Joy at 46

IMG_1456Yes, ladies and gents, I’m 46.  I’m trying not to be depressed about rounding up to 50.  It seems so much closer but I’m just one day older if you really stop and think about it.

So let’s take a pit stop, regroup, and reflect a little on this 46th milestone.

In light of the misfortunes and controversies that seem constant in our world, I’ve been revisiting what I know to be true:

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates (or as Bill and Ted say, SO-CRATES.)

When I first studied philosophy in college, I came to the conclusion that almost everything in these classes frustrated and boggled me.  I wanted to explode trying to understand all the converging and contradicting ideas.  The idea of knowing nothing made sense to me, since I felt that I truly knew NOTHING after months of studying philosophy.  (No offense Merry and Chris Brown… I know you’ve dedicated your life’s work to studying and working out philosophical ideas.  I think my mind might be broken if I tried to think about philosophy all the time.  Mad respect to both of you.)

On Thursday, my girls decided to walk the 3.6 miles from school to home.  They thought the 8-minute drive would take them about 40 minutes to walk.  Wrong.  At the 40 minute mark, they were still 35 minutes away from home.  Turns out, the walk was an hour and 15 minutes.  (They later said, NEVER AGAIN!  They couldn’t believe HOW LONG it took them to get home.) Now they totally understand why their brother, Boy, doesn’t want to walk home anymore and just waits the 1.5 hours until dad picks him up after school every day.  On further observation, I think what made this especially hard for the girls was their expectation that it would be a shorter walk.  When they got over halfway home, they thought they’d already be at home and exhaustion and expectation made that last half hour excruciating.  Welcome to LIFE, right?  I’ve played this metaphoric scenario out more times than I’d like to admit.  I think the point of this misadventure is, just keep walking.

If you want to achieve your goals, don’t focus on them. (Video attached). If the girls hadn’t focused on the behavior it took to get home (walking) and just focused on the idea of being home, they never would have reached their goal of getting home.  This idea of focusing on the behaviors that help us reach goals seems, well, duh!  But sometimes we focus so much on goals (endpoint) that we forget that we have to DO something to get there.  Sometimes we focus so much on the endpoint that we’re paralyzed to do anything to get to our goal.

I do know a few things:

I know change is constant.

I know that loving people is important.

I know defending the weak and less fortunate is a powerful command that is often overlooked.

I know God exists.

Beyond this, I’m pretty stumped.

There have been a lot of ideas going round and round in my brain lately. I’ve been watching Making a Murderer and idea that you have to follow the evidence where it leads is fascinating to me.  Careful and deep examination of the evidence must occur if justice is to be served.

In Confessions of a Prarie Bitch, I learned that the actress that played Nellie Olson on Little House on the Prarie, Alison Arngrim, had to have more GRIT in real life than she did on the show.  The show helped her survive the tragedy of parts of her childhood and gave her an amazing outlook in adulthood.

If you don’t know anything about me, one thing you should know is that I live in my head.  I am one of the most annoyingly detailed people I know. I am a taskmaster. I make lists and check off lists all day long. This gives me some sort of creepy comfort when things seem chaotic (which is most of the time).  I’m pretty good at focusing on behaviors that help me reach goals, but one thing I’m not very good at is FUN.  You don’t put fun on a checklist, right?  (Well, I kinda did.  After bloodwork, DMV, lunch-Sushi with family, a smiling picture of the family, and a nap yesterday, I did have a plan to go Knott’s on my checklist.)  I don’t do unpredictable amusement park rides post back surgery, but I did ride one of those nauseating spin-in-circle rides. One and done.  And then, spontaneously, as we walked past the arcade, I saw a CLAW MACHINE.  Like a moth to a flame, I found as I got closer that it was a claw machine of unicorns and not just any unicorn, but Dookie, the Squatty Potty Unicorn.  Well, let’s just say, Dookie arrived promptly on my mental checklist and I was going to make the behaviors happen to reach my goal and pull Dookie out of the claw machine.  (Not sorry for the mental image.)

Here’s PURE JOY:



So, let’s end this thing with a quote from SO-CRATES:

“Whom do I call educated? First, those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day by day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be… those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes… those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men.”

Until the next post, love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I had biscuits with boysenberry jam on my checklist.  We went to the Chicken Restaurant at Knott’s and indulged in a down home meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, cherry rhubarb, and boysenberry pie. It was delicious.  This is what I wanted instead of a piece of cake.  I don’t normally eat gluten so a biscuit was indulging. It was worth every bite.  Yum.

Now back to my routine.

Courage, Computers, and that other C- word

It’s been a while…I miss you, friends.

Amidst Back-to-School nights, supply and clothes shopping, guitar lessons, laundry, cute kitty & puppers videos, attempting to make healthier dinners, reminding the kids to drink water, the deaths of McCain and Aretha, monitoring class assignments for Boy, Middle, and Little, intervening in arguments between those three, scheduling appointments, paying bills, and remembering to take my vitamins, life brings a dose of “here’s what’s most important” and you have to swallow whether you want to or not.

