Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seeing the Light

I have spent the better part of my day bundled under heavy blankets, 
feeling tired and crappy.
I think my husband may have shared his bug with me.
I wonder if anyone would notice if I wore my pj's and a sweatshirt to the show tonight.
I am seriously considering wearing my slippers.
This morning I arose bright and early (well, it felt early, since I went to bed late) and headed off to church.
We were having our annual "Caring and Sharing" day.
This is a pretty cool thing.
Each week, we have guests that visit the church for assistance.
We have an active food pantry, and help with monetary assistance when able also.
Well, this event is SO much more than that.
Each guest receives an invitation to come.
We open with some Christmas carols (my part)
and a brief little prayer service.
Then the elves get to work.
And there literally are elves.
This is a well run machine.
We have some amazing parishioners who donate a lot of their time to make sure this event goes off without a hitch. (And some wear elf hats or reindeer antlers...because it's important to look the part!) 
Everyone is given a box of non-perishable food.
(They take it to their cars)
Then they are given their perishable food.
(They take it to their cars)
And finally...the fun part.
The gathering area, kitchen and one section of the church are literally heaped with items.  There are clothes, toys, coats, bedding, bath items, housewares, home decor...everything you can imagine.
This is all laid out for the guests to go "Christmas shopping."  
(Free of cost, of course.)
Behind all of this giving and craziness is Sister Bridget.  Our resident red headed nun.  She is the queen of giving.  You have to keep an eye on your stuff, because if you leave it on the counter or in the fridge and it's not clearly labeled, she will definitely give it away!
I write about this, because when I was walking in....I was having judgmental thoughts.
Sometimes, this event can turn into a free-for-all.
It has evolved over the years, and the kinks have been worked out....but some were learned the hard way.
When I have witnessed things turning into "crazy-land" it really bothered me.
I couldn't understand why people who were being given all of these nice things were being so pushy and impatient.
Today as I approached the church, I was looking around the parking lot.
It was filled with cars.  Not junkie cars...just your everyday, average cars.
There were guests standing outside on their cell phones, smoking cigarettes.
(This is where my judgmental thoughts come in.)
I immediately thought "you need assistance to buy gas and food, but you find the money for a cell phone and cigarettes?....that just doesn't makes sense to me."
I can't say I am ashamed about my thoughts regarding the cigarettes.
Anyone who is wasting their money on that crap instead of feeding their kids decent food deserves a little judgement.  (just my opinion.  I will stop there.)
So, I walk in, put on my smile, and book it to the piano, because I am late, and Sister is gonna be mad at meeeeeee.
(She ran by and frantically said "start playing something to quiet them down...pleeease!!"

Soon the little prayer service began, and I was informed that one of the guests (a woman) would be singing.  With a CD.  Not a karaoke CD, with just the instrumental track on it....but the actual CD with the artist (male) singing on it.
(Here come judgmental thoughts #2)
In my snobby little head, I thought "Oh boy...this should be good." 
A woman named Mary got up and stood in the front of the church.
She was wearing what was probably her Sunday best.  
She seemed quiet, but not overly shy.
I was sitting behind it was hard to hear her, because I was right in front of the CD player....however, I could feel her.
I don't know what the song was....
it spoke of being down and out....of making mistakes in life....
that sort of theme.
What I do know that as soon as she started 
singing the refrain:
"I've been redeemed"
I lost it.
It wasn't because I got lost in the beauty of the sound (she did a very nice job singing).
I don't even know if it was just because of the text....although that did hit me right in the heart.
I think it may have been a combination of things....and of her, opening her arms out if she was just letting go of all of her hardships and allowing all of God's love to fill her.
I know it filled me.  And my tears washed away all of the judgement I had carried in with me just minutes ago.
I think we all were redeemed.
As I walked out of church, I was chatting with the people around me, carrying their food boxes to their cars.
They weren't in a hurry to get back to the "good" stuff.
They were simply (and quite humbly) doing as they were told.  
We talked about the weather, and warned each other to be careful on the sidewalks, because they had been icy when we arrived.
We smiled at each other, and wished each other a good day, and a Merry Christmas.
Everyone's hands were full....not with cigarettes or phones, but with boxes filled with good food for their families.
Soon, they would be filled with gifts for their loved ones.
And, for one December morning, all the worries and hardships of their lives melted away
as they accepted the generosity of others.
And I will venture a guess that those who were giving got the best gift of all.

