Oh Write Thirty

Is it just me, or is time kind of stampeding on? From the moment I turned forty, I feel like I’m constantly sprinting after time and yelling, “Slow DOWN, for the love!”

As soon as I saw that clock tick over to 12:01 a.m., January first, I was struck by one thought: I haven’t been diligent about focusing on my dream this past year.

Opportunity is knocking.

I am not fully prepared.

One doesn’t simply crack open the door for Opportunity.

Amiright?

It’s in the still quiet moments when I hear The Dream Giver whispering into my ear and heart. He seems to have to whisper the same word time and again: “Focus, child.”

I’m hanging onto that word and letting it drive me for 2015.

Over and over again, no matter how well-intentioned I am, I find myself running down rabbit trails. Some, are necessary. The project that my Autism Spectrum Disordered child has looming over his head becomes too big for him and begs further breaking down before we all break down. Those kind of unforeseen circumstances are the unavoidable trails.

But, then, there are the ones I step down willingly. The research for a pending trip become fodder for vacation dreaming. And poof! A week’s worth of days are spent using my writing time for Internet Surfing time.

That’s not even the kind of ten I like to hang!

I would never have described myself as one who needs help with direction, in the past. My life as a Second Grade Teacher, before children, dictated a routine. It demanded organization. It fostered creativity within the bounds of structure.

This past decade-and-a-half, though, God has shifted my life. It has been more about living moment-by-moment, based on the ever-changing needs of the ones I care for.

Looking back on the year of preparation that I had in 2014, I realize that the rabbit holes were awfully dark. It’s hard to write or create in the dark.

And, I’m not a rabbit.

Zeroing in on a word that will drive me, in this new year, isn’t something I intended to do. After all, I was all about being intentional in 2013. And I wasn’t all that…intentional. Then, in 2014, I thought much about pursue. But, rabbit holes!

So, here I sit, staring at the number2-0-1-5 and thinking, “Isn’t it time I get serious and focus?”

I can almost hear God doing the exasperated parent sigh. Almost. Although, I’m sure He would never. even.

One of the most beautiful things to come out of taking on the Write 31 Days Challenge last October was seeing how I thrive on routine. I knew that about myself, at one point in time. But, I’d forgotten. Being forced to write some every single day burst open the creative gates. It also kept me honest. Saying I was going to write every day, and then having to show up on Day Whatever without a thing in hand, was a mammoth motivator to stick to it.

Back to the whole idea of focus, I know what I have to do. I work well with a schedule. If it’s looming, I’m moving. That’s where I can start. I’ll choose an Oh Write Thirty time during each day and set my trusty time and just do it! Oh those smart Nike people!

And then, hopefully, the next time I hear Opportunity knocking, I can fling wide that door and welcome It in!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to close out of approximately four vacation destination tabs.

Yes indeedy.

What Lurks Beneath

In honor of the close of “Shark Week”, and, For Captain Ahab and my family – blood and other.

My brother is brave.  Military, kinda-brave.  I’ve not seen him shaken up but once in my life.

On our illustrious Bimini trips, all of us kids would take turns jumping off the docks into the crystal clear blue waters of the marina.  That water was stunning.  I didn’t realize it then, but the pure joy of jumping into water that you can see clear through to the sandy, starfish and sand dollar strewn bottom of, was a gift.  We took it for granted.

Youth is wasted, and all that.

We also took for granted that there would ever be anything in that water that could hurt us.  The marina felt safe.  It was a haven, not only for the boats that would make the trek over from South Florida for their various fishing and diving ventures, but for us kids, too. We knew only safety in the incessant jumping in and climbing out of those waters.

One of the most majestic sea creatures that you could ever encounter are the giant Manta rays that glide through the waters of the Bahamas.  They are massive.  And docile. But, massive.  The “babies”, alone, are from three to five feet across.

One fine afternoon we all ran down the dock, taking turns jumping into the crystal waters.  When it was my brave brother’s turn, wild and reckless, even at 8 years old, he took a gigantic flying leap out into the marina. And promptly walked on water right back up onto the dock.

We all came running to look down and see what could possibly instill fear of that magnitude in my brave brother’s heart. Four gargantuan Manta-rays gracefully passing through held us transfixed.

It took a couple of minutes for my brother to get his color back. And, you can be sure that we all looked before we leaped from then on out.

We would also waterski everywhere when we were in the Bahamas. If the boat could fit into the area and the stretch was long enough to get a decent run in, then we would go for it.

