I'd ever seen. My love of wolves started last year when I set about researching them for a book I am writing. I was immediately drawn to their sense of family and the intense loyalty they share with their mates.

A beautiful, twiggy girl named Kate led us around the snowy complex with its tall chain link fence enclosures. As she told us about each and every one of the wolves, she kept them close to us by tossing chunks of hot dogs over the fence or by pushing the chunks through the openings allowing the wolves' teeth to ever so gently graze her palm as she fed them. There were two to three wolves in each pen, specially placed to ensure a good cohabitation between them. Kate had only been at the wolf sanctuary for three months, but already she had a vast knowledge of the wolves and a very deep connection with them.

About a third of the way through our tour, one of the wolves began to howl. Then a second, and a third, and before long, the entire compound of wolves was howling, not in sync, but in a chorus of howls. Each wolf has a distinctive howl that is can be easily identified by someone who knows the wolf well. The howling was overwhelming to me....I got choked up and my eyes quickly filled with tears. I couldn't believe the impact it had on me. Hearing a recording of a wolf howling pales in comparison to being there....literally ten feet away from a full-blooded wolf, throwing his head back, thrusting his throat forward, ready to join the chorus. I watched as he closed his eyes, formed his mouth perfectly, and let out a guttural, primal howl. The experience touched me on a very deep and personal level.

As our tour continued, I felt even more compelled to write my book on wolves. For centuries, people have been misinformed about wolves. They have been trained to fear and loathe them. Then there are those people who feel a need to try and keep wolves as pets only to discover that they do indeed have a wild animal at home. That's when they turn to people who actually understand the true nature of the wolf.

Reluctantly, I ended my time at the wolf sanctuary. I spent some time in the gift shop buying a few souvenirs and talking with Jaye who runs the gift shop. She asked me to send her some of my wolf art.

I can't wait to return. Next time I will call ahead and schedule the photographer's tour. This will allow me to actually go into selected pens and interact with and photograph the wolves, up close and personal.

Leaving was hard, but I knew there was so much more to see. I headed back to Albuquerque to my hotel. After getting a much needed good night's sleep, I set out in search of the Turquoise Trail.

The Turquoise Trail is a national scenic byway that starts near I-40, just east of Albuquerque and meanders in a northerly fashion along Highway 14. My journey began by taking the little part of it that is actually south of the interstate. There wasn't anything really open yet, so I turned back north and found the Cedar Point Grill and thought it looked like a charming place to have breakfast....and so it was.

My Ham and Cheese Omelette Supreme was delicious and a perfect start to the day. I don't know what lies ahead of me at this point. My idea of a fun day of travel is to follow your heart and see where you end up. I've had many wonderful adventures this way.

So, I begin day two of my New Mexico trip......more to come later......

Monday, February 1, 2010

Connection

I haven't written in a couple of weeks.

There has been plenty on my mind, but it couldn't find it's way out for some reason.

I find myself, as always, on my journey.......looking for answers, looking for connection. At times I feel almost desperate for someone to understand me, actually GET what I am feeling, GET what I need. It is so hard to find someone that understands me on that level. And if you find someone that you think might, just maybe, perhaps, understand what you are feeling.....you can't quite seem to connect with them.

Someone very dear to me recommended a book to me....Women Who Run with the Wolves. I thought it was a very fitting title to recommend considering the time I have invested in wolves whether through my art or my researching of the book I want to write. How fitting that she should recommend a book with that title. Once I started researching what the book was about, I was stunned. The book is about reconnecting with the Wild Woman inside of you. A woman I am just now coming to know intimately. How did she know? Does she relate to me on a level I did not recognize?

Maybe I am looking for connection in the wrong places. With the wrong people. It seems to me that if it is right, it will flow, it will come.....the energy is there. When you are trying to connect with the wrong person, it is awkward, uneasy, painful even. When you connect with the right person, you know. You just know.

I had an experience recently where I felt I connected with someone very deeply. Maybe the connection was only meant to be a temporary one. But I felt it. I understood it. It all made sense.

I suppose that really, the most important connection I need to have is the one with myself. That is the one that has been fractured for so long. Rather than looking to an outside connection, I need to look within.....to the Wild Woman who is pacing anxiously within me, ready to be free again....that's where my peace will be found. Once that vital connection has been made, it will pave the way for other connections in my life. Long lasting, deep connections.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Suffocation

At times I wonder how I came to be.....how did I become this person who is beating against the inner walls of the box, desperate to get out? For years I tried to confine myself within the box, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I thought there was a certain way I should live my life. A certain way of doing things. A certain way to raising my kids. No wonder I was so unhappy for so long.