The 2017-18 school year was my first full-time working year since my Boy was born, 15 years ago.  (He’d like you all to know that he’s now 16 and we have scheduled THE appointment: driver’s license appointment.)  This new school year, 2018-19 has been wrought with opportunities to push my courage button in the face of hardship and inconvenience.

The Saturday before the school year, my dear colleagues and I attended the funeral of two students that died tragically over the summer.  Heartbreaking.  Incomprehensible.  The other three siblings are back at school and we are rallying to keep life as normal as possible for them. I want to say so much more about this, but to keep the privacy of this family intact, I cannot.

We hit the pavement of the 2018-19 school year ground running.  Fast-paced.  Problems as usual.  Technology problems. Questions, about the tech problems.  More questions about technology problems. Yes, I’m a teacher, but when you’re at a school with over 700 devices, and you are the one that knows just a smidgin’ more than the others, you tend to be the troubleshooter.  So the past weeks, we’ve been trying to get all our silly unresponsive bratty computers to do what they’re supposed to do…WORK!  If the computers were teenagers, it would make so much more sense.  They’ve been acting like teenagers— rebellious, talking back, diggin’ their heels in, wanting their own way.  I attempted to show them who the parent was. Most of our computers are now in working order.  Now we can finish the task of all our beginning-of-year assessments and hopefully, all those computers will submit to authority and continue to work properly.

This is the reason I woke up this morning with a-hankerin’ to write…the C-word. I don’t even want to say it. This week, I found out a dear friend has an aggressive form of breast cancer.  I want to cuss.  If you knew this person, you’d know she’s had her share of hardships, raising 8 boys, overcoming her own drug addiction, dealing with multiple tragedies in her family.  Why God? Why?  I’m still at the anger phase in the grieving process.  I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.  She’s got the most positive attitude of just about anyone on Earth, and now this?   It really is unbelievable.

And then I get all… reflective, consumed with my own mortality, wondering what the point of all of this is.  There’s an ongoing theme in my life, and I’m sure you can relate.  There are many shit sandwiches.  I’m going to have courage in the face of this. I’m going to sit in the shit with the people I love.  It’s not fun or easy, but it’s necessary.

Love the ones you’re with.  Hold them up in prayer.  You may be all they’ve got.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m at 2 1/2 years post surgery. I’m maintaining.  I’d like to lose 10 more pounds, but most people do, right?



Reasons to Celebrate

Oh, my gosh!  We had our first consultation with the HERO program & Zero Energy in August of 2015.  After two years and a shitload of money, the solar panels are finally approved!  We get to flip that switch and let the sweet SoCal sun work its magic on our electric bill.  Wouldn’t it be great if the sun could solve all our problems?  All the money we save in electricity each month will likely be spent paying for something else, probably a car payment.

Oh, my gosh! Yeah, Steve’s car was stolen a couple of weeks ago, August 16th to be exact.  (I guess it’s not really a reason to celebrate.) But since we’re celebrating the sun, I’m going to look on the bright side.  Ba-dum-dum.  There is a bright side to Steve getting his car stolen. (Yeah, Joy, what’s that?).  We’ve had to learn, once again to roll with it.  (Maybe we’re slow learners.)  Fortunately, someone awesome, let us borrow a truck that just happens to have a cab for transporting our kids.  So whilst we await the news of whether or not the car is found, we have another loaned vehicle to manage our Back-to-School schedules without the struggle of scheduling with one car.  (See? There is a bright side.)


Oh my gosh! I celebrate 20 years of teaching this August. My new role at a K-5 reading intervention teacher is exciting and challenging.  It was the first year I didn’t read a story to “my” class on the first day of school.  That’s one of the things I’m going to miss about having my own classroom.  I’m going to make opportunities to read to kids though. There’s something about watching kids’ faces when they hear an exciting story that makes them laugh or wonder…that is the stuff of life.  The anticipation of what’s next?  That’s what makes a good story.  Speaking of exciting stories…


Oh my gosh! 22 years, today.  How can it be?  Steve and I have been married for 22 years.  Some of our oft used phrases are, “It’s always somethin’!”  “Through thick & thin.” “We’ve gots to roll with it.” (Grammatical error intended.) “We’ve got this.”  “That’s life.”  “Life ain’t easy, but at least we’ve got each other.”  “What? Chicken butt!” When we said “I do,” we couldn’t predict what was ahead.  We’ve had our share of hardships over the years: back surgeries, butt surgeries, kidney stones, C-sections, work changes, disappointments, and loss.  We’ve also had our share of joys and shared a ton of laughter.  Birthing two and loving on a 3rd child have brought us so much joy and fulfillment (and yes, if I’m honest, a whole lotta sleepless nights), but all these years have one thing in common, resilience.  THAT is a reason to celebrate.  I’m so grateful I get to share life with a man who loves me, for me, mess that I am.  Happy 22nd-year hun.  I don’t want to imagine life without you.  That photo up there was us when we were babies, on our honeymoon. (This was the one time I sat on his lap.  I’m not a lap sitter, but it’s a super cute photo, right?  I bought that moo moo at a thrift store in Kauai.  I might be able to fit in that again if I still had it.) 