From time to time, we would actually have one of us in the water getting skis on and ready, while someone else was making a run. If we were the one waiting to be taken on a run, we’d sometimes have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the boat driver to circle back around.  Once in a while, if it wasn’t shallow enough to stand, we’d just lay on top of our skiis until it was our turn.

And so, one cloudy day, that was me.  Bobbing around on top of the skis waiting to be picked up. Happily.

Until I saw a fin. At fifteen, I was plenty old enough to know that all of the many sharks we had seen over the years had been incredibly kind to mind their own business.  I knew how much pain a shark could inflict. I started to breathe in and breathe out, keep my eye on that fin, and pray to hear the motor of the boat approaching.

The fin seemed to be about 40 or 50 feet away.  I still have no idea. I’m not very good at gauging distances, and even less so when I think a shark is eye-balling my person. I decided at some point to just lay on top of my skiis, stop watching the fin, and hope for the best.

And about that time, I was so zoned out that I completely missed the approach of the boat. I only knew rescue had come because Ahab had reached down and pulled me up into the boat, all calm-like.  No one said a word and we hustled back to pick up the other skiier.

But I’ll tell you this – I never offered to be the sitting duck again, I’ll tell you. Oh no I did not.

And we were all more aware of what lurked beneath.

Oh, yes indeedy.

Shark Encounters of the Too Close Kind

I’ve been away.

Playing.

We stayed plenty busy down in Florida, with Ahab and The Nana for the last few weeks.

We did a lot of this:

snorkeling2_fl_july_missindeedy

A little of that (I think it’s important for you to know that I only mostly win.):

uno2_fl_july_missindeedy

Some of this:

fishing_fl_july_missindeedy

And even a visit to my favorite South Florida barbeque joint. (The Georgia Pig, for those taking notes.)

But, the most exciting things to happen, by far, were my Close Encounters.

First, we had a lizard that decided that the car was a much more exciting place to hang out than the yard.  For 3 days! I mean, I thought, fer sure, this little bugger would “expire” in the heat of the car while we were at the beach, that first day.

I forgot one little fact. Floridian lizards live in the heat all the live long day.  The car was probably a respite.  The more I think about it, the car was probably like a spa visit.  Some air conditioning,  a few generously sprinkled cracker crumbs… he had himself a veritable spa weekend getaway!

lizard_fl_july_missindeedy

He really lived it up in there.  Until, I finally had enough of our “Where Will Larry the Lounge Lizard Be Today” game, every time we got into the car.  So, The Nana graciously, and bravely, got him to Sit! Stay! Jump on a pole!  And promptly took him out of the car.

HOORAY FOR THE NANA!

Said with no relief what-so-ever.

However, it was the close encounter that took place in the ocean, that caused the most excitement.

And, by “excitement”, I mean, cause for adding to the salt content of the ocean.

Ahab taught me two important things about snorkeling, growing up. One, stay aware of your surroundings. Two, objects in mask are smaller than they appear.

Easy peazy.

Sweetboy, my nephew, Ahab, and I were snorkeling around a reef area close to the beach one day. I swam in to drop Sweetboy off, up at the beach. He was tired, and I was using my old fins, one of which had a split on the top.  It made for lots of stopping to empty the sand out.

As I neared the shallow area where I could stand and shake out my fin, I noticed another type of finned thing off to my left.  A long sharky looking finned thing.

“Calm down, woman.  It’s not as big as you think.  Just carry on.”

So, I took off my fin, as planned. I was just about to put it back on when I noticed that my finned friend had come much much closer, and was most definitely longer than I was.

I’m not short.

I haven’t moved that fast since high school! I scrambled my way, fin in hand, up to the beach and out of that water so fast, I darn near ripped one of my fingernails off!

Ahab and my nephew tried to convince me to get back in and swim out to them.

Uh, no can do!

My family, of course, has ridden this for all it’s worth. From placing things like this in front of me, to ask if I recognized my “friend” from a lineup:

sharks_fl_july_missindeedy

to telling me that he “just wanted to get to know me better”, the gags have been nonstop.

He might have wanted to get to know me better, but I just wasn’t that into him.

We even sidled up to a car at the movies with this bumper sticker on it’s rear:

kiss_a_shark_missindeedy

Everyone in the car erupted in laughter.

Except for me.

That was an encounter of the too close kind, thank-you-very-much!

And finally, Sweetman and I were granted the opportunity to skip out one night for dinner.

Alone.

Did we do the Happy Dance all the way out the door? Why, yes. Yes, we did.

When we returned home, Sweetman practically swept me off my feet. But, not for the reason I’d have hoped.

“Is that one of those deadly poisonous snails”, he asked?

