Tuesday, December 27, 2011

GBE 15-Minute Free Write

15 straight minutes of meaningless drivel coming from my fingers. Typos are not to be corrected. Are you ready? I'm not, but here we go!

Ugh. Timers. Timing. Hurry hurry hurry! Can't get it all done but don't know what "it" even is. Writing, reading, laundry, purging. It's all the same. Wanna do it all but can't do it all. Don't even know where to begin.

This year is almost over. I am so thankful. 2011 has been full of all kinds of joys but tremendous loss. Christmas was beautiful yet heartwrenching. Still trying to process it all.

Process. More important than product. But such a process to process.

Hitchcock is on. I love Hitchcock. Dad loved Hitchcock. Eric loves Hitchcock. Hitchcock loved Daphne du Maurier. I love Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca was one of my favorites. Dad loved that movie. So did Grandma. So does Uncle Phil, I think?

I wanna read more du Maurier. I have a ton of her stuff. She reminds me a bit of Stephen King. I need to read more Stephen King. I am missing a bunch of his recent books. But I have gift cards from Christmas.

Gift cards. What to buy? Definitely going to get the Soda Streamer, I think, from Target. Kinda want a tablet of sorts. But to get a cheaper tablet or the Kindle Fire? I dn't really care to read on a Kindle and I have that app already on my phone. I can even read books on my computer. So that part isn't necessary. But it is supposed to be a lot like the iPad and I can't afford an iPad. I can't afford an iPhone. But I love my Droid. I got it last year from my dad, along with my computer and TV.

I need to watch more TV. I need to get caught up on football. I need to write about football. I need to write to make some more cash this break. I have forgotten how to write. I feel like any fool can string together words about football. Yet, I managed to become a Featured Contributor for YCN (on Yahoo! Sports) for NCAA football. Scary thought.

I want to write. I want to break through this wall that has been here. I want to be recognized for what I hvae to offer. I want to ideas to flow in a logical formation, not in a meaningless flood. I have millions of them and can't get them all out. I swear I am ADHD. It makes my head swim to think of everything that is floating around up there.

What to do with myself for the rest of this week? I want to test out my new hiking gear I got for Christmas, but there isn't any snow. I don't want snow because I don't want to be cold. And it isn't like I would go hiking in snow all by myself. Eric is working this week, so I can't think about going until at least his weekend.

I need to clean and oganize. Who wants to do that? I am always "making progress" as Mike likes to point out. *sigh* Another never-ending process.

I am running out of steam. What other thoughts and words do I have?

Rejection, repression, adulation, elation, desperation, United Nations.

Books, looks, crooks, Nook.

Lehane, Shutter Island, Kenize & Gennaro.

Wanna read. Don't wanna read.

I feel like Jack in that Stephen King novel. "Allw ork and no play makes Jack a dull boy." The Shining. That's right. Love that book and movie.

I want to write abook. I have two outlined already. Maybe that should be a New Year's goal?

Don't make New Year's Resolutions. I prefer the idea of making goals. I believe it was Jo Brielyn who first mentioned that on Facebook. It makes so much more sense than resolutions.

I had a resolution last year. 800,000 page ivews and 800 pieces on YCN. I made it 466 and 534,000 or something like that. Perhaps it is over 500 pieces if I throw in the Sports. I guess life got in the way or something? Maybe I can make it to millionaire this year if I keep it up.

Sports. Me a spotswriter. I still laugh over it. I am sure Dad is laughing yet proud of me up in heaven.

Clouds, angels, horns, singing. Pearly gates.

How does Grandma feel having her son follow her after only 8 months? I have always wondered that. I am sure he is having fun up there somewhere, though, with someone else. Just still blows my mind, all of it.

Just because it blows my mind doesn't mean that I am depressed or anything, right? I certainly do not think so. My closest friends do not think so. Yet I have been accused of it lately. That irritates me to no end. I think I have had the right to be a litle sad. I cried my eyes out during the Christmas Eve service, but can you blame me? Have I not been doing pretty well?

Okay, you readers wouldn't know. I just realized I haven't posted since August. Hmmmm, well if you are on my Facebook or in some of the same groups as me, you should be able to tell. I think I have done pretty well, considering.

Considering.....I talked to Mom on Christmas Eve. That sucked. She didn't know who I was. I kinda figured. But at least I tried. People seem tot hink I am a heathen for not going to visit her. Try to be in my shoes, then.

Ugh. There is the anger and frustration. Loss of memory. Loss of tangible love. Yet it is reappearing in different areas of my life.

When is that timer going to go off?

Someone is singing scales on the TV now. I can't even remember which movie it is right now and I am not going to take the moment to hit info. I just know it is a Hitchcock. Oh wait, I think it is Rear Window. We just watched that recently. I love James Stewart, so Eric kept renting his movies from the library for me. He is a good man. He takes care of me, even if it isn't the traditional way that everyone thinks it should be.

Yup, Grace Kelly's voice is there. Dad and I went to Monaco and I remember him telling me all about Princess Grace dying. And then within a few years I started watching her movies. I love Grace Kelly. I love old movies. There is just something about them.

Crap, I just realized that I never set the timer. It's only been about 18 minutes, so I guess I didn't go too far over. Happy reading of the rambling, kids!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Q is for Questions

I have been trying to process my father's death over these last several weeks. I feel like I have been coming to terms with it, slowly but surely. I don't cry on a daily basis, but things will come out of the blue to make me melt into a puddle. That will vary from day to day, but it still happens. A couple of days ago, it was simply passing a hearse on the road. It was my second hearse in two days. Another day it was watching the movie "Oh God," because I remember watching that series with my family. Today it was the announcement on Facebook of my preschool best friend finally having her first baby. Dad was following her story so closely on Facebook since we found each other again. We saw each other at his visitation and bawled on each other's shoulders. It was the first time we had seen each other in almost 20 years.

Every time I have one of these random episodes I randomly start asking all kinds of questions. They are of that evil "What If" nature. I always feel like a fool, because I can't change the past. Nevertheless, they force their way into my brain. "What if I would have actually made it home that week when he fell?" "What if I would have braved the ice and snow and taken care of the paperwork for Mom myself?" "What if he would have just listened to me and gone to the doctor in the first place?" "What if I would have pushed harder for the surgery?"

Consciously I am fully aware that these questions are moot at this point. I cannot go back and change what happened. It was completely out of my hands. I do accept this on most levels, but I just can't help myself at times.

I have always been a dreamer. I like to imagine how scenarios could have been different. Part of that is also being a writer. And can you blame me for wishing that my father was still here with me? I have always been a Daddy's girl, from the moment I came into this world. I was the one with him when he left this world. We talked about everything. For the first time in my life I am having to make decisions without his counsel. I cannot call my mother, either, because she is in such a weird state with her Alzheimer's.