These are reasons to celebrate.

Until another Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

Oh, my gosh!  I’ve lost…wait for it…wait for it…


100 pounds!  What?!  Yup. 100.  I weigh about once a week, not obsessively, and I was so surprised this week to see that my weight is below 150.  Do the math and add a hundred in the hundred’s place.  Yes, I have lost what amounts to ten, ten-pound bags of potatoes. I’ve lost the weight of a junior high girl.  I’ve lost the weight of 3 containers of kitty litter (those suckers are heavy).  I’ve lost the weight of about 12 gallons of milk.  Incredible.  Unbelievable.  Also, doable.  download

NYC- Food, Friends, and Fun: Part 1

So, once we were on the my dear friend’s street in Greenwich Village, the cabbie said, “Are we here?” when he thought we’d arrived at the proper address.

I said, “I don’t know if this is it, it’s my first time here.”

He said, “Oh, I thought you lived here.”

“Uh, no, I’m just a really good faker.”

We both had a giggle.

I arrived here last night to visit with my dear friend, Anny. It’s so good to love on the people you love, people.  Do it.  Life is too short not to.

This morning, she made me a lovely decadent egg scrambled magical goodness extravaganza with artichoke truffle paste, Portobello mushrooms, and zucchini.   Meanwhile, I complained about how freakin’ hot it is in her 6th floor walk up apartment and how I can’t imagine not controlling the heat in my own house.  You’ve heard before how I have issues with heat.  Now, back to the egg extravaganza (Um, can you say delish? I had seconds. Did I mention that I’m in NYC because Anny bought me a flight, but I’m also here to eat something naughty whenever I’m hungry and not feel a bit of guilt.)  

We headed off shortly after 11am, and popped into Amy’s Bread in GV for a cup of coffee and a pistachio twist.  (GV- Now we’re on initial terms because writing out Greenwich Village is too much work to spell out over and over.)  We hoofed it to the Subway headed to Central Park. CP in autumn has to be one of God’s favorite places on earth.  (Really, God, yes? I wouldn’t mind if heaven was just like this place, with a constant temperature regulated at 60 degrees.  Are you taking notes?)    

Central Park has such gorgeous fall colors and we dressed just perfectly.  Anny gifted me this fanTAStic sweater that complimented this enchanting day.  I was camouflaged.   I Spy with my little eye, something, orange.  Ah, oranges, and reds, and yellows and rustic browns.  Did I mention that fall is my favorite?   Hover over the pictures to see little snippets of my adventures today.  What a lovely day.  I get to do this again tomorrow.  Don’t hate.

(Oh, and God has told me there will be cannolis and NYC pizza in heaven, because all the streets aren’t made of gold, in the literal, like, gold-chain sense of the word, nah, the streets of gold are really streets of dough.  Golden luscious wheat dough of all shapes and sizes.  Savory and sweet. Pure Heaven.  There will be no calories or badness associated with this golden dough.  The pot at the end of the rainbow in heaven will be filled with golden dough. Can I get an amen?)

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I ate tons today.  I also walked a whole lotta steps.  That evens things out, right?

I had a few moments where I realized that I would have really struggled with this trip a year ago.  The walking and the climbing of stairs would have been terribly hard for me.  I’m enjoying this so much more, with 75 less poundage.  That’s like almost 2 of the suitcases I carried up the 6 floor walkup, except that weight was on my body.  Yeah, on my body.  (I just have to say, Anny, you rock those stairs every day.  You kick sass.  For realz.)

Here’s me, huffin’ and puffin’ up those stairs carrying my 39-pound suitcase.  The video quality is poor, but my commentary is pretty funny.  Enjoy.


Happiness and Gumdrops

This school year has been wild. Wild I say.  There are moments when I get this tiny glimpse of the joy of life from a child’s perspective and I’m reminded that this is why I teach.  There are so many grabby hands at my time and energy as a teacher, and then a student will insert a bright spot and I’m reminded why I love this calling of teaching.

Two of my 5th grade students that I had as 3rd graders came to my 3rd grade classroom to say ‘hello’ on Crazy Hair Day (Red Ribbon Week). (I had dum-dum suckers in my hair and a handmade sign that read, “Drugs are Dum Dum.”)  As they were shelving books in my library, their conversation went like this:

Girl 1: “The classroom has changed a little.” (Spoken in a Japanese accent. When this student came to me in 3rd grade she didn’t speak hardly any English, and now, she’s reading at a 4th grade level.  I’m so proud of the progress she’s made.  She’s made it through some major hurdles in her personal life over the past few years.)

