Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Monday, November 30, 2009

All Creatures Great & Small

It is that time of month again…the time when my friends and I come together virtually for our discussion on the words of the year. This month we are using an animal to describe or word or ourselves.

I choose the ant.

The ant has received a bad rap throughout history as a pest, a nuisance, an annoyance. While in Puerto Rico, I would often be surprised to find ants in my sugar, but no one else would be surprised. In Texas we are known for a more ferocious type, the fire ant - certainly not a little creature to be reckoned with.

While thinking about this critter, I began to realize the one thing no one has ever called an ant is lazy. When you see ants, what are they doing? Moving, carrying, building, preparing for whatever may come. If you destroy their home, the very next day they have set up shop just on the other side of the sidewalk. Which brings me to my story...

In a field one summer's day, Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing gleefully. Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
Grasshopper tried to dissuade Ant from his work by inviting him along in his day of reverie, but Ant could not be swayed. He was preparing for the long winter. Ant tried to convince Grasshopper of the foolishness of his ways telling him he too should lay up stores.
Grasshopper was not worried about winter as he had plenty of food for now and continued to while away the hours and days leading up to the first snow at which time he found himself dying of hunger. Meanwhile, Ant and his family could be seen surviving from what was stored away during the good weather.

There are times when I would rather play than have the DISCIPLINE to stay at home and clean house or go to the grocery store and shop for the family. Sometimes I give in and later have to pay the consequences. Other times I pull myself together to get done what needs to be.
Over the course of this year, my focus on DISCIPLINE has led me to see the error of many of my ways - most of which I have tried hard to change. Of course being human and having a the luxury of being able to go out if need be, I have not perfected this way of life. It is still something I strive to improve.

One day a long time ago, I was watching a documentary about dolphins and something inside me clicked. I was well into my late 20’s and was watching the television as if I was glued to it. It felt as if I was in a mind-meld with the dolphins and it was too a point that I started to cry because on some spiritual level, I understood what these dolphins were saying. I just knew that the dolphin was my Spiritual Animal Totem, I just knew it!
The beautiful, graceful, sleek dolphin carries many messages for the two legged! A key to understanding because the dolphin meaning is connected with themes of duality. It has to do with the dolphin being both fish and mammal. It is both of the water, and an air breather. Ergo, dolphin symbolism talks to us about "being in two worlds at once." Indeed, the dolphin is a great conveyor of the concept of yin and yang.
It is playful, and is a reminder that time to play is a crucial element in walking in BALANCE. It moves through the water quickly and with great grace, ever moving with the flow. Dolphins tell us to move with the ebb and flow of life, and not to search for brick walls to smash into. To spend our energy fighting the current gets us nowhere. Being constantly at war with others, with our surroundings and with circumstances we cannot change, destroys the spirit, eats away at hope, and consumes the joy of life.
The power of the Dolphin is community in BALANCE.

I have chosen the ELEPHANT as an animal depicting ABUNDANCE. Of course, it does have abundant size but it also lives abundantly. Here is what I found out:
Elephants cry. They express grief at the loss of another elephant. They exhibit behaviors that depict sadness, bowing their heads, lowering their ears, and pausing at the place where another elephant has died.
Elephants play. They express joy at seeing other elephants. They dance around, spin and twirl, and trumpet joyful sounds.
Elephants are helpful. They take care of each other and especially the babies in the group.
Elephants give back. Without intention of doing so, their feet make large depressions in the ground where water can collect and be a provision for other animals.
Elephants are social. They live in large family groups and communicate over long distances with each other.
In my quest for an Abundant life, I think these characteristics are certainly a start. Have empathy for others, find joy in play, care for others, give back to the greater community, and create a positive family environment.

I'm sure my choice of dogs to express the meaning of joy doesn't surprise those who know me. Both Scout and Maggie have a way of warming my soul, making me laugh, and filling me with heartfelt joy.
They are ALWAYS happy to see me. They do the silliest things that make me laugh out loud, yet they are attuned to the personalities and emotions that flavor our home....
Studies have shown that owning a pet can add years to your life. In fact, just petting a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure. And residents of nursing homes have shown a boost in mood and social interaction when a dog has been brought in for a visit.
My two dogs definitely bring joy to my home, to my life, to my family.

The monthly word challenge just keeps getting more unique! My 2009 Word blog buddies and I are continuing our monthly tradition of exploring the word we selected at the beginning of the year that would provide a beacon for our 2009 goals. This month, we are each selecting an animal which embodies an element of our chosen word.

