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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