Cookie Cutters

cookie cutter picture

Some people live in this world

Like a cookie cutter.

Never being more than

What everybody else is

Never doing more than

What everyone else does

Never venturing out to discover a beautiful world

Beyond their mold.

I wrote this poem when I was in high school. I rediscovered it today when I was cleaning out some papers.  At the end of the poem, I had written the following in bright red ink.  “I pray that is not my fate. It would be very sad if as a really old 40-year-old I wake up with gray hair and realize that I am a cookie cutter person without a single spark of Amee left in me. Oh, how very tragic indeed.”

At first, I laughed.  I am now that really old 40 year-old with a few gray hairs starting to appear out of nowhere. 40 just doesn’t seem as old as it used to be. Then, I got reflective.  Have I turned into that cookie cutter person that I feared so much? Am I a person who just lives her life, checks off her to-do list but has forgotten she was going to change the world? Am I still me? ”

It was a hard question to ask and an even harder answer to accept.

Sometimes, I am that cookie cutter person. Life. Work. Family. There are molds you accept in order to get a job done.  You can call it growing up or you can call it the great tragedy. It really depends on your perspective. Other times, I am still the sparkling soul who loves greatly, grieves greatly and wants to leave her mark on this spinning planet in some heroic way. There is one thing for certain. I must never stop being Amee.

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A Royal Wedding: The dollar store version

My Aunt and I went to the royal wedding this morning. You might have heard about this wedding. It’s been on the news for months. Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle  forgot to send us an invite, we did our best to enjoy the festivities on a teacher’s and an artist’s salary. (In case you didn’t know, I’m the teacher and the Aunt is the artist.)

We watched the ceremony on the TV while sitting on my hand-me-down couch. We wore  plastic tiaras that I bought from the dollar store. We ate pastries on my thrift store china and toasted the new couple with sparkling apple juice that was purchased with a coupon.

We both oohed over the wedding dress. It was simple and beautiful.  The news said the dress is estimated to cost 100,000 pounds which is around $135,000 US dollars. Given that the average American worker has an income in the $40,000’s, you would have to be pretty rich to afford a dress like that. The social justice side of me started calculating how many school lunches you could buy for disadvantaged children with that kind of money. The “Happily Ever After” side of me started imagining that it was my wedding day with a beautiful dress, adoring groom and enough money to never have to worry about paying the bills ever again. The last part about having enough money to never have to worry about bills sounds very nice.

It was a lovely wedding. The couple seems to really like and love each other. I enjoyed watching the little glances between them. There’s something sweet about watching a couple in love. You feel hopeful for the world. The real star of the show was the Episcopalian minister. He was delightful. Reverend Michael Curry gave an amazing sermon. I said Amen a couple of times when he was talking. I completely agree with him. God is love and we can make the world a better place by treating each other like brothers and sisters. He was also just plain fun to watch. He was so animated and passionate about the word of God. It was like I was sitting in a revival meeting and not a wedding.

This is what the Esteemed Duchess of the Dollar Store looks like at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. I’ve got frizzled hair, bags under my eyes but I’m still smiling.

1 am photo

Her Royal Highness Princess Aunt Marla declined to have her 3:00 a.m. photo taken for this blog. There are some benefits to being an average American at times. Privacy is one of them.

food for the party

It was a memorable royal wedding even though it was dollar-store style. I’m a little tired. I think I will go back to bed now for a much deserved nap.

 

 

 

What I learned the Day I Marched

I don’t like confrontation. I’m usually the one at the social event who finds a way to change the subject once a controversial topic comes up. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion on whatever issue you are discussing. I do. I’ve just lived long enough to see good people stop being friends with other good people just because they voted differently than them. I don’t want lose my friends so I bite my tongue.

The last few months my  state has been in a huge debate about public education. I felt strongly about the topic of educational funding and I wanted to participate.

Picture of teacher walk out

So, I marched. I participated in some of the events at the AZ State Capitol and the Stand Out to Stand Up event on Baseline Road.

I felt a change when I went to the Capitol. Yes, the rally was fun. The crowds had energy but the change inside of me was more than the change in the state budget.  As I stood there with my sign and red shirt, I decided it was okay to talk about the hard topics.