Girl 2:  “It still smells like happiness and gumdrops.”  (Yeah, she really said those.exact.words.) I had to write it down it was so cute and unexpected.

There are days when I wonder why I’m teaching.  There are so many things required of me that I don’t necessarily care a lick about, but I have to do as a part of my professional responsibilities. Then a student will say something profound or encouraging and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, THIS is why I do it.”

My job is to provide a safe place where students love to learn.  This girl’s memory of my

I don’t know what I did that was “very good, very very good” for this 3rd grade student, but I love our awesome cape, my side bangs and that I’m holding her hand. 

class made me take a deep breath and capture the feeling of satisfaction, if only for a fleeting moment. Yes, I am trying to create an environment that makes students remember something happy.  She came away from her 3rd grade year feeling like she belonged.  (Joy, you got all that from the happiness and gumdrops comment?  Uh, yeah, I did.)  You should have seen her face.  Recalling that joy makes me teary as I’m writing.

Then there are moments when I’m teaching and I do… this.  I literally do… this.  I’m not always a happy shiny teacher.  (Keeping it real.)  I get frustrated, but underneath all the layers, I think my students know I really care, and I do.  So here’s a little comic relief from one of my favorite principals.  I do this… the quick change with a head whip… regularly.  Watch on.


This one.  So true.  I love this.

So there you go, folks.  I’m reposting these videos because all my teacher friends need a little comic relief right about now. America will be so grateful that we cared for her children on Monday, Halloween!  You know the leftover candy will be eaten all the way through Friday.  Oh boy, gear up my friends.  Next week is going to be a LOOOONG week. Hopefully you won’t have to use Google Teacher Translate for any ‘licking other kids’ incidents.

Life in the classroom isn’t always happiness and gumdrops as we know, but when your students leave you, hopefully they’ll remember that you cared because I know you do.  The caring is the gumdrops.  You’re all full of gumdrops.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I walked enjoyed my walk today.  image-1

A Few of My Favorite Things

We’ve discussed this before, that there are many things that are not my favorites.  Days like today where the humidity spikes and I’m dripping as I go from one destination to another, not my favorite.  Drivers that speed up to get in front of me and then make an abrupt right turn without pulling over courteously or signaling, not a big fan of that.  I’m also not a fan of the Arrow Holders, you know what I’m talking about…those people that stand on the corner and hold the arrow pointing you to a business or the newest housing development.  Mostly I’m not a fan of the bosses who employ the Arrow Holders.  Why do we need this?  How do you get one of these jobs?   And does anyone ever follow the arrow ———->?

So today, I was running late, as usual, to my acupuncture appointment, because I always underestimate how much time it’s going to take me to get there.  As I entered the van, I realized that my gas light was on empty.  Conundrum: Do I make myself later by stopping for gas, or cross my fingers and hope that I can make it there on the fumes?   The phrase Gas Half Empty came to mind.  I’ve been living figuratively the past few weeks with my tank on empty and I just keep going, hoping, that I’ll make it to my destination, all the while stressed that I might not make it, that I might actually run out of gas.  If history repeats itself, what running out of gas looks like for me, is a terrible head cold or sinus infection.

I decided today, rather than focus on the things that are not my favorite, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorite things <<insert Julie Andrews cue here>> and lift myself up.

Potatoes- scalloped, hashed, souped, fried, and mashed.  My mama’s mashed potatoes are the best. My favorite.  She grew up on a farm in the community of Savoy, Arkansas.  At the age of 9, when her mother passed away, she took on the role of cooking and cleaning for her dad and two brothers.  Every morning, she’d wake up and cook a farm fresh breakfast- eggs, bacon, toast, sometimes biscuits and gravy.  (I still remember being horrified that my grandpa Roland put tomato slices on his cereal.  What?  He was one of those, “It all goes to the same place” kind of eaters.  Practical and matter of fact.) At 9, she was the caretaker.  Her childhood was forever altered at the time her mother passed.  I’ve learned so many things from my mom.  She’s my favorite mama.  One of the things she can do like nobody’s business, is make some mean mashed potatoes.  Here’s how she does it:  She peels the potatoes, as many as will fit in a big 5 quart pot, probably about 3 pounds of potatoes.  She slices the potatoes into half inch pieces and boils them until tender.  Then she drains them and saves a little of the starchy water for later.  Using a hand mixer, she adds in a stick of butter and it melts as she blends the potatoes with the mixer, slowly adding in milk and some of the starchy water.  Add salt and pepper to taste and my mama’s mashed potatoes will make you feel like you’re in heaven.  Those potatoes were weaved into dinner after dinner throughout my childhood.  Whenever my mama makes them, I feel loved.  Thanks mama.  They’re my favorite.

The last time I cut potatoes, this is what happened. It’s like God was saying, eat potatoes.  (At least, that’s how I interpreted it. If you say so God, okay, I’m listening.)


