I Don’t Hate Anyone

Hate according to Merriam-Webster’s definitions is, “extreme dislike or disgust.”

Love according to Merriam-Webster’s definitions is, “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.”

For me, love is much more and cannot be defined.

I have to love you to hate you unless it is food, I hate liver and onions. But to hate a person, I don’t have the energy for that.

I have tons of energy for love.

Let me make it clear, I’m not riding a high horse, I’ve fallen off too many times, and I’m not that good of a person. There are a few people I don’t like, or I don’t care to be around.

I don’t hate anyone.

Life is short, and I turned fifty not too long ago. If we don’t get along, I don’t feel the need to play nice in the sand anymore and I don’t feel the need to pretend.

I don’t wish harm on anyone – well, except for the obvious, pedophiles, and child and animal abusers.

I wish good for all the people I know, even if we don’t talk.

My grandma once told me, you don’t have to like everyone, and you don’t have to pretend you like them either. She was a private woman and seemed cold to some, but you knew if she loved you.

So, if I don’t talk to you, it doesn’t mean I hate you. I just “don’t wanna” anymore.

 

Moving

 

 

After close to 18 years in our home, we are moving. It’s funny how goals and priorities change. When my husband and I purchased the house nestled between two cul-de-sacs in 2001, I wanted to stay forever. I wanted to give our children the security of knowing they could always come back to their childhood home because I didn’t have mine. I went to 4 different elementary schools, three different middle schools which were called junior high schools, before settling into one high school. I don’t know what house I would consider my childhood home. However, Parker was the closest thing and that is where my husband, Duane and I planted our roots.

I wanted our kids to have the house that built them. But like the Miranda Lambert song, they will have to come back and knock on the door on Snowcreek to be able to walk back into it. The ashes of our beloved Loki girl, a Boston Terrier who passed when she was too young, are planted deep under the maple in the back. We would take that tree with us if we could. Duane wants to pull her out, but she runs deep with the root system and pulling her out could kill the tree. It would be like killing her all over again. Our Loki tree will live and provide shade for the next family and Loki will always be in our hearts. The tree also has a tiny nest. We think it might be a hummingbird nest which is super cool – I love hummingbirds. Along with Loki, the handprints of our children will remain in the tinted cement on the south side of the house. Duane said he would remove them but cutting them out would only make a mess. As long as the new residents keep that cement, our kids’ hands will remain.

At times I want to turn back and never put that for sale sign in the yard. The house on Snowcreek Lane filled with memories built all of us, not just our kids. When we moved in, it had too light of carpet and plain white walls. We dirtied the carpet until we had to change the flooring to something that suited us better – wood laminate flooring and tile which took the beating of kids and dogs. We painted and repainted walls to change with our ages, moods, and the times. Emily’s once pink room is now a turquoise which will be painted over when we leave. We finished a basement which once was a concrete slab. The best day in that basement was before the remodel. Taking cover because of tornado warnings, we took our two kids, two dogs, and one cat into safety. I was terrified, tornadoes scare the living shit out of me because of the 1981 tornado that ripped through Thornton. Andrew, our son, found a box of Halloween costumes and proceeded to entertain us. As always, his humor made it all better. This tornado passed without hitting us or doing damage to the town.

Trees, flowers, and bushes will have to stay. I pulled some of the bulbs up last fall knowing I would want to take with me. Especially the Iris that came from the house on Rodeo Circle. We leave a solid house, with good bones in a great neighborhood. The houses are turning. Out with the old and in with the new. Kids are playing in the street again and the new owner has a couple children of her own. I hope she lets them all hang out in the front yard. We have a large lot and it’s always been full of neighborhood kids, which is the reason the Blue Spruce is a little cockeyed – the lower branches took a beating when we first planted it from kids with a kickball. That tree is strong now and holds a few nests. Our big yard kept all the kids safe.

