Friday, January 28, 2011

One Word


Yes, those are my initials. It's funny because I'm usually the opposite of sad (which, as every 4 year old should know, is happy.) My motto is "if there isn't anything in your life to smile about, smile anyway so that you attract the happiness." Unfortunately smiling isn't always so easy.

S.A.D. stands for something else: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
While I don’t believe that I suffer from that particular type of depression, it is true that the gloom of winter usually finds me…well, sad. The wet blanket of clouds that hide the sun, the biting wind that chills my core and hurts my hands and the fact that illness seems to linger around my home longer during the colder months always tends to weigh me down just enough that my smile is a touch slower than it is during sunnier times. This year, we managed to avoid most illnesses until right before the Christmas break. My son missed the very last day of school before the holidays thanks to a tummy virus. Luckily the rest of us don’t usually succumb to that particular bug easily. Instead we were each treated, in varying degrees, to a nasty upper respiratory infection that came complete with fever and general body aches. It waited until Christmas Eve to hit me. I’m sure you can all imagine how wonderful Christmas is when you are shivering with fever and clenching in pain while waiting for the children to finally fall a deep sleep so that you can, um, unlock the door to let Santa in. I couldn’t turn to my wonderful hubby for help because he had to go to sleep early for work (yes, he sometimes works on Christmas. Actually the schedule seems to have him working on Christmas more often than not for some unlucky reason.) Besides, he doesn’t have much experience in… unlocking the door for Santa, so I wasn't sure he would have really have known exactly what to do even if I had been able to beg off of that particular duty, I mean, joy.

I toughed it out, waiting until all of the presents were in place before finally downing a dose of nighttime cold medicine (have I ever mentioned how really awful I have to feel before I take that kind of stuff?), soaking in the hottest water I could fill the tub with and then finally climbing into bed. The next three days are somewhat hazy. It took nearly three weeks to finally start feeling like myself again. Even today there is a tiny bit of cough that sneaks up on me at least once a day. Yeah, I know :::whine, whine, whine::: Get over it, right?

Monday evening I was sitting in a car line listening to the music from my iPhone playlist compete with the chilly rain that was pitter-pattering on the roof of my van. It was just cold enough to feel slightly uncomfortable, but the motor of my van stayed off because, well, have you noticed the price of gas lately?

Car line is my quiet time. It is when I’m supposed to be working on my book. Instead, all I really wanted was to end the day and go to sleep. I wondered "Where has inspiration gone? Is it hibernating? Will it ever return?"

Rain by Breaking Benjamin began playing and I thought "Yep…that’s what I’m feeling right now. "

But that was Monday. My mood lifted a bit as the week worn on. Yesterday as I was listening to the radio, I heard the DJ's talking about "My One Word" and I wondered...can I change my word from SAD to something more in line with what I want to be? The idea behind One Word is that rather than make the same old list of New Year Resolutions that we start with the best of intentions and then let fall away, we look at the person we want to be by the year's end, choose one word to describe that person and commit to it. Then whenever we hear, see or think of that word, we should be reminded of the direction we want to steer our lives. That sort of sounds like the "cue" word I used to use with my oldest daughter when she was much younger. I let her pick out the word and she knew that whenever I said it, she was supposed to stop and think about her words and the tone she was using. hmmm...she is 17 now and I'm thinking seriously that we need to start using cue words again. But I'm getting off subject...

When considering my "one word" what leapt to my mind first was TRUST. Of course, choosing that word wouldn't mean that I'd suddenly start trusting everyone and everything around me. If I did that, I'd have to quickly change trust to naive. No, my trust is reserved for the One that guilds my life. The thing is, deep down, I know that I do already trust in that way. Sure I need reminders every now and again, but even so, the word trust doesn't really describe how I want to change. So, which word does? What is my one word?

Well, why not the most obvious? I want to be new. I know what you are saying "Hon, you are 43. That's waaay closer to old than it is to new." Yeah, yeah, but that's not the kind of new I mean anyway. Let me explain. Right now there is a philodendron in my front yard that is looking pretty droopy thanks to the recent cold temps. This is the second year in a row that we've hit low
s that harsh. The first time it happened, last winter, I wondered if he was gone for good. Then spring came around and after I cut away the dead leaves, I was happy to see that Phil had a new stem growing, ready to replace what had been lost. By the summer's end, he was brilliant again.