Next, the colorful people are my favorite.  Here’s one example:  I’ll tell you about a man that used to come in to Cappuccino Charlie’s almost every day when I worked there.  He called himself JA, and when I asked him what JA stood for, he said, “Jelly Ass.” Alrighty then.  Every day, he’d come in and make random comments, buy his cup of coffee, sit for awhile and look awkwardly at me and all the other customers walking through.  He talked about auras and said many nonsensical things.  He said my aura was orange.  Alrighty then.  He always wore these shoes that hearkened back to the days when people used cobblers on a regular basis.  They reminded me of the shoes that Elves made in the Elves and the Shoemaker.  These shoes where slip-ons with a heel, yes, like a 1-inch heel. Yeah, really.  He walked all over La Verne, San Dimas and Pomona in those shoes.  I’d often see him when I wasn’t working, walking around town in those same shoes.  JA made an impression.  I’ve always liked the quirky awkward types, maybe because that’s how I feel most of the time.  JA was unique.  Unique is my favorite.

The beach, specifically,

Crystal Cove.  The pictures say it all.  Go here.  It will be your favorite.

My favorite Etsy store is called For Strange Women.  The name intrigued me (because I’m strange) and when I went to the online store I became totally obsessed with trying out all the wonderful scents.  (I had to order samples. My secret is out…all my friends will be receiving my own hand-picked selection of scents from this site. If you’re offended that it comes from For Strange Women, don’t be.  You know I like you.) My absolute favorite so far is the scent, Decadence and Debauchery, doesn’t the description captivate you? il_fullxfull-197737942_33d10aa1-d748-4b04-8b7e-d84c475881f8_grande

This botanical base of immortelle petals, resins, and violet leaves is smothered in smooth layers of tobacco and vanilla bourbon. Ripe blood oranges, bergamot, and oponopax round out the top of this intense and androgynous concoction, suitable for burlesque beauties, Victorian darlings, and vaudeville sensations alike.



Here’s another of my favorite scents, Karma Kreme from Lush.  02145It’s really the best smelling cream.  I’m buying this for myself for my birthday.  I thought you all should know. If you didn’t know this about me, patchouli is my favorite.  I’ve been attracted to this scent for years and it turns out patchouli has so many uses.  I feel so happy when I use it.  Patchouli love.

Shoes… my new favorites are Fly London.  I just picked up these fantastic red ankle boots.  I can’t wait to wear them more regularly, once the October heat moves on and I can put my sandals away for awhile.  These boots are so delicious.  They’re my favorite.





Oh my gosh, tape- washi tape, masking tape, duct tape, shipping tape, I love it all.  (Scotch tape is my least favorite, because it’s boring.)  I like the colorful tapes.  If I’m going to have to handle and hang the paper that goes through these hands everyday, I might as well decorate-the-hell out of it.  Here is a samplin’ of my tape collection.  And that ain’t even all of it.  I know, you can say it, I’ve got prollems.


Coconut anything, rose oil, essential oils, freezer meals…

and oh my gosh, friends!  You’re all my favorites.  What would life be without friends?  I love you all.  I miss you all.  Let’s get together.  I’ll make some of my mama’s mashed potatoes.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

Kinda freakin’

I’ve GAINED a few pounds.  This is distressing me.

I’m trying not to obsess.

But, if you’ve seen my tape collection, you know that obsessions come easy.

I’m walking more that I have in years.

Does that count?

Uh, yeah, Joy.  It counts.

You’re going to be fine.

Thanks. I needed that pep talk.

You’re welcome.




IMG_3086“Change your hair, change your life.”  This has been my motto since my college years.  Back in the day, I couldn’t afford to go and pay the $12 to get my hair cut so I cut it myself.  Yup.  Mirror and scissors, the masterful tools of little girls who played Barber Shop on their brothers back in the day.  Thanks for being my first client, Michael Nichols.  (Shout out to my bruh!  Love you!) (He probably won’t read this until I tell him I’ve named him in my post.)  The only ‘traditional’ color hair I haven’t had is platinum blonde.  I always think I’ll look too washed out with my freckled skin.  (Don’t be surprised if that comes in 2017.) Yes, I have gone black (not the best color for me), that’s when I had a pixie cut and worked at Cappuccino Charlie’s in La Verne whilst going to school to get my teaching credential.

Today I got my hair cut again, and on a whim, I decided to cut a little more.  Correction, I asked Mareese to cut a little more.  (Before you know it, I might be super short-haired again and platinum, the way this is year is going.) I love my hair stylist Mareese.  She listens to me and is a master chemist when it comes to mixing color.  In probably 1997, after those bad self-haircuts, I decided to go to Regis in the mall and pay real money for color and cut because I was getting a real paycheck.  I’ve been with Mareese for over 20 years.  I’ve followed her to salon after salon.  Because she’s good.  She listens.  She’s a badass.  Her hair has been asymmetrical since before it was cool, long and bright red on one side, cut short and blonde on the other side.  And she has Asian hair, the kind of hair that is hard to color just right.  You might be afraid of her if you went to her for the first time thinking, (Uh, she’s a little too punk-rock for me) but she’ll do whatever YOU want and need.  That’s the prerequisite of a great stylist.  One that knows their craft and listens to their clients.  (Mareese isn’t giving me kickbacks for this advertisement.  Right, Mareese? Love you.)