I tell myself MY birds will find me 17 miles southeast, at our new house. My yellow finches who are all named Charlie and the hummingbirds who are all named Gwendolyn and Oscar will know I’ve moved when they return this spring. The chickadees who are all named Sallie aka Darlin’ will follow the truck on moving day. I will miss my walks along the trails where Babette the Heron rests in the pond, but I can always drive to the trail and walk it. Maybe we can build a small pond on our five acres and she will find me too. Duane would build it if I asked. I won’t ask. Babette will give me a reason to return every so often.

I believe what we leave behind is not as important as what we are taking with us. We leave behind a house that helped build us, but what we take is the love in our marriage that makes the home for our family. Duane reminded me, we make the home – he’s right. Now, Duane and I are starting a new adventure for us. We are excited to move where we will have five acres with huge pine trees and a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak. For me, this view is a reminder of my grandparents, who lived in Colorado Springs. And as I write this, I realize their house, the one they bought when their sons were grown, was one of my many childhood homes.

 

Let the adventure begin. City girl to rural girl. Going back to a place where I lived 28 years ago. Elizabeth, Colorado, here we come!

 

 

8th Grade – The Turning Point

For me, seventh grade was probably the best in my school years – but then the tenth grade was too. Ninth, eleventh, and even my senior year were not special. Not even my graduation sticks out. When I look back to that day, the only thing I cherish is the time spent with Allen. We walked with each other to our seats that day. He was one of my best friends. He is gone now. His life ended too soon.

Eighth grade for me was horrible – until it wasn’t. I was sneaking out of the house, hanging out with people I shouldn’t, drinking, doing drugs, and running away. Then I moved. I will say it over and over; the move to Parker saved me. It was my turning point.

So flash forward thirty-four years after eighth grade, and put me in a classroom every Wednesday morning from 7:00AM to 7:50 AM with nine truly amazing eighth-graders from Cimarron Middle School in Parker, Colorado. I just finished mentoring in a program called Ambassadors for Compassion, AOC.

I went to give, but like always when you give, you really end up receiving. Basically, it was The Breakfast Club crew, without the criminal. The so-called-criminals either don’t exist anymore or the teachers didn’t want to disrupt the setting. I hope it is the former as I was that so-called-criminal at the beginning of eighth grade. I would have loved a program like this. I also relate to kids who struggle. I understand why they’re pissed off. It’s the good ones that I don’t usually get, or I can’t relate to. And it’s the good ones that help the ones who struggle. We need both.

Kids are stressed right now; they are over-worked, over-involved, bored out of their minds, over-stimulated by the web, worried about failing – but in my opinion, not knowing how to fail and move on, and way too worried about how many “likes” they get.

For three months we sat back and talked. We shared our hopes, our dreams, and our fears. We listened. Not once did I ever (I repeat, not once did I ever) need to tell one of these amazing, incredible kids to put their cell phone away. They wanted to talk. They wanted to listen.

Kids are smart. They know what they want. They even know they have to work to get what they want. They understand that the world changes and they may have to bend, wiggle, step forward and step back in their journey in life.

Failure is part of life. We all need to fail. I think it’s how we react to the failures of those around us that determine how they deal with it. I have failed at so many things, yet I don’t feel like a failure. I keep trying even when I’m scared. And I continue to put myself out there. Sometimes not enough, but I’m getting better. Like I said, I learned a ton from these kids.

So what is my point? With all of the hurt and chaos that goes on in this world, I was just given the grace of comfort and peace. I watched eighth graders realize that no matter what group you are in, we all have the same struggles and fears. I think we all forget this. I want us to remember. I want us to remember our turning point. What was it that changed you? What was it that made you move forward? I hope we all can be a little of that to someone else.

My Dad Came to My Soccer Game

For those who know me, this title is funny. For those who don’t, I will explain. I don’t play soccer, in fact, I don’t play any sport. I write about football, but truth be told I only know enough about football to be able to half-ass watch a game. I like high school football because of the energy and because it’s required in my house, since my husband coaches. Sports and I are like math and me – contradictory.