I was trying to live the American Dream....married, with two kids and a dog in Suburban America. A school teacher molding the minds of our children, our future. Soccer mom, hockey mom. Big family gatherings. Even after divorce, I tried to pursue that "dream". What I finally realized after much soul searching is that I never really wanted that particular life. There are certainly aspects of it I like, but not the overall picture.

When I was in high school, despite all the career testing I did that said I should be an architect or whatever else they said, all I wanted to do was to get a Jeep and a dog and head to the mountains and be a forest ranger. I even had a name for the dog....Jake. But something in the back of my mind worried that I would regret it later if I didn't get married and have kids.....take the normal path that girls my age would follow. What would people think?? I worried that following my dream would mean a life without any money. Maybe a life of isolation. I knew I wanted companionship, but wasn't sure in what capacity.

Now, at 43 years of age, divorced for almost nine years from a bad marriage and having ended an intense six year relationship with a man whom I love deeply but who drove me as crazy as I drove him, I am coming to the conclusion that I am much more of a free spirit than I ever realized. I am beginning to understand the need I have for open spaces, fresh air, and few people. There is also a need for connection, but on my terms. The internet is a wonderful tool for that. It lets people in but only as much as you allow. I'm also only allowing a few people into my life for the time being and in very limited doses.

Even though I am happier than I have been in years, I still have this underlying feeling of suffocation. I've talked about this for years.....the need to get out of Oklahoma and go to New Mexico or Colorado. My need for the mountains. Fresh air. Few people. Almost everyone has to put in their two cents as to why it's a ridiculous idea and how I should just bloom where I am planted and enjoy my life as it is. I know they mean well, but if they could live for just a day inside my head and really understand how I feel, they'd encourage me to move as quickly as possible.

I still struggle with what I "think" I should do or feel based on what the norm says, but my inner voice begs me to just listen to it and get out.....run, get away from it all and follow MY dreams, not what others think my dreams should be. And even though there is a part of me as a mother that feels very selfish in pursuing my dreams and leaving Oklahoma, there is a much stronger part of me that hopes my actions will inspire my children early on to follow their dreams and not let other people's expectations get in the way of pursuing what they want to pursue in their lives.

On days like today when I know to my very core that I am NOT living the life I should be, I feel as if I am suffocating. I know when I am in New Mexico or Colorado, in the mountains, my head is clear, I feel like I have purpose. My creative juices flow. I am at peace. I am home.

Today I made a few more baby steps towards releasing some things I need desperately to let go of. It's so very hard but feels so very good once you push through it. It's sort of like exercise. Damn, you're sore the first few times, but you start to feel an exhiliration that becomes addictive and you feel so amazing that you keep doing it....keep working out.....keep taking more baby steps but with larger strides each time.

One of the best parts of my life right now is the fact that I have the time to actually stop and think about what I am feeling. Over the last 6-8 years, that wasn't a luxury I had so I had to make snap decisions and was very reactive to situations. Now, I can slow down and really think about what is happening and how I want to react to it. It feels really good.

Life is good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What a Day...

What a day....

I was running on less than five hours of sleep and woke up to one hell of a hangover. The wine was very good last night and I enjoyed it, very much. Perhaps it was a little liquid courage, but it was worth it.

When the alarm went off at 5am I immediately went in and took 3 Advil with a large glass of water and promptly went back to bed for about 30 minutes to allow the pain reliever to kick in, which it did.

As always, I woke up with a positive outlook on my day. Daycare, while hectic, is usually pleasant even though there are those people who I swear look forward to making my life miserable with their strange tuition payments that I can't for the life of me figure out where they came up with the amount they paid. When my daycare duty is over, I head to the classroom, looking for about 25 minutes of quiet time before my day begins.

This day started off with a bang! I ended up with approximately 2 minutes of quiet time in my classroom and then realized minutes before the bell rang that I needed to go reschedule my Media Center lesson and more importantly, go to the bathroom before the students arrived. On the way to the Media Center I got stopped by the teacher who has taken over my after school duty and we were quickly joined by the principal. We stood talking about our chaotic afternoon dismissal procedures as I wondered if I would have time for the Media Center and the bathroom.

As I entered the Media Center, the bell rang. I decided to go ahead and get the lesson rescheduled. By the time I was done, my class was already lined up outside my classroom. I knew it would be two hours before I could go to the bathroom, so I asked a teacher to watch my class for a minute.

