Nice Girls

I’m angry.  I’m upset. I’m heartbroken.

Another young woman was murdered in Florida. In my city.

In the parking lot of busy suburban shopping center, in broad daylight.

She was twenty-one; two classes ahead of my daughter.

Worked at a restaurant in this shopping center- beautiful, kind, loving, and an excellent worker.

She lived at home. She was close to her parents.

She was killed by a co-worker. A man who I gather had feelings for her.

*********************************************************************

Another young woman killed by a man who would not take no for an answer.

I read something this week about how Black parents give their kids “the talk.”

About living and surviving while being black in this country.

But what about the women who sit their daughters down and give “the talk?”

You know the script:

How to deal with the cat-calls, the crude invitations called out as you walk down the street.

How to  deal with sexual harassment on the job,  and at school.

Be careful when you are out- don’t accept a drink from a stranger.

Be firm, be clear, be direct- be careful with guys who stalk. Trust your gut.

Lock your doors, watch the street, don’t walk alone, make sure no one is following you home.

Be aware if the guy you are dating becomes to possessive- know the signs of

  • physical
  • emotional
  • sexual abuse

Stay in groups. Watch out for each other. Text me when you arrive and when you leave a place and check in with friends.

And the cycle of fear continues, because we can’t trust some men. It’s the twenty-first century and I’m giving my daughter the same talk that I got, my mother heard, and on back in history. Beware of men who can’t control their impulses. It’s the women’s job to keep them in check:

  • be sweet and kind, but not too easy
  • watch how you dress
  • watch what you say
  • don’t be a tease
  • don’t lead them on

I’m angry, frustrated and scared for my daughter. I’m sad that I had to acknowledge that being female in this world is difficult and being vigilant is a burden she will bear her entire life.

©annettealaine 2017

 

Advertisements

Vacation with Myself

Vacation with Myself

This is the first time in five years that I’ve taken a vacation for me.

I’ve taken time off to take kids to college, or go to a workshop, and husband and I have taken a few trips over the past few years. But this long ten day stretch has been selfishly taken for my own time to re-charge.

So many people asked me, where are you going? My answer was- no where. Blessedly no where. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love planning trips to different places. I have a bucket list of places to visit before I’m too old to travel.  And I love going on adventures with my spouse, but this year I knew that I needed some time alone. So what makes this such a wonderful vacation?

  • The boss is also out of town. So no texts, emails, or worries about a laundry list of tasks waiting for me when I return.
  • This is the first time I did not have to prep too far ahead to make sure big jobs were completed before I left. It causes tons of stress, but we hired someone to complete that job, so I don’t have to worry about it, and can actually unplug from work.
  • My location- my apartment high in the sky is the perfect place to hang out. It’s small enough to feel like I’m somewhere else, and conveniently far enough away from the work environment. Bonus- the balcony that sits in the shade most of the day and has a beautiful view of the river.
  • I’m mostly alone everyday for hours. It means no one is waiting for me to do anything for them. I can eat, walk, nap, read and do whatever I feel like doing without the usual worry about anyone else’s agenda.
  • It’s quiet. And I’ve craved peace and quiet so I can think and even write again.

 

I realize when I return to work I need to carve out more time on my own to relax and re-charge regularly so I don’t burn out. I need to selfishly guard my time. A hard lesson to learn when you are a woman and you’ve spent most of your adult life giving selflessly to others.

How do you carve out time for yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

 

©annettealaine

No Regrets

No Regrets

In my line of work, you experience death. We go on the death watch journey with a family as someone’s loved one goes into a decline. Or it’s an unexpected shock- and we must be the calm in their tumultuous storm of shock and grief.

I have answered the phone when someone calls with the news. I have sat and listened as a family sits and waits for their appointment with clergy to plan the funeral. And what I hear over and over again is:

Don’t waste a moment.

Tell everyone you love them.

Hug often.

Fill your days with things that bring you joy.