Changing the subject may not always be the best idea. Especially if it is something you believe in.

You may have a different opinion than me on the Red For Ed movement. That’s okay. We can have an open and honest dialogue with each other and still be friends. That’s what I learned the day I marched.

 

 

 

A poem about a busted water pipe

Pipe pictureThis is the girl who was peacefully sleeping

Unaware that disaster was silently brewing.

This is the pipe that leaked in a wall

Where water was collecting  for who knows how long.

This is moment the girl walked in the room

And felt a river of water and saw a gushing typhoon.

This is the valve in the front of the yard

That the girl pulled and then sat by to cry really hard.

This is the husband who was out of state at the time

Who got the phone call that the house was now slime.

These are the fans and the bills and  demolition holes

This  whole experience is vexing to one’s soul.

(A Note for my family and friends:  Nate and I were able to file an insurance claim. We  will be able to fix the damage. I am always happy to accept homemade dinners though.  Just kidding about dinner. You are not obligated to cook me dinner. I know how to order pizza.  Life is never boring around here. I hope I never see water again. It’s a mess to clean up.)

 

 

 

Joyful moment #306: My talking purse

I arrived home after a long day at work and threw my purse on the kitchen counter. I sat down to eat some almonds and decompress a bit. I couldn’t help but notice my purse was sitting there all by itself. It got me thinking.  What would my purse say to me if it could talk?

My purse

Purse: Hello, Amee. How are you doing today? Look, I know you’re a little busy but we need to talk.

Me: (eating some almonds) I’ve been giving standardized tests all day. I’m too tired to chat.

Purse: That’s okay. Just listen. You’ve probably noticed that I’m a little bloated with old receipts, pens, makeup, extra earings, paper, a half-eaten granola bar and a bunch of other things. I’d like to be cleaned out least once a week. All the other purses in the neighborhood are neat and tidy.

Me: (still eating almonds)  If you don’t stop complaining, I will give you to a thrift store.

Purse:  You bought me at the thrift store so it would be like going home for me.

Me: Yeah, you’re right.  Okay, you win. I will tidy you up.

After giggling about a talking purse, I really did clean it. I threw out the old receipts, put the makeup back in the makeup bag and got rid of the half-eaten granola bar. My purse looks much happier now. It’s so neat and tidy.

As most of you know, I have been tracking my joyful moments the last few years. I write them down in my little journal. The really funny ones I put on this blog. I just had joyful moment #306 with my talking purse.

What made you smile today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pura Vida

“Only you can decide if you are able to do this”, said the zipline worker. “We have a van. We can take you back to the waiting area if you aren’t able to do this today.”

Above the trees

I’m afraid of heights. Very afraid of heights.  My whole body was shaking as we hiked the nature path and then climbed the stairs up to the first platform. I imagined myself falling to my death. I also imagined myself not being able to step off and having to walk back down to the van.

I was the last person to start the canopy zipline course. I was the first in line to start the zipline course when we reached the platform but I  kindly let others go ahead of me. I watched all 7 of my fellow adventurers be hooked up to the safety gear and step off the platform. They glided to the second platform alive. I was still hesitant. I’m scared of heights and it is a long way down.

Group photo.jpg

“Once you start the course, you have to finish it”, said the worker. “Do you want to do this today?”

“Not really”, I said.  “I’m scared of heights. But it’s something I need to do even if I have to do it scared. I may never have this chance to go on a zipline in Costa Rica again.”

The zipline worker hooked me up to the cords and I stepped off the platform screaming with my eyes closed tight. The last thing I heard was the worker saying, “Pura Vida, Amee. Pura Vida.”

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I finished the zipline course. I did all 11 ziplines. I was scared every time I stepped off each and every one of those 11 platforms.  I kept going.  I even opened my eyes a few times and saw the trees during the ride.

The Accountant and I have heard the saying “Pura Vida”a lot on our trip to Costa Rica.  It means “simple life” or “pure life” in Spanish. Today it means I ziplined scared but I did it anyway.

