Make That Ball Sing, Terry Jessup

Disclaimer:  I am closing down my old writing website and moving everything to this blog.  I will post a few of my poems here.  Today, I am publishing this one because it is a Tuesday, which is my dad’s golf day. 

Make that ball sing, Terry Jessup,
Walk gently on the velvet, emerald grass,
Approach the tee with the confidence that you can conquer the course
Caress that club with gloved hands,
Keep your left arm straight as you glide the driver
Back with your right shoulder
Keep your eye on the ball, Terry Jessup,
Twist your lean frame with your downward swing
SMACK the I Top Flight with your might
Let the ball sing as it whizzes
Through the air and
Disappears into the cerulean horizon
Let your I’ve-done-it-again smile
Creep on your face
As you think
Man I’m good and
Walk to the green

Stars, Bars, Rainbows, and Common Sense

Although my accent is weak — blame it on too much television as a child — I am a Southern girl.  My roots are in the south, and I have spent a lot of time this summer tracing my family tree.  I have discovered that in my family tree I have Revolutionary War soldiers and Confederate Soldiers.  Just this morning, found that the plantation home of my great-great-great-great-grandfather was used in the filming of The Color Purple.  I like to think that had I been alive in the early 1800s I would have been an abolitionist, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but I cannot be certain.  While I don’t agree with my ancestors, I am not ashamed of them.  This is in the past, and the past should stay in the past.  With that said, the “Stars and Bars” should stay there too.  I have no issue with this flag being in a museum or in a historical piece of art, but it should not be flying ANYWHERE in the United States today unless it is part of a reenactment.

I was in Washington, DC last week, and I have to say that it was pretty exciting to be there when the Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage is a violation of our 14th Amendment.  I was raised in the Christian faith; I married in a Christian church; and I have raised my children to be Christian.  With that said, I am a believer in the separation of church and state, a phrase coined by Jefferson when discussing our First Amendment.  With the decision last week, our high court upheld the ideals established by our founding fathers.  In no way does two men or two women marrying each other threaten my faith or my own marriage.

All of this to me is common sense…this and airport security…but we’ll save that for another post!

Happiness…

One of those days…we all have them, days when everything goes wrong. I’m really good at them when they happen to someone else. I am the voice of reason, the friend who reminds you that it could be so much worse. The voice that tells you that at least this didn’t happen or that is still true.

Yesterday, I had one of those days…a yogurt fell out of the fridge and exploded all over me and my clothes; I spilled a glass of red wine on my tan chair because I was startled during a movie; my dinner didn’t turn out as I had planned. These are minor things, but truthfully, I let them frustrate me.

There was a big thing that happened yesterday. It was the kind of thing that reminds me or should remind me that the little things don’t matter. My sweet 16 year old daughter, who’s had her license less than a week, had a two tire blow out in our neighborhood. She was in our neighborhood, less than a half of a mile from our house. She maintained control of her car and came out unscathed. It shook her up. It shook me up. It wasn’t until she was safe in her bed last night that I was able to fully relax and appreciate the situation. She is safe. She wasn’t hurt.

I have a fantastic life full of so many blessings and so much happiness. I saw on a friend’s Facebook this quote, “happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have, and say thanks to GOD for the troubles we don’t have…” I can’t think of a statement more true.

Now, I must go and be thankful for the troubles I don’t have!

We Cannot Conquer Hate With Hate

I usually don’t post anything political, but my social media newsfeed has been cluttered with inaccurate historical information.  

First of all, I could not be more condemning of ISIS.  I can’t even call them horrible humans because I don’t consider them human.  Somewhere in their extremism they have lost their humanity.  I have so little regard for this group, that I won’t say more.  They do not deserve my attention.

Now, on to history.  Whether or not you like President Obama, he is correct about the Crusades.  Pope Urban II in a speech full of propaganda urged the knights of Europe to take Jerusalem.  He promised them entrance into Heaven if they killed “infidels.”  As the Crusaders marched toward their target, they took many cities along the way.  They were known to not take prisoner and to kill all inhabitants of the conquered cities [yes, this includes children].  They did not stop at killing Muslims either.  This was also an opportunity to kill Jews too.  In one of the worst battles, as they were running low on food supplies, they turned to cannibalism, eating the flesh of those they killed.  But don’t take my word for it; do some research.  I am posting a link to an article by a professor at the University of Tennessee.  