In a week that in our biz is filled with more tedious busy-ness and mind-numbing details than is the norm, it’s easy to forget those wise words. But this week was the perfect time for me to repeat the sage advice like a mantra as I drove to work each day.

For my children- they are ready to leap to the next adventure. Perhaps my concerns have some merit, but this is the time to fly. I have few regrets, but can look back and wonder how my life would have turned out if I had boldly picked choice A over choice B.

For myself- I’ve already started 2017 with a bang. Our radical lifestyle change has reaped many blessings and giving both of us an appreciation for another chance to turn the page and start something new.

As the grieving widower sat speaking quietly to us with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes,

We had a great life, but the last ten years was more than we were promised. And we did everything she wanted to do, and had no regrets. We loved, we played and we lived every moment.

©annettealaine2017

Motivation Saturday

Motivation Saturday

Yesterday was a lesson in motivation. My husband was up with the sun as I rolled over and decided to sleep in on a Saturday. Nothing planned. No place to be. It was heaven.

Sitting on the porch later with a cup of coffee and a perfectly toasted english muffin, I watched boats head out for the day. I thought of grabbing my laptop and writing a poem, but I was as lazy as the cat dozing in the sun.

Husband had an idea- why not go to the Jax Book Fest across the river at the library. Rather than taking a power walk, why not head across the bridge and explore?

Motivation to work up an appetite for lunch and maybe find a new book to read. I was up for the challenge.

This was the inaugural year of the book fest. Local authors-many genres represented: children’s lit, YA, romance, paranormal, non-fiction, and one book of poetry. I headed over to speak to the gentleman poet. His poetry was quirky but empowering. I walked away and later decided to go back and buy his slim volume. He was so grateful he autographed the book twice!

I spoke to a local newspaper columnist who has had national success with his book about a year exploring National Parks. Lassoing the Sun, by Mark Woods, weaves two stories- his sabbatical from the paper to spend a year at hand-picked parks to learn about them and the rangers who protect them, and about his mother who with Mark’s dad, taught him to love our national treasures by spending vacations at various parks.

I thanked Mark for visiting my place of work- a historic church on the St. Johns River as part of a newspaper series he recently completed- walking through Jacksonville. Our city is the largest in square footage in the U.S. but it is filled with beltways, highways but few sidewalks.

My question for him was- when are you going to write a book based on this series? He and I began talking about the time it takes to write a book, and the fear that there won’t be an interest in reading something you put your heart into. I assured him I know many people, myself included, who would love to read the whole series in book form. Blogging a book- he had never heard of such a thing! He agreed to give it serious thought. I walked away amazed that I had motivated a published author to keep writing!

As we walked down the grand staircase towards the exit, we spotted a mutual friend- a musician and author of three books published locally. As we caught up he turned to me and asked why he had not seen any poems lately on my blog. I explained that 2016 seemed to be a bad year for my writing, and my promise to begin 2017 writing more had fizzled as we geared up to move.

He told me my poems were good and that he always enjoyed them. He asked if I ever thought of publishing them. Of course I’ve thought about it fleetingly and then decided no one wants to read poetry, and about ten more excuses. He said, No excuses. Just do it. Pull them together and do it. And next year, you can have a table right next to mine. 

Motivation Saturday.

Just do it.

©annettealaine2017

imgres-1

Digging Through the Past

I’m an excavator of my past.

Sifting through boxes and bins, I re-discovered the truth about myself, a truth that got buried and left to grow dusty in the garage.

I uncovered six or seven plastic bins shoved against the garage wall last week. As part of the ongoing purge to downsize, I immediately started lifting the layers of files, books and other detritus moldering in the boxes. search

I had to pack with little or no thought as two jobs changed quickly. The first set of bins from teaching Exceptional Student Education five years ago. I immediately recalled the acronyms that confused me in the early days on the job. My learning curve was steep as I inherited 100 students with mild disabilities that first year. I had to read extensively and re-learn how to write an Individual Education Plan (IEP) using computer software, and teaching middle school for the fist time. As I sorted through my stuff, I realized how fast I grasped the job and its responsibilities. I did not get discouraged with 100 students. I took it as a challenge to get all those IEP’s up to date with the school district.

