The End of Gratitude

My gratitude 2019 challenge has ended. I don’t have be thankful for another year. That’s a joke and to prove it I did a bonus thankful day.

Thankful day#29: I’m thankful for my apartment. It’s good to have a place to live.

Race picture

Thankful day #30: I’m thankful for my sister Jenny and her willingness to have fun with me. We froze but we finished the Thanksgiving Leftovers 5k  this morning. Don’t we look cold? I have no idea how people were racing in shorts.

Bonus Thankful Day–December 1

TP

I am so thankful for toilet paper. It’s one of the best inventions ever created. It also makes a great present.  I once had a friend give me  24 rolls of toilet paper as a Christmas gift.  I was so excited when I opened my box and realized I wouldn’t have to add toilet paper to my grocery list for weeks.   I gave my friend a BIG HUG.  So thoughtful!

I guess you could say I’m pretty easy to please in terms of Christmas presents.

 

 

 

Gratitude Days 10-28

Reno

Thankful day #10: l am thankful for my legs and the ability to walk.

Thankful day #11: l am thankful for veterans and their families for sacrificing so much for me.

Thankful day #12: l am grateful for my legs. I took a walk around a park today. I’m glad l have legs that can take me places.
Thankful day :13: l am grateful for music.

Thankful day #14: I’m thankful l can laugh. Yesterday, l had a bird drop a present on me. I looked at my arm covered in bird droppings and then at the culprit sitting in the tree. I pointed at him and told him he was a very naughty bird. The little bird looked at me, started loudly chirping, spread out its wings and strutted back and forth on the tree limb. At that point, l started laughing. Well played little bird. You win.

Thankful day #15: I’m thankful for cars, airplanes, trains and buses. Modern transportation makes it possible for me to see my siblings who live far away from me. I’m grateful and so excited to see my brother David and his family. Hello Nevada! I’ll be there soon.

Thankful day #16: I’m thankful l was able to attend Jonah’s baptism. It was a special day for my nephew and his family.
Thankful day #17: I’m thankful for the Earth. I saw some beautiful views this weekend. This one made me want to sing All Creatures of our God and King. Nevada is quite lovely.

Thankful Days #16-24 It’s been a crazy week at work. The students really need a vacation. I got a little behind on posting something I’m grateful for each day. I’m thankful there is no perfect way to do this thankful challenge. You’ll notice that I made this one count for tomorrow and Saturday as well. I’m very thankful there is no right way to do this challenge.

Thankful day #25: Last week we got a lot rain. I don’t like driving in rain, but l was thankful we got some. It was needed.

Thankful day #26: I’m thankful for my coworkers. They brighten my day!

Thankful Day #27: I’m thankful for audiobooks. It’s so much fun to listen to books while l drive, exercise and go about my life. I love it.

Thankful Day #28: I’m thankful for parents, siblings, my cousins and dear friends who are like family to me. I’m thankful to God and his Son Jesus. I’m also thankful for the delicious meal I’m going to eat soon.

Poetry at Midnight

6:02

The me

Before

6:03

My life

will never be the same.

Last night,  I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept reliving and analyzing the moments in my life that changed my life forever. I don’t know why my brain decided that 10:00 at night was the best time to do this.  I then started thinking about a dear friend. There are moments in her life that aren’t fair and changed her life forever. Life is still good for both of us, but it’s different than what either of us expected. My little brain didn’t stop there though. Bless my 11:00 p.m. mind. It then jumped to trying to understand why the actions of a few powerful individuals can influence the lives of millions. I thought about all the suffering endured  in this world.  I ended up with a pounding headache and a bunch of tears.

I finally gave up trying to sleep. I wrote poetry until midnight trying to sort out the various thoughts that plagued my mind. The poem at the start of this blog post was one of the poems I wrote last night. I was tired today from the lack of sleep. I can understand that.

What moments have changed you forever?

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Gratitude Challenge Days 1-9

During November, I have a tradition. I think of one thing I’m thankful for every day. I then post my thankful messages on social media. It’s a good tradition. I’ve done it for  6 years now.  Here’s what I’ve written so far this year.

Thankful day#1: Clean water.

Thankful Day #2: My family and friends.

Thankful day #3: Employment. It’s good to have a job.

Thankful #4: I’m grateful for my parents for encouraging me to keep working on my goals.

Thankful day #5: I’m thankful for delicious food like salmon.