As I face life's decisions on my own, I am faced with new questions. "Am I doing what is right for me?" "Have I surrounded myself with the right people?" "What is next?"

These are normal questions that anyone may face. But when you are faced with answering them by yourself for the first time, they seem more pronounced.

I know I am going to be okay. Those questions will be answered in time, just like always. I *am* fine, relatively speaking. It just feels so different now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GBE2 Week #12: The Wedding Rings

I haven't felt much like blogging for the past several weeks. When I posted the story of Dad's peaceful passing, I felt purged, yet my voice was stifled. It has been quite an adjustment to get used to him not being around. We talked on the phone several times a week. I was just getting used to not talking to Mom, as she has been in the nursing home since February.

I belong to a blogging group known as the Group Blogging Experience #2 (GBE2). We have a weekly prompt and then need to tailor a post around it. This week it is a picture of two wedding rings.

I keep looking at this picture thinking that there is no way I can write about it. I am not married. I have no immediate plans to marry. What good will it do for a 30-something year-old to write about her dreams of marriage? That's so cliche.

I took my dog on a walk to clear my head. We both needed to get out of the house and the relentless rainfall had finally cleared a little. On the way we ran into a neighbor I haven't seen in almost a year. She wanted to know how my summer was going. I told her about Dad.

A couple of hours earlier, another neighbor was walking past with her dog when I got home from running errands. Same story.

I hopped back on Facebook and was confronted again with the picture. This time, I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

I may not have my own wedding ring as a symbol of love from a significant other, but I have been collecting rings over the past year. My grandmother, Dad's mom, passed away in September of 2010. As we were going through the last of her jewelry, we came across her wedding band. It had been cut off of her prior to her hip surgery some years ago and she never got around to fixing it. With the cut, though, it perfectly fits my pinkie finger. (Grandma was a tiny woman.)

When Dad went into the hospital, he purposely left behind his wedding ring and a cameo ring. I wore them a lot when I was home and he was in the ICU. After he died, I brought them both home with me. Sometimes, when I feel that I need his help in something, I put them on again.

Mom still has hers and I wouldn't dream of taking it away from her. I am sure that some day I will also inherit that one.

Having the rings of my loved ones makes me feel slightly connected to them, even though they are no longer here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

P is for Peaceful Passing

The clock just hit 10:30 p.m. It has now officially been two weeks since my father passed away. It still seems surreal to utter those words, even though they also seem so commonplace to say. I feel like calling Dad right now to talk to him about it, but of course I cannot.

I have been writing this "P" post (for the original April challenge) for the past two weeks, but hadn't yet felt ready to write it. Tonight, I guess I am.

My father had a very peaceful passing when it was time for him to go. He had been unconscious for the majority of the seven weeks that he had been in the hospital. On Memorial Day, I got a call saying that his eyes were actually open. We ran to the hospital, thinking this was possibly the turn-around for which we had been hoping. It was beautiful to look into those gray/blue eyes again. I could tell that he was trying to communicate with us, because as we talked to him his lips were moving. He was calmer than he had been the entire weekend that I had been home.

With smiles on our faces, we left for them to put in a new PIC line, and had lunch. Our meeting with the team was scheduled for after lunch. We walked into the meeting room with high expectations, only to hear that kidney function was at 50% and quickly failing. A living will made our decision easy. It was time to let go.

We disconnected fluids and feeding on Memorial Day. We scheduled Hospice for Thursday, as that was when his brother was finally going to be able to come to town. The nurses were kind and continued some fluids during the administration of medication, to slightly prolong his life in order to see his big brother one last time.

Dad stayed awake the remainder of the week. He seemed to be drinking in his family. He struggled to stay awake and often cried when the last one (usually me) left. For the first time that I could remember, my father repeatedly mouthed the words "I love you." We are a family that consistently demonstrates such sentiments, without having to utter the words. I said it repeatedly.

Thursday, June 2nd, we had Dad moved to Hospice. On my way to Perrysburg, I called my teaching assistant on the phone, as it was the last day of school. She put me on speakerphone so that I could say goodbye to my kids. I also asked them to send myu father happy thoughts. My gut was telling me that Dad was going that day and I wanted to send him off the right way. (When I returned to work a couple of weeks later, I was given pictures from the kids. One child made one that said, "I love you, Mr. Coventry.")

Once Dad was settled, we were allowed to go in to see him. My sister went over to him first. "Hi, Daddy." He gave her the biggest smile. I started to bawl. It was beautiful. I haven't seen him smile in months.

My aunts joined us and then all three of them left. They had to pick up my uncle from the airport and finish up some other legal obligations. I vowed to my father that I would not leave his side. I knew he was worried about us and a little scared about leaving (I refer to the tears all week). I told him that he had seen me into this world, and I would see him out of it.

A family friend came to visit. When I went to sit with her to talk, Dad decided to go to sleep and took a nap. He later awoke when another family friend from Florida called to wish him well via speakerphone. I only left the room to use the restroom.

Finally, the rest of the family arrived. They took their turns talking to him and I ran to the cafeteria for some dinner. We had a blast sharing memories of Dad throughout the years and had numerous good laughs. I even captured a beautiful picture of my sister and Dad smiling at each other as she bid him farewell.

I played music from the mp3 player on my phone as we continued to share stories. I kept nervously checking his extremeties and eyeballing the nurse as she came in. A few years ago, as my great uncle lay dying in Hospice, a friend who had once worked in Hospice told me all about the steps toward dying. My family wanted to go get dinner around 9:30. The nurse said it should be okay as Dad was still at 14 resps a minute. I knew he was going to go that night and I told them to come back if/when they needed to.

After they left, I told Dad I would let him rest, as he was starting to go to sleep again. I changed into my pajamas and found him wide awake again. I then said that I was going to play a song for him, to express how I felt. I chose a song by Eddie Vedder, called "Goodbye." It had been released a couple of years ago on the soundtrack for A Brokedown Melody, but the lyrics hadn't struck me so strongly before. Earlier in the week, Eddie Vedder had released his new CD and this song was track 5, which made me have to pull off the road after I purchased and listened to the CD on my way up to visit Dad. Click here to watch a video that contains the lyrics to this song.

I am a huge Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam fan, and have been for about 20 years now. So it was appropriate that I played this for my father as he was ready to leave. I also promised him that I was being taken care of, as was my sister. I also reassured him that we had Mom well taken care of in her new facility. I told him that it was time for him to do what he needed to do.

Around 10 the nurse came in again. Vital signs, etc., still indicated he would probably go over the night, but there didn't seem to be an immediate need to call in family to send him off. I changed into my pajamas and was settling into a chair with my laptop. The nurse came in to check on him and thought it was getting close, but possibly not close enough to call the family back. We started joking around about my Dad and his sense of humor while they set up my cot. Dad coughed up a goober and I chuckled. The nurse went over to wipe it off his face and touched his chest. "Andrea."