Four more bins revealed an earlier life- my first two church jobs. I was amazed at all of my files containing training materials I created and details for each special service- Christmas, Holy Days and Easter. Underneath the books were reflections and papers written in graduate school. Three kids under the age of ten, a spouse who was on the road every week, yet somehow I completed school in four years going to class once a week and writing papers at the Y,  in the parking lot waiting for the kids, or late at night when everyone was in bed.

This past week I heard a talk on resilience. The ability to bounce back, to recover from big changes. Basically resilience is tied to your outlook on life. If you have hope that things will be better, you can weather change.

I have started over again many times, especially in the past ten years. Some changes were easy and some were real challenges. But looking through those boxes reminded me that I CAN change and I am resilient.    images-1

©annettealaine2017

Change is in the Air

I’m glad I could burrow deep within myself today. I was off- no need to make small talk and pretend this day was business as usual.

I should have spent the day packing more boxes for our move in February. Instead I sat in the quiet house. I read, I drank my tea and I pondered the world.

As an introvert, I seek to avoid drawing attention to myself. I am comfortable stating my thoughts and opinions in relation to my job, but I have always kept most of my personal opinions about religion and politics to myself.

If we become close, and I learn to trust you, I will open up, but I’m not  joiner. I don’t sign up for marches and protests. But that is changing- because I no longer feel I have the privilege to ignore what’s happening in this world.

I say world, because friends abroad have told me their own stories about injustice, ignorance and intolerance.

I think everyone is created by the Divine equal in every way. I don’t believe Eve was an afterthought. I believe through the study of world governments and religions that we all believe in the goodness of our fellow human and that our planet requires careful stewardship.

I believe in good and evil, but I believe there are shades of gray in almost every situation. I believe people are basically decent, but our greatest weakness is our inability to keep power from corrupting our souls.

I believe we were put here to make a small difference, but to do no harm. I believe the struggle is real between selflessness and selfishness. And I believe we all have a plank in our eye that keeps us from helping the other guy.

I hope the greatest gifts that come in the next four years is to care deeply enough about what happens in our country and our world. That the decades of political apathy is replaced with a new activism. And my greatest hope is that the patriarchy that has had all the power for centuries, will finally yield to a new world order. It’s past time.

©annettealaine2017

imgres

 

 

The Magic of Christmas

It is the day before Christmas, and all through my house, the only creature stirring is my crazy cat.

It’s in this deep silence that I contemplate, the blessings that surround me this day.

The foggy skies wrap my house in stillness. The birds are quiet and the squirrels stay warm in their nests. The coffee pot burbles and ham sizzles; the grits create a sigh as they bubble on the stove.

I am grateful for feeding those at home today. Oldest son is already here, and the college girl has been home for a week. Husband will be working until late tonight, but for now he is enjoying a long winter’s nap.

I treasure my time to sit and write. To reflect on Christmas past, and anticipate this day. We will bake and watch Christmas movies, and enjoy a good dinner. We will dress up and make our way to the little church with its jeweled windows glowing. Fresh cedar greenery and wreaths hung with red bows surrounded by ruby colored Poinsettias will fill the space with beauty.

Families will greet one another, and we will sing all the beloved carols. We will light candles, and in their glow sing Silent Night.

We will drive by the lighted houses filled with decorations, slowing down to enjoy the spectacle. Back home in our pajamas, we will eat cookies and watch the Christmas Story again as we tell stories from our separate lives.

We will wait up until my husband comes in very late from the midnight service and then crawl off to bed. Santa no longer stops by this house, but there will be filled stockings in the morning, and just as eager as a child, the young adults will rub their eyes and thrust their hands into the depths to find out what goodies are inside.

And all of this reminds me that the magic of Christmas never dies.

Merry Christmas.

©annettealaine2016