I know that I left that place with my heart filled with gratitude for all the blessings in my life.
I also felt grateful for the time that I spent surrounded by all of those people whom I had been so quick to judge.
 The one thing that I am so careful about in life is to not make assumptions about others, or to make judgements about them, because I have never walked in their shoes.
But here I was, doing the very thing that I have always tried so hard to avoid.
Today was a good reminder that no matter how hard we try, we are always a work in progress.
I know that I will make mistakes.
I know that there will be days when I will say one thing, and do another.
But each day I will make a true effort to learn from the mistakes I make.
And each day I will try to do better than the day before.
Today was a good day.
It was a great reminder that even though I pride myself on being a person who tries really hard to never pass judgement on another....sometimes I fail.
Luckily, life is there to teach me the error of my ways....and usually, it is quite profound.
Today, I saw beauty in unexpected places.
I saw compassion, gratefulness, generosity, and grace.
My heart and my eyes were opened.
This is what the holiday season is really about.
Spread that joy.
Share your good fortune.
Be thankful for your blessings.

Last night, Mark and I went through a drive-through to grab a quick bite on our way to rehearsal in Winona.
The young man who took our order had a Latino accent, and when we got to the window, I immediately noticed his fancy gold "grill" on his teeth. 
(I wasn't expecting this at a Hardee's in Winona.) 
Anyway, I handed him my debit card, and he said "You seem so happy.  Are you this happy all the time?"  I wasn't sure what to say.  I replied "I guess so?"
He then said "People aren't usually this nice when they come through the drive-up."
This hit me as really sad.  I hadn't done anything out of the ordinary.  I was polite when I ordered.  I may have been a little extra upbeat, because I was starving, and kind of happy about getting something to eat!
I looked at him and said "I am all about being nice to someone who is helping me in any way."  He stopped, and then said "Yeah...I guess that makes sense."
This stuck with me the rest of the night.
This poor kid is just working like everyone else.
Who knows how many rude people he has to deal with on any given day.
And why?
What gives anyone the right to be anything less than courteous to someone who is helping them?
I just don't understand.
It obviously must happen more often than not....or he never would have mentioned the fact that I was being so "nice" when I really wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary.
How much more work is it to smile and thank someone, than just to be a jerk and go on your way?
Not much at all.
I remember going shopping with my mom as a teenager, how upset I would get when a salesperson would come up and ask if we needed help.
She would sometimes just ignore them, or brush them off.
I was so embarrassed by that.  I would always ask why she couldn't just say "no thank you?"
I notice this quite often with people.
It's THREE words.
I don't think people realize the impact their behavior has on another person's day.
To simply be kind, courteous, and compassionate is not a lot of work.
It's actually something that will make you feel good.
And it will make those around you feel good as well.
What a concept.
Wouldn't it be interesting to see how society would change if everyone adopted this way of thinking and acting?
I say let's give it a try.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Super Woman and Santa Claus

Is it a little sad that one of the most exciting parts of my day is picking the "ink" color I am going to use for my post?
Today is my little sister Emily's birthday. 
(When you read this, it will actually have been yesterday...but, alas...I was not thinking clearly when I wrote yesterday's blog about today...which was actually yesterday, or is it tomorrow?  See what I mean.  This is confusing business.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
I suppose she isn't really "little" anymore...I mean, she is 35 and has six kids, so she is pretty grown up.
However, she will always be MY little sister. :)

Here she is with one of here babies.  By the way...her kids have the cutest feet EVER.  The are perfect little blocks with toes.  And they are super tiny.
SOOOO cute!

