The land of What If

It’s built like the kingdoms of old. Fortified by high walls, guards, a real moat with dangerous looking fish that have sharp teeth and are always looking for a nibble. When you enter its gates it is understandable if you are overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. There is one way in and one way out. Maybe. Creative exits and entries are allowed and encouraged. That’s how the town got its name, What If. 

Like most settlements you have the naysayers and the yaysayers and then there are those who quite honestly don’t care. It’s the people who make the town what it is. What is it exactly? I’m getting to that. As the narrator it’s my job to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue. There I went and added more pressure to myself. What if you don’t agree that I’m intriguing or what if you decide that I’m only slightly interesting. 

Where was I? Ahhh yes! The town. Some of the town is rather bland and unassuming while other parts are colorful and bold. There are no rules or associations setup for neighborhood dictatation it’s merely your imagination that opens or close the door to your mind’s elaboration. The bland and the bold intermingle throughout. There is no set pattern, nor rhyme or reason just whatever was pleasing to the purchaser and dweller. They decide quite naturally depending on their reasons. What if I’m not accepted or what if I stand out? What if I have to repaint? What if I get to recreate something magical? It’s your outlook and perception that act as your interjection. 

Do the dwellings reflect the owners garbs and gowns? Not necessarily. After all, one could live in a home without color but choose to dress like a beautiful rainbow and accessorizing  with things that shine or sparkle. There is no rhyme or reason it depends on what they consider pleasing. 

What if  you take a moment to walk about town take time to breathe in the aromas of the markets’ fresh wares? Fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood and meats. Boiling soups and desserts freshly baked will flirt with your senses and draw you in like the sirens. Feel the texture of the clothes and become awed by their colors. Or you can walk past the market with a swift foot not indulging in the sights or sounds. What if you have an important meeting or want to go home after a long day of working?

What if you get to decide how to live? What if you get to decide what to fear? What if your glass is half empty and another’s half full and yet others celebrate with the chance to add ice or rum to theirs? What if you what if yourself into a tizzy? What if you have so many brilliant thoughts and ideas that make your brain dizzy? What if indeed the never ending tale. It’s been around for centuries and will continue until the end of ages. 
We had a rough Mother’s Day of 2015. We spent time off and on all day in our closet due to tornado warnings. When I put Little Dude (9 year old and #3 of 4) to bed he said he was scared. “What if a tornado comes while I’m asleep?” My response was, “I don’t live in the land of what ifs unless it’s full of positive thoughts.” We then began to what if some hopeful and silly things. He slept peacefully with his mind full of cheer and not fear. 

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What is a mom?

The answer to the question depends on who you ask. The answer is created in the mind and woven in the heart and is based upon perception, experience, comparisons, actions and words. When we hear the word mom some want to bow down and worship and others begin to cry for the heartache the word envokes. 

What is a mom? It could be the person who birthed you or it could be the person who paid thousands of dollars, jumped through legal hoops, answered the social study questions correctly and attended parenting classes before bringing you home. It could also be the one who agreed to take you when you were abandoned and had no place to go. 

A mom is not defined by activities such as homemade cookies, homeschooler, biggest fan, protector, supporter, chef, chauffeur, admirer, worshiper, or spoiler.

So, what is a mom? She’s you, she’s me, she’s a coworker, she’s a friend, she’s your neighbor, a teacher, a bus driver, a clerk, an addict, a CEO, a homeless person, broken, healed, she’s any female and she’s imperfect. 

She shaped you and molded you in action or lack thereof. She’s a person not a goddess. She’s real not imagined. She has hurts and challenges. She has triumphs and victories. 

Well, what is a mom? She the person you choose to honor one day a year. 

Mrs. Pauley (Day 18)

Dear Diary

I’m ready for school to start. I miss my friends. I can’t even believe I said that. But I am. Since we moved to this new neighborhood away from my  BFF I’ve been bored to tears. I really did cry yesterday after my mom said I couldn’t spend the night with Jessica. Why do I have to stay home to take care of their kid? I deserve a life. I’m only twelve!!!! I should be biking to the ice cream shop with Jess instead of sitting in this stoop again while the little brat watches Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and plays stupid video games. At least out here I can write without him bugging me. 

Dear Diary

Mrs. Pauley is the best thing about this street. She makes the best cookies ever. She’s the reason why I haven’t run away from home. Well, those cookies are. She offered me some cookies one day. I was all like stranger danger at first but all she wanted to do was talk. I can’t leave my stoop in case the brat breaks his leg pretending to be superman and jumps off of the top bunk again. I need to listen for his landing. Anyway, Mrs. Pauley comes over here every morning at 10:30 and leaves at 11:25. She has to get home in time for her stories which is some tv show that’s been around longer than I have. She’s tried to get me to watch with her but I reminded her of my invisible barrier. 