My word for '09 has been excellence and after a bit of zoological searching, I finally settled on the swan as the emblem for my word. Swans typically mate for life and have strong family bonds. The male and female swans nurture and raise their cygnets together, developing their own 'tribe', if you will. The image of a swan has graced many a coat of arms, conjuring connotations of nobility and are seen as symbols of love and fidelity because of their tendency to form life-long bonds. Many fairy tales and myths surround the species, the moral of the tales often being the adherence to beauty and grace, even in the midst of difficulty and ridicule.

Plus, swans are just pretty to look at. They just are.

Which is perhaps not the most excellent reason to choose a swan as my symbol of excellence. But I also got to take a great picture of one down of the lake during the summer.

And that sealed the deal for me...


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Night of Giving & Thanksgiving Wishes

Thanks for all of the kind words to my daughter about her post. And NOW back to my regularly unscheduled post.

Every time I see my daughter dance I am impressed. I think back to her earlier days around age 3 when I put her in a group called Texas Stars. They were a singing/dancing/tumbling group. At that time, we didn't know about her Asperger's. She was just a quiet girl who kept to herself. We used to have to call her by her first and middle name just to get her attention, and we used to have to do it several times. I would take her to class and sit in the lobby that was only divided by a thin curtain. I am sure her teacher was overwhelmed by Caitlin. Every class was filled with repeated calls to "Caitlin Rose, Caitlin Rose." (Be sure to add an annoying lilt to the call.)

Despite the disastrous classes, when the group would attend grand openings and the like, Caitlin would pull out all the stops and shake her sparkly red pompoms, dance to Zippidy Doo Da or sign the lyrics to Proud to Be an American. (Sorry, I didn't have a video camera back then.) It was quite specatcular for a three year old. However, when the Christmas show came around, Caitlin spent the entire show wandering around the back of the stage behind the rest of her group who was dancing in little elf costumes. It was at that point I pulled her from the program. Caitlin didn't see a dance class for three more years.

That is when I enrolled her in ballet, tap and jazz. Fortunately, the walls were much thicker so I didn't have hear the repeated "Caitlin Rose" calls. Her teacher told me that Caitlin was the one she would turn to when she wanted to know where the class left off the week before. At the recital, Caitlin was the one her classmates watched when they forgot what to do next. This strong memory is what got her invited to the competitive group two years later.

These days my concerns are more academic in nature, so it gives me such pleasure when I see her performing at various functions like the Night of Giving that took place last weekend.

My little camera has an okay video function. It's better than nothing.

After the performance there were some other performers, but mom and I decided to get a little peek at the sales they were having at the event. We went to the department store and found this cute coat that Caitlin really wants. Santa may just bring it.
She certainly has come a long way and for that I am thankful.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. All of my English, Dutchie, Norsk and Aussie friends, I wish you the same. We will have some turkey and pumpkin or pecan pie for you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Hijack

Hi! It's me, Caitlin. I've taken over my mom's blog for a little bit and thought I should show you something. I made this little necklace at my aunt's house yesterday because I was bored. I just grabbed a bead from each color section in a little box of beads. When it was done, it was a little rainbow. While I was wearing it, I realized it goes well with almost anything. If you like it, I'd love to know. Mom said I can take a jewelry class sometime.

This is my first step to becoming a fashion designer. I will make more jewelry, so try and keep up with them.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nothing Complicated & the White Phone to God

As promised, I have devised a plan to help Caitlin remember to do homework that has been assigned and turn in work that she completes (oddly enough, a very hard thing for her to do.)

This binder looks normal enough.

Most kids can put things in it and make it to and from school without much difficulty. Unless the inside of the binder looks like this:
So today, went to the office supply store and looked for something a little more durable. I also pictured in my mind clear pockets with tabs so Caitlin could see that she had papers to take home or to turn in. Imagine my surprise when they had exactly what I wanted.

I was also at Michael's next door a little earlier and found this:
A pad of weekly calendars

I put these things together like this:
The idea is for Caitlin to be able to write the assignments she receives each day on the pad and place any worksheets or works in progress in the clear pockets. Once she completes them, she can place them in the pockets that have been labeled for each subject since most completed doesn't get turned in because she forgets them.

I am hoping this is simple enough a plan for her to use everyday. We shall see.