I grabbed my phone. "I am ready; phone is in my hand."

She got the stethoscope. She had to listen for one full minute. The other nurse held me up by my arm. After that minute she nodded. I said, "Going or gone?" She said, "Gone."

I felt my knees buckle, but more from a giant weight being lifted off of me from relief that I no longer had to worry. I called my family, who was on their way back from dinner. They came in crying, and I tried to reassure them that he had gone peacefully while none of us was paying attention. In fact, we were laughing and joking. It's the way he would have wanted to go. He needed some space and some laughter. And we were able to give it to him.

Two weeks later I can still feel the pain of him leaving. But somehow it is a little easier. I think that I had the advantage of starting to grieve a little earlier, as I knew back in April that he wasn't going to make it. I kept hoping for the best, but was being realistic. I have this damn intuition that often proves correct.

I miss my father with every fiber of my being. I am crying as I write this post tonight. But I also know that I carry his legacy with me. When I returned to NY from taking care of things, I had the best display of roses, ever. The garden that he helped me put in at the side of my house was more lush than in any other year. Granted. there had been a lot of rain and some intense temperatures in my absence, but I can't help but believe that he had a hand in it.

On behalf of my family, I thank everyone for their outpouring of support. We are all going to be fine. I can say that I am doing okay. Life still goes on. I will always celebrate the life of Richard S. Coventry.

I am going to be a mess at this concert next weekend....:-D

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lost and Found in Life

This past year has been a year of major loss. I lost my grandmother in September. I lost my mother to Alzheimer's and we had to place her in a home in February. I lost my father last week. I may have lost a few friends. I was told I may have lost my ability to have children. I have lost some belongings. I have lost a couple of writing gigs. I lost a relationship. I have lost many parts of myself.

But at the same time I have found myself again. I know who I am and how I feel. I found my Montessori roots and have thrown myself into the old school philosophy. I found my grandmother again when I took her broken wedding ring and started to wear it and when she came to me in my dreams. I even found my grandfather and the man I call my step-grandfather, as she brought them to me in my dreams. I found a new level of intimacy with my father as I sat with him over seven weeks, watching him die. I have found new writing gigs and a new ability deep within to communicate with and touch others. I have found a way to redefine that relationship, that actually requires no definition, yet provides me with the love and care that I need.

My father's illness, and subsequent death, has helped me find strength in myself, in God, in the Universe, and in friends and family. I have spent 2 1/2 weeks with my aunt, getting to know her in a way that I never have before. A large share of those two weeks were also spent with other aunts and my uncle. I rekindled a relationship with the other side of the family. I have found who my true friends are and how to ask for help. My writing adventures have led me to new writing groups and new friends whom I may never meet in person, but who have walked along with me over these journeys.

I know that my new journey has just begun, and I will have to continue to find new ways to cope with my loss. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

BFF - A New Blogging Group

Ahhhhh....I love to write and I love inspiration. I just came across a new blogging group tonight called BFF - Blogging for Fun. Stay tuned for more possible posts based on their topics each week, as well. :-D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

O is for Options

When a loved one is ill you are faced with numerous options. One set of options is in regards to the patient's care. Some people are fortunate enough to have filled out and discussed living wills. Others are forced to try to guess what the person would want.

Even within those living will options there are numerous options. With my father's health, we were faced with a bunch of those unpleasant options yesterday. Basically our options entailed how are we going to let our father die. None of them are the option we want. We want our father to live. We want him to live and be with us. We want to talk to him and touch him and love him in person. But those are no longer options for us.

We were fortunate that our parents at least had created a living will, which has been truly beneficial as we make all of our decisions. We can do what Dad would want. We can honor his wishes and his legacy, even though it hurts us. When he finally passes within the next several days, we can be at peace knowing that we did the right thing.

Other options include how we react to the situation. Everyone reacts differently, and I will only focus on myself right now. People have asked me how I can be so strong through all of these ups and downs. I keep replying that I don't have a choice. But my very wise aunt pointed out that I do have a choice. I could have chosen to abandon my family and pretended that nothing was wrong. I could have avoided spending time with my father in these last several weeks and simply remembered him the way he was before this traumatic event.

To me, though, there have been no other options than to spend as much time with him as I can. I did miss three weeks while I wrapped up some things at school, but they are a blur. Otherwise, I have gone up to spend time with my father for a couple of hours every day. I have had the chance to say "I love you," and for him to mouth it back. He has also shown it to me in many other ways, and I will cherish every single second that I have left with him. He is the most important person in my life.

My other option has been to be strong. Granted, these last few days as the end has become obvious, I have been melting into a snotty pool of tears much more frequently. But I still choose to keep on keeping on, putting one foot in front of the other. I will take each moment as it comes. I choose to not have any regrets (and truly do not feel any at this time, when people often do). And life will go on.

As my cousin said to me earlier tonight, "Life sucks at times, but you have to just plow through it."

Monday, May 30, 2011

N is for Numb

These past several weeks, numb is the best way to describe how I feel. I feel like I have to be stoic to take care of the family. I keep getting complimented on how strong I am. The only way to stay strong is to put one foot in front of the other and to be numb. If I don't enter numb mode, I cannot function at all.

The problem with being numb is that eventually you are going to break. My problem starts after 8 p.m. I am a nighttime crier. Tonight, I jumped in the shower around 8, before I went to get my sister at the airport. I cried in the shower. I pulled it back together to go pick her up. The tears started again really late as I was watching Mamma Mia! My evening glass of wine probably didn't help much, but I always cry at the wedding scene. I always cry at weddings. That scene in particular gets to me because my mother will never walk me down the aisle, nor will we ever engage in that mother-daughter bonding time again. It also makes me miss my father more because he likes musicals and Meryl Streep.

And then, as quickly as the crying comes on, the numbness reappears. I don't like to not feel. I relish in feeling the intensity of my emotions. Perhaps the numbness is my self saying that these feelings are too intense, and I am protecting myself so that I can still function in life.

Please do not think that I am constantly sad. I am not. I have many happy moments and experiences as well. I think it just hits me harder when I come to town to be with my parents. But there is nowhere else that I should be, nor would I want to be anywhere else right now. They need me. This is where my life is at the moment. This too shall pass.......

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Secret of My Success

As soon as I saw this week's blogging prompt I had to laugh, especially as I was about to leave to pick up my sister from the airport. "Success." I had to think of the cheesy 80s movie Secret of My Success, starring Michael J. Fox.

This movie remains my sister's all-time favorite movies, and I still love it, too. I can't tell you how many times the two of us have watched it. We have it practically memorized. My father loved watching it, too.

