Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Left Hand to My Right

I took one of those online quizzes on Facebook about which part of the brain I use the most. According to the test I use both halves equally. I posted the results and one of your former bosses and friends, J.S., responded with the comment about being left-handed and being his right mind. This made me laugh because you being left-handed used to make the same joke.

The conversation continued and led to JS sharing an article about engineering and art:
Popular belief is that the left hemisphere of the brain is for rational, analytical and logical thinking and the right hemisphere of the brain processes visual and audio logical stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception and artistic ability.
Oddly enough, you were the logical, rational one, but you could put things together like nobody's business. You never considered yourself artistic until I shared with you the art of Zentangle. You thought I was the creative, artistic one.

This started me thinking about how you and I complemented each other:


  • When we walked together, I would stand to your right leaving our dominant hands free to write, use the phone, whatever.
  • We were both musical. After all, that's how we met in high school. But you admitted that you were jealous of musicians who learned to feel music rather than just play notes on the page. I on the other hand, from a young age, was deeply moved by music. I was even found crying at age three in Macy's department store. My mother asked me why, and I said the music was so sad.
  • You loved Classic Rock and some Heavy Metal while I kept my tastes centered around 80s Pop music. In high school, you could be found rocking out in the garage to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Boston, Kansas, and the like. Meanwhile, I loved groups like Duran Duran, Toto, Men at Work, Genesis, Chicago. Our road trips found us listening to both and I learned to appreciate your music. Now, I often to turn to the classic rock station on the satellite radio. It often makes me cry.
  • You appreciated that I had an eye for design. Whenever you moved to a new place, you asked me to help you arrange the furniture, pick out wall decorations, and accessories. I was amazed by how spatially inclined you were. There wasn't anything you couldn't put together. You drove a little Mazda 3. Many a time we stood in the Ikea parking lot trying to figure out just how we were going to get home a full-size bed frame, mattress, 4 x 4 Expedit, desk and kitchen paraphernalia. We always got it home.
  • While math was your forté, I found writing to be my calling. But you sure did love books and poetry. I was scrolling through old emails looking for something of you to hang onto and found you had sent me many poems that you had found that spoke to both of our hearts.
  • Speaking of books. You loved audiobooks. I thought this was weird until our first road trip together. We listened to a book about vampires (so not my genre) called The Passage. Then the sequel The Twelve. Then you got me started listening to Atlas Shrugged. Who would have known that you could get me to listen to a socio-political commentary in novel form. (I should probably listen to it again.) Your brother got me listening to more Sci-Fi. This makes me feel closer to you, too.
All this thinking about how you complemented me led me to create a page in the leather journal you bought for me for my birthday last year.




When this page was finished, my inclination was to send you a text about it. You would have given me lots of compliments and told me how you wished you could actually hold that hand. Today, however, it is I who wishes your hand was here to hold. IMYAITOY

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Packing Lunches

You and I were a predictable couple. We woke at the same time every morning, texted good morning conversations until we could no longer procrastinate getting up, followed the same morning routines, griped about morning traffic idiots, texted each other throughout the day, came home every evening and packed our lunches for the next day.

I had a pink lunch cooler and you had a red one. Mine is much worse for wear, but yours stood the test of time.

When you drove home for visits, you would pack two coolers - the lunchbox and a mini Igloo. We learned how to save money while traveling by packing snacks, sandwiches and drinks. You loved my strange whole wheat sandwiches, apple slices, bananas and bean burritos. You fueled your nine-hour drives with bottled water and Dr. Pepper. You loved your Dr. Pepper. Even though you had given them up for Lent on more than one occasion and got on a water kick, you always came back to it.

Today, something made me look up at the top of the fridge where I saw your lunchbox. Immediately, a flood of memories came over me. I had a sudden realization, one that had not occurred to me before this moment: I will never get to make my strange whole wheat sandwiches for you again. I won't get to give you a hard time about Dr. Pepper. We won't wander through the grocery store together searching for the perfect balance of  healthy snacks vs. things you loved to eat like gummy bears and Butterfingers.

Will I be able to use your lunchbox as a replacement for my dilapidated one without having a meltdown? I'm not sure. How many little things am I going to find around the house that will bring me to tears, things I thought I had put out of sight? I find a greeting card, a piece of candy, a shower poof, deodorant, shampoo, mowing sneakers, some little piece of something that you left behind thinking you would be back for it again. The list is endless.

I'm not sure what the formula is for making pain go away. Instead, I think I will make a whole wheat sandwich.

