Saturday, November 18, 2017

Reawakened

I told myself I couldn't write.

I wanted to write, but instead, I shut down and closed up.  I was afraid of what would come out.  I was afraid that I might come undone in the messiness and uncertainty of our lives.

I forgot how reaching out and connecting opens our hearts to new possibilities.

I forgot the importance of laughing.

On Thursday, I boarded a plane to St. Louis to attend #NCTE17. 



Oh, how I had missed my friends.  While only able to stay for 2 days, I reconnected with old friends and made some new.  I listened to stories and calls to action.  I learned new ideas.  I bought some books.  Sparks of energy bubbled inside me.

The fog lifted.  I felt hope again. 

I woke up early, back in my own bed.  I knew what I needed...to write again. 

As I write in the quiet early morning, I am joined by a sleepy eight year-old.

"Julie, you're home," she whispers as her warm body curls into me. 


I invite her to write with me and she accepts.  My heart is filled with gratitude, contentment, and love.




Yes, there are many things to celebrate...family, friends, laughter, stories and reawakening.  Thank you to Ruth for creating this space to celebrate.  Thank you for enticing me to write again. 




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Once Upon a Time...A Slice of Life



"Once upon a time, there was a lady with curly hair.  She had two daughters that she loved a lot. Then she got a surprise. She got two more foster daughters who she loved a lot too."

"Hey, what about Zach?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah.  And she had a son she loved too.  But she was really glad when she got two more foster daughters."

We giggled at her bedtime story.  Destiny was curled up next to me under the covers pretending she was the mom.  Her impish face smiled up at me. 

"Now go to sleep."  She leaned over to kiss me good-night, wrapping her arms around me in a big, tight hug.  She skipped off to her bedroom for her own end-of-the-day good-night story with Keith.


Destiny's story warms my heart.  When I look at her, I know she feels safe.  She is growing.  She is happy.  She is loved.

While we don't know how her story is going to evolve,  we do know that we want to always be part of her story.


Tonight we baked cookies.   That's not a typical school night activity.  But sometimes, it's ok to veer from the normal and do something out of the ordinary.  Destiny's excitement made it all worthwhile. 

I end the evening with my own story.

Once upon a time, there was a lady with curly hair, and man with just a little hair.  They didn't know how much their hearts were going to grow.  Two little girls, a surprise they weren't expecting, brought joy, laughter, fear, uncertainty, and hope.  That lady and man were amazed at their resilience and in awe of their strength. 

And just like Destiny ended her story Friday night,  they were really glad that they got two more girls to love.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this community to share our stories.  It's been a long time since I posted and it's nice to know that this space is always here. 





Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Letting Go

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  I am grateful for this community who welcomes all.



This quote came to my email the other day.   I immediately knew I had to save it, because right now, it's the story of my life.


None of us can predict what our lives will be like from one day to the next.  I never dreamed that at this point in my life I would be parenting an 8 year old and a 12 year old.  I did not anticipate that we would no longer be able to leave for the weekend on a whim or enjoy quiet, leisurely evenings on the patio, just the two of us.

My life is not what I thought it would be.

My emotions flip-flop inside me as I fight against fear, frustration, and helplessness.  But even as these feelings bump up against each other, hope and joy push their way through.  I remember that because we have these 2 young girls, we are lucky enough to experience many things a second time around...


Baking with 2 helpers and scream/laugh when Miss Destiny turned the mixer on too high and flour erupted out of the bowl...


Watching this little lady check out books that she's chosen herself and then curling up in my lap to read while we waited for big sister to finish getting her books... 


Beginning our search for the best ice cream of 2017 with Annie and Lucas...



Heading to the zoo for an impromptu visit and seeing everything from their point of view...



Ending the evening with two young ones snuggled next to me knowing that another day has gone by and they've healed just a little bit more.


We don't know what the next day will bring and this life sure isn't what I expected it to be, but when I let go of what "should have been" and focus on all the goodness we are blessed to have, I have hope that this new way of life is going to work out for all of us. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Unknown Territory


Today I am joining Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday.  I am so grateful for this community where others gather to share their stories.

Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” – Rita F. Pierson



I believe this quote with all my heart.  
I truly want to be the adult that doesn't give up, but sometimes I wonder if I can keep doing this.  

Raising children from hard backgrounds is not easy.  It's gut wrenching at times and more often than not, we have no idea if what we are doing is the right thing to do.  

Just when we think we've covered all the bases, something new crops up.  We are exhausted!  

Today was one of those days.

However...

If we are exhausted, how must they feel?

Plucked out of their home and settled into ours.  

New rules,  new norms, wondering if it's safe to feel safe.  

They are walking on shaky ground.  I can only imagine that they must contemplate if  the adults in their lives will hold on and stay put.  They must question where their future lies.  What happens if they let their guard down too far?

It must be terrifying.  

And so tonight, as the rest of the house sleeps, I take a deep, calming breath.  I say a prayer for strength, wisdom and guidance.  I ground myself because this journey is big, way bigger than we ever imagined.  

My husband and I will hold each other up.  We will open our arms and draw in two little girls who need love and stability so badly.  We will look only at getting through one day at a time.

We will stay focused and remember our purpose.  Together, we will all be the best we can possibly be.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sweet Tea...My Secret Love Affair SOL #24

I am joining the Two Writing Teachers in the March Slice of Life Challenge (most days!).


I am an iced tea drinker.  There is always a pitcher in our refrigerator, no matter what time of year it is.  It's not unusual to see me with a McDonald's styrofoam cup in hand (or on my desk in my office) filled with unsweet tea.  Yes, unsweet tea.  I don't drink my calories.

That is until I come to the south.  I began the trip keeping true to my unsweet tea.  Everywhere we went, I ordered my tea the usual way...unsweet.  Then after a few days crossing the Georgia line, I relented...half unsweet, half sweet.  Oh, it was so good.  I kept to the half and half for two days and then this morning, I caved.

"I'll have the sweet tea," I told the waitress as she took my order today.  And the rest is history.  Every. single. meal.  Sweet Tea please.

I'll be heading home on Sunday. I'll hop back on the wagon then.  For now, I'll follow my heart and order that sweet tea.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Present Over Perfect SOL #22

I am joining The Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge.


I'm in the middle of reading Present Over Perfect:  Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.  I'm not sure where I got the recommendation, but I'm glad I got it.  It's just what I need right now in my life.

After vacationing vicariously yesterday and taking a cue from my Present Over Perfect, I decided to close the books for today (ok...I did a little reading in the car) and join Keith and the girls for today's adventures.  Today we explored the natural side of Florida.  My sister introduced us to the St. John's River Cruise last year, and we knew we had to take the girls this year.  Keith's cousins joined us and we spent 2 lovely hours meandering down the St. John's River. We saw a myriad of birds, native Florida plants and lots of alligators.  Mama Alligator showed us her displeasure by hissing at us when we got a little too close.


Next was a trip to New Smyrna Beach, one of my favorite Florida beaches.  We soaked in the warm sun, played in the waves and had fun in the sand.  Destiny built her first sand castle with the help of Keith, who can never turn down the opportunity to build in the sand.  



We ended our day sun-kissed and happy.  Today I was present to the beauty of Florida and the company of some very special people.  It was a perfect day!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vicarious Vacation SOL #21

I am joining The Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge.

My husband asked me what I was going to write about tonight.  You see, I spent the day sitting on my sister's sun porch working on transcribing an interview for my ethnography class.  I know that procrastination is a problem of mine and apparently, I've taken it to a new level.  Transcribing a 20 minute video took me about 5 hours and I have about 6 more videos to transcribe.  So, I've got some more sun porch sitting to do.  While I worked, Keith took the girls out for the day.  My transcription got interrupted by regular texts from them showing me all the fun they were having.  They had a lot more fun than I did.

Lunch at Planet Hollywood


Yes, they are still having fun!


Destiny, who is afraid of heights, wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride.  


Building and racing cars at Lego Land.  

I'm pretty sure their day was a lot more fun than mine.