Michael J. Fox plays Brantley Foster. He lands a job working in the mail room of his uncle's company, but he really craves executive experience. He takes over the persona of Carlton Whitfield as well as an empty office and starts to rock the boat in the company. He falls in love with the token female executive, Christy, who is having an affair with his uncle. His aunt (by marriage) has developed a big crush on him and literally chases him around the office. Brantley has to balance both of his personalities, which includes many memorable scenes of him changing clothes in the elevator.

The movie is full of all kinds of 1980s cheese and stupid chase scenes, but you can't help but laugh hysterically. It is ridiculous, yet slightly smart at the same time. I cannot help but turn to it every time it is on TV. I highly recommend it for a cheesy laugh and great 80s nostalgia.

M is for Meetings and Memories

The first of three major meetings about my father's prognosis has been scheduled for Memorial Day. What a day to have to think about your father's life. It makes me almost feel like the decisions have been made before they've even been discussed.

A large chunk of the family is coming home to specifically discuss these issues and to help my sister and I make some tough decisions. As I think about the prospects and as I go sit with him to visit with him, I am overwhelmed with memories.

I type as I sit in the home to where my parents retired a few years ago. It is hard for me to believe that just a couple of months ago, they were both sitting right here with me. Even my dog is confused. Every time we walk in the door, he takes off running to check every nook and cranny, trying to find them both. I am surrounded by pictures and my father's paintings.

The facility in which my father is being treated is in the city that he and my sister and I grew up. My mother grew up just a couple of miles away on a farm. The family legacy goes way back and glimpses are still visible despite years of "development."

Sitting with my father last night, I read him a chapter of Jane Eyre and then played part of the BBC version on YouTube. The first time it aired I was in town and my dad kept me up half the night watching it. It was one of our favorite things to do.

I long to make another trek to the Toledo Art Museum. I have spent my whole life going there with my father. I know all of his favorite paintings. We even took oil painting classes together.

I am watching Golden Girls as I type. We grew up watching this as a family. When reruns became prevalent on numerous stations, my father always had it on. I can hear him laughing a certain punchlines. He never got tired of the jokes.

I still want to make memories with my father. And I am hoping that these meetings will tell me that is still possible.

Friday, May 27, 2011


It is amazing how your expectations of life can easily change in a single moment. Over these past six weeks as my father has been struggling with his health issues, I have found myself looking at life completely differently. I force myself to sit and do little to nothing. I have started driving in absolute silence, instead of listening to my favorite music or talk radio. I have been praying more and almost meditating more. I have less patience for shallow people and thoughts. I look more to nature for signs and for comfort.

It has been six weeks since I talked to my father. That is unbearable to someone who is used to talking to him almost every other day. When I first started to visit him in the hospital, I was expecting him to wake up and converse with me through blinking eyes and nodding his head yes or shaking it no until he got off of the ventilator. I thought that when he had his surgery he would wake up within a couple of days and all would be okay. But that isn't the case.

My last trip home, my expectations were that Dad would open his eyes when I talked to him and would respond to my commands to squeeze my fingers. This trip home, I had even more expectations, because I had heard he was starting to breathe on his own during the day. I also saw FIVE rainbows on my trip home.

I got nothing out of him today. It hurt, but then again, I have been aware that my expectations have to adjust. Now I just expect him to be calm and comfortable. I expect him to allow me to talk to him and love him. I expect friends and family to help take care of me and support me through the process, but to also allow me some quiet time. I expect people to forgive me as I get prickly, because I don't mean it. I expect to still cry in exhaustion and frustration. I expect the medical professionals to make the right decisions and to help us as we have to make ours. I expect them to care for my father to their utmost ability and to understand that we are people and not just files that cross their desks. And I expect God and the Universe to help provide for all of our needs.

The road is long and has lots of bumps along the way. But I expect to continue to be able to face this challenge head on, and to come out relatively unscathed on the other side.

GBE 2 Challenge

Ha, here it is the end of May. I haven't even finished up the April challenge, let alone started the May challenge. And I am going to start up a new challenge. This one is a little different. It's the GBE challenge. Group Blogging Experience. This is version 2, started on Facebook. Apparently the original was on MySpace.

Every Sunday, a general topic is posted in our Facebook group. If you can, you write a blog post about that topic and share it by Saturday night. You're not obligated to write on every post, nor write on all your blogs. But I think I will be able to get plenty of them on this blog. Happy reading!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z to A in May: Blogging Challenge with a Twist

What? Another challenge? But you never finished this one!

No, I didn't. My father had to have brain surgery and has been in the ICU for over 2 weeks now. My extra writing time has been sucked up by trips to the hospital, conversations with the doctors, and updating family and friends. I've also been dealing with things with my mother who has Alzheimer's.

April has been a long, difficult month. But I vow to finish the blog posts for the original challenge and THEN I will try to work on this one. I think I can do it.

Join us!

Monday, April 25, 2011

L is for Love and Loss

On this rainy April day, I should be writing on a topic that begins with "U." As many of you who have been reading know, though, I have been dealing with great difficulties with my parents. My father had unexpected brain surgery a week ago and my mother is moving to a new facility that specializes in Alzheimer's, so I am a little behind.

I have had a lot of loss these past few months. In addition to the difficulties with my parents, my grandmother passed away in September. It has been a rough journey, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other. The love for my family and from my family has kept me strong and persevering. The same is true for my friends. I have been reconnecting with people I haven't seen or talked to in years. Help is coming from the most unexpected of places.

Adding to my sense of loss this morning was a phone call. One of my friends and colleagues suddenly lost her husband over the weekend. They are two weeks away from their daughter's college graduation. Everything was fine and BAM their lives are forever changed. I only pray that her family will receive the same love and support that I have been fortunate enough to have over the past couple of weeks.

Hold tight to those you love. You never know what is going to happen.....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

K is for Kindness and Karma

The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. These past several weeks, dealing with my parents, has been quite difficult. But people have been overwhelmingly supportive.

As my father went into the ICU and had to undergo brain surgery this week, I repeatedly sent out prayer requests on my Facebook status, in all of my writing groups, and via all three of my Twitter accounts. People I have never corresponded with have been adding him to their prayers lists and sending their best wishes. They are even following up on his status.

I started the How to Laugh at Alzheimer's blog as a way for me to cope with my mother being placed in a nursing home and becoming a person I do not know. Comments have flooded in from all over, sharing the experiences of others and thanking me for what I am doing. It is quite humbling.

The hospital where my father is recuperating is full of hundreds of doctors and nurses. Yet every day I am greeted with a smile. People ask how I am holding up. They are patient as I ask a hundred million questions, to satisfy my need to know everything that is going on. They have been patient as I have burst into tears over seemingly nothing.

Friends are asking how I am doing and offering prayers and support. Some of them are dealing with their own horrible family and personal issues. Yet, they are taking the time to talk to me, even if I seem a little irrational or appear to be jumping the gun. I am trying my best to keep up with what they are doing and how their situations are panning out. I don't mean to be self-centered and I am trying hard to not be. And they seem to understand that.