Dinner

 

Thankful Day #6: I’m thankful for my Ricks family. (Yes, that also includes my former spouse.) I’m never going to be one of those people who stand up at Church and announce to everybody that they are grateful for their trials and it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Nope. It really  hurts to get divorced and anyone who says otherwise is selling you some thing. (Can you name that movie line?) I did wake up today though with a thankful thought. I am thankful that when I go grocery shopping and run into a Ricks that I can say hello and feel peace in my heart. That is a heaven sent blessing. I can praise God for peace.

Thankful day #7: Bowling was fun last night. I’m thankful for my bowling family. I’ve seen some league friends every Wednesday for 6 years. They’ve become adopted cousins to me.

Thankful day #8: Sunsets are beautiful. I took this photo a few days ago.

Thankful day #9: I’m thankful for flowers. I buy flowers for myself a couple of times a year and put them on my dresser.  Flowers brighten up a room. It’s fun to wake up and see beautiful flowers smiling at me.

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What are you grateful for today?

State Testing Dream

 

The service bell was on a white table in the middle of the hotel’s reception desk.

My arms were full with one arm cradling a stack of standardized tests and the other arm carrying a bag with ice cream and crackers in it. I cautiously put the groceries down and rang the bell. The standardized tests were too valuable to put on the floor.

An elderly woman with silver hair pulled back in a loose bun walked out of a back room. “Welcome to the Pearly Gates. I hope you had a pleasant journey.”

“The Pearly Gates,” I screamed. “I don’t feel dead.”

The woman grinned.  “Honey,  Everybody says that when they first get here. You don’t feel dead when you’re dead. Let me get the Book of Life. It will tell us if you go to door one which is Heaven or door two which is the other place.”

I looked at the two doors. I hoped it was door one for me.

“What happened to St. Peter?” I asked. I thought that was his job to tell you if made it to Heaven.”

The woman  pointed to her white supervisor  badge. “Peter has gone fishing today. He gets two weeks vacation  every year. I’m Saint Elizabeth.  I’ll be helping you today.”

“Oh,” I said. “You’re  John the Baptist’s mother.”

“Yes, that’s me, ” said the woman as she reached below the reception desk and pulled out a large, black book. “Let’s look you up.”

“Here you are. You made it. Please precede to door one. You’ll love it there. Everybody is nice and you can eat all the pastries you want and never get fat.”

I knew I was going to love this Heaven. I  imagined rows of sweets.

Pastries

I waived goodbye to Saint Elizabeth and started to walking for door one.  Elizabeth stopped me.

“You can take the ice cream and crackers with you, but you have to leave your stack of standardized tests  here with me.”

“Oh, I can’t do that,” I explained. “I told my principal that I wouldn’t let these tests out of my sight. The state even had me sign a security agreement form. They make all teachers sign the form.”

“You’re dead, dear,” said Saint Elizabeth. “I’m sure your principal will understand.”

“No, You’ve never met my principal. She will be upset and then get really mad at me.”

“Suit yourself, “said Saint Elizabeth as she pointed to a few chairs in the lobby area. “Let me know when you change your mind.”

I sat down in the Pearly Gates lobby. I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind. I had signed a security agreement. I  ate my crackers and ice cream. I read a magazine and then watched a news report on the TV.  Hundreds of people walked up to the gates while I sat with my stack of standardized tests.  After four hours, Saint Elizabeth approached me.

“Amee, I need to let you in on a little secret. It might make this easier for you.”

I leaned closer. What secret would a Saint tell an ordinary teacher like me?

“The devil is the author of all state standardized tests.”

I opened up door two and kicked the stack of standardized tests through it.  I walked through door one to my eternal reward.

I  laughed hysterically when I woke up.  The dream was so funny.  When I got to work, I told several of my coworkers about my dream. They also giggled. My principal assured me that if I died she would not be mad at me for leaving the tests unattended.

 

 

The Intelligence Test

Pizza Slice

The Intelligence Test

By Amee Lynne Shelley

The yellow flyer was posted outside my History of Western Civilization class.  Students who volunteered to take an intelligence test would get lunch and a $25 gift card.  It was the perfect incentive for a broke college student. I already knew I was a genius. This intelligence test was nothing to fear. I signed up for it.

