I write a Christmas poem every year. I’ve been trying for two weeks to write my annual poem. I’ve got pages and pages of really bad poetry. Nothing is coming. The monster called 2020 has eaten all good poetry and I’m left with stale gingerbread cookies. In the middle of being frustrated, I had an idea to make a profile for an online dating website. I may not have a nice Christmas poem, but hopefully at least one person can get a good laugh with my attempt at online dating.
Open the dating website. Get scared. Close the window.
Imagine getting a really good kiss. Open the dating website.
Wonder how many people get murdered every year from folks they met online.
Close the window. Call your friend. The one who met her husband online.
Be brave. Open the dating website. Again.
Read the terms and conditions.
What? There’s a cost.
Close the window. Call your friend. The one who met her husband at church.
Do you know any single men?
2021 will be better. It’s going to be the best year for me and the best year for you.
My annual gratitude challenge is over. I can now be selfish for the rest of the year. Just kidding. I won’t be writing thankful notes every day, but I will keep trying to be thankful in my heart.
Day 16: I’m thankful I can cry. Life would be harder if there wasn’t a way to release sadness.
Day 17: Second chances. I’m thankful for the second chances we get in life.
Day #18: My car is running. Huge blessing!
Day #19: Bowling. I love my bowling family.
Day #20: I’m thankful for my parents. They have taught me so much.
Day #21: I’m thankful you don’t always have to be thankful. I normally do a gratitude challenge every November so I’m 100% behind being thankful. And I’ve experienced the sorrowful wilderness of feeling alone. It’s okay to be where you are and to feel what you feel. I’m so grateful for that knowledge.
Day #22: I am thankful for the beautiful Earth. I feel refreshed when I spend time outside. I feel closer to the Creator.
Day #23: I’m thankful for my sister. I always wanted a sister. I was so happy when she showed up after my 3 awesome brothers. (This adventure was last year. We dressed up to see Downton Abbey. Movies are 100% better when you wear costumes.)
Day #24: I’m thankful for clean water. I take it for granted that I have access to water.
Day #25: I forgot to write down my gratitude note for the day. I was too busy eating. It’s a good thing I believe in second chances.
Day #26: I’m thankful for inventors. There are so many things I use every day that someone had to invent.
Day #27: I’m thankful for books. Books have been a great blessing in my life.
Days #28 I’m thankful for parks and the people who maintain them. It’s so nice to have a safe and beautiful place to walk.
Day #29: I forgot to be thankful again. I may have been thinking about all of the work that would be greeting me after the Thanksgiving break.
My Mom’s family has a traditional goodbye saying. Sure Love Ya. It means goodbye, see you soon and you might drive me crazy sometimes but we’re still family. I have no idea how many times I’ve said that expression in my life. It’s probably been at least a million times. There is another tradition. Before ending a family gathering, we all huddle in a circle like a sports team and shout the saying. “Sure love ya.” The circle keeps getting bigger as more and more people join the family.
It’s confession time. The teenage me thought it was an embarrassing tradition. I hated it! I only did it because my mother said I had to do it. I was confident that we were the only family in the entire universe that would do something like that.
My Grandma died this year. She was my last remaining grandparent Earth-side. We couldn’t meet with Grandma as a large family group to celebrate her birthday like we’ve done in the past. This year we meet on Zoom. It was fun to see various relatives as little Zoom boxes on the screen. We ended our short party with “Sure Love Ya”. It was both sad and beautiful at the same time.
I think I finally understand why Grandma liked us to huddle up and express love. I think she was trying to ensure that we still loved each other even after she left us.
That is what I will remember most about my grandmother Marjorie Hill Smith. She loved.
I loved my Grandma very much. I will miss her. I know I’m not the only person on Earth who has lost someone they loved this year. There are many souls who are grieving right now. 2020. It’s been a crazy year. I haven’t really liked this year. It’s been hard. REALLY HARD! I’m ready for 2020 to be over and just a chapter in a history textbook.
I have learned something this year though. I’ve learned that love is one of the few constants in our crazy, ever-changing world.
Day #8: I’m thankful for my sister-in-laws. They are all incredible, intelligent, strong woman. Love you Kim, Sonya, Melissa and Amber.
Day #9: I’m thankful for a working car.
Day #10: Butterflies.
Day #11: I’m thankful for veterans and their families.
Day #12: Shoes.
Day #13: I’m thankful for the beautiful Earth. It’s lovely this time of year in AZ.
Day #14: I’m thankful that Christmas came early this year. Yes, I am one those people who watch fireplace videos on YouTube. It really was fun to listen to Christmas music and watch my fake fireplace last night.
Day #15: I’m thankful I could continue the holiday celebrations by putting on my Thanksgiving socks. They are so cute!
I have a tradition. I think of one thing I’m thankful for every day in November. It’s a good tradition and it makes the month special for me. I usually post those thankful notes on social media as a way to encourage others to pause and remember the good. I went back and forth this year about it. Do I post or just keep my thankfulness to myself? I’ve mostly been staying off of social media in order to preserve my sanity from this election. After a ton of debate, I decided to do it. I will be writing my gratitutes every day but only posting them once a week. It’s a good compromise between encouraging others and recognizing my own boundary of needing space from the crazy. I may have been singing that Tradition song from Fiddler on the Roof after making the decision.