See this surgery thing, you know, the gastric bypass I had back in March 2016, well, part of the package was a prescription of Ursodial, a medication to prevent gall stone attacks.  I’ve been faithfully taking it because the idea of having to go back to the hospital for gall bladder surgery removal would really cramp my style right about now.  One of the major side effects of this medication is hair loss.  I know those of you who have seen me lately, might think, “Uh, Joy, you have enough hair for two people, losin’ a little ain’t gonna hurt.”  Yeah, you’re right.  That’s just what I did today.  I let Mareese work her magic.  I always tell her she’s got a special talent with ‘the hairs’.  She knows what they need.   I trust her with my hairs.  She knows how wild and unruly it can be and she now sees how much I’ve lost over the past few months.  (Everyone, take a moment of silence for all of Joy’s hairs that have fallen, of late, and clogged all the drains in her house. Maybe you should take a moment of silence for the drains and the carpets that have had to become home to the unwelcomed hairs. Ew.)  


Long hair phase in my epic blue thrift store dress with Holly, Sarah, and Allyson.  Sarah’s was from the thrift store too.  (Remember the ‘seam incident’ from dancin’ too hard in that dress Sarah?) Good times.
Anny and me in my black pixie phase
Aimee and me in our short hair chic phase
Merry and me in our hippy phase.  She gave me Pink Lightning. (Long story.)

Shout out to Aimee, Merry, Anny, Allyson, Sarah and Holly. I love y’alls.  I had crazy head tilts in almost all these photos.  Waasssup with that?

So the theme of this post is…change.

Change happens.

Change can be good or bad.

I was thinking back this week to this tree in my front yard on Turner Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Today, I wanted to go back and climb that tree all the way to the top and perch myself up there for awhile to escape for a bit from the chaos of this school year’s chaotic beginning (see my last post if you’re curious as to what I’m talking about.)  To quote my most recent favorite quote from a Walking Dead character, “When you care about people, hurt is kind of part of the package.” Change and the accompanying hurt have been a theme these past few weeks.

That tree had a protruding branch that was almost at a 90 degree angle, wide enough to bear hug comfortably.  It was perfectly at my 9-year-old arm height.  I’d hug the branch, run up the side of the tree trunk, swing my leg over and mount that branch like I was sitting on a horse.  Then I’d climb the branches as high as I could and escape for a little while and free myself from all my third grade worries.  We moved from that house and consequently, that tree, at the end of third grade, one of many changes throughout my childhood.  Change happens. Change can be good or bad.

So, in light of the recent beginning of school year bliss at an elementary, middle and high school, the past few weeks have been full of school supply purchases. (Thank you Avery, Elmers, Crayola, Post-it, & Bic for allowing me to break the bank buying school supplies over the past few weeks. You are too kind.  We didn’t need to eat this month.)  Really? An agenda with corresponding quality note space area is $30? Really?  Consequently, the conversation that ensued post-purchase, went like this, “Son, you lose that agenda, you’re buyin’ yourself a new one!  That was $30!” It really wasn’t a conversation, it was more like a commandment.

(Thank you Staples for jackin’ up the prices in August and making us feel like we’re getting a good deal by offering a few items for a penny.  I’m watchin’ you.   I’m watchin’ you.  Not sure what I can do about it.  But, I’m watchin’ you.  Next year, could you sell agendas for a penny? Pretty please? I’ve got about 8 more years of buyin’ those suckers.)  So, did I tell you that I shopped for school supplies for all three kids and my classroom students?  I think I spent at least 3 hours walking the supply aisles looking for just the right Crayola Twistable 24 pack, three prong folders of varying colors, art supplies (blending sticks, What ARE those?), 2 inch folders, 1 inch folders, erasers, red, blue, green, and black pens, highlighters of specific colors, reams of paper, kleenex and this ain’t the end of the list. Ugh.  I actually spent over an hour one night shopping for 2 of the kids’ supplies and realized when I got home that I hadn’t looked at the 3rd child’s supply list.  I had to go back, so the third child wouldn’t feel like the third wheel.  The items I couldn’t find that night, I proceeded to purchase on Amazon.  Thank you Amazon, for having my back (because I have have to navigate that school supply aisle one.more.time, I might run out of the store in hysterics and lie in the parking lot in a fetal position.)  Change happens.  Change can be good or bad.  Sometimes change makes you crave a dark hole and a long winter’s nap.