The three sisters.  We are all actually the same height.  Kris likes to wear her stilettos when she gets "fancy." 
This was at her 40th birthday party.  She was very fancy. :)
We are all the same weight too.  The camera just added 30 extra pounds on Emily and me.  It is so odd how it does that.

Here is Em's whole family.
I shall name them for you. From top left...
India, baby Pearl, Raven
Wren, Caspian, Emily, Rueben
and in the front Nettle.
(She home schools this entire brood also.)

On top of taking care of this big family, she also takes care of her farm, and, for the last couple of months, our mother.
(Because she doesn't have enough to do already.)
Yes...she definitely earns the "Woman of the Year" award!
She also makes all of her food from scratch, grows a huge garden, and cans/freezes/does whatever you do with produce to keep it from rotting.
She knows how to do all things crafty, as well.
I'm pretty sure the only thing she doesn't know how to do is play the clarinet.
(But she could probably figure it out.)
She even wins when we have our sister's relay races.
The only one who has ever beat her is my daughter's boyfriend....but he is a high school track he doesn't count.
On top of being super woman, she is able to maintain her sense of humor (and she has a great sense of humor!) 
I will never know how she does it all...and she makes it look pretty darn effortless.
What I DO know is that I am pretty darn lucky to have her for a sister!
I love you, Emily!

I just learned something new.
If you eat tortilla chips while you type, you run the risk of a small little crumb embedding itself in the tiny little crevice by the space key.
Suddenly, your computer will start to act all kinds of crazy...and you will momentarily have no idea what the heck is going on.
Then, you might just pick up the keyboard, and notice that the space key seems to be stuck in an "engaged" position, unlike all of the other keys.
Upon further may find that the tiniest particle of chip was causing all of this ridiculousness, and you realize that, perhaps, God was trying to send you a message.
I think it may go a little something like this:
"Beth.  It is almost midnight.  As if it's not bad enough that you are still up writing this thing, do you really need to add injury to insult by eating CHIPS?
I mean, come ON!  Do you want to have to wear your new "fat pants" FOREVER?!!  If I recall, you spent the entire evening lamenting about how gross your "santa-belly" looks, so do you really think eating some chips before you go to bed is going to put you on the fast track to flat abs?
I didn't think so."
He is such a man.

I have also discovered that when you drive to and from Winona in the dark every doesn't seem like such a long drive after all.
Maybe it takes longer to get there during the day?
Hmmm....I don't plan on making an extra trip tomorrow to find out.
(Have I mentioned that Mark and I are playing for a show in Winona? If not...that is why I am driving there every night.  I didn't think my December was quite busy enough.)
Actually...this has been a good addition to my crazy month.
I love stepping outside of my normal stomping grounds...because you never know what you will find.
I have found some rather delightful new friends.
I have a lovely group of 6 singers whom I quite adore.
(I am music directing this crazy little soiree.)
Most of them are college students from the Winona area.  
And all of them are sweet as can be, lots of fun, and adorable as all get out.
Mark is playing drums.  In a bow tie and suspenders.  
Need I say more?
(The premise is an old time radio show....taking place in the early 1940's)
In addition to singing, and playing for the singing group, I get to make dramatic background music on an old Hammond organ.
(We even looked up the "Alfred Hitchcock chord" today.  Who is just a minor triad with a major seventh.  I thought it would something a little more labor intensive than that.)
 At any rate, it makes a good "STING" when the bank robbers show up.

