A Date for Christmas movie and a poem about helping others

Hand printsMy high school choir decided to create an alumni wall for former members. The first thing that popped in my mind when I heard about the alumni wall was “Hallmark movie”. It really does have all the trappings for a movie. I can just imagine the plot right now.

The Plot

Jane is a beautiful, strong, intelligent woman. She hasn’t thought about her high school choir years for a long time. She’s been busy working as a computer programmer, a volunteer at her local Boys and Girls Club and a poet who writes really long sonnets every weekend.  Jane is home visiting her parents for Christmas when she hears about the choir alumni wall.  She’s not going to do it, but a conversation with a department store Santa changes her mind. Santa tells her she will get a date for Christmas if she goes to her old high school and places her handprint on the wall.

Jane goes and places her hand in the purple paint. She has to wait 2 minutes with her hand on the wall until it dries.  There’s a kind, handsome, engineer who is also waiting for his  handprint to dry.  You only need 2 minutes in a movie to cement a relationship. Let’s call this man Peter. Peter is a scientist who is creating a devise that will make clean water a reality for everyone in the world. There are greedy corporations and corrupt politicians who are trying to stop Peter from his work.

 After several hours of deep conversation while eating organic, locally-sourced food they decide this clean water device needs to get out now. Jane builds Peter a website so he can publish the directions for how to make the clean water devise. The movie then shows people all around the world using the directions. The world is a better place.

The movie ends with Peter and Jane standing by a doorstep.  He gives her a kiss goodnight. It’s a sweet kiss as the snow starts to fall.  Jane gets her date for Christmas.  The End.

The Reality

In case you are wondering, I went down to my high school and placed my handprint on the alumni choir wall.  I did not meet a handsome engineer, save the world, get a date or a goodnight kiss out of it. There was also no snow. It was fun though to walk around campus and think about younger me.

The whole silly Hallmark movie idea did make me think about water.

According to the United Nations, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhea diseases every single day (Source).

That’s horrible. It breaks my heart to hear that people are suffering. I try to do what I can to love my neighbor. I try to support organizations that help make the world better. I wish I could do more.

There’s so much need in this world. It’s easy for me to get discouraged when I hear about another problem that my fellow brothers and sisters here on planet Earth are experiencing.  I think I could spend the next 50 years of my life helping others and still not be able to fix all the problems of this world. (Yes, you read that right. This 40-something year-old is planning to die in her youthful 90’s.)

I wrote a little poem to make me feel better. It helps me accept that my small efforts are enough. If we all helped one, the world would be better. I hope the poem makes you think. I really hope that the poem inspires you to serve.

The Poem   (because there’s not enough poetry in the world)

I may not be able

to stop all wars

But I can bring peace

to one child’s heart.

I may not be able to

call back the storm

But I can warn the one

who live in the valley below.

I may not be able

to do it all.

But I can give my all

For One.

 

 

 

 

 

Majoring in Myself

I have been cleaning out my storage unit the last few days. As I’ve sorted through boxes of mostly junk, I ran across a poem I wrote as a college student. I was lamenting the question. “What do you want to do with your life?”  The poem made me laugh. I found myself asking that very same question this week. Let’s let 21-year old Amee tell 40-something-year-old Amee what to do with the rest of her life.

People often ask me

What do you want to do

When you grown up.

I smile.

I’m twenty-one.

Am I not grown up?

But the question lingers on

Festering in my mind until

I am forced to answer it.

The people want an answer.

A one-word answer

But I refused to be limited by a

One-word profession.

I want more.

I feel more.

I want to

run through the sprinklers

slide down hills

read good books

argue about politics

kiss under the stars

help people

and travel the world.

I want more.

I feel more.

I want to

teach children

write a great novel

sing in the church choir

look up at the sky

and know God loves me.

I want to

buy whatever I want.

I just want to be me.

Is that too much to ask?

And so dear people,

That will be my profession.

I am majoring in myself.

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The Sky Was Empty

chalk board

The professor pointed to me. “ The man looked at the sky. It was empty. What does that mean?”

I smiled. This was my chance to shine in my English 101 class.  “There are no helicopters or clouds in the sky. It’s a great day for a picnic.”

The room erupted into laughter as my professor sighed, gave me a controlled smile and then asked for another interpretation.

“The sky is empty, because the man is having an affair,” said the student sitting next to me. “The sky represents his belief in God and how there are no consequences for his behavior.”

The other students enthusiastically shook their heads and mumbled yes in agreement.

The professor asked, “Miss Shelley, have your thoughts changed about the meaning of these sentences?”

“Nope.  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say. Affairs are wrong. Picnics are much better.”

It’s been years since I was a college freshman, yet I’ve thought about this experience many times. How can two people read the same sentences and see completely different scenarios? It’s one of the great mysteries of life and of literature.

Since that time, I’ve learned a few things about analyzing literature the “English class way”.  I’ve also learned how to disagree with someone without resorting to calling ideas or the people who say them names. The latter has been an important skill that has served me well in life. We really can disagree civilly, engage in meaningful conversations with other people and still maintain our own beliefs and thoughts.

In case you are wondering, forty-something-year-old me still believes this sentence.

Picnics are defiantly better than affairs.

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 go 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.