Back to my hair.  Cutting it is a way of controlling something.  I feel the need to control something right now, and my hair is the lucky (or unlucky) culprit.  Change happens.  Change can be good or bad.  You can decide if you like it.  Just don’t tell me if you don’t.

Until next week.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve been walking as much as I can these past few weeks to relieve the stress I feel at work and with all the beginning of school year responsibilities.

I’m down 74 pounds.  It’s hard to believe.

I eat normal foods, just less. During my hair appointment today Mareese brought over some Peruvian food from Mr. Pollo on Azusa.  Great food. The parsley-garlic-chutney-salsa-esqe topping was delicious atop the rice and chicken breast. Yum. I made you hungry, huh?  The great part is, I actually really enjoy the food I do eat.  It’s not about the quantity anymore.  I can appreciate the quality.




It’s Hard Not to Look Back-When Your World is Rocked

You know that feeling, when you wake up after a terrible dream, and feel so relieved when you realize it was just. a. dream.  Today when I woke up, it wasn’t just a bad dream.   It’s real.  This week has been a really tough week, professionally.  (Steve and the kids are all okay. We all had our first day of school and all was well.  The kids were happy but stressed about pleasing their teachers.)  There was a whole other under layer in the events of this week that brought me to my knees and made me question the reality we live in as educators. The field of education can chew you up and spit you out.   The words that come to mind are– blindsided, anxiety-ridden, depressed, hopeless, & helpless.   I can’t speak any more specifically to this event. (I did ask for consent to post this.)  However, sometimes living our lives in education is a lot like the rock cycle, you are pressed and pressed and eventually you become sedimentary rock.  Rocks can be a metaphor for strength, but the process of being pressed is excruciating.

In 1996, when I worked at Charter Oak Hospital (now Aurora Behavioral Health) I was in the psychiatric unit as a psych aide with severe emotionally disturbed children.  A nine-year-old boy, bit me hard.  It was his way of exerting some control in his out-of-control world.  This was all because I’d asked him to give his passive mother back her sunglasses as she was leaving the psych unit on her daily visit. He refused, and when I verbally challenged him to give her back the sunglasses, he bit me with all the force a nine-year-old mouth can give.  (I still have the scar as a reminder.)  Shocked, I promptly forgot all the training I’d received on how to handle human bites (obviously this is a frequent occurrence, if there’s a training on it) and proceeded to pull my wrist away in my best attempt to escape from the bite.  I had to call a ‘Strong Arm’ alert (because I was alone on the unit) and all the psych aides from other units converged and put this young boy in a straight jacket as was protocol.  ‘Pulling away from the bite’ was not what I’d been taught.  When someone bites you, your instinct is to pull away. Instead, pushing in to the bite is the best way to release the hold.

Situations that we aren’t prepared for, often make us want to pull away.  This bite incident has become a lifelong metaphor for struggle and hardship. I often want to pull away and isolate.  This recent professional incident has made me angry, frustrated, helpless and withdrawn.   In my heart,  I do know there’s only one solution: compassion.  This is my way of pushing into the bite, having compassion.

We can choose to blame and hypothesize about another’s pain, but until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes, we cannot and should not speak as experts.  What we should do is listen, remain calm, and love deeply.

Where do I get these wild ideas?  Turns out, it goes back to scripture.  Back to the biblical text I grew up reading. The teachings of Jesus are not common.  They are not easily understood.  When your world is rocked you have to revisit your compass and try to understand why.  The set north of my compass is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I think my world has been rocked, but the world of another has been rocked even more. What do I do with this?  How do I help?  We’re all going to experience hardship. We’re all going to experience a low point in life.  What do we do with that?  How do we help someone in crisis?  I don’t attempt to know the answers to these questions, so I just feel my way through it.  I know God has given me a special sense of the pain of others because I’ve felt pain deeply.  Deeply. The upside to this deep pain, is consequently a deep love.  So as I sit here writing, tears flow. Tears flow for the pain of another.  It’s okay to cry, grieve, and feel the loss.   This is where the love flows in.  You have to feel the pain.

When your world is rocked to the core by separation, divorce, loss, injustice, and misunderstanding what do you do?   I do know that no love is as random as God’s love…

Have a listen to Wilco’s, I Can’t Stand It…  This song makes me want to scream along.  I believe my prayers will be answered, unlike Jeff Tweedy’s mantra here.

Obviously, this wasn’t a funny post, as was my post last week.  I did tell 2016-17 to Bring It!  It certainly did… like a raging tornado on a hot summer day.

This is my life.  I’ve lived with Joy for a long time and she ain’t always joyful, but she hangs in.  I’m going to keep hanging in with you through the heartache, tears, and joy.

Innocence Mission’s God is Love has been a source of comfort to me today, as music has been throughout my life.  I hope it comforts you too.

Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

With the gold of hickory leaves
I can walk under these clouds
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

If I’m driving there today
And I really am this afraid
God is love
And love will never fail me

Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
And I’m under the sky, I am on the ground, with my coat
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

And some days I will decide
To let everything else go by
God is love
And love will never fail me
Love will never fail me

The picture attached to this post is me, at age 4 or so.  I’m hopeful today, just like the the face of little gap-toothed four-year-old Joy is in this photo.  I am looking back a bit and reflecting this week, but I’m still hopeful.

Until next week.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve made it to 70 pounds of weight, lost.  That doesn’t feel all that important in light of this week’s events.

Expectations on Vacations

Disclaimer:  writing this post from my phone has been a bit challenging in the formatting department.
Expectations, we all have them whether we realize it or not. Sometimes we don’t realize what they are until they are unmet.

Check engine lights that remain in the ‘off’ position, wifi passwords that work, air conditioning that cools the whole house, because we never claimed to be camping, we’re Glamping folks.  These expectations failed us on this trip.

Exhibit A: Porta-potty at the most beautiful location, Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.  Oodles and oodles of tourists using these Porta-potties.  Joy enters the one on the far left and tries not to entertain the idea of rolling down the cliff while on the potty. Porta-potty directions:  1) Prepare yourself, it will smell. 2) Try not to look in the hole, (like a pink elephant in the room) it’s so hard not to look. 3) Carefully place purse, hat, and sun jacket on the hook on the door. 4) Do not touch the toilet seat. 5) Porta-potty creators made an awesome bar that you can hold onto as you squat as not to touch the surface of the toilet seat (thank you for that).  6) Reach for the toilet paper and carefully balance as you take care of business.  (This where all my expectations went unmet. As I reached for the toilet paper, yes, you guessed it, there was none. So what’s a girl to do? Beyoncé booty shake. It’s not like I could shout out to my potty neighbor and say, “Hey, can you spare a few sheets of toilet paper there?”  Nope, I was all alone.) That potty at Emerald Bay was just…ew.

Exhibit B:  Bracelet in this picture gone missing.   After three hours of lake time paddle boarding and sunning and a wonderful trip to a local vegan, milk allergen free, gluten free frozen yogurt shop (now if only the yogurt were free) we decided to do what normal tourists do, go to the gift shop and drop bank after the $35 yogurt spree. As we’re in the gift shop and almost all the children had chosen their Lego sweet tarts, initialed pocket knives, and t-shirts, my Middle is still looking for the perfect Lake Tahoe bracelet.  I’m carrying all the loot and ready to pay while the rest of the extended family is waiting outside.  Then red-headed Middle, in sheer panic, realizes that her most prized Pug bracelet from Clair’s, has gone missing.  Frantic search ensues, with three unhelpful sales clerks who clearly know we’re searching, but don’t attempt to help, extended family coming in to help with the search party, and hysterically crying Middle.  We didn’t find Exhibit B.  Turns out later, she explained that the reason she was so sad is because she had been wearing the bracelet for over a year, in hopes that she’d take it off only when she got a real dog.  **Gush** Unmet expectations. She left part of her heart in Lake Tahoe.

At one of the many professional development trainings I’ve been to over the years, it was suggested that we provide students with a theme to connect all subjects. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with change. So the theme I’ve always chosen has been…Change.  Change happens constantly and is often why our expectations are turned upside-down and backward.  One of these statements can be applied to most situations and life events:

Change can be positive or negative.
Change is inevitable.
Change is necessary for growth.

Exhibit C: Tween-teen attitudes.   Glamping with 5 teen/tweens has been a piece of cake, a dried out frosting-less piece of cake.  The boys have said LOL, not laugh-out-loud, they say, Lol, like its a word, in response to everything. It’s been at least 558 times at the time of this post and the trip ain’t over yet.  Because apparently everything is laugh-out-loud funny. And the farting.  Oh the farting. So many boys equals so much fart talk, and the girls can’t help but join in. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em  that’s always been my motto.  There’s more.  The moodiness.  Ugh.  The complaining.  Day two of our Lake Tahoe adventure was supposed to end in a memorable paddle boarding experience.  It ended up being a wind advisory day when paddle board rentals were not allowed.  Indecisiveness about Plan B, and intense brooding from Middle and Little, and the lovely boy attitudes that came with being cold and sandy.  How do I find the love amidst the intense anger I feel?  It doesn’t help that I got an annoying chest cold and coughing up a lung an hour.  Expectations are connected to change.  Expectations can be positive or negative.  Expectations are inevitable.  Expectations are often necessary for growth.

In the book, Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist expresses change this way, “This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good.”

I’m trying to embrace the bittersweet.  I hope you all can too.

Until next Friday…love you loves.

______________________________________________Gastric bypass update:

I’ve been missing eating in volume this vacation.  It’s a time when indulging is expected. More change.  I know it sounds strange, but there is some grief attached to not being able to eat like I used to. I think I was really good at stuffing my feelings, literally.