To compare the Muslim conquest prior to the Crusades to the Crusades is comparing apples and oranges.  As Islam spread,  the Muslims did not kill entire cities.  In fact, in some areas they shared places of worship with the Christians; that is, the same buildings were used as both cathedral and mosque.  It would be more accurate to compare the Muslim conquest to the expansion of the Spanish or British empires.  I’m sure that the indigenous people of the Americas felt the same as those in Spain when the Muslims invaded.

I am so proud to be an American because I like to think of us as a nation of people who want the greater good, who value freedom for everyone, not just ourselves.  It is so upsetting to me to see people whom I know to be intelligent, honorable people castigate Muslims in the same way that a hate group like ISIS denounces Westerners. There are a lot of wonderful people who practice Islam; just as there are wonderful Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.  The actions of a few do not equal the actions of all.  I’m sure that those of us who are Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant, would not like to be linked with the behaviors of the Westboro Baptist Church or, for that matter, the attacks of the Irish Republican Army in the last century. Any apple can have bad seeds.

We cannot conquer hate with hate.  

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1406017.files/Cannibals%20and%20Crusaders.pdf

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have read it so many times and when I taught English, it was my favorite thing to teach.  The part of the story that always breaks my heart is Jem’s reaction to Tom’s verdict and the loss of his innocence.  At this moment, Jem realizes that no matter what the facts were, Tom was found guilty because of his race. A tragedy that is almost overlooked in the novel is Tom’s death.  When he ran from the police, Tom was shot 17 times.

I’ve thought about that scene since the shooting in Ferguson happened last summer.  Clearly, Michael Brown was not an innocent victim, but he was a kid, unarmed, who didn’t need to be shot 6 times.  Teenage boys can be rash in their actions but they shouldn’t die.

Life is not fair.  It is not just.  I pray for all of the people in Ferguson.  I pray for Michael Brown’s family.  I pray for Officer Wilson and his family.  I pray for the members of the grand jury.  I pray for healing for the community.  Finally, I pray for hotheaded teenagers and the police that they may encounter in hopes that cooler minds will prevail in the future.

Yumminess

Out of necessity [pears that were too ripe], I decided to make dessert tonight, a rare occurence in my house.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t.  Here is what I used:

pears

butter

sugar [I used Stevia for baking]

mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut the pears into small chunks, but in a baking dish [one pear per person].  Dot the top of the pears with butter – I used about a teaspoon per pear.  Sprinkle with sugar – I covered the top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Top with mascarpone cheese.

This was quick, easy, and delicious!

A Pep Talk to Myself

I cannot begin to fathom what a total empty nest will be like. I know that in three years I will know, and I must admit that it’s scary. It got better this week. On Thursday and Friday, when I had to go to work, it was ok. However, yesterday, our first Saturday without Will home, was dreadful. I wanted to have a pajama day, but forced myself to get dressed because “pajama day” made me think of him. When he was little and we started the weekly tradition of having a pajama day during our summers off, he just loved it. It was too much for me yesterday. I couldn’t do it.

This morning, though, I made myself read one of my early blog entries, http://jenspiring.com/2013/07/01/bittersweet-tastes-good. I needed to remind myself that Will going to college is a good thing. I don’t know how to describe how I feel — it’s just weird. We all feel it here – John, Claire and I. I know we are all so happy for him and so proud of him. He had a great week before classes start tomorrow and has been busy making friends – something I never worried about with him. It’s just weird here. I guess we will all learn how to adjust to our new normal in time.

In the meantime, I need to remind myself how lucky we are! He is living his dream! He is at college. He is a wonderful human being. He is brave and adventurous. We did something right as parents! We are blessed!

Memories Rolling Down My Cheeks

Today, I face something that I have been both excited about and dreading.  Today, I leave Will at school.  Today is the day he begins to test his own wings.

Of course, for the past few days, I have been so nostalgic.  Being nostalgic and trying not to sob is an almost impossible task, but for the most part I’ve managed.  I think its important for me to be strong for Will because he needs to be strong as he embarks on this new journey. 