I love the offers of food. I would love to pretend that I am keeping track of what I am eating and when, but I know I am not. I can forget to eat because I am so wrapped up in helping both of my parents. People are making sure I am fed and getting rest.

And I am getting back in touch with members of the family from whom I have been accidentally estranged for a few years. It was never my fight or my issues that caused the separation. But as soon as they found out what was going on, they reached out to me as I had reached out to them. I am grateful. I just wish it wouldn't be such horrible experiences leading to us bonding again.

I truly feel that the positive support that we are getting regarding our parents is karma paying my parents back for being such beautiful people. They have always taken care of everyone else, while simultaneously caring for their own family. I have only one biological sister, but we grew up with numerous brothers and sisters. I like to think that my helping others in need is contributing to getting help now when I need it. And I hope that I can pay it all forward some day, when someone else is in need of a little kindness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

J is for Juggling

I think it is in a woman's nature to juggle a lot of things. These past few weeks I have been juggling my full-time job as a Montessori educator, my part-time job as a writer, handling my mother's move into a facility for her Alzheimer's, and today my father had brain surgery. This has included numerous emails and meetings about my students, and numerous phone calls about my parents. I am also trying to get them settled while taking care of myself. Thank God my school is on Spring Break this week. Of course, I would have been home for the ICU and surgery, anyway.

My sister told me that I am trying to take on too much. Perhaps I am. I am grateful that I do not have young children to care for right now. It is difficult enough keeping up with my three furry kids who accompanied to my father's home.

I did manage to write one article today. This is my first blog post. I may have to write a few more to continue organizing my thoughts to calm my head so that I can finally get some sleep tonight.

A lot of other people I know have a tendency to juggle a lot. I try to just put one foot in front of the other to get through these tough situations. I am trying really hard to remember to eat and drink and to take care of myself. That is something that many of us who juggle a lot tend to neglect. I am also learning how to let some things go.

For example, this has been one of the most strenuous years of my life. So, I try to keep my school duties contained within the allotted time frame as much as possible. If I do work late, which is a necessity in the profession, I set up a cut-off time. Whether or not I am finished, I leave. I do the same thing with my writing. If I can't do it, then I don't do it. That is part of the reason that I am so far behind on this challenge. I may not catch up on all of the blogs, but I think I will be able to catch up on most of them. I have been hiking more frequently to physically relieve some of the stress. Because the juggling isn't going to stop any time soon and I need to keep on keeping on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Am Mine

There is a song by Pearl Jam called "I Am Mine." The lyrics go "I know I was born and I know that I'll die. The in-between is mine. I am mine." I love that line, and I have made it one of my mantras. Another good one is "I only own my mind."

I am going through a horribly rough time right now. My grandmother died in September at the ripe old age of 95. My mother, who has Alzheimer's. had to go into nursing care in February. And my father went into the ICU Thursday night. This morning (Saturday) they had to intubate him. He has taken a couple of steps backwards, but this could be a good thing to help him finally recover. He has a lot of medical problems right now. We are extremely close and it is very hard for me.

My sister has also come to town to help out for a bit, but she cannot stay as long as I can. It is up to me to be the strong one who takes care of a lot of the problems. But I have a choice. I can choose to let it get me completely down and get depressed. Or, I can let out my emotions and just continue to deal with what life throws at me, one step at a time.

Do I cry? Yes. If I don't cry it makes it worse. Have I stopped doing what I love? Absolutely not. I take care of what needs to be done and try to have a little fun at the same time. I take things seriously, yet try to find ways to chuckle. I am the one who is in control of my reactions. I am mine. I can do what I need to do and not lose face.

Another great song lyric that pops into my head is "I am a rock. I am an island." That describes precisely how I am feeling right now.

Or check out this live version from Reading '06. Pearl Jam is always better live. :-D

Thursday, April 14, 2011

H is for Hiking

I have always enjoyed doing some moderate hiking. I always say that I could walk for hours. Of course I grew up in NW Ohio where the ground is completely flat. Long walks are pretty easy.

Before I moved, I was hitting up my favorite Metroparks in the Greater Toledo area on a regular basis. I could walk on trails in the woods, meadows, and even swampy areas. One of my favorites is a boardwalk with an observation deck at the end of it. I still go on them when I go home to visit.

When I moved to NY I found myself primarily walking along the trails that follow the Erie Canal. I also discovered the joys of hiking up and down the glacier-carved hills of Mt. Hope Cemetery, as well as the historical fascination. (People like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass are buried there.)

A year ago, I discovered a book about hiking in the Greater Rochester area and decided I should check it out. I hit up a couple of trails, only to burst a cyst and later require minor surgery. Flash forward six months and introduce a new friend who is much more hardcore. He actually gets pleasure out of hiking in the snow and freezing cold. The steeper and more remote the hills the better. And who cares about trails? Start on one and end up on another.

Thanks to him, I now have real hiking boots and two new coats and am kicking my own ass hitting up hills and trails. I mistakenly believed that I needed to follow him along these treks, to push myself. But now I am hitting up hills like this one, all by myself.

I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I discover or conquer a new trail. I love the peace and quiet of the outdoors. And I love that stiffness in my body when I have gone too long without hitting another one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

G is for Grover

One day in my Montessori classroom, my kids kept jumping over the rugs. I said, "You must walk AROUND the rugs, AROUND, AROUND, AROUND." I suddenly thought of this classic Sesame Street sketch by Grover:

I pulled it up on my Droid and let the kids watch. They laughed hysterically and asked to watch it again. Then I noticed it was also available in Spanish, so we watched it in Spanish.

We watched it two days at the end of the day, and then I never heard anything about it again. Suddenly the other day, they started singing it again and asked to watch it. So, after they were packed up for the day, we watched it again. We also watched it in Spanish. I was excited to see that they had already learned the words in Spanish!

See, Sesame Street is still educational! lol

F is for Fiona

I am madly in love with Fiona Apple. I have been since the first time I saw the "Sleep to Dream" video. She is like my kindred spirit. I have a massive girl crush on her, her voice, her attitude, her power, her hair......I have all of her CDs, have seen her numerous times in concert, and even named my Siamese cat after her.

When I was searching for "C is for Cookie," I came across several Fiona videos. This one of her with Elvis Costello doing "I Want You" is intensely beautiful. It demonstrates her emotion and talent. I had this on my mp3 player, but am even more in love with it after watching it "live." And in my personal life lately, it is even more meaningful.

The last time I saw Fiona live was when she was touring on the Nickel Creek farewell tour. They played a small venue downtown. It occurred to me later that I could have hung out afterwards and possibly met her. I always say that I wouldn't know what to do, but if I can stand upright while meeting Eddie Vedder, I should be able to handle Fiona.

