Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dear Brad - A Letter to My Graduating Son

My seventeen year old son, Brad, is a senior this year.  His English teacher gave an assignment to the parents.  Write your child a letter as he/she gets ready to graduate and embark on an independent life.  We were to give them advice.  The following is the letter I wrote to Bradley:

February 16, 2011

Dear Brad,

Senior year.

It has sped by with lightning speed.  Not just senior year, but your whole life so far.  Only yesterday you were sitting in front of the television, glued to the images of Barney singing and dancing.  You wore out two Woody costumes, boots and all, playing "Toy Story".  As Luke Skywalker, you sped to the edges of the galaxy in your spaceship, battling against evil with your lightsaber.

Throughout the years, your imagination has taken you to new worlds filled with adventure.  Now as you start a new journey to a new world filled with new adventures, I want to remind you of a few things you have learned along the way.  Take these with you into your new life. 

Stay true to yourself
The young man you have become is exactly who you were supposed to become.  Know what you want and go for it, despite what anyone else says, including me!

Be good to yourself
You are strong, funny, and honest.  Never stray from those qualities.  Taking care of yourself and being good to yourself helps you be good to others.

Be good to others
Your amazing and kind heart is what draws people to you.  For years, people have spoken of your kindness and politeness.  Treat people well and they will treat you well.  And if they don't, then you've at least done the right thing.

When in question, wait
Sometimes you aren't going to know what to do.  Sometimes after you've asked ten people for advice you still won't know what to do.  When this happens, just wait.  Wait.  Ask for the answers and they will come.  Ask God.  Ask the Universe.  Ask your shoe.  It doesn't matter.  The answers will come.

Everything will be ok
When you feel as if your world is crashing around you and things couldn't possibly get worse, know that yes, they can get worse.  But...know that everything will be ok.  Nothing will last forever - not heartache, not problems, not your six-pack abs.

I'm here for you
I have raised you to be a strong, independent young man ready to venture out on his own after high school.  And as much as I am looking forward to seeing you spread your wings and enjoy your independence, I know you will fall from time to time.  When you do, know that I am here for you.  I will always be here for you.  Even if you do something stupid and go to jail, I will be here for you.  I'll let you stay in jail to learn your lesson, but I will be here for you. :)

Seriously, we learn our lessons by making mistakes.  You will make mistakes, small ones and big ones, stupid ones.  But through all of them, I will be here for you.  Most of the time it will be to reminisce about the times I made the same mistakes.

I love you
Even when I get frustrated with you and you are driving me up the wall, always know that I love you.  Always have.  Always will.

Bradley, you have an incredible life ahead of you.  It is YOUR life.  You make your life whatever you want it to be.  I am so very proud of you and everything you've done so far.

As the song in the book goes....

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

I love you....more than you can possibly know.



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quiet Saturday Morning

Last night, I slept with my bedroom window opened again.  The brisk air coming in throughout the night made me sleep deeply.  Even though it got chilly, I loved having the fresh air filling my lungs.  Burrowing under my covers far enough to cover my ears, I felt like I was wrapped in a cocoon. 

This morning I woke up to such stillness, such quiet.  As usual, I am the first one up.  I made coffee in my half-dead coffee maker which has now officially kicked the bucket.  But I squeezed one last pot of coffee out of it and returned with my semi-hot cup of coffee and crawled back into bed.  Everything is still and quiet around me.  Normally by this time in the morning I hear voices outside, vehicles driving by, movement of some sort.  But not today.  It makes me feel as if I am the only one around.

I like that feeling....feeling as if I am the only one around.  Being surrounded by kids all day and then coming home to my own kids and usually those that belong to other parents, it is rare that I get the pleasure of walking in to a calm, serene environment.  Having both kids in high school, I know that those days are dwindling quickly and that before I know it, I will be sitting in my silent home on a Saturday morning wishing for the days of chaos, well maybe a day or two of it.

But this morning, I am taking the time to just sit and listen to the morning silently unfolding.  This is how every day should begin.  Softly, peacefully, with time to wake up fully and ready yourself for your day. 

Here's to a beautiful day!  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Laziness and Books

With all the snow days we've had lately (three more last week), you would have thought I would have used my time wisely to be creative - write, paint, get out in the snow with my camera.  No.  I barely got off the sofa.  I had my nosed buried in book after book, day after day.  It was a little slice of literary heaven.

Since I was a little girl, I have loved books...all kinds of books.  I love the way they feel, the way they smell.  The crinkly sound of the turning pages is music to my ears.  I used to read avidly, finding myself lost in another world, another time, another life.

This past June, I made a promise to more.  Since then I have completed fourteen books.  My appetite for reading has become voracious and I am finding it hard to get off my butt and do something more productive.  Don't get me wrong, I find reading very productive.  I learn so much and it is so fulfilling, but the dust on my furniture is starting to get a little creepy.  I should probably tackle that before starting another book.

I thought I'd list the books I've read so far, since June.  Any recommendations are always welcome.  Any thoughts on any of the books I've read are also welcome.  So, here we go....

1.  Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
2.  Us - Lisa Oz
3.  Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
4.  Committed (A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage) - Elizabeth Gilbert
5.  Women, Food, and God - Geneen Roth
6.  Stephen King on Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King
7.  Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberg
8.  Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
9.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
10.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
11.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
12.  Ghost Grizzlies - David Petersen
13.  Never Cry Wolf - Farley Mowat
14.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear God

Dear God,

It's me. Kelli.

I know we spoke this morning, but I really felt compelled to write you and start up the conversation again.