November 1 I’m thankful for my family and friends.
November 2 I’m so glad we have music. Music speaks what words can’t express.
November 3 I’m thankful for God.
November 4 I love those wonderful green turn signal arrows at busy intersections. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shouted ‘thank you’ to the person who invented green turn signals.
I haven’t written on this blog for a while. Work has been very demanding this school year. Teaching has always been an intense job, but this year has been different. I’ve worked in schools for 20 years. I thought I had seen it all. I WAS WRONG. Teacher college does not prepare you for pandemics. The students are worn out. The parents are worn out. The teachers are worn out. It is like the entire system is worn out. It’s a grand experiment and no one quite knows the end result yet.
I did manage to carve out some time to write a little poem about the upcoming election. It captures my thoughts, hopes and prayers for the future.
I had a miracle this month. Even though my Grandma Theda died back in 2006, she found a way to give me a hug.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Shawn Larson from the maintenance department at St. David School in Saint David, Arizona. I was really surprised. I’ve had this blog for years, and no one has ever used the “contact me” button. I thought it was a joke, so I ignored the message. Mr. Larson is a persistent man. He wrote me a second time. This time I paid attention. St. David School was going to remove all memorabilia from the 1930-1940’s from their school. Mr. Larson was given the task of tossing the items. He felt strongly that this valedictorian trophy should not be thrown away. He wanted it to go to Theda Plumb’s family. He went on a quest to find the family. Here’s where the miracle happens. He found me.
I’ve always admired my grandma Theda Plumb Shelley Adams. She was a trailblazer. She’s an example to me on living life even when it is hard. I wrote a blog post about her a few years ago. Mr. Larson found the blog post and contacted me.
It feels like a little miracle.
The last few years have been rough for me with lots of unexpected twists and turns. I’m still in the healing part of the twisting and turning. I’ll come out on top eventually, but it has been a struggle to accept that my life is different than what I expected. During this healing time, I have on several occasions felt a special connection that is difficult to explain. I have felt that love for others continues to live on after we die. It’s more than just a wishful hope that our ancestors somehow act as guardian angles for us. It is a very personal feeling that makes me believe that not only does Grandma know the details of what is going on in my life, but she is rooting for me (and all of her children and grandchildren) to be happy.
Have you ever had a really strange dream? I had one last night. In the dream, there was a lone sheet of paper on a brown table. This poem was written in cursive on that paper.
i am sorry for the trifling distraction
caused by your pending demise
My apartment faces a park. Yesterday, a helicopter crashed in the park. I saw and heard the crash. It was very loud and scary. I might at some point write about the crash. Today is not that day though. I want to write about my dream. I have never in my entire life dreamed a poem. I am both bothered by the theme and a little intrigued by the idea that Death leaves notes on brown tables.
My dream made me reflect on the Emily Dickinson poem about Death stopping for you. I love Dickinson. Her poems are as delicious as rice pudding. You just want to go back for a second helping. I felt inspired to write my own little poem with lots of dashes in honor of a master poet. This is my humble attempt.
If I like Dickinson –
Can use a dash –
Perhaps my words –
Will be immortal –
In all seriousness, I was very upset yesterday. My heart goes out to the family of the pilot and the passenger in the crash. My heart hurts for the others on the scene. I’m praying for everyone involved.
(I took this picture several years ago while vacationing in Florida. It was right before a summer storm. This image has stayed with me as an expression on how there is both light and darkness in this journey called life.)
I collect joyful moments like some people collect stamps. I put most joyful moments in a small book. Some of my joyful moments are also written on this blog. I had another joyful moment today. It was #612. It happened as I wrote in my journal.
I have been a journal writer since I was a child. I’m not perfect at it, but I try to write once a month. As I was writing today, I felt joy on reflecting why 7-year-old me set the goal to record the events of my life once a month. I set the goal, because of a conversation I had with my father’s step-dad.
Grandpa Adams was sick and his health was deteriorating. This is how most visits to the grandparents worked at that age. I would say hi and then run as fast as I could past Grandma and Grandpa to play outside. This time was different though. Grandpa asked me to sit by him for a minute. He shared that he kept a journal. He asked me if I kept a journal. I told him no. Grandpa looked at me and then solemnly gave me two promises. He told me that if I kept a journal I would remember my childhood. Grandpa also said that if I kept a journal that I would have a happy life even if sometimes I had bad experiences.
It was a deep conversation to have with a little kid. It made an impact on me. That night I asked my parents to get me a journal from the store. The brown book with the brown flowers is the journal my parents bought me.
As I was writing in my journal today, I felt joy that I can record my ordinary life. The act of writing it down somehow makes the ordinary turn into “extraordinary”. I get to be the hero (and sometimes the accidental villain) in the great story called my life.
Grandpa Adams’ words came true. I remember many things from my childhood. I also believe that I can have a happy life even if sometimes I have bad experiences.