Anyway...this lady has to get up and play Christmas carols in a few hours. 
(I will share the details tomorrow)

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dr. Mom

I am home with a sick boy today.
Well....he is 43 years old...but we all know that when a man gets sick, he becomes a child again.
Dr. Mom has diagnosed him with influenza.
He has bad body aches (the worst ever, he says.) Headache, cough, the whole bit.
He never stays home from work, so he must really be sick.
It is quite the spectacle though.
Why is that?  
I was thinking about it this morning.  Whenever I get sick, or have a migraine, or think I might be dying, or whatever, I tend to retreat into my own little corner and hide.  I don't feel the need to include anyone else in the last moments of  my agonizing life here on this earth.  
I just curl up into a ball on the bathroom floor (or wherever it is most convenient) and start praying for the angels to take me home.
There have been a couple midnight trips to the ER in which I have silently slipped out of the house and returned, and my darling husband never even knew I left.
Why wake the guy?  There is no reason why we should both lose a night's sleep when there isn't anything he can do for me anyway.
I am a tough gal...I can fend for myself.
Heck, I grew up on a farm.  I could probably birth a few babies in a field if need be.
Then....there is my beloved.
Last night at rehearsal, he showed up with a bag of cough drops and two large bottles of gatorade.
I knew something was up.
He looked at me with that pathetic puppy dog "I have some terrible news to share with you" face and said: "I got sick this afternoon."
My reply was "You puked??"
He said "No....I got a headache, and started feeling icky."
OH!  I see. (she nods, and attempts to look concerned.)
The rest of the rehearsal, I heard some sad sounding coughing coming from behind the drum set.
Why do men do that?
(Or at least my man does that.)
He never just hocks up that loogey.
He just sort of gives a weak, "I don't want to hurt myself by coughing to hard" sort of "ah-huh, ah-huh" sound.
Kind of like little three year old boys when they are pretending to be sick.
When we arrived home, he looked helplessly in the medicine cabinet and asked "what do I take??!!"
"I took Excederine migraine earlier, and it says not to mix it with this cough syrup! Now what do I do?!"
I shot him a "seriously??!" look, and replied "Take the damn cough syrup."

He got out of bed today around noon, and was obviously still quite incapacitated, because after brushing his teeth, he came out of the bathroom with toothpaste foam lining his mouth, much like a dog with rabies.
(Really?  How do you not know you have toothpaste all over your face??)
Once the medicine cabinet....
"What do I take??!!"  (he speaks so quietly, she can not make out the words....she says "huh?"  Three "huh's" later....she finally understands...because she can read lips fairly well.  Apparently, he is being careful not to hurt his throat by speaking in human tones.)
Obviously, I must have some medical training that I am not aware of, since all pharmaceutical questions are directed toward me.
I suppose, perhaps, the fact that I rival any 85 year old in daily prescriptions, might have something to do with his assumption that I know everything there is to know about drugs?
Anyway....I toss a box of alka-seltzer at him (since it's the only thing that hasn't expired) and go on my way.
From what I have heard...this flu crap hangs on for several days.
I am trying to figure out how I am going to hang on for several days.
Of course, he would get sick during the busiest week of December for us.
And, our cars are still in the shop.
I am just keeping my fingers crossed that I don't catch the bug.
I take so many damn vitamins and supplements, that it would be like having to bore through a steel door for those germs to invade me!
I should mention one thing.  I actually do kind of understand why men turn into little boys when sick.
It is really our fault.  "Our" meaning us moms.
I mean, come on....what mom didn't/doesn't baby our little boys like crazy?
I babied my daughter too...but there is just something about a mom and her son.
I still recall several years ago when we lived in the cities.
Mark got really sick, and he had a concert that night.
His mom absolutely freaked out.  She was soooo worried about him, and could hardly contain herself.
It was then that I knew I had a world of trouble on my hands.
This man I had married would FOREVER need a mama each and every time he had the sniffles.
I am sure my son will be exactly the same.