When I was growing up, I tried to play soccer. All I remember is that I hated running and during a game, I went the wrong way on the field. In elementary school and seventh grade, my extra-curricular activities include playing the piano for a short while and then playing the flute. I wasn’t bad at the flute.  I actually remember going back and forth from second to first chair. I also remember going to Dairy Queen after concerts and eating banana splits to celebrate.

My brother, however, was a super jock. He played soccer and received a scholarship because he was such a good player. After college, he even played pro for a while. Yes, that green monster was there. I was jealous. But I was also always very proud of my brother. So was my dad. He went to all of his games and talked about him all of the time. Okay, this may not be factual, but in my eyes, my father’s favorite was my brother because he was a super stud soccer player – unlike his adopted non-athletic daughter.

Oh, the pains of wanting to be the favorite child.

My dad now has seven children. Not all are from his blood. He loves each of us in a different way and does the best he can at being a dad to us all. Who is his favorite now? I would say it changes daily. I no longer need to be his favorite. I just need to know he loves me. And I know that.

He was visiting from Kentucky and came over for dinner. I got him to myself because it was Halloween and everyone else was busy. The need to have his undivided attention will never go away. When we talked earlier in the day, he said he was going back to my brothers to finish my book. YES! My book! I about shit my pants. My dad was reading my book – my young adult novel about a girl and boy, friendships, stepparents and football. He had forty or so pages to go.

He was at my soccer game, rooting me on. He said he had tears in his eyes at the end.  I feel like I kicked the winning goal.

Side note – My mom read my book too. But I’ve always been her favorite, I was the first.  Love you mom. (Truth be told – I think my baby brother is actually her favorite. And now that she has grandkids, who trump all of us.)

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The First Spark

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The First Spark

A post on Facebook about dating got me thinking. That is sometimes a dangerous thing for me – thinking, not dating. Dating is good for me as long as the date is with my husband. And that is the only person I date, so I’m good there.

After reading the post, my mind wandered back and I thought of those times I was out on a date and my heart fluttered. This is the reason I love to read and write YA. I love to be transformed back to a simpler time when everything was new and I was less cynical. I believe that many of us crave that feeling of first love.

For me, it always started with that first spark. I didn’t need anyone to move mountains. It was always the sweet little things that made my heart race:

  • When your fingers accidentally touch.
  • When he opens the door on his side of the truck so that you will sit in the middle next to him.
  • When you are getting a piggyback ride in the middle of a parking lot while it is raining, and you swear it is the spark between you that sets off the thunder.
  • When he pushes the hair out of your eyes so he can take a closer look.
  • When he offers you a cherry sucker but the taste of the fruit is from his lips.
  • When he writes your name + his name in the snow.
  • When the instant message on your computer pops us and it’s him on the other side of the country wanting to talk to you. (Now it’s called  a text message)
  • When he can dance. I mean really dance and he takes you in his arms and you do that Cowboy Cha Cha thing at the county fair.
  • When you get ice cream and then go to the swings at the park and he holds your hand while you sway back and forth.

I would love to hear about your first spark.

What I Brought Back From Kentucky

When traveling, I like to bring back a little something that will remind me of the place or the experience. The last time I visited Kentucky, my dad took my family to Fort Boonesborough. I’m not a history buff like my husband and daughter. I went for the time with my daddy. That trip, a handmade piece of pottery to fill with my daily java traveled in my luggage back to Colorado. When I use that cup, I think of that day. We ate Barbecue at a picnic table, walked in the footsteps of those who were here long ago, and spotted a gorgeous yellow flower on a popular tree. Later my son sketched the petals for my dad. My dad has the original and I have the print. I love that piece of art and so does my dad.

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This trip to Kentucky, I went alone. My dad turned seventy -four in July. My dad and I have had our ups and downs over the years, some of it I’ve caused and other times I haven’t. In the end, it doesn’t matter. This year my dad bought me a bamboo hat rack, he gave me a teapot that he had an excess of, and I found some gifts along the way for my husband, my son, and my son-in-law. This week my table arrived. The solid wood piece is tall and long and I’ll be able to fit bar stools underneath it. It now sits in my kitchen where people will gather around it. I’m really excited about the table. But things are only things. You can’t take them with you when you go.