That's what I want. It's time for me to cut the rotten and dead away from my life so that I can make room for the new to bloom and grow. I know that it will come in cycles. Just as my poor Phil has to take the toll of winter before re-inventing himself, I know that I'll find myself facing challenges that will shape me. For now, I'll just trust that I'll overcome the frost of life...and find myself new once more.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a Swamp Thing

There is a small section of our yard that is bordered by the pond fence, the driveway and the ditch. It has a name of it's very own. We call it the "nutrient patch." I suppose that it could be considered a compost area/wildlife feeding ground. We toss the leftovers there and the food either breaks down to rejoin the soil or is consumed by creatures furry, feathery or scaly. I used to have dreams of turning that little area into a vegetable garden. After all, the soil there must be amazing by now! Unfortunately that patch (along with much of the surrounding ditch) has been taken over by a notorious weed by the name of Horsetail Rush. For those who are unfamiliar that reedy weed, let me assure you that it is the absolutely most impossible plant life on the face of the earth to kill. There is a chemical that will destroy it, but it will also make the ground sterile for several years. Defeated, I've decided to simply continue feeding the ground and wildlife while admiring the tenacity of the ancient genus that thwarted my plans.

A couple of nights ago, after clearing the table, I walked outside to add a plateful of nutritional goodness to the patch. I was slightly startled when a huge, I mean, well fed, possum emerged from the reeds. As though embarrassed at having being caught noshing, he waddled back toward his home as fast as his portly legs could carry him. I felt kinda sorry for him. After all, it is a good 300 yards to the swamp. He might've starved to death before he reached the cover of woods. Or had a heart-attack.

Hold just hit me. We live less than 1000 feet from a SWAMP! :::gasp::: How did I not realize this before? Oh, wait. I did. I actually have been aware of that fact for quite some time. My husband even grew up here. I grew up in a much less swampy area. <-said in my most snooty voice. It's probably a whole mile between my childhood home and the swamp. Well, maybe not quite a mile.

Oh come on! This is south Louisiana. The swamp is all around us.

Some people apparently seem to think that it's a horrible thing to live "in the swamp." I'm not one of them. In fact, I think it's kinda cool. Exotic even. There is a unique beauty here in the swamplands that is life affirming to me. Some of the very best memories of my childhood are of my father taking us kids to the camp in the swampy woods. Nature both amazes and inspires me. The tree line photo at the top of this blog was taken from my backyard. If you've ever gotten lost enough on the web to stumble upon my Myspace, you might have noticed the same photo. There I call it "Swamp Sunset." In my fictional world of Rhonia, my hero hails from a place called Mireterre. Mire = swamp, terre = land.

You wouldn't think that I should need to convince anyone that I have a special affinity for this land that I live in, but apparently I do. You see I was recently misquoted in our local newspaper. That sentence attributed to me makes it appear that I see the swamp as a horrible place.

Let me give some background here. Our school board is considering moving boundary lines, which would force children who live in this area to begin attending a school in neighboring community. Both schools are very good. The school that our children may be bussed away to has an excellent state rating. Still, parents here are very much against the idea. Our school was built for our community. It's seen generations of local families. The father of a friend recently said that Grandparents Day can often feel like a class reunion. It means something to them that their grandchildren are getting an education in the same school that they not only sent their children to, but that they attended themselves. The problem is that the area is booming. Enrollment is rising and the classrooms are becoming more and more crowded. A large part of this is due to a newer subdivision, which is located in an area that was not originally part of our school zone. Understandably, many parents who grew up here are now feeling that their children are being pushed out to make room for newcomers.

In an effort to bring public awareness to the issue, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper. Later that week, I received a phone call from a reporter. We talked about a promise of new classrooms that parents were given a few years ago when we were urged to go to the polls and approve a measure to untie money for School Board use. If those classrooms had been built as planned, the school would be able to handle the current growth. We talked about the upcoming changes in the Pre-k program that should free classrooms for other grades. We discussed the frustration that parents felt at a recent school board meeting. We talked about student/teacher ratio.

Out of everything that the reporter and I spoke about, here is what he apparently heard: “I just cannot see my child getting on a bus and going 30 minutes into the swamp,”


I guess I can see how he got that. What with me hating the swamp and all. :::sigh:::