At least I am aware of the monster I am creating.
I may, or may not, inform Sam's future wife of these facts.
I still am unsure about how I feel about another woman taking my sweet baby away from me someday.
Well...that was how I felt a few years ago...when he still thought the sun rose and set around me.
Now, he isn't quite the mama's boy he used to be. (I hate that...I mean, I'm glad he isn't a freshman in high school who can't bear to be separated from his mother.  That would be most unfortunate for him.  I just hate that he didn't stay a 3 year old forever.)
Now that he has gotten a little salty in his teenage years...I am not so set on him living with us forever. ("Salty." this is the new word my kids use all the time. "Salty" and "ratchet". ) I can't stand "ratchet".  That one drives me nuts.  "OMG mom!  That outfit is SOOO ratchet!!"  Change it NOW!"  Yeah, yeah, whatever, you little snobby brats.  "Salty," however, I think is pretty clever.
"Mom, is it okay if we stay at school for an extra hour today to work on a project?  I would ask dad, but he is acting rather salty today, so I'm not sure I want to even bother."
Salty will stay in my vocabulary. :)
I amaze myself at how I just veer off subject, and into meaningless tangents.
My point in all of this:
*Both of my kids can leave home after high school.
*IF I like the girl Sam decides to wed, I will fill her in on the fact that her beloved will become a toddler each and every time he gets sick.
*If I don't like her...she can fend for herself.
(And I will probably act salty, and scare her away.)
The End.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Too Many Things...Too Little Time

I am currently trying to figure out how I can write today's post, stop by Old Navy to pick up a couple pairs of "fat girl" jeans...just to get me through the next few weeks, pick up my kids, put binders together for my "band" (for the show I'm doing) and make copies of music for my rehearsal tonight 
(with a printer that is currently printing like this:)

Nice and easy to read, right?
And if you notice, this is a copy of driving directions.  I am doing a show in Winona, and I get lost EVERY time I go there (1. Because I am an idiot.  2. Because whoever decided on the layout of that town is an idiot. 3. It's always dark when I go there...and my sense of direction is 98 times worse than normal (which is already REALLY bad) in the dark.)
SO, I'm sure these very legible directions will be most helpful.
This all needs to happen in the next 15 minutes.
Yep. That's gonna happen.
By the way....that ^^ is NEW printer ink.
My husband bought the cheap stuff online.
Excellent move Mark.  Excellent move.
A lot of this stuff could have been done this morning, but alas, I woke up with a raging headache...which put everything on hold.
I wish I knew why that always happens.
It seems that whenever I actually have a nice chunk of time put aside for specific projects to get done (things that actually need to get done)
my body decides to rebel in one way or another.
I have learned to cope with my children rebelling when I am trying to get things done...but I just don't have the time or patience when it is actually ME rebelling.
Ah, life.  You are a stinker.
When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do (other than play outside and create different personas for each "space" that we played in) was to play in my room.  My sister and I would always play "office" or "store."
Our favorite place to visit in La Crosse was Rowley's office supply store.  We would buy supplies for our "offices."  We thought we were so cool, having our own carbon copy receipts and ledger books.
We would organize all of our "stuff" and take "inventory."
I have to admit, I still have a little bit of that OCD office organization "thing" in me.
I have been pulling all of this music together for the show I'm working on, as well as the two choirs I am rehearsing for Christmas.
I can't get over how much fun I have getting all of the music together, putting everything in files and organizing it.  Putting binders together, labeling everything.  It's just like playing "office" again!
I think I have mentioned my obsession with office supplies before.  I LOVE pretty folders and organizers, paper clips, binders, staplers, 3-hole punchers....all of it.  Of course, cool paper, notebooks, journals, and GREAT pens are my ultimate vice.  (FINE tipped pens, of course.)
I think I could happily sit and address envelopes, or label file folders all day long.  
The ONLY issue I have is with these monsters.