Friday, July 11, 2014

1212

We always used to note when we saw 11:11 on the clock or 1111 in an address. It was our thing. It was something that Peggy had shared with me and I had shared with you. It was our way of letting each other know we were thinking of each other.

When you passed away, I noticed 1111 all the time. It was special but painful. However, little by little, I catch that time less and less. I might see 11:12 or 10:11, but never 11:11. It bothered me for a while, but then I began noticing something else. 12:12 or 1212.

This morning when I got up, these lyrics from an Anna Nalick song (Breathe) came to mind.
"Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So sing it if you understand,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe"
I then got up and went for a run.

When I run, my mind wanders all over the place. I hear song lyrics; I have "woulda, coulda, shoulda" conversations with myself; I complain about the branches on the sidewalk; I wonder why people don't bring in their stinky trashcans…it goes on and on.

On the last stretch of my run, I noticed the address 1212. It gave me a new perspective. 1111 was our thing, our time, our place. We will always have that time, but I am eventually going to have to move on - move forward in time, move forward to another place, a place where I can remember you fondly and without pain. I am naming that time and place 1212. I look forward to that time and place.

In the mean time, IMYAITOY (I miss you and I'm thinking of you.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Cardinal

Every morning on my walks, I see a cardinal. This morning he followed me for quite some time. Although I have my phone with me, I am never fast enough to capture a picture of him. However, it gives me a smile nonetheless. I looked up cardinals today and found this description:

The cardinal tells you that you can handle challenges, and to believe in yourself. It is important to be proud of yourself for your abilities or for the things you have achieved.

This is significant because, you used to tell me how proud you were of me and my accomplishments as a teacher and more importantly as a mother. You always made a point to remind me of everything that I have overcome these past 2 years. That is something I will miss about you.

Things you were proud of for me:

Having the gumption to get myself out of a difficult situation.
Driving a 20 foot moving van while towing the Le Sabre on a flatbed.
Being able to ask for help.
Taking a job that I didn't want so I could take care of my kids.
Getting the job I wanted.
Staying at that job even when it was challenging.
Learning to mow my own lawn.
My creativity.
Deciding that my health was important and wanting to do something about it.
Losing weight - even though you loved me how I was, you celebrated each little victory.
Each time I improved my running/walking time or went a little farther.
Each 5K I entered and completed.

There are so many more times I heard you say how proud you were of me, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.

I love you. I miss you and I can't wait until the thought of you brings me more smiles than tears.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Things I Miss About You

It's 7 a.m. and by now I would have texted you "Good morning". It seems strange that two people who lived so far apart could become so integral in each other's lives, yet we did. I'm going to miss our morning wake up texts and end of the day Skype sessions. I will miss driving to work every morning with you letting me talk your ear off about traffic, the songs on the radio, my crazy students, the busy day that lay ahead. No longer will I get to count the number of sleeps until you came back Home.



I no longer enjoy tv. It is now just noise because I don't have you there to make running commentaries on instant message. Watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is less fun because it reminds me of all of the restaurants on our list that I will have to try without you... and I WILL be trying them without you. I know you would have wanted me to. 

Your brother recommended a whole bunch of audio books to listen to. I checked out your library and downloaded them all. I listened to one on the way home from your funeral. I could just imagine you laughing out loud at certain parts. Your laughter was one of my favorite things about you. You would throw your head back and sometimes laugh so hard your whole body would shake. The smile that lingered made me understand what a beautiful person you are. 

You never understood how a "beautiful girl like" me (your words,  not mine) could love someone like you. I had to often remind you that it wasn't nice to Yuck My Yum. Eventually you accepted that I loved you and adored your beautiful face, loving eyes and calm, patient demeanor. You never once raised your voice at me or my children even when I could be difficult. You brought out a side of me that learned to be patient. 



There are so many more things I will miss about you, but suffice it to say that like that crazy rose tattoo on your ankle that looked like an alien,  you left a permanent mark on my life and in my heart. And while this pain will slowly ease, the impact of your love will remain as a reminder that there are good guys out there, and I had the brief yet special privilege of having you in my life. 

I miss you Bobby. 

PS - Your daughter is taking me next month to finally get that tattoo we kept planning. I hope you like it.

(Note: Bobby passed away due to a blood clot to the heart after doing what he loved - mountain biking.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Things Keep Changing

I started this blog almost six year ago. And, yes, it has been dormant for a bit. This is mostly because of Facebook.

Before Facebook, if my kids did something silly or interesting or if I felt I had something "profound" to say, I would post it on Blogger. Now, it is so quick and easy to share these ramblings as a status update. I am sure many bloggers feel the same way.