After listening to the sermon on Sunday about how we shouldn't compare ourselves or our lives to others I feel awkward writing to you. I know previous sermons were about the need to quit complaining (I haven't heard those yet). And I'm not complaining. Well, maybe I am, but honestly, I need help here.

If this is where I am truly supposed to be in life, then I am begging you to give me the tools I need to be successful. As it is, I am thoroughly exhausted by about 10:15am every morning. My head throbs, my brow furrows in frustration and it takes every ounce of my professionalism to not walk out and let someone else deal with it all.

How do you expect me to be of service and be effective as a teacher when I can't seem to get the attention of the students or help them to actually care about their education? How am I supposed to raise the test scores of students who are not the least bit interested in Math or Reading, but by golly Miss Molly, if they see a box of crackers on the counter they're highly interested! If they get to go send a pencil-gram for Valentine's Day, they are all over it! How can I establish any rhythm in the curriculum with the continual interruptions in our day? How can I implement successful teaching when it seems no one knows what to do to be effective teachers anymore?

I'm tired, God, I'm so tired. Doing the right thing over the years has led me to feel as if doing right doesn't pay. I have been far from perfect, but I've always done my best. I've tried to be fair, honest, hard-working, loyal, and dedicated. Even in the midst of all my personal turmoils, I tried everything in my power to find the way, to find the answers. I worked so hard to instill good morals and values in my students and my own children. There were attacks against me personally and professionally that I never understood. But I stayed and tried to figure it all out, tried to make it all better.

But I have withstood everything that you've thrown at me, and for that I am grateful. My children are happy, healthy, and out of the toxic environment of their father's home. For that I am grateful. I have family and friends who love me very much. For that I am grateful. I have so many things to be so very grateful for. The list could go on and on.

What I need help with is my career. I won't make my list of "complaints" here. You've heard them all. Just know that I am so grateful to have a full time job and a part time job in this shaky economy. Having a monthly paycheck that will pay for the food and shelter for my kids and me is huge. And while we don't live extravagantly, we do have money for our basic needs.

But God, daily, I am so stressed and so overwhelmed. I never feel successful. I never feel as if I am making a difference, serving as I should. The opportunity to make a difference is why I pursued teaching in the first place. And I know that I accomplish that sometimes, I do. But in the process, I am dying inside. I am at a breaking point and have reached full burn-out. The stress is eating me alive. The lack of fulfillment is sucking out my soul.

I know that I have talents that could be used in a way that I can help myself and others by expressing myself through my creativity. I want to be a good example for my own kids by showing them that pursuing your passion in life will lead to happiness. It isn't about the money, but about being useful and living with purpose and passion. It's about using the talents you gave us.

For years now I have tried to find the answers. I have tried to find joy in teaching, but each year there is less and less. Talking to you hasn't been exactly productive either. I thought maybe I was going about it the wrong way. I studied, I asked questions, I listened. But I am still here, with few answers, feeling lost.

I know there has to be a purpose for my still being here and I am wanting to be patient to find out what that purpose is. But I am worried for my health and sanity in the meantime. It is said that you won't give me more than I can handle, but God, are you almost done? Because I've had an awful lot to deal with in the last ten years or so. It seems as if you are making up for lost time or something.

There is a purpose to all this, I know. Please just help me find the way to be of service and to feel joy doing it. I've never asked to live an extravagant life, but a full life that is rewarding. A life that is rich and abundant with happiness and that really too much to ask?

I know I haven't been the most religious person over the years, with good reason. You know my reasons. There is a part of me that feels uneasy talking to you in a forum that I know I am going to put out into the Universe for all to see, but it also feels right.

But God, I do know this....I have talents that are within me, talents you gave me, just waiting to be brought to light. Help me to find the right door to open to living a complete, joyful life. I know it's there, just waiting for me. I know that everything I have been through has prepared me for this. I think I'm ready. Do you?



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Days

Last week the national and local weather reporters were antsy with excitement over a brewing winter storm that would blanket most of the country. Living in the weather armpit of our nation for most of my life, I knew that it could be hit or miss. We could be graced with a delicate snow that would bury us in a winter wonderland or slammed with a vicious ice storm that could cause power outages and rampant stupidity. Time would tell.

Before going to bed on the eve of the approaching storm, I opened the blinds to my bedroom window. I knew there was an obnoxious security light that was an ever-present peeping Tom looking into my bedroom. But I also knew the snow would be sneaking in during the night and I wanted to be able to watch its progress.

Snuggling deep into my bed, pulling the covers up over my ears to keep me warm, I longed for a soft, gentle snow that would satisfy my need for some evidence of winter. Living in Oklahoma, I have found that on the occasions when we do experience winter weather, it is an experience that is very short lived. More often than not, we are hit with an ice storm that encases the state and its power lines with a thick sheath of ice and renders most of its residents as incapacitated, complete morons.

Throughout the wee hours of my slumber I awoke periodically, as I so often do, and found the sky to be alive with graceful, white dancers, pirouetting through the sky and falling gently upon the ground. Watching the dancing snowflakes as they floated to their final resting place, I felt as if the performance had been for my eyes only.

The following morning I opened my eyes and saw my much anticipated "Winter Wonderland". The Oklahoma wind had done its number on the snow. Areas of grass were exposed while other parts of the landscape were nowhere to be found underneath three and four foot snow drifts. Knowing that school had already been cancelled the night before, I burrowed deeper into my comforter and pillow with the satisfaction of knowing I didn't have to get up until I was ready.

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