It's sad...because I actually really like envelopes.  And these are so much fun to address.  However...I can't touch one without getting a HORRIBLE paper cut.
If my hand gets anywhere near the top....I am risking my life.
It is like playing with razors.
There has to be a way to dull those edges...what if I hit a major artery with it one day?  
Can you even imagine?
Death by envelope?
How embarrassing.  And tragic.
I took a brief recess to pick up the offspring, and stop by the store for some jeans.
Sadly, the "Rock Star" jeans that I typically buy (appropriately named, don't  you think?) ;) have changed their pattern, I believe.
What used to be a jean that had skinny legs with a waist that accommodated apples like me now has a looser leg.
I'm sorry, but a "super skinny" jean with baggy thighs just doesn't cut it.
I didn't even bother to try a size smaller, because I am sure it would have been constricting in the spare tire area...and the whole reason for buying fat clothes is so I have some nice, loose waisted attire that doesn't make me look like I have a bungee cord wrapped a little too tight around my middle.  It's best if I just let it all hang loose.
Thankfully, the "V" shaped sweater dress seems to be a popular style this year, so I picked up a few of those instead.
Now, when I extend my arms out to the side, I will look like Maggie Simpson in her snowsuit.
This is the look I have always been striving for it's win win.
All that is left on my "need to get done RIGHT NOW" list is the music.
I am going to have to run all the way to church and use my computer there to print off the music I just purchased, so I at least have a copy to play off of tonight.
The obstacle there is that Mark so conveniently took my car keys with him to work today.
And, of course, he is on his bicycle.
Not exactly a speedy mode of transportation.
Gee, I wonder if I will get anything done on time today.
Considering I never get anything done on time when I have no obstacles, I would venture a guess that NO would be the answer to that question.
So, while I wait, let's review the moral of today's story.
1.  Never buy cheap printer ink.
2.  Never assume everything will get done if you give yourself a one day window.
3.  Never let your husband drive your car, because he WILL forget to give you back your keys.
4.  Always have some hard liquor on hand, because there is a very good chance that there will be many days when you could really just use a shot.

Some of those might be first thing in the morning.

Have a great Wednesday!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In Search of Some Christmas Mojo

I still haven't started my Christmas shopping.
I'm thinking maybe I just might skip Christmas altogether.
The "hoopla" part, anyway.
My Christmas mojo is nowhere to be found.
Is anyone else feeling this way?
Lord knows my kids don't need one more item cluttering up their rooms or their minds (aka: anything that has a screen on it.)
I took a little peek in my "craft room" the other day, and saw that my daughter has been working on some projects, or something.
In other words, it looks like a bomb went off in there. So, the thought of taking time to attempt to clear off my work table (if I can find it underneath all of the crap she left on top of it) so I have a nice "present wrapping surface" just seems far too daunting.
As for the Christmas tree.....  We have talked about getting one...if we ever get Mark's truck back from the shop.
We are now on week two of loaner cars.
Apparently it's taking forever for parts to come in.
Maybe we will get them back in time to pick up some nice shrubbery next spring.
I have turned into Negative Nelly!
I promise it is temporary!

And I absolutely know what is causing it.
1. I'm tired.
2. I'm hungry.
3. I have a teenage daughter who needs to improve her communication skills so I can make transportation arrangements for the evening, and attempt to be three places at once.
4. There are no blank boxes in my calendar for a long time...and we all know I live for those blank boxes.
I do know one thing....
I am so looking forward to December 26th.
I love that day.
It's the day when I can finally take a deep breath again, and enjoy the fact that all of my craziness is over (for the moment.)
There is typically no where that I need to be...and I can stay in my pj's all day long.  What could be better than that?
I have just come to the decision that I'm not going to let my crankiness bring me down.
It's time to devise a plan that will make the next three weeks less daunting, more enjoyable, and still be productive.
I will make a quick list...short and simple.

1. Complete necessary tasks first.  Get them out of the way in the morning.

2. Stay organized.  Take the extra few minutes to put things away, re-file, straighten up, etc.

3. Take naps.  When crabbiness sets in, or when feeling run down...make time for a nap.

4. Use free time wisely.  Get grocery shopping done, make meals and freeze them, buy/wrap gifts, do laundry, etc.

5. Make calendar of upcoming holiday events/parties/concerts/etc.  Create a list for each event with specifics: time, attire, food, tickets, etc....anything you need to have, wear, know, or you aren't scrambling at the last minute.