On another note:

James and I had another stimulating conversation today after I gave him my junk mail.

J: Wow! Look at the prizes. Mom if you call God, he'll bring you prizes in the mail.
(James has figured out the secret to Publisher's Clearing House.)

M: Did you call God?

J: No, I have to be bigger.

M: You can call him now.

J: I will need something to stand on.

M: Why?

J: Is He tall?

M: Yes, God is bigger than everything.

J: Okay, I will dial 119.

Later, after being scolded for breaking into his sister's room he told me he needed to use the White Phone.

I guess it's God's version of the President's Red Phone.

Just a Quick Note

I am listening to James running around the house singing We Will Rock You while he waves around a leaflet that for the life of my can't figure out where it came from. It has coupons for Doritos and adverts for board games and video games. There's no telling in this house. Anyway, what's amusing is listening to him sing and describe the ads telling me what he wants for Christmas.
"I have this one. I need this one. I don't know this one." After awhile the chattering gets a little daunting. Then I think back a year and a half ago when he was hardly talking and what he did say was unintelligible.

I am thankful for speech therapy. I am thankful for my chattering chipmunk. I am thankful for earphones. Heehee.

I will be back later after a little shopping to share my new organization strategies for my other wonderfully scatterbrained child. (I can't imagine where she gets that.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fair Trade Gifts

Look what I got!

My friend C sent me an adorable little purse. The great thing about it (other than the wonderful purple color) is where she got it. There is an organization, Eternal Threads, that is "dedicated to improving the lives of women and children most at risk of extreme poverty, trafficking and other forms of exploitation by providing sustainable livelihoods through income generating projects."

It is quite serendipitous because just this weekend I was on some tragic movie trip and one of the movies was one about children who were destined to live the rest of their lives in the brothels of Calcutta, India. The movie left me with questions: What happened to the children since this movie's debut in 2004? What was the purpose of this movie? If you show people a desperate situation and don't give them any productive way to act on the ideas that are running through their mind, have you really made any social change?

At least with Eternal Threads and other fair trade organizations, people can find a proactive way to try (at least) to make a difference.

I am not going to climb higher on a soap box, but if you like my new little bag, go on over to their shopping site and check out some of the totes and handbags and other amazing products. Or find other fair trade products to share for Christmas and birthdays and other gift-giving ideas. Give gifts that make a difference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Someone's On a Power Trip

I am so beyond frustrated.

Everyday, I pick up my daughter from school because she forgets some assignment. Chalk some of it to defiance and some of it up to her Asperger's fog that she walks around in every moment of her life. Regardless, I refuse to let her fail a class due to not doing an assignment.

I get out of work at 3:15 and drive over to her school in time to catch her coming out the door at 3:50. Each day is the same routine (learned only by trial and error.) I open my laptop and look at the scheduled homework assignments that the teachers have posted on the website - when they remember to post their assignments. My daughter and I go through her day, her homework and her binder to ensure she has every workbook, textbook and worksheet that she needs for the evening. Inevitably, she will have forgotten something, so I send her back into the building to retrieve said item. (I am hoping she will get tired of having to go back into the building and remember her things.)

Today was no different. Today it was the reading workbook - the same one that she had forgotten yesterday. I wasn't leaving the school without it. I sent my daughter back into the school to get it. She returned very quickly and very upset. Some "office lady" told her she couldn't go back into the 7th grade hall because there was no one up there monitoring the hall. I immediately jumped out of the car and escorted her back into the building. The same lady said she couldn't go upstairs. I said she needed her workbook and I wasn't leaving without it. I explained my daily routine to her and she replied, "Well, she just needs to remember her work."

By this point I was willing to risk causing a scene and they must have seen it in my eyes because someone asked another "office lady" if I could escort my girl upstairs for her homework. With a sigh and a huff, she said, "yes." As if it were costing her some personal effort for me to climb the stairs with my daughter.

Even better, when I got upstairs, I saw students unaccompanied in the halls and teachers tutoring in their classrooms. In my opinion, it was 4:00 and they wanted to go home. Some even had their purses on their shoulders even though the school doesn't close until 4:15. No one wanted to get off their "fat butts" (to use my mother's favorite term) to watch my child walk up a flight of stairs.

I could go on and on about my beef with the school, but I think you get the picture.

We ended the event with my telling my daughter, "You had better not forget anything for a long time because I can't be held responsible for what I might do or say to one of those 'office ladies' the next time I encounter them."