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The most precious item I brought back isn’t tangible, but it is the most important, memories. I brought back many that are filled with love. The time that I spent with my daddy was priceless. I spent eight full days with him, ten if you include the travel days. I had his undivided attention most of the time and shared him with his kind, loving and caring significant other Debbie.

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Okay, the real truth; I did have to share him with Cleo, his mastiff, who I’ve nicknamed Sister, and the four cats, Bones, Tom, Fletcher, and Francis. Francis is sick and she will not get better. She is my favorite because she needed more love, which allowed me to love more. Don’t tell Cleo.

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I’m very blessed. Except for my father, my side of the Duff clan lives in Colorado and we are close. My mom is a few miles away and even though I don’t see her every day, I could. I know she is there if I need anything and I’m glad she has all of her children in the same state so that we can take care of her when she needs it. My dad does come to Colorado four times a year. It’s great when he’s here. But he has seven kids and nine grandkids that he needs to see, so getting time with him alone is hard. It would be selfish to hoard his time.

On my much-needed vacation to Kentucky, every morning that I shuffled to the kitchen for my tea, my daddy was there. When you are young, you take that for granted. We didn’t do a ton, which was exactly what I needed and wanted. I was able to edit my manuscript, read a book, watch too many episodes of Once Upon a Time, eat thick Chris Duff (my dad) milkshakes every night, run errands, really look at sunsets, spend hours at antique stores without rushing because my dad loves them more than I do, go to doctor’s appointments, cook, and eat. I not only was taught how to make beef stroganoff, but my daddy also made it for me. I had it for breakfast the day I left to come home. I need to make that for dinner this week.
And every night he told me he loved me. I didn’t literally get tucked into bed as that would be seriously weird, but each night I got my hug and kiss.

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When he dropped me off at the Cincinnati airport, I got the hug of a lifetime and I clung on tight. I don’t believe this will be the last time I see my dad, but it may very well be the sweetest memory I will ever have with him. It was precious because I will always know how much daddy loves me.
As for the table, it will be my everyday reminder of the time I spent with my daddy, not that I need it. The memories are tightly held in my heart. I’m thinking we probably get to take the memories when we go.

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Who Am I Really?

Recently I read a wonderful post by Jessie Lourey titled, The Real Me – Strap In.

http://jessicalourey.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-real-me-strap-in.html?spref=fb

I will tell you now that our views on some things conflict, but on many, they do not. I’m not writing to say she is wrong or that I am right. I’m blogging today because I love that we both can believe what we want. I’m writing because even though we are different when I am scrolling on my Facebook page if she posts, I stop to read it. She makes me ponder, she makes me laugh and she inspires me to write. I believe we should all be nice to each other. If you hurt my babies, I’m not going to be nice to you. Actually, if you hurt any of my family, there will be consequences. But that is a different topic.

I’m not sure if it matters what Jessie and I agree or disagree on but since she is willing to put it all out there, I thought I would too.

1. I too am raunchy. Obviously my mom didn’t wash my mouth out with soap enough. I remember my dad getting pissed off when I said the word damn once. This week, I’m sure I used the word fuck several times while he was visiting. His father would be mortified, for my grandfather told me that the word was stupid and most people didn’t know what it meant. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. I remember this because I loved Van Halen. The term came also from something about a king, but Fuck, I can’t remember what it is. Sorry grandpa. He is right though. I will try to temper this.

2. I too am inappropriate. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut, but I don’t and I probably never will. When I was growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be loved. I gave up too much of myself only to feel ashamed and used. I also did way too many drugs at a very young age. I made sure my kids new that I used drugs in middle school (we called it junior high) and that I gave up my virginity too young in hopes that they would not follow the same path. At the dinner table they received a healthy portion of TMI from their mother. I have great kids and I’m not sorry I told them too much. They however may disagree.