Dear Diary

I’m not sure how much of her stories to believe. She says she and Mr. Pauley have six sons. They all moved away from this place a long time ago. I understand why. I’ve never seen one of them. Who doesn’t come visit their parents every once in a while? They are always walking to the corner store together. They make a cute couple. Man, I wish Jason and I could be a cute couple. He’s definitely got the cute part down. But he’s 14 and thinks I’m a kid but I’m not. I’m officially a woman now. Which is kinda scary. What do I know about being a woman? But I can’t go up to him and say, hey Jason I’m a woman not some kid. Who does that?

Dear Diary

Last night I heard sirens and saw these lights on my wall. I looked outside and saw an ambulance. All I knew is it was parked outside their building. The next morning when Mrs. Pauley didn’t wave at me on my way to school I got scared. I thought something had happened to her. She’s always in the window in the morning and on the stoop when I get home. I run extra laps during PE so I don’t gain weight eating all those cookies she greets me with after school. But it wasn’t her. It was Mr. Pauley. Nosy Rosey told me after the second day of no Mrs. Pauley. Who names their kid Rosey? When Jason and I get married I’m naming our kids Katherine and David. Who can make fun of those names? Mr. Pauley died. Mrs. Pauley would not answer her door. I watched neighbor after neighbor go to her door with food or flowers but she never answered the door. Guess what? She really does have six sons. One of the other neighbors told my mom the bums didn’t show up for their dad’s funeral. I’ve never been to a funeral. Well let me tell ya just take the f-u-n out of that word. There was nothing fun about it. I cried for Mrs. Pauley. She looked so sad. 

Dear Diary

It’s been about a week but when I got off the bus yesterday there she was. Cookies in hand. Really on a plate but you know what I mean. I gave her a big hug when I saw her. She talked until dinner time that night. Mom let me stay out longer cause she knew Mrs. Pauley was probably lonely without Mr. Pauley. So she told me that she’s never worked before. She spent her years being a wife, mother and volunteer. Now that Mr. Pauley is gone what is she going to do? I hope he stuffed the mattress full of money or invested in Apple. Maybe her boys will come to her rescue like Jason did on Wednesday. Jess and I were walking down the hall when that stupid Roger bumped into me making me drop my homework folder. Ugh!!! Papers were flying everywhere. But I looked up and Jason was there with a handful. His hand touched mine and I wanted to scream, cry and kiss him all at the same time. Instead Jess said thank you cause apparently all I could do was look at him like a dork. What woman does that? I need to work on my surprise face in the mirror. I’ve been working in my, hi Jason but I guess practice doesn’t make perfect. 

Dear Diary

I’ve been crying all day. The dumb police came and took Mrs. Pauley away. She couldn’t pay her rent since Mr. Pauley died. I offered her my runaway fund but she said no. I can’t believe they threw her stuff on the curb and put her out. All she did was hold on to a picture and her cookie sheets as she watched that jerk of a landlord change the locks. It was so sad. I can’t believe she’s gone. She lived in that apartment since before the Internet. Her son’s ain’t loyal. She said she and Mr. Pauley invested in them hoping they would help take care of them when they were older. Now she’s living with her sister in another state. Mrs. Pauley sent me a letter and a care package, she refuses to text me. Guess what? She sent my favorite cookies. 

*****The neighborhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years. Write it in the first person.*****

Fears (Day 17)

Spiders, snakes, being old(er) and alone and living a life without purpose. Those are my top four fears. I have other things that make me fearful but I don’t want to go on and on about things like Stephen King’s books and movies. Have you ever read Tommy Knockers? Shudder, that was my last scary book. Then there is that red rum scene in the Shining that make me want to hide in my closet. 

Last year my ex took me back to court to change custody. Some days I was very afraid. The financial impact and the possibility of him winning the case caused me anxiety for many months. 

I refuse to live the rest of my life in fear. I had plenty of fears growing up. I feared too many things and people. I was concerned about what people would say to me, if the mean girls were going to threaten to beat me up, were they going to make fun of my clothes today? Those are big deals to middle school girls. 

When thoughts come to my mind or I’m having too many negative conversations with myself I repeat two of my favorite quotes. “Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt and “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. 

To the Least of These

I’ve read my share of feel good articles about people helping the homeless or less fortunate. I’ve watched videos of people asking for food from those who seemingly have it to give but their requests are denied. I’ve paid it forward in the drive thru line. I’ve even offered to buy a guy’s grocery bill when he left his wallet at home. He was buying flowers and the makings of a nice dinner how could I not?

Today was different. I was picking up a few items for the fan4 aka my four children at the store when a lady approached me and asked me to buy her groceries. I was taken off guard then I did a quick scan of her basket as she talked. “I get food stamps but they don’t come in until the sixth. I’m just trying to get some food for me and my daughter.” Within a few seconds I sized her up, analyzed her basket and did a quick calculation of what I needed vs what she was asking me to buy and whether or not it was an expense I was willing to take on.

I wanted to talk to her about budgeting her food stamps. I wanted to ask what was her plan after the two pack of hotdogs, one can of chili, two can of Pringle’s and one pack of break and bake cookies were gone. I wanted to know why there was no fresh fruit or vegetables in her basket. I wanted to know her scam or her hustle. What I didn’t want to know was her struggle. I have my own.