My next post will be the new plan I have in store to help my daughter stay organized the rest of the year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Long Birthday Weekend is Over

I am of the mindset that when it is your birthday, you celebrate it for as long as you can. My children benefit from this because their birthdays land on Spring Break every year so we have fun on all the days surrounding their birthdays.

This year year I was going to do the same for myself by going out with my husband and kiddos on Friday and having a Girls Day/Night Out on Saturday.

Well, as they say, "The best laid plans of mice and men." Thursday's events put a damper on things, leaving me to postpone James' dental appointment to Friday. What transpired from there turned into an all day ordeal that ended in root canal for the little tyke. Needless to say, there was no going out for dinner for us.

Saturday, however, went off without a hitch. I took my mom for a day at the spa which she ended up treating me to. We went home relaxed and refreshed, and I prepared for my girls night out.

Usually, events that I plan have an uncanny way of falling flat, but this one went quite well. Everyone met up at my new favorite place for Paninis, coffees and s'mores. Although, the marshmallows wouldn't melt the way they should, we still had fun making ourselves sick on sweets. We then followed that up with a little trip next door to my favorite Irish Pub for a drink. A good time was had by all.
Mmmmmocha LattesMmmm Not Mocha Lattes

Kelly & I used to teach together.

Jen & I teach together

I hope we can all do it again some time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Twinkle Says Happy Birthday

Hi! I have hijacked Annemarie's blog just to say Happy Birthday and to leave a couple of her favorite YouTube videos as a gift.

Come on over to MY BLOG to hear more about my adventures in Texas. The trip is almost over.

If you want to know what she is saying (I must admit I had to look) check out the lyrics here.

She is a geek at heart.

And now we shall return to the regularly scheduled blog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love Making Friends

Yesterday there was an orange moon.

As we were driving home tonight, James said the moon was orange. I was surprised, so I asked Cait what color the moon was, and she said it was white. Then James said it was green. I laughed and said the moon can be orange, but it can't be green. We then entered a discussion of the colors the moon could appear to be including orange, white, gray, sometimes even bluish. James then said, "God can make it green." I said, "Yes, God could make it green if he wanted." James in turn prayed, "God, make the moon green." A moment passed and he then said, "God is talking to me....He said he would make it green."

So if the moon turns green, you know God did it, and he did for James.

My friend Georgia loves to hear stories about James. She is a friend I have known for as long as I have been married. We lost touch for many years, but reconnected about 2 years ago through the internet.

As you know, I have a wonderful circle of friends, and everyday that circle grows a little bigger.

Throughout the past year, I have been following an art journalist who is also a blogger. Marit is new friend. I love reading about her goings-on. She recently got her own blog domain so that she can begin providing online classes in art journaling and other crafty things. She is also going to be doing some classes in real life. Unfortunately, she lives in the Netherlands. I don't think I could swing a trip there just for an art class. Wouldn't it be fun, though?

Today, Marit sent me this blog award:

The rules (yep, rules!) are:
I need to pass this on to five people. Post on their blog that I gave them this award,
and then I need to answer a list of questions in one word.

Well OK, here we go…

  1. Where is your cell phone? pocket
  2. Your hair? windblown
  3. Your mother? Supersmart
  4. Your father? missed
  5. Your favorite food? Carribean
  6. Your dream last night? forgettable
  7. Your favorite drink? Sweet tea
  8. Your dream/goal? freedom
  9. What room are you in? dining
  10. Your hobby? crafts
  11. Your fear? failure
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? present
  13. Where were you last night? home
  14. Something that you aren’t? rested
  15. Muffins? Yum
  16. Wish list item? money
  17. Where did you grow up? Texas
  18. Last thing you did? text
  19. What are you wearing? clothes
  20. Your tv? new
  21. Your pets? Zoey
  22. Friends? Bloggers
  23. Your life? busy
  24. Your mood? positive
  25. Missing someone? yes
  26. Vehicle? car
  27. Something you are not wearing? earrings
  28. Your favorite store? craft
  29. Your favorite color? purple
  30. When was the last time you laughed? today
  31. Last time you cried? Sunday
  32. Your best friend? caring
  33. One place that I go to over and over? studio
  34. Facebook? Yes
  35. Favorite place to eat? Jason's

So, I am passing this award on to (in no particular order)
I know these girls from a variety of places. I’m curious to see your answers ladies!


Eva Helen




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