3. I’m a conservative. And a practicing Catholic. I converted at 21 so the feelings of being ashamed did not come from Catholic guilt. I don’t understand Catholic guilt, maybe my kids do because they were raised Catholic. I love my God and my faith. And I love our newest leader, Pope Francis. He seems to be kind man. Since he has taken the role of Peter in my church, I’ve been forced to reflect on who I am. I believe what the bible teaches, but I have no room to judge because I sin. I sin daily. I’m not always nice, I gossip when I shouldn’t, and I don’t always forgive the way I want to be forgiven. I’ve been married twice, had two kids out of wedlock from two different men who neither was my husband. I have a plethora of junk in my trunk, so I will try not to throw  any stones. I have friends from all walks of life and I don’t believe that I was put on this earth to shove my belief system down any one’s throat. Father Larry Richards Homily on September 7, 2014 is my favorite. He encourages us to love, never grow up and not to let our hearts die.

http://thereasonforourhope.org/homilies/September72014-23rdSundayOrdinaryTime-CycleA/

Love is the fulfillment.

4. I worked for a health food chain and thought they were nuts. Now that I’m no longer working there, I think I believe more in what they stood for. Gluten for me is the devil, it makes me hurt. I look at the things I put in my body now. And I now think about what I do to our planet. I am responsible for the carbon footprint I leave behind. Some days, I wish I never had left that job. But in the end, I want to be a writer so that is my goal going forward.

5. I am not published. My story is a Young Adult novel about stepmoms, boys, football and family. And the dragons that hold us hostage. Not those fire breathing ones, but the dragons inside of us that try to control us, not allowing us to love and be loved. I’m terrified to publish my book. There is nothing I want more than to put my work out there but I’m afraid it’s not good and the people I’m closest to will think it is stupid. I think I will always feel that way.

6. My family tree is crazy. See my previous post on this. Even though we are all messed up, I wouldn’t change any of it.

7. I continue to write even though I’m afraid the world knows – I’m a fraud. I go to writer’s conferences and have to force myself to talk to my peers. Did I just say, peers? When I am there, I feel like a stalker. I’m this groupie who follows all these famous people around. When I post on their social networks, I worry what they think -even if I’m sharing that I loved their work.

8. I would rather hang out with a group of young adults than most adults I know. Kids are kinder, smarter and less judging then we are. They also are less hypocritical. They say what is on their mind and don’t feel the need to apologize for it. And most of the time, there is no need for apologies anyway.

9. I love my children more than anything but I’m learning that my husband needs to be first in my life. I’m way too hard on him. He is an incredible man who not only loved me, but he loved our children. My kids are his kids. He is the dad that didn’t have to be. He supports me in everything I do. Finding a man that does that is hard to find. I’m truly blessed that God gave him to me. He is truly my best friend.

10. I’m claustrophobic, afraid of heights, and I could stay in the state of Colorado for the rest of my life and not feel like I’ve missed out on anything. I’m going to Hawaii only because my husband wants to go. Spending hours in an airplane flying over the Pacific Ocean scares the shit out of me. I will need drugs for this.

Well, that’s my ten. I am who I am and I’m good with it.

Gotta Have a Place to Write

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My room is almost done, only the trim and the curtains to go. I love this space. It’s full of me: My faith, my family, and my favorite things. There is a little piece of almost every part of my life from birth until now. Some things are transparent to who I am or where I have been, while other things hold meaning only I would know. Regardless of what people think they know about me, or who they think I should be, in my room I get to be just me.

Every person deserves respect.

10534515_10152622612902491_3040825249818239639_n10525920_10152622483022491_347047517824040000_nI can’t believe my baby is married. I’m so proud. She married her best friend. That’s a pretty cool thing. He loves her and treats her like a princess. While I know that married life will not always be easy, she found the person who will love and respect her. Every person deserves respect. She loves this man and knows his worth as well. And that my friends, makes a relationship flourish.