When I returned I could tell what the day would hold for me. Chaos. Attitude. Disrespect. Again? Seriously?

Certain students were already chomping at the bit, ready to engage with me....subtle defiance, just to see what buttons they could push. As the day wore on, I thought to myself, what more can I possibly do to get the attention of these kids? How do I combat such utter apathy? What more can I do to make certain students feel "safe" and engage them in learning? I wondered where the rudeness came from. What made them feel as if it was ok to speak to me in such a rude, disrespectful way. My head just began to feel heavy as I thought of all of these things.

I'm tired of fighting it. I'm tired of fighting in general. I'm not a fighter. I will fight, but I don't want to. I admit it.....I want things to be easy, especially when I feel like I have worked so very hard for things to go well in life for myself and others. Why do other people make it so much harder?

I want ............. for now, I want sleep. I should have been asleep an hour ago. I don't want to write more tonight.

This blog is good for me. It's so much different than simply keeping a journal. Maybe it's because I know there is a possibility of other people reading it and with a journal you always plan on the information staying totally private. I don't know..... All I know is I am very tired and I'm calling it a night.....

More later.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Place for My Voice to be Heard

I am discovering that I have so much to say....that I have a great need to be heard. Even if that venue is simply a blog emitting into the cyberspace universe my innermost feelings, not knowing if anyone will actually "hear" my words, the need is somewhat fulfilled by writing......knowing that I have put it out there.......knowing that someone might read it, might understand.

Today has been an interesting one. I have experienced a range of emotions from frustration to pure love to heartbreak. An emotional rollercoaster to say the least, but one that didn't break me, didn't cause me to go into meltdown mode which was how I would have responded in the past. The emotions merely caused me to slow down and think about each of them and what was causing each of them.

The frustration was because of the many strides I have made in my classroom only to feel as if I have accomplished nothing and my work and dedication have fallen on deaf ears......apathetic souls. I truly felt at the end of the day, "Why bother?" It's exhausting. How am I possibly contributing in any positive fashion?

The love was from hearing that I am, indeed, a "most important person" in someone's life. I was completely unaware of this and was utterly taken aback when I read those precious words telling me that I mattered to this person. Who knew? Who knew that I actually mattered so much to someone that I thought didn't really care all that much about me.

The heartbreak.....that might be a strong term, but it was maybe a realization that a dream I have harbored for many years might be just that.....a dream and that maybe it would never materialize, no matter how much I wanted it to. Maybe, sometimes, the dreams we have are not good for us and so that is why they never materialize. Maybe, sometimes, the information you receive is incomplete, altered, not fully the truth. Maybe, sometimes, you need to stop and listen to your heart, trust it.

What bothers me the most is that internal voice that speaks so clearly to me. It emphatically tells me what is an absolute truth and what is not. I trust it completely, I do. But just because I trust what the voice tells me, doesn't mean that other people have had that realization in their own lives that echo my truth. That leads to further frustration. How can you trust your internal truths so deeply yet they seem to conflict with your reality?

I think that you have to trust your instinct, listen to that voice. You simply cannot control other people or their thoughts or feelings. It is up to them to decide what it is they want in life. Just because you have a complete faith in the truth of a particular matter, doesn't mean others will feel the same. That you have no control over.....you can only control yourself and your thoughts and actions.

As I embark on this new year with "commitment" as my primary focus, one of the things I will commit to is trusting my instinct, hearing and listening to my inner truths, knowing emphatically that what I believe is the truth, at least my truth. The truth always comes out eventually, always..... I want to be sure that I live my life honestly, authentically, and truthfully. Anything less than that is merely a waste of time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Lyrics

Songs are really having a big impact on my life right now, making me think about decisions I have made in the past. This song by Orianthi (who named her?) is a good reminder about how different people have different views about you. One man can find you stupid and useless and another can find you beautiful, incredible, and irresistible..... Why give your time to a man who finds you stupid and useless, I mean, really? And furthermore, why should anyone's opinion of you define you. You are the ultimate definer of who you really are and what you are about. If someone doesn't appreciate you for who you are, then that is fine. There are many people in the world who will.