I thought about telling her I’m a single mother of four working one and a half jobs on a tight budget. Then I felt a tinge of condemnation. Yes, I will buy your groceries. As I checked out I couldn’t help but wonder why the clerk didn’t ask her how she was paying. I had her items separated from mine. For some reason I wanted different transactions. Some how the clerk knew I was picking up the tab. As soon as her groceries were paid, she thanked me and disappeared.

As I walked out of the store I wasn’t overcome with any emotion or sense of pride for doing a good deed. That’s what bothered me. Why didn’t I feel good? Why didn’t I have a rush of adrenaline? Where were the endorphins? I don’t know. Does it count when you perform the action but your heart didn’t play a part?

March 5, 2014

It had been a regular day. I woke up early. Prepared breakfast for the kids. I got everybody off to school and I put in my time at work. I don’t remember anything exciting occurring. Like I said, it had been a regular day. 

I was preparing dinner. The Fan4 were completing homework. That’s when I heard the knock on the door. I looked out the window beside the door and saw a short unassuming man. I thought he was another salesman attempting to get me to change electric companies. I remember thinking it’s a little late in the evening for door to door sales. 

I spoke to him through the screen door. “How may I help you?” He told me I needed to sign for something. I asked, “what is it?” By this time the Fan4, who are always excited when someone knocks on the door, were behind me watching and listening. 

Let me take you back a few months to December 2013  kids and I were talking about some of the things we wanted to do for 2014. I want to play soccer, I want to attend a basketball camp. Can I go to a summer camp? I told them I wanted to take a trip to Virginia. Due to the cost, we would not have birthday parties in 2014. What can I say? We live on a budget. Everybody agreed on the trip. 

I opened the front door to sign the papers. The gentleman told me I had ten days to respond and needed to get an attorney as soon as possible. I had been served. My heart was racing and so was my mind. What! Who? I walked through the crowd of people, four kids does feel like a throng of people at times. As I stood in my kitchen I opened the packet and realized my ex was taking me to court. 

I don’t know what I did next or who I called first. 

I picked up my cell phone at some point and walked into my room closing the door behind me. I walked into my closet and closed that door as well. My closet is my inner sanctuary at times. It’s where I go to have private conversations and get a couple of minutes alone. It’s the only place I can go in the house without a Fan following. 

I remember the shock. I remember the heartbreak. I also remember being overwhelmed and afraid. I knew that a court battle could obliterate my finances. I also knew that depending on the outcome our lives would change forever. 

I can’t help but wonder

I was reading an article about Meatless Mondays that is being “forced” on students in public schools. The article states animal rights activists are behind this movement. They are talking to students about the earth, the animals and what eating meat does to both.
Read the article here: http://news.yahoo.com/public-schools-forcibly-subject-students-meatless-monday-activism-021822637.html

I don’t have a problem with Meatless Mondays or Fish only Fridays. But I do wonder what life would look like if everybody minded their own business. What would the world look like if you were allowed to worship, eat, marry, learn, teach, dress they way you wanted to. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand we need rules and laws. I don’t support abuse of humans or cruelty to animals. Hhmmm I guess that’s the thing, my definition of abuse to animals is not the same as an animal rights activist’s view on abuse. Where is the common ground? If you don’t believe in eating meat then by all means, don’t eat meat. If you don’t want to wear clothes at the beach, there are places designated for that. If you dont’ want to worship a God then don’t go to church. If you don’t appreciate emissions from cars then walk. If you want to feed your children fast food every night and never give them a vegetable, I’m good with that as well. How much of life are we going to regulate, manipulate, and dictate?

Is it our duty as a society to push our agenda on others? Why do we insist on others living the way we live? Why must other’s worship your God? Let me throw this out here, how different is the ISIS from the Christian Crusades? How many lost their lives in the effort to advance the kingdom?

If I don’t vote the way you think I should, why can’t we still be friends? Why must we insult other people who vote, live and think differently? Why can’t I embrace your way of life and you embrace mine.

Again, I understand we need laws to deter crime. But we have a lot of laws on the books now and there is still quite a bit of crime going on daily. Is it because we don’t have enough laws? Is it because the thought of sitting in prison for life is not a deterrent? Perhaps it’s because we don’t love enough. If we put our differences aside and I look at you as a fellow human on this journey of life together and accept you where you are the way you are, would the heaviness of life appear a little lighter? If you could go to a neighbor and say, I am having a bad day and need to leave my kids with you for a day and not fear the state taking them away, would more children live or not experience abuse? If you could say to your partner, I need a break from you and have the option of taking a break, would more marriages survive? If a teen could say to a parent, teacher, friend, counselor I am having a tough time and have thoughts of committing suicide or killing people in mass and receive help instead of judgement or isolation, would they reach out?

I don’t have answers but I do have a lot of questions.

Meatless Mondays… Per the article, if you don’t support meatless Mondays, pack your kids a lunch. Don’t get me started on the number of kids that don’t have food at home to pack. That’s another topic for another day.