6. This is something I am seriously I will throw it on here.
Hire a housecleaning service to come in before or after the holidays and give your home a top to bottom cleaning. (I'm thinking before for those of use who have yet to really start decorating, and after for those who are already all beautified.)
Allright. I could seriously go on and on.  I should probably write for Better Homes and Gardens.
Maybe I will make another list tomorrow.
But, right now, I need to follow my own advice, and take advantage of #3.
After a late night of rehearsal, a long drive in the sleet, and then an early morning...this lady is sleepy.
I'm gonna grab a quick nap before the kids come home and cause a ruckus,  I have to go play for church and a concert.
It just never ends.
Let me know if you are aware of a good cleaning service.  Maybe my hubby should get me that for Christmas.
(Along with the diamond rings, sweaters, dogs....)

Speaking of blogging partner Riley is making sure I have plenty of kisses to get me through the day.
He also knows it's a good way to make his mama less crabby.
Smart boy.

Have a toasty Tuesday!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Out of My Control

So, I have decided not to fret about my "expansion around the middle" until after Christmas.
(I type this as I eat another one of those damn candy bars Mark brought home.)
Chocolate ALWAYS wins.
But seriously, at this given moment...I really could care less.
I have lots of lovely, drape-y clothes.
And I am the queen of there we go!
(Yeah...I say all this now, but there will be tears in my beer on Christmas Eve, when I can't find anything to wear because I'm too fat for all of my flashy evening I will be the one in the front of the church wearing the obnoxious mumu I got in Hawaii fifteen years ago.
Ain't no one gonna be lookin' for the star in that church.  They will be far too distracted by the big ball of Hawaiian leisure wear screaming at them from the piano bench.
This pic scares me...just a little.
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, when you say Merry you!

I realized today that I am officially feeling stressed.
I have been working really hard, in an attempt to get everything ready for all of the things I have coming up.
While I have managed to pull a lot of material together, I have yet to make final decisions...and that is the part I hate.
Well...not really hate...but just stress over.
I want everything to be PERFECT....but there are too many variables, so it's hard to determine what exactly needs to happen to ensure perfection.
Just reading that last sentence is stressful.
I have also noticed that my choir doesn't seem to be too concerned about getting things done this year.
I feel like we have been working on this material for the past couple of months...but have made little progress.
Now THAT stresses me out.
That is the one variable that is out of my control.
Other people.
I can't control whether or not they come to rehearsal.
I can't control whether or not they practice parts that they struggle on.
I can't control whether or not they focus when we rehearse, or if it is more of a social hour for them.
And so, I keep plugging along, grateful for those who plug along with me....and just keep praying that things will come together.