According to You Lyrics

I'm stupid
I'm useless
I can't do anything right

According to you
I'm difficult
Hard to please
Forever changing my mind
I'm a mess in a dress
Can't show up on time
Even if it would save my life
According to you
According to you

But according to him
I'm beautiful, incredible
He can't get me out of his head
According to him
I'm funny, irresistible
Everything he ever wanted
Everything is opposite
I don't feel like stopping it
So baby tell me what I got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not
According to you

According to you
I'm boring
I'm moody
You can't take me any place
According to you
I suck at telling jokes cause I always give it away
I'm the girl with the worst attention span
You're the boy who puts up with it
According to you
According to you

But according to him
I'm beautiful,incredible
He can't get me out of his head
According to him
I'm funny, irresistible
Everything he ever wanted
Everything is opposite
I don't feel like stopping it
So baby tell me what I got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not
According to you

I need to feel appreciated
like I'm not hated
Oh, no
Why can't you see me through his eyes?
It's too bad you're making me dizz-ay

According to me
you're stupid
you're useless
you can't do anything right
But according to him
I'm beautiful, incredible
He can't get me out of his head
According to him
I'm funny, irresistible
Everything he ever wanted
Everything is opposite
I don't feel like stopping it
Baby tell me what I got to lose
He's into me for everything I'm not

According to you [you, you]
According to you [you, you]
According to you
I'm stupid
I'm useless
I can't do anything right

Randomness





A very good friend of mine really likes my random graphic designs. In explaining how I do the designs I realized that they are very reflective of me and who I am. I sit in front of a white sheet of paper, pen in hand, staring at the paper, waiting for the design to come to me. I get an idea and put it down on the paper and let it evolve. There is order, yet randomness....much like me. The designs can be all over the page, or contained within an outline, yet totally abstract inside that outline.

Interesting parallels I thought. So, I decided to post a couple of my designs on here. I have to say that they are one of my favorite projects to work on. It is very relaxing to just sit and let the ideas flow. Watching a blank sheet of white paper transform into one of my designs is very rewarding. I never know what the final result will be. I also never know what people's reactions will be. My very good friend loved the circle design. My dad just saw, "A bunch of damn circles"! I love my dad! It makes me wonder how people view me and my randomness.....but I like that quality about me. It certainly keeps my life interesting!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Are you the most important person in someone's life?

Are you the most important person in someone's life?

This question was asked of me in an online quiz I took this evening. This quiz was 240 questions long and this is the only question I had to stop and really think about. Unfortunately, I couldn't emphatically answer "Yes!"

My first instinct was that I should be the most important person in the lives of my children, but they are teenagers. I think for my son there is someone else that he considers "the most important person" in his life and I think his girlfriend comes in a close second. I may be somewhere around fourth on his list. For my daughter, I don't know but I think she might consider someone else as well.

It was very sobering to come to the realization that maybe I am NOT the most important person in someone's life......me.....the person who values connection so very much. Don't get me wrong, I know I mean a lot to many people and have touched many lives as a teacher, but am I the MOST important person in someone's life?

No.

I am not.

I am truly sitting here just sort of numb....

My thoughts go to all the people I know and who they would most likely consider the most important person in their lives. I also reverse it and think if THEY are considered as the most important person in someone else's life.

They all are.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wild Horses by Natasha Bedingfield - Lyrics

I heard another song today that really spoke to me....here are the lyrics. Unfortunately, the lyrics you find online are often what the person who posted on the site THOUGHT the lyrics said, so I may have taken some liberties here not knowing what they say for sure!!

I feel these four walls closing in
Face up against the glass
I'm looking out...
Is this my life I'm wondering
It happens so fast
How do I turn this thing around?
Is this the bed I chose to make?
Its greener pastures I'm thinking about
Wide open spaces far away

All I want is the wind in my hair
To face the fear but not feel scared

[Chorus:]
Wild horses I wanna be like you
Throwing caution to the wind, I'll run free too
Wish I could recklessly love like I'm longing to
I wanna run with the wild horses
Run with the wild horses!

I see the girl I wanna be
Riding bare back, care free
Along the shore
If only that someone was me
Jumpin head first, headlong with out a thought
To act and damn the consequence
How I wish it could be that easy
But fear surrounds me like a fence
I wanna break free

All I want is the wind in my hair
To face the fear but not feel scared

[Chorus:]
Wild horses I want to be like you
Throwing caution to the wind I'll run free too
Wish I could recklessly love, like I'm longing to
Wanna run with the wild horses
Run with the wild horses!