I do miss the process of blogging. I loved receiving the notifications that people have commented on the blog or looking at the stats to see how many times people have stopped in to see what quip I felt the needed to share with the world. Blogging has brought me many benefits, the greatest of which is the circle of friends I have "collected" over the years.

Way back when I blogged regularly, I would correlate music with my post. I would then share the background of the music that was playing with some little bit of my history. I did this using Playlist.com. Unfortunately, Playlist has changed and it is for this reason I find myself sharing post again.

Playlist has gone in the direction of online radio sites like Pandora. Instead of being able to embed a player that plays a specific song, it now wants you to choose a "channel." While I love Pandora, this is not why I used Playlist. It was fun to try and find just the right tune to accompany my words.

While I am sure there are other embeddable players out there, it took me so long to gather my list of songs that I don't think I can do it again. Even though Playlist was kind enough to archive my list for me, I would have to enter each song on the player to be able to have the same eclectic mix. So instead of doing this, I am going to just paste my list here to serve as a reminder of the musical journey on which I have taken my readers.


John Fogerty - Centerfield
The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In The City
Paradise Boys - Summer Of Love
Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball by C...
Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey
Andrew Gold - Thank You For Being ...
John Mayer - Bold As Love
R.E.M. - It's The End Of The ...
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (...
Ace Of Base - The Sign
Silhouettes - Get A Job
The Last Goodnight - Pictures Of You
Daughtry - September
Lawrence Welk - Champagne Polka
The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
Barbra Streisand - Don't Rain On My Parade
The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Nutcracker - Dance of the Sugar P...
The Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup
The Happenings - See You In September
Neil Diamond - September Morn
The Platters - September Song
Canned Heat - On The Road Again
Willie Nelson - On The Road Again
Petula Clark - Downtown
Katrina - Walking On Sunshine ...
Every New Day - Walk Alone
Four friends - What's Going On
Josh Rouse - Quiet Town
Sly & The Family Stone - Hot Fun In The Summe...
Alice Cooper - School's Out
Nate Henricks - Selfish sparrow's ol...
Vitamin C - Graduation (Friends ...
Jim Brickman - Simple Things
Rockwell - Somebody's Watching ...
Brandi Carlile - The Story
Various Artists - Turn! Turn! Turn! (T...
Noah And The Whale - Rocks And Daggers
Akon - Dance like there' s ...
Taio Cruz - Dynamite
Cyndi Lauper - True Colors (Morel's...
Michael Jackson - Black Or White
Neil Diamond - Hello Again
Jewel - Hands
The Police - Message In A Bottle
Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To R...
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy
Bob Marley & The Wai... - Three Little Birds
Vince Guaraldi Trio - Charlie Brown Theme
Prince - Purple Rain
The Zutons - 11 - Good Morning Go...
Various Artists - Good Morning, Good M...
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano
Tarrentella - Saturn (Tarrentella ...
Supertramp - Breakfast In America
Newsboys - Breakfast
Gnarls Barkley - Karaoke: Crazy (Minu...
The Avett Brothers - Head Full Of Doubt/R...
Primitive Radio Gods - Standing Outside A B...
Celtic Woman - Siúil A Rún (Walk My...
Tom Petty & The Hear... - The Waiting
David Guetta - Acapella
New Radicals - You Get What You Give
ABBA - Take A Chance On Me
Owl City - Fireflies
Creedence Clearwater... - Fortunate Son
Abba All Stars - Super Trouper
ABBA - Lay All Your Love On Me
Five For Fighting - The Riddle
Cat Stevens - If You Want To Sing ...
Average White Band - Pick Up The Pieces
Cyndi Lauper - Karaoke: Time After ...
Andy Williams - Music To Watch Girls By
Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues ...
Tiny Tim - Living In The Sunlig...
The Romantics - Karaoke: What I Like...
The New Rascals - It's A Beautiful Mor...
Duran Duran - One Of Those Days
BTO - Karaoke: Takin' Care...
John Mayer - Say
The Kinks - Tired Of Waiting For...
Alexi Murdoch - All My Days
Tom Petty - American Girl
U2 - Karaoke: I Still Hav...
Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London
The Ultimate Kid Roc... - All Summer Long
LS - Sweet Home Alabama
Oran 'Juice' Jones - The Rain
Altered Images - Outro: Happy Birthday
Owl City - The Bird And The Worm
Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or Alive
Hawkwind - Hurry On Sundown
The Bangles - Manic Monday
Dead Or Alive - Brand New Lover
Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Oingo Boingo - Weird Science
Barenaked Ladies - If I Had a Million Dollars
Al Stewart - Time Passages
Bread - If
The Brady Bunch - It's A Sunshine Day
Dean Martin - That's Amore
Petula Clark - Color My World
Phil Coulter - Take Me Home
The Yardbirds - For Your Love - Original
Chilliwack - My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)
Barry Manilow - I Made It Through The Rain
The Killers - Human
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You
Natalie Merchant - Kind And Generous
Ray Parker Jr. - I'm Free
Various Artists - Kiss From A Rose
Julie Meyer - Paint Your Picture
JJ Heller - Your Hands
Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner
Brian Littrell - Welcome Home (You)
Mika - Any Other World
ABBA - Our Last Summer
Michael Franti  - Sometimes 
Michael Franti  - Say Hey (I Love You)
Kiki Dee - I've Got The Music In Me.
Dave Matthews Band - Why I Am
Sting - If You Love Somebody...
Yaz - Don't Go 
Glen Campbell - Southern Nights (Live)
Here Comes the Sun
JJ Heller - Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel
Three Dog Night - Karaoke: Black & White
Ohbijou - The Woods
Gene Kelly - Singing In The Rain
Willie Nelson - Picture In A Frame
August Rush Soundtrack - August's Rhapsody
The Style Council - My Ever Changing Moods
Randy Newman - You've Got A Friend in Me
Chicago - You're The Inspiration
Boy George - Karma Chameleon