Speaking of things that stress me out....
Have you ever been in the presence of someone who seems to have negative energy just pouring out of them?
(I am smirking just a little...because I know of a someone out there thinking "Yes...and her name is Beth Lakmann!!!") I am hoping that this person is the only one who feels that way, because, quite frankly, I consider myself a pretty positive gal.  Sure, I have my bad days.  I will venture a guess that my negative behavior is simply a reaction to how someone else treats me.  (Then it kind of all makes sense, you see.) 
ANYWAY.  I do know a person who just seems to be genuinely negative.  ALL THE TIME.  Even when I have seen this person seems as if there is an "I'm smiling now...but behind this smile...I am actually ticked off about something" to it.
I suppose I could divulge that this is the same person who completely went off her rocker when Lexie came to church with curlers in her hair.
 (Remember that story?)
I have spent a lot of time observing this person over the years....just trying to figure her out.
Is she happy...but just doesn't express it well?
Is she sad, and hides it behind this wall of sarcasm? (but not funny sarcasm...)
Is she insecure, and this is how she put a wall up to protect herself?
Or, is this just her personality?
Well...after 10 years, I have come to the get what you see.
So now I am trying to figure does one live life with such a negative approach (and I am not exaggerating here....we are talking constant complaining, eye rolling after any comment someone makes, shooting down other's ideas, on and on...) and not be completely miserable?
(And I know she is not miserable.  She is very happy with her family life and career.)
I suppose, it's just who she is, so it doesn't make her miserable.
But it makes ME miserable!
I can literally feel the negativity just wrapping around me.  
I want "Dr. Feel Good" and instead I get "Dr. Death!"
What is so interesting to me is how quickly a group dynamic can change.  
If you add someone who is really outgoing and fun, and super positive, it becomes contagious.  And then, the opposite is true.  If you bring in someone who is a "Debby Downer," it can really bring a negative vibe into your group.
There are so many "case studies" that I want to do!!!
This would be one of them.  The effect that people have on their environment.
Seriously, think about it.
Think about one of your classrooms when you were a kid.
For the most part, all of the kids just kind of blended in.
But, there were a couple who stood out.
There was the one who always got in trouble.
There was the class clown.
And then maybe the really smart, brainy kid, who always answered the questions.
Every group always has a couple of "big" personalities.  This doesn't mean that they are any better or worse than the rest of the group.  It just means that there is something about them that makes them stand out.
Usually, because they do something that draws attention to themselves.
It's interesting how that doesn't end with childhood.
In every adult "group" setting I've been's the same situation.
I LOVE going to workshops or conferences, just to observe the group dynamic.
It's so interesting to see how others (women, especially) act in a group of their peers.  
It's pretty interesting when I've gone to workshops with my husband too.  He never shuts up!  I am typically silent..I just sit and observe, unless I have something profound to say.  He ALWAYS has something to say, or ask.
Good God, he must have been annoying as hell when he was a kid.
I am always worried that I will say something that will make me look stupid.
I have been like that forever.
It may have something to do with certain Math teachers in my past making me get up in front of the class and do math problems (that they knew damn well I had NO idea how to solve) on the chalkboard.
Public humiliation is not high on my "things I enjoy" list.
I am guessing I said something stupid as a little kid, and was made fun of or something...and that was where my fear of saying the "wrong" thing was born.

Okay...I have to take just a moment to fill you in on my life at this very second.
One might think I write in a nice, quiet environment, while sipping tea.
Here is the true story. daughter is attempting to learn her Chopin piano solo.  So...there is that.  (And the piano, remember, is one foot away from me.)
At the same time, my husband is downstairs, playing the drums.  Not like playing a, he has a whole drum set. It sounds like the drummer from Van Halen is in my basement.  There have been some epic sounding drum solos coming up from the stairway.  He really is a pretty damn good drummer.
The funny part, however, is that this has been going on for like 30 minutes.
It is the equivalent of a high school boy getting his first drum set...and feeling the need to rock out and play every damn drum lick he has ever heard.
OR....considering Mark's is much like a scene from "Stepbrothers" when Will Farrell goes apeshit all over his brother's drums.
Welcome to my home.
Okay.  I need a nap.
I am going to go snore out all the negativity that was spewn upon me this morning....and breath in happy happy happy!
I will wear my suit of armor next time, and not allow anymore of that crabby patty to penetrate my pores.
And if that doesn't work, I will spike my fancy new water bottle with some delicious mango rum or something of that sort.
That will work just as well as a suit of armor, I believe.

One of these days, I will tell you about some of the case studies I want to do.
In the rare event that I ever decide to go back to school, perhaps I will have some thesis topics all picked out!
Ha!  Who am I kidding.  
I just want to sit in the back of the room and people watch.
I feel no need to write a dissertation on it.
I will just write a blurb about it here instead.
Sound good?
Have a super Monday.
By the way, it's the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Perhaps I can use THAT as an excuse for my jelly belly.
I'm pretty sure I'd make a good Mary #2....right?
Or...I can just play Elizabeth...the old barren woman.
I am probably better suited for that role.