I was so proud of myself at the end of the course that I gave a loud victory shout.

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¡Pura Vida!

The Calendar

About a month ago, I went into the guest room to grab a book from the book shelf. I saw this hanging on the wall.

October 2013

Somehow it never got taken down and has been on the wall for over 4 years. The symbolism of that calendar reading October 2013 was not lost to me. In October 2013 my life changed. I received a wound. A deep wound. Since then, I’ve grieved mightly, prayed much and spent a lot of money to sit on a counselor’s couch. The wound is smaller now in 2018 than it was in 2013 but it’s still there and at times rears its ugly head to laugh at me.

I didn’t know what to do about the calendar. So, I did nothing about it for the last month. I would occasionally think about taking down the calendar but the task seemed too hard. How do you throw away a month that has impacted you forever? I grieved again, prayed much and spent some more money to sit on a counselor’s couch. Trauma is really an expensive experience. I would rather have gone on an all-expenses-paid cruise around the world.

I was brave today.  I threw the calendar away and bought a new one.

Feb 2018 picture

As I tossed the old calendar in the trash, I closed my eyes and imagined that Jesus and four or five cheerleader angels were standing by me rooting for me to have a happy life. “Go, Amee.  You’re incredible, intelligent and beautiful. You can do this. We love you”.   I always feel good inside when I think of Jesus. I love Him.

Jesus

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”—Matthew 5:4

(By the way, I’m turning 40 in 2 weeks so you expect to see some birthday posts soon. I’m going to do 20 days of Amee. You will have to read tomoorow’s post to find out what that means. It will be an epic adventure.)

Joyful Moment #305

As most of you know, I have been tracking my joyful moments the last few years. I write them down in my little journal. The really funny ones I put on this blog.  I just had joyful moment #305.  I was doing my weekly shopping and I saw this.

Raisin Bran

That flake is gigantic. It looks a menacing alien who is trying to take over the Earth. It made the joyful list.

 

When it’s not the most wonderful time of the year

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, belted the singer on the radio.

I think I’ve heard that song hundreds of times before and I never batted an eye. It’s just a Christmas song but today it was different. I heard the words and then I started crying. It isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, sometimes it is the worst time of the year. I cried for those whose loved ones were lost in 2017. The shootings at the Las Vegas music concert. The church shooting in Texas. I cried for my family and friends who got a cancer diagnosis this year and the pain they’ve experienced during treatments. I cried for job losses, home foreclosures, unfulfilled dreams, divorces, hungry children, war and the pains of getting older. I cried for my friend who has watched her mother’s dementia progress into a changed personality this year.  I cried for Puerto Rico and how there are still so many of our fellow citizens without reliable power. For Houston. For the people who lost homes in the California fires. I cried for a country that is more interested in political parties than helping people and enacting real progress. There’s been a lot to cry about this year and it all came out when I heard that song on the radio.

Sad Amee

And then I cried for myself. I cried, because like you, I’ve had my own grief battles and unfulfilled dreams. The whole time I cried the radio kept telling me it was the most wonderful time of the year. It was a little annoying.

So, I turned that silly radio off. It’s  not always the most wonderful time of the year and that needs to be said.

I’m a Christian and I believe that someday Jesus will come again and make everything right. I also believe that we don’t have to wait until that glorious day. Be a little kinder to people today. It may not be the most wonderful time of the year for them.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To My Little Blog

Birthday blogHappy Birthday, little blog.   Five years ago today, I started this adventure called my13daychallenge. It’s been fun to share the comings and goings of my life. Here are the top six blog posts based on the number of readers. It’s crazy to realize that I’ve had over 8,000 views on my bog. At least, that is what the statistics page tells me. It is possible that 4,000 of those views are from my Mom and Dad, but I hope that at least one blog post has inspired someone somewhere to reach for their dreams.

  1. My Back to School Photo
  2. The Turtle and the Hare
  3. Boxes are not just for little kids
  4. Wonder Woman: Meet SJ
  5. Be Brave and Get Rid of the Dress
  6. Life Lessons from my Garden

Happy birthday, little blog and thank you to all of my  readers. Go be awesome today, dear readers.