I wanna run too
Recklessly (not sure what this part is??) myself before you
I wanna open my heart tell him how I feel

[Chorus:]
Wild horses I want to be like you
Throwing caution to the wind, I'll run free too
Wish I could recklessly love, like I'm longing to
Wanna run with the wild horses, run with the wild horses!
YeeaaaahI wanna run with the wild horses

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Music - Consider Me Gone by Reba McEntire

We all know the power of music....it can uplift you, inspire you, depress you, make you want to dance and it can make you want to cry. It can give you the courage to stay committed to what you want from life. Today I heard "Consider Me Gone" by Reba McEntire and loved the lyrics. So, I thought I'd post them here.

Everytime I turn the conversation to somethin'
Deeper than the weather
I can feel you all, but shuttin' down
And when I need an explanation for the silence
You just tell me "you don't wanna talk about it now"
What you're not sayin' is comin' in loud n clear
We're at a crossroads here

If I'm not the one thing, you can't stand to lose
If I'm not the heir to that heart of youIf you don't get drunk, on my kiss
If you think you can do better than thisThen I guess we're doneLet's not drag this on
Consider me gone

With you I've always been wide open
Like a window or an ocean
There is nothin' I've ever tried to hide
So when you leave me, not knowin' where you're goin'
I start thinkin' that we're lookin'
We're lookin' at goodbye
How about a strong bout a strong shot of honesty?
Don't you owe that to me?

If I'm not the one thing, you can't stand to lose
If I'm not the heir to that heart of you
f you don't get drunk, on my kiss
If you think you can do better than this
Then I guess we're done
Let's not drag this on
Consider me gone

Consider me of being real
Consider me the past
Consider me a smile in an old photograph
Someone who used to make you laugh

If I'm not the one thing, you can't stand to lose
If I'm not the heir to that heart of you
Then I guess we're done
Let's not drag this on
Consider me gone
Consider me gone
Consider me gone
Just consider me gone

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Commitment

It's a new year, a new decade....perfect for new beginnings.

For years now I have been "trying" to change my life. I've read the books, listened to the cds, journaled about change, talked about change, thought about change, cried about change....but didn't actually change all that much. Daily I found myself confused, angry, disappointed, frustrated and I usually found plenty of people to blame it all on. I didn't understand what I was doing wrong.

Many people in my life reminded me about the enormous amount of time and money I had spent on my self-help books and commented that surely I had learned a few things from them. I had, I really had. I could quote Tony Robbins, The Secret, Mike Dooley....you name it. I had read and/or listened to them all over and over and over. But I hadn't really internalized it all. I certainly wasn't practicing what they were preaching.

A good friend quoted Yoda to me over and over...."Do or do not, there is no try". I was always complaining about how hard I "try" and nothing ever changes, my life was so stressful, blah, blah, blah..... I could talk the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk.

Over the last few weeks, maybe even months, I've come to realize that what was missing was my commitment to change. I let everything and everyone else take priority. I let it all get in the way so I could have an excuse for not doing what I knew I needed to do. I'm too busy, I'm too tired, I'm too stressed....I've had a lot of stress in my life....why does this keep happening to me.

Tyler Perry once said something about how your life will truly change once you take responsibility for getting yourself where you are. Don't get me wrong, I've had a lot happen in my life, but I am finally getting very honest with myself about what role I played in making these things happen or making them way worse than they ever should have been. I am really beginning to see how my decisions have impacted me in ways I could have never imagined.

I can sit here all day and dream about the woman I want to be, I can talk about it, write about it, but I won't become her until.... I do. And no one can do that but me. I can't do that without commitment.

So as I embark on this new year, this new decade, I do so with commitment. Commitment to myself and everything I want for my life. Commitment to look before I leap, think before I act or open my mouth, commitment to live authentically and embrace who I am, commitment to extreme self-care, commitment to truth.

The last several years of my life have been filled with heartache and pain, but also with love and laughter. I am where I am because I needed to learn....a lot. The journey is far from over, but I look forward to it now with great anticipation and excitement.

I am grateful, so very grateful, to all those people who have stood by me and encouraged me through all this. I am so grateful that they stuck by me even when I was acting like a complete ass. Their love and support mean so much. It gave me the courage to go on and to look very deeply at myself and see what I was doing to cause the heartache and pain.

I've done things in the past that I'm not proud of and said things I wish I could take back. I've given people the wrong impression about me out of fear. I've gone against my instinct. I've let others influence me. Now, I am slowing down, taking a moment to really think before I act, and making a commitment to live my life authentically and fully.

Thank you to all of you who have helped me on this journey.....hold on, because things are getting ready to really take off now!!

What happens when you take a break from Facebook?

Eleven days I ago I deactivated my Facebook account. The negative posts, political bashing, and idiotic memes were beginning to have an adve...