I showed up at the designated place and time.  The Department Chair thanked us for volunteering and then introduced us to our examiners. Mine was a doctoral student named Steve. He was tall and wore a brown sweater. He had brown rimmed glasses that made him look very smart. I pushed my glasses up a bit on my nose. I was smart too. The intelligence test would prove it.  I followed Steve to a small table in the corner of  the room.  After a few hours, the test ended. I went back to the waiting area.

The pizza came while I was waiting for Steve. The other students and I quickly grabbed the hot slices and put them on our paper plates.  I chatted with a cute computer science major.

“It’s taking Steve a long time,” I thought.  “Why can’t he just hurry up?”

Finally, Steve walked into the room. I jumped up. “What did you find?  Did it prove I’m exceptional and one in a million? ”

Steve smiled.

My heart stopped. I knew that smile. It was the fake smile.  I gave that smile to the annoying neighbor kid that lived next to my parents.  He had talked for 20 minutes nonstop about his Lego blocks. I wanted him to just go away, but I couldn’t figure out how to exit the conversation. I had given Lego Kid a fake smile. Steve was now fake smiling me.

“Let’s go back to the testing room,” Steve said.

I walked behind Steve into the room. The walls were brown. We sat down at the table and Steve adjusted his rimmed glasses. I took mine off and nervously fiddled with them.

“The intelligence test was first developed in 1904 by two men named Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon. On this assessment, we look at your score and compare it to scores of other people who took this test. The mean is fixed at 100. Two-thirds of the people will get scores between 85 and 115. Your scores fell within the mean range of intelligence.”

I looked at Steve. He gave me another fake smile. I knew what it meant.  Steve thought I was average. I must have starred long enough for him to worry that I didn’t understand what he had said.

“Let me explain it a different way.” Steve got up and walked over to the whiteboard. He drew a bell curve. This is all the people who took the test. Steve put a little x in the middle of the curve. “This is you. Your score fell within the mean or average.”

I cut him off.  “I know the definition, ” I snapped.

I wanted to cry. Steve ,the future psychologist, thought I was dumb.  Those smart people who invented intelligence tests back in 1904 thought I was dumb. My little x was stuck right in the middle of average land on the Bell Curve. Was I even smart enough to be in college? What if Steve was right? What if I really was just average? Could average people grow up to be incredible? My plan for being famous and brilliant seemed to be farther away than when I first walked into the exam room.  Maybe I was fraud who had somehow tricked a college into letting her in?  I bit my lip and swallowed more tears. I may be average, but I wasn’t going to cry in front of smart Steve. His x was probably way up there at the top near the genius people like Albert Einstein.

“Was it an interesting experience,” the Department Chair asked as he handed me my gift card. “Worth a few hours of your time.”

I looked beyond him and saw the trash can spilling over with pizza boxes and greasy paper plates. I thought about Jacob and Esau from the Bible story. Esau had sold his birthright for some dinner. Had Jacob worn a brown sweater that day?

“Yeah,” I lied as I swallowed more tears. “It was educational.”

I starred at my $25 gift card on the way home. It wasn’t enough. If it had been a $10,000 gift card or a million-dollars, it still wouldn’t have been enough.  No sum was worth the discovery that I was just an average girl.

 

 

Overachiever: Sick Day Version

I looked down at my to-do list. In between the muscle aches, pulsing head and coughing spells, I had still managed to craft a plan for my productive day.

I blew my nose for the 20th time and wrote item five on the list.  “Deep clean the upholstery in my car”.

That’s when it hit me. I was sick. Really sick. I had not gone to work, because I had a fever.  I started laughing. It was funny that I thought deep cleaning my car was the best way to heal. The laughing made me cough which didn’t feel so funny.

Even when I’m ill,  I guess I’m a little bit of an overachiever. I did the hard thing and threw my list away. I then wrote a new list. It only had four items on it.

1. Throw yourself down on the couch and watch movies.

2. Don’t put your makeup on or do your hair.

3. Drink a bunch of water.

4. Call Mom for sympathy.

Sick Day Amee

The picture is the proof. I really did just plop down on a coach and relax  without any makeup or fancy hairdo all day. My mother was great at the sympathy.

 

 

What’s in a name?

I swished my broccoli from one side of my plate to the other side with my fork. I normally loved broccoli with cheese but tonight I didn’t have an appetite.  I had serious information to share with my parents and I was afraid they wouldn’t like it.