I’ve been thinking about when I first met him, a crying baby looking at me for the first time…the laughing toddler who loved to watch Winnie the Pooh and Blues Clues…the little boy who liked to make faces at me when I filled the gas tank…the moment when we were the only two people on the monorail at Disney…the basketball player who tackled someone in his first game…so many wonderful memories.

But, as wonderful as they are, I wouldn’t go back because I would miss the Will I have today too much.  He has a wicked sense of humor and never fails to make me giggle even when I am mad about something.  We enjoy watching the same shows, although I have a lot of show watching to catch up with him.  He cares so deeply about others.  He has spent the past 24 hours worried not only about his friend who broke 17 bones in a car accident, but truly worried about how his other friends are handling their worry, especially this boy’s brother who just left for college too.

I have always loved each “stage” of my children, and I know that I will love this new stage as well. It will be hard not to see him everyday.  And yes, I am going to miss him terribly.  Still, I am excited about discovering, right along with Will, just who he will be.  I am so incredibly proud. 

So today, as my good friend Stacey says, I am taking out my heart.  I will get through this move in experience, and then, I’ll put my heart back.  I will keep thinking of how lucky we are to be at this stage in life.  I will keep thinking of how proud I am of Will for getting into his first choice college.  I am happy.  Still, I know there will be a few tears because, as Andrew Guzaldo so eloquently phrased it, “sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”

Choose Your Attitude

I saw two stories on Yahoo yesterday, one of which has been on my news all morning — the guy suing ESPN and MLB because he fell asleep at a game.  

During the broadcast, the commentators teased him for being “oblivious” to what was happening in the game, and wondered if the guy next to him was a friend letting him sleep.  After the broadcast, however, many people joined in the merriment of making fun of this guy so he is now suing for $10 million dollars.  For more, read this article.

The other story I read was about a 14 year old girl who was teased about her body.  Someone had made gravity at a beach about her figure.  She went to the place where this was written, smiled for a picture, and posted it on Instagram.  She did this because she didn’t want to give the kids who did this power over her.  She made a choice not to be a victim. Read her story here.

That, folks, is the key to combating bullying.  We have a choice in how we handle adversity, no matter how big or how small.  The man suing ESPN and MLB will continued to be made fun of because his response is ridiculous.  In fact, I would argue that he has now put himself in a position to be more of a “victim” because most rational people see the absurdity of his $10 million dollar claim [I won’t even talk about the poor grammar in his suit].  Carleigh, on the other hand, at 14, has shown great poise.  She has shown the world how to respond to a bully.  

Parents, when you talk to your children about bullies.  Talk about Carleigh.  Help your children to find their strength and persevere.  Help them to understand the power of choice and how not to choose the victim mentality.

With all due respect, Emma Thompson, you got it wrong.

I don’t understand the condemnation of working women from other women.  

 

When I first had children, there was no way I could afford not to work, and when we discussed it, my husband so lovingly pointed out to me that if anyone was going to be a stay-home parent it should be him because he actually liked to clean [point well made I might add].   Besides, with teaching, I got to have the summers off with my kiddos, so I looked at is as having the best of both worlds.

 

It was probably the summer when Claire, my youngest, was two when I realized that I absolutely, completely SUCK at the housewife gig.  I literally couldn’t wait to go back to work in the fall.   Now that they’re older, I confess, I really love my summers with them, but when they were little, I just could barely keep up. Because of this, I have immense respect for women who can manage a house and kids.

 

My kids are nearly grown — one is graduating from high school and off to college soon and the other will start driving within a week.  I know a lot of terrific young people who are the same ages as my kids, and I cannot say that kids whose parents stayed home with them are better off than kids whose parents worked.  My own kids are proof of that.  They are not perfect, but they are remarkable, well-balanced, intelligent kids, who amazingly survived having busy working parents.  

 

I think part of why my kids have grown up so nicely is because their parents are happy people.  I have happy with my choices.  My husband is happy with his.  We are happy together.  I think that culture of happiness has made it so that our kids are happy too, and that happiness has led to their success in other areas. 

 

What I want to say to all women who are thinking about having children is this:  make your home a happy home.  It doesn’t matter if you work or if you stay home.  Find a balance that let’s you be happy and you will raise terrific kids.