This is a clip that someone took of her doing "Extraordinary Machine." I love that song because I think of it as a sort of mantra for myself. "Be kind to me or treat me. I'll make the most of it. I'm an extraordinary machine!"

I was standing just behind the person filming this. I was so jealous that I had no way to record it myself, but at least this person recorded a bunch of it!


Rumor has it that a new album is due out this year. That means a new tour. Ahhhhh.....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

E is for Eddie

Of course E is for Eddie! What else would it be? I am a huge fan of Pearl Jam, and have been for 20 years now. Nothing helps my mood better than Eddie's voice crooning and yelling. The lyrics touch my soul. I feel a spiritual connection with his music in a way unlike any other.

I have written about Eddie and Pearl Jam time and time again. So, instead of rehashing all of them, I will instead provide you with links to my published works on Yahoo! and Associated Content/Yahoo Contributor Network.

Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (including commentary on the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder)

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder Pens the Lyrics That Fulfill My Soul

Meeting Eddie Vedder (Yes, my friend Amy and I got to meet him twice. It was a dream come true. One of these days I will find my camera again, and can upload my pictures. I will include one from my crappy camera phone below. The one taken by my friend that appears on this article is the best, though!)

Top 5 Eddie Vedder Solo Performances with Friends
(This one actually went to omg! on Yahoo!)

D is for David and Dylan

I am a huge music fan. I like almost all genres. My mp3 player is full of all kinds of contradictory tastes. But I don't care. Different music fits different moods. This post reflects on my good fortune of over a year ago.....

In March of 2010, I elected to go home for an extended weekend. We had a day off to go visit any Montessori school we wanted. I chose to go to Ohio to visit the one where I was working when I got my Montessori training. My good friend still teaches there, and it is always inspiring to visit my educator roots.

I found out that David Gray was going to be performing about two hours away in Columbus, OH that weekend. I've been dying to see him for years, so I decided to get a ticket and enjoy myself. And I am glad I did.

The whole way down to Columbus, I was listening to an old CD from 1997, A Century Ends. One of my favorite songs is "Debauchery." I kept thinking how much I would love to hear that song, but wouldn't hold my breath because it was such an old one. In the middle of the show, David says, "I don't know why, but I am feeling compelled to play this song tonight. This is 'An Afternoon's Debauchery.'" I freaked out...from my lips to God's ear to David Gray's mind?

Following the show, I waited in the alley behind the theatre, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Better than that, I got to meet him, get his autograph, and have my picture taken with him.

I wish I had a better phone camera that night. And I curse the person who took the picture, for not realizing there was a bright light in the background that made it so dark. But, that's okay. I still met David Gray. You can see a slideshow of the rest of the pictures here.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and I noticed a contest on Jakob Dylan's Facebook page. You could enter to win a pair of tickets to a show of your choice. I picked the Albany show, as that was the closest one to me (despite being four hours away). I didn't think there was any possible way I could win, because I never win this stuff. Imagine my surprise when I received notification that I was the winner!

I tried in vain to find someone to go with me, but either no one else was a fan or just couldn't go. It was hard to find someone with about 24 hours' notice. I didn't let that stop me. I booked a hotel in Albany, and took off on a fun road trip by myself.

My seats were amazing - second row behind the orchestra seats, dead center. When Jakob Dylan took the stage, I could literally make eye contact with him as he sang. It was almost like he was singing to me and no one else. Neko Case was onstage with him. The two together were magical.

Alas, the way that The Egg in Albany is set up, I was unable to find a way to meet Jakob Dylan after the show. I was able to meet the opening act, though, called Mimicking Birds. They were interesting, but I have never heard anything further about them.

This is one picture of Dylan and Case onstage. I really hated the old camera phone for taking such pictures. It makes the stage look much farther away and it is difficult to see much detail. But Jakob is in the middle with the hat, looking more and more like his dad every day (except much more attractive!). Neko Case's red hair is visible to the right.

I'm so ready for more shows! I've been a big fan of concerts and trying to meet celebrities since I met another "D" act, Def Leppard. That's a fun story, too!

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Cookie

Ok, I know I am not the only one to do this today, but dammit, LONG LIVE COOKIE MONSTER!!!!

Another version with Marilyn Horne

And while we're on the topic of Sesame Street, my students got the biggest kick out of watching Grover. We watched this about four times on my Droid a couple of weeks ago. This is the best!

C is for Candida

Ah, candida. The bane of my eating existence. Throughout the process of dealing with another medical issue beginning with "c" (and I don't mean the "BIG C"), we discovered that I had an intolerance to yeast that often resulted in an overgrowth. An overgrowth of yeast can manifest as an external yeast infection, migraines, swollen legs, depression, fatigue, and more.

I actually discovered that my symptoms could be due to a candida overgrowth while I was reviewing a book called The Super Allergy Girl Cookbook. In it are listed many common, and not so common, food allergies and intolerances, complete with their symptoms.

So, I began to wean myself off of yeast. At first, I thought I would go cold turkey, but like quitting smoking, it isn't quite that easy. Do you how much stuff has yeast in it?

The obvious culprits are breads and beers. Two of my favorite things. I thought perhaps if I just cut back on them and upped my yogurt intake I would be okay. Not so much.

I started taking an herbal mixture called Yeast Fighters when things got bad, so that I could continue to occasionally have bread. Again, not a great idea.

I kept doing research on the proper diet for someone with candida issues. I honestly get depressed every time I do. Basically, there is very little that is left for me to eat. Technically, you have to eliminate anything that contains yeast, anything produced by yeast, and anything that feeds yeast, such as white flour and sugars. That actually leaves very little that you can eat.

So for over a year now, I have kept playing around. And now, after doing an intensive treatment for over a week, using both prescription and over-the-counter herbal remedies, I am finally doing much better. I have found that I need to maintain supplements, such as pau d'arco and acidophilus. I need to avoid as much yeast as I can. And if I am going to indulge, I had better be.prepared to deal with the.consequences!

I would love to hear from people who have had.to do the same in their.diets.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for....

Ah, Day Two. B Day. I have had a million thoughts running through my head all day. This type of a challenge is dangerous for a brain like mine that never stops working!

B is for...babies. I love babies. And they love me. I swear they know I am a teacher an find me as soon as they walk into a room, or as soon as I walk into a room. While I don't have my own, I love taking care of everyone else's. And I think about six people I know have had a baby in the last several weeks. Auntie Andi is ready to snuggle!!

B is for...boredom. This is a comment directed at a friend of mine. I went out to lunch with a friend today. After lunch and ice cream, her seven year-old went to the salon to get her hair cut off so that she could donate it to Locks of Love. While we were waiting, I was hanging out with the teenager. We were sharing Facebook on the phone, comparing our tastes in boys. Ah, the generational differences.....anyway, after waiting for about an hour, we both started getting bored. I joked that I should make a post about boredom.....