“I’ve made a decision”, I said solemnly. “You didn’t know how to spell my name when I was born. I’ve fixed that problem though.  I will no longer be Amy spelled ‘A-M-Y’. You may now call me by my real name which is Amee spelled ‘A-M-E-E’.

Mom and Dad didn’t smile.

My younger brother John put his fork done and starred at me.

“Amee spelled “A-M-E-E” is better, I explained. “I just made it up today and I like it”.

“A-M-Y is your legal name”, Dad replied. “It’s on your birth certificate and you might change your mind and want to use your real name. It’s the name your loving parents gave you at birth”.

“We gave you that name, because the baby book says it means love”, Mom jumped in.

I was unmoved by their pleadings.  I liked my spelling better. I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind even when I got older.

“Henceforth now and forever, ” I  declared,  “A-M-E-E is the only  proper way to spell my name”.

My parents smiled and gave me the ‘Oh, aren’t our children cute’ look. Then they went back to eating dinner.

My brother John had more to say about it. He scrunched up his little face and pounded his hands on the table. “You are not allowed to change your name without consulting all of your younger brothers. We say no”.

“I can do what I want”, I cried.  ” I’m 11″.

And so 11-year-old me changed my name. It wasn’t legal, but all of my real friends and family knew how my name was  spelled. I told every school teacher at the start of each  school year how I spelled my name.  My coworkers knew that HR would give me a paycheck with A-M-Y but A-M-E-E did the work and spent the money. This is how it went for the next 30 years. I never went back. I was A-M-E-E, because I said so.

During the divorce process, I decided to finally make the real spelling of my name official. I legally changed the spelling. I am ‘A-M-E-E’ henceforth now and forever.

My sister Jenny threw me a Name Reveal Party to celebrate with decorations, cake and presents.

My name

She got me a big box and filled it with balloons. The nephews and niece went crazy when I opened the box and balloons came flying out.

A Big Box

It was a great day.

 

The Dress part 2

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about getting rid of the dress I wore to my 10th grade winter formal. I was afraid that by letting the dress go I would forget a magical evening. I’m once again faced with saying a farewell.

How do you say goodbye to your wedding dress?

My wedding dress

I haven’t written on this blog about my divorce. The reasons are private. I wish nothing but happiness for my former spouse. There is still the subject of the dress though. It really is not good for one’s mental health to see your wedding dress hanging in the closet every day.

I must admit that there was a time when I thought the best thing to do was to go to the desert and have a large bonfire.  I even imagined myself inviting my favorite friends to a wedding dress burning party. We would all roast marshmallows and dance around the  embers of my marriage.  Although it was a fun daydream, I knew I couldn’t do that.

At the end of the day, I still believe in the goodness of people and the power of God to make everything right in the end. It’s like that scripture from Isaiah about turning ashes into something beautiful. I couldn’t burn my wedding dress for the same reason that I always stop and blow dandelions whenever I see one. They are symbols. Dandelions. Wedding dresses. Cute kids dressed up in their Sunday best at Church. Beautiful sunsets. Elderly couples holding hands. People having fun together. Making cookies for your friends. These are some of the little things in life that symbolize friendship, love and hope to me. Symbols are powerful. You just can’t burn a symbol.

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I did find a new home for my wedding dress. I donated it to a charity’s thrift store. I also made a financial donation to an organization that helps children in memory of my marriage. Beauty from ashes and many more years of dandelion blowing.  That’s the goal. For all of us.

With Love,

Amee

Happy Me

(It’s August, 2019.  It’s been 16 years and a few months since I wore my wedding dress. I’m still myself. That’s a major accomplishment.  I’ve always wanted to be Amee when I grew up.)

Back to School Photo

It started out as a joke, but it has become one of my favorite traditions. Here’s my 2019-2020 Back to School Photo.

Back to school Amee

Eight years ago, I was scrolling through Facebook. Many of my friends had posted their kid’s back to school pictures. The photos were adorable. The kids had smiling faces full of hope for the future.  I don’t have children so I didn’t have any “back to school photos” for my family and friends to admire. As I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, I had a crazy thought. What if I took a back to school photo? What if I took the picture from the perspective of being really tired after your first day back to school?

The photo was funny and made me laugh. Next year, I took another  photo. I now have 8 pictures of me sprawling across beds, floors, desks etc.

The photo still makes me laugh every year.  It’s going to be a great school year.