I am not sure how much blogging I will be doing in the future, especially since I also lost my blog reader list when iGoogle went the way of the dodo, but I will leave the blog open in case one day I would like to do it again on a regular basis.

Thanks for letting me walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vacationing the Groupon Way

Have you heard of Groupon? When I first heard of it, my friend ABW was trying to use hers up before moving back to Texas. I was unsure about them. Now, I know that they are a great way to go on vacation.

If you haven't used them before, they are basically deals that give you about 50% off meals, lodging, services, entertainment. When you sign up for Groupon notifications, you will get a daily email letting know about the latest deal. Each offer is only available for a short time and often for only a limited number of deals. When you see a deal that sounds interesting, you go to the main site and read the "fine print". This is VERY important. I will explain more about this later. You will then purchase a voucher for the meal, hotel, or service. This will stay active in your account until you redeem it. For example, if you buy a $20 voucher for frozen yogurt for $10, you can redeem it for $20 until the expiration date. (Watch out for those.) If the expiration date passes, the voucher is still worth $10 for a pretty long time. There is an expiration date on these too, but not for a long time.

The first time I redeemed a deal was with Restaurant.com. I had received three $25 cards as a reward for purchasing something else. These work a little differently. You tell the site which restaurant you want to redeem the cards at and print a voucher out. The deal is you have to spend $50 dollars at the restaurant. A friend and I were headed to San Antonio's Riverwalk so I looked for a restaurant in the vicinity. Here's one of the caveats I will share with you. READ REVIEWS BEFORE YOU GO! It never occurred to me that the restaurant might be terrible. Unfortunately, terrible it was. From that point on I learned my lesson.

So when my friend and I went on a mini vacation to Austin this summer, I was very cautious. Back in December of 2012, I saw a deal for Vintage Villas - a hotel on Lake Travis.



For $69, I was able to purchase a room worth $158. After checking out online reviews, I bought two nights with the plan to go for my friend's birthday. This is where I will remind you to be mindful of expiration dates. This particular Groupon required me to make a reservation by a specific date, but the actual use date didn't have to happen until December 2013. The great thing about a deal like this is that you can plan for a future vacation by purchasing the lodging when you have the money - like a vacation savings plan. This was great because the government has implemented a furlough on its employees which has basically cut pay by twenty percent having them only work four days out of five. This put a crimp in our already planned vacations, but not to worry Groupon and Living Social to the rescue.

My travel partner purchased meals like the ones we got for Chisos




where we ate lunch/dinner for only $10 for $20 worth of food. We also get weekly coupons/deals from Chili's that we love taking advantage of. This is where we learned that we were eating WAY to much so we started sharing an appetizer and an entree.

We finished our trip with mani/pedis compliments of Groupon at Donna Liane's. Donna and her daughter Ashley gave great manicures and pedicures.


I am now in El Paso for two weeks before the kids come. And you can be certain that I will be Grouponing my way through my stay here. That is when I am not cooking things I have promised I would make off of Pinterest...but that's for another post.

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