B is for...bands. When I was in college, I was a total band groupie. Not the traditional groupie who slept with the entire band, but the one die-hard fan who went to every single show. I continue to enjoy hanging out with bands and meeting musicians.

B is for...blue. Today is actually World Autism Awareness Day. I apparently jumped the gun yesterday. To honor those with autism, you were supposed to wear blue. Because my favorite football team is the Michigan Wolverines, it was convenient that my clean shirts for weekend wear were only my Michigan ones. So, the blue today served a duel purpose. Some of my closest friends have children with autism and I am a die-hard Wolverine fan. GO BLUE!

B is for....Bananarama, Bangles, Blondie. I have no idea why those just popped into my head, but they did. I love cheesy music from the 80s. I have fond memories of doing karaoke in college, and belting out tunes with my roomies....

To end the babbling, I will now just link you to other random thoughts of the day on the other blogs.

B is for...Beauty Beauty is a core necessity in the Montessori classroom. Read about it at Montessori Writer.

B is for...Bronte. Did you realize there were three Bronte sisters? Each of them had their own novels and they all wrote poetry, as well. Read about them at Andi's Book Reviews.

B is for...Brett and Berenstain. I had two posts on Andi's Kids Books today. Jan Brett is one of my favorite children's authors. I'm also a big fan of the Berenstain Bear books.

B is for...bulbs. I love to plant bulbs. I planted several hundred last year, and they are just starting to come up. This post includes links to slideshows.

B is for...Brain, Babies, Boyfriends, and Bras. I ended up with two posts today about Alzheimers. One is about the brain, babies, and boyfriends. The other one is about bras.....

A is for.....

Well, I'm already behind on the A to Z challenge, as today is April 2nd (B Day) and I still haven't done A. I had a long week, and got three blog posts up on other sites, so :-P

Hey, that brings me to my first random word....attitude. Yes, I have an attitude. I have known this since I was little. But I try to use my attitude for good. I get annoyed with people who act dumb or unreasonably, and then that attitude can rear its ugly head.

A is for...anger and acceptance and Alzheimers This was the topic of my first blog post for the new blog at How to Laugh at Alzheimer's. I also go through waves of anger and acceptance in other avenues, but this one seems to be the strongest right now.

A is for...apples. I love apples. I also equate apples with being a teacher. I forget how that whole idea of "an apple for the teacher" came to be. Wasn't it something like students showed appreciation for their teachers by giving them an apple, because fruits were like a specialty? Anyway, somehow, I have come to resent the teaching symbol, because I am not a fan of traditional teaching. I still remember when I was 19 and had an art project due for my final. It was an expose of myself, made up of numerous little pictures that represented who I was. One of the pictures was a pencil stabbing an apple. Public education and I do not get along. I am a full-blown Montessorian at heart. I also resented all of the coursework I had to take, just to become a teacher. Some of it came in very handy, and some of it was completely useless.

A is for...autism. Speaking of my educational background, I wish we would have done more with autism. Then again, sixteen years ago, we didn't talk about it as much. It was always just a blurb in the textbooks, even in my special ed classes. Of course, back then, I never dreamed that I would be encountering autism and Asperger's on such a regular basis. Alas, it has become a passion of sorts of mine. I am completely fascinated by the world and strive to understand it. It was the topic of my Montessori Writer blog post yesterday.

A is for...Andrea. That is me. There are so many aspects of my personality and nature. Some of that is going to come out in this challenge. Some of those facets may seem contradictory in nature. Oh well.

I think this is going to be fun. I have word lists constantly moving through my head. I feel like I am in my classroom, going over the "sound of the week" with my older kids. I read them a book that focuses on a sound. Then, I have them brainstorm words that begin with that letter. I love them, because even at the ages of four and five, they have figured out how to find the letter in a picture dictionary, and use that for brainstorming. Call me awed and impressed.

And I will end with acceptance. This blog challenge is bringing me new readers, and I have already been embraced in a couple of the blogs, in a way I had never expected. I feel tremendous responsibility, and I thank you.

Until later today, when random thoughts of "B" flow from my head.....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All About Me from A-Z

There is a new blogging challenge for the month of April, and I am considering attempting it on here. It is Tossing It Out: A-Z Blogging Challenge. Basically, you assign one letter to each day of the week, except for Sundays, and write on a topic that begins with that letter.

I am definitely going to be attempting it from my Montessori Writer blog. Thinking of Montessori topics for every letter of the alphabet should be easy. But, I would also like to do random thoughts over here. I plan on keeping this as a back-up, anyway.

I am also contemplating doing this on Andi's Gardening Experiments. There are two other blogs I have attempted, Andi's Kids Books and Andi's Book Reviews

, but I don't think I can pull those off this year.

Would you like to join me? It's easy to sign up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Hiking Queen falls on her royal arse

I have always enjoyed my version of hiking. Growing up in Northwest Ohio, that usually consisted of hoofing it on the trails of the Toledo Metroparks system. And being Northwest Ohio, they were all flat. Many were paved, or at least gravel. And I think the longest one that I remember was only about 2 miles.

Later, they started paving over old railroad beds, so that you could walk, bike, or roller blade much longer distances. I don't do wheels, so I would walk several miles when the mood swayed me.

When I moved to Rochester, I pretty much only knew about the canal trails. I tried walking some of them quite a ways, but always felt like I was missing something by not having my metroparks. Last year, I heard about the fabulous book Take a Hike Rochester by Rich and Sue Freeman, from some of my friends. They also have some other titles in the series. In answer to an ad I put out on a PR site, I heard from Sue Freeman, who was kind enough to send me copies of several of their books to review and for writing purposes. I got a copy of the second edition of the book.

Unfortunately, I had hardly started using the book to seek out new places to walk, when I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts that caused me extreme pain and discomfort. After having one rupture in June after hiking in Corbett's Glen, I stopped doing any kind of walking or hiking, other than the dogs.

A couple of months ago, I made the acquaintance of a certain male figure who loves to go hiking. Because I was interested, he started showing me some of his favorite local trails. The first day we went out was a snowy, cold day, and we climbed up a hill outside of Bushnell's Basin. When I looked through the book, I discovered it was a "four boot" hike - one of the more difficult "family hikes."

Since then, I have been keeping my eyes open for new ones that I see when driving around, trusting this person to teach me some new ones, as well as checking out a few more in my book. One of my current favorites is a place called Linear Park. There are multiple trails, but my favorite follows the Irondequoit Creek. This was the first view I ever saw:

Ok, it is the view from today's walk and the water is a little calmer, but still. It's so peaceful, listening to the sounds of rushing water. Those positive ions reach up and grab you, and you feel all of your cares start to melt away.

So, after another stressful day at work, I decided to take a hike along this path. The last time I was here, I slide on a wooden bridge because my feet were covered in mud. I hurt my pride, but that was about it. I am always worried about falling, especially when I am by myself. But today, there were plenty of people on the path, and I was doing well.

And, then it happened. About five minutes from the end of the return trip, my foot skidded in the mud as I went down a very small incline, and I landed on my arse in a puddle of mud. This time, I am sore.

My friend is always telling me to take baby steps when going down those hills. I have been. I was taking baby steps. Damn mud was four inches deep! *sigh*

Maybe next time it won't be so bad?

You can check out some of my slideshows from my hiking adventures on YCN and individual pictures on Redgage. More will be continuously added, so keep checking back!

Oh, and apparently there is an updated version of that book available now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another test.....

If this actually works, then I am also able.to blog from my phone via email. This.could get.dangerous....

Or.it.could be.fun....:-)

TESTING......so in theory I am currently writing a blog post as a text message and sending it from my phone....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hair cutting in The Bourne Identity

Random thought of the day: I just flipped on The Bourne Identity for background noise. It was just at the scene where Jason is cutting Marie's hair to turn into a disguise. That was actually a really hot scene. I mean, think about how intimate your relationship is with your hairdresser. This is your hair. It is a part of you. And though I'm not a Matt Damon fan, he does look pretty good in this movie.

Granted, it leads to a bit of hanky-panky immediately following the hair cutting, so there may have been that slight preconceived notion. But still.....I wouldn't let just anyone actually cut my hair....

So, how am I doing on all those goals?

In my last post, I commented on how I was trying to double my efforts over at Yahoo Contributor Network (formerly Associated Content). How is that working for me at the end of the first month of 2011?

Well, I haven't submitted nearly as many articles as I had planned. Instead, I found that I have been nearly doubling my efforts elsewhere. It is the story of my life: I can always find plenty of energy and ideas for anything that I don't have to get done, and slack off on those things that require more effort. I spent the first half of the month writing a bunch of articles for Bright Hub, instead. I usually only get about 2-5 articles posted per month over there. In January, I will have 9 articles published there. I should have had 11, but got too busy. I am also not counting the Managed Guides that I do.

As for YCN, I have 9 new articles that have published as of today, and three more submitted. I have 8 more FC pieces to try to write before Tuesday at midnight. I also published 7 slideshows. That encompasses 16 of the 400 that I want to put up. My page views continue to average between 450-650 a day. As of this morning, I am at just over 432,000 page views, not counting Yahoo!, which leaves me 368,000 more to gain in the next 11 months. As of this morning, only about 15,000 of those past 400,000 are actually from 2011. It is a relatively slow, yet average month for me.

So, how am I going to boost things? I don't want to write a bunch of fluff and crap, because that isn't going to help me out at all. One of my ideas is coming up with as many lesson plans and activities as I can, to use throughout the year. I have already missed January, and am running out of time to get much for February. I need to just buckle down and do them all.

My common complaint is that if it weren't for my full-time job as a teacher, I would have time to write all of these ideas. But, if I didn't have the full-time job, I couldn't easily get the photographs, nor some of my inspiration. I also need that crazy little thing called health insurance.

Another issue I have had this month is random social life overload. I tend to enjoy being a hermit in the winter months. It's too damn cold to go out, and I get tired of driving in snow. But so many fabulous activities have kept popping up, and new people are around with whom I can hang out, so things have changed. The problem then becomes I am too tired. I also enter into a new conundrum of needing the spending money for outings, and not having the time to earn said spending money.

Ah well. It will all come together in time, I think.

Stay tuned for some random thoughts as well as monthly updates on my goals.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Resolutions......again

Wow....it has been almost 6 months since I last posted. So much for that writing a blog post once a day thing, eh? So, I'm revisiting the post where I originally laid out my resolutions for 2010, and reflecting on them here.

Building the book reviewing sites.....well, it has been almost a year since I did that, so I guess I didn't quite hit that goal. I was receiving a lot of books, but then found I didn't have a lot of extra time to read. I honestly work on writing for pay, because I need the supplemental income. I also developed a medical condition in February last year that left me somewhat exhausted, and I haven't read as much. I feel bad, because I feel like I let some people down. But I do hope to get back to reviewing and doing interviews. I love to read, and perhaps this would force me to do more of it.

As for Examiner, they changed things up so much there, that I can't tell which end is up. I have been contemplating going back there, though, to still get a simple income for easy writing. We shall see what time allows.

Querying children's books.....I just didn't do it. I have a million book ideas, and even started outlining some, but haven't yet developed enough where I can query. My brain is on constant rotation of ideas, but that makes it hard to follow through on all of them at times. Perhaps this will be the year?

Focus on Montessori....This is the one resolution that I truly carried out. Thanks to some online friends, I was inspired to start a Montessori Facebook fan page. On it, I post my own personal articles, as well as fun finds around the Internet, and Maria Montessori quotes. By doing that, I actually read The Montessori Method in its entirety for the first time in my life. Usually, I just pick out parts here and there, based on the subject matter. It has helped me to ground myself in the philosophy and reminded me why I do what I want to do. I also finally developed my own personal website, Montessori Writer. It has a lot of work to do, but it is still enjoyable. Conveniently, the same weekend that I was seriously contemplating biting the bullet and purchasing my own domain, my original Montessori blog platform was discontinued. Luckily, they sent everything to me, so I still have my posts. But now they are my own again, and I can do what I want.

I found that writing for Examiner on local Montessori was difficult, as we need to protect the privacy of our families. I kept hoping I could figure out a way to comment on philosophy and add a local twist. Again, we shall see if I return to that.

Finding a writing rhythm......I have found that my life, as uncomplicated as it supposedly is, is not conducive to a writing rhythm. Again, those health issues I was experiencing made me tired when I wanted to write. School takes up a lot more time, though I did quit the tutoring for the school year. I am tired when I get home in the evenings, and it can be difficult to actually write anything. And I have found that on a day off, or during vacation time, I am so happy to not have to work, that I can't write, despite my best intentions.

One blog post and one article a day, average.....Yeah, like I said, that didn't happen. I don't know what I was thinking there. But, I do have loftier goals, in a sense. I write regularly for several websites, and have personal goals that are either financial or otherwise goal-based. My biggest goal is to double my efforts on Associated Content, now the Yahoo! Contributor Network. At the end of 2010, I had just about 400 published pieces (articles & slideshows) on AC and a couple of partner sites. I also had over 400,000 page views. My goal for the end of 2011 is to have at least 800 published pieces (articles, slideshows, and possibly videos taken with my new Droid X?) and at least 800,000 page views (read 1 million). Many of my fellow writers have their own big goals. Check out what other YCN writers hope to accomplish this year.

Still other people claim that they do not set resolutions. I am also a fan of calling things "goals." I am always seeking to be the best person that I can be. I'm okay with not hitting those resolutions from last year, because I have new goals for this year......let's see what I have to say a year from now about all of that......lol