I’m just going to admit, right now, that between the darkness of night and my enjoyment of a beautiful bottle of Cab with that Sweetman of mine, I was in no shape to be differentiating between deadly and non-deadly snails.

When we had safely maneuvered into the house, we showed The Nana a picture, (Because, even if you’re near a deadly snail, you still have to stop and snap a pic. Am I right?), and asked if these were the Death Snails.

(By the way, she was totally waiting up for us – even though we are solidly in our 40’s!)

The Nana informed us that these African snails are indeed deadly, but that the bad ones are 4 or more inches across.

These, thank The Good Lord, were not.

We escaped death, once more.

Yes indeedy.

All said, I believe this trip was filled with enough adventure and close encounters to last me a good long while.

Or, at least until next year.

The Kids’ Top 5 Places to Visit

Just for kicks and giggles, I asked those darling children of mine a question last weekend: If they could go anyplace, what would their top five be?

They each delivered answers fairly predictably, with just one or two surprises.

Sweetboy’s top five, in a very particular order, are:

1. Go to Disney World. (Shocker!)

2. Go to Hawaii. (Apparently, Disney has a resort there? So… shocker!)

3. Go to California.  (Disneyland. We have a theme going here, don’t we?  And, because, “I’ve always wanted to go to L.A. – it seems cool!”  What’s that now?!)

4. Go to the Florida Keys.  (I wasn’t expecting that one. Ahab and Nana – that’s on you!)

5. Go and visit Wales. (This is not a surprise. After all, I did once use an accent for love.)

And, Sweetgirl’s top five were:

1. Disney World. (Shocker, again!)

2. Legoland in Florida. (Thank you Lego Movie!)

3. Denmark. (She has a sweet little school friend from there.  This is not surprising.)

4. Go to Hawaii because “It’s so warm in there!” (And, as soon as brother reported that there was a Disney Resort there, too, she wanted to move it up to #1. I told her that all decisions were final. No returns or exchanges.)

5. Go see Rio2 at the movies. (Now that was totally random, as we didn’t really dig the first one. Well played Rio2 P.R. People! Also, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Rio 2 is not a place. She’s six. Whatever.)

There you have it.  Thrilling, I know.

But wait!

There is something thrilling that I’m working very hard to keep from sharing with them.

As far as the Sweetkids know, we are having our Mouse Reunion in December. They’ve been pining to go back since stepping foot off of Disney property this time, last year. We’ve been talking it up with them for the last 3 months. We’ve even been involving them in choosing a hotel, mapping out new restaurants to try, and which rides to make sure to hit.

What they don’t know is that we’re actually going to be sporting our Mickey Mouse ears really soon!

And, since it’s #1 on both of their lists, I have the feeling that we will have two highly happy children on our hands come the morning we stroll downstairs and announce that we’re going.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I can not tell you how happy this place makes my family. I had my doubts about how “magical” it all really was – until we actually went for the first time a few years ago.  All doubts were eradicated! Each visit to Disney World has been special for this quirky family of mine in so many ways.  Sweetman and I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I’d appreciate prayers for strength to keep my big mouth shut.  I’m ’bout ready to burst! I keep telling myself that I’ve made it this last couple of months – I can make it another couple of weeks, right?

RIGHT!?!

Missindeedy_Mouse_Secret

One Page Per Day

I’m leaving in a few short days to attend the Allume Conference.  I’ll be meeting some sweet friends In Real Life that I’ve only been able to connect with online up until now. I. Can’t. Wait.

I’d like to think that I am a kind wife.

Or, a tad whack-a-doodle.

Either way, I made up a little agenda for Sweetman. There are four pages; one for each day that I’ll be gone. I thought I’d done a pretty decent job of including every little detail that might be important for him to know. Sweetman is a night owl.  Ours is a pretty beautiful pairing.  I do the mornings, he does the evenings.  This will be a whole new world of hurt for him, getting the kids up and attem’ in the mornings.

We went through the agenda this weekend.  We walked around the house discussing where to find the things needed for the double-header soccer games for both kids on Saturday and which folder is for reading and which one to put the bus notes into.  Sweetman is an engineer. He thrives on details.

So, it shouldn’t have surprised me to see this:

kids_agenda_Missindeedy

First of all, I’d like to apologize for what now looks like a Classified Document.

And next, I’ll spare your eyes from scanning for the following information:  Every Single little notation he made?  It was already in the notes.  But, he needed to rewrite it “for importance”, he said.

And there are three more pages.

Exactly. Like. This.

FOR THE LOVE!

Engineers…

It’s a good think I think he’s the bomb diggety.

(I must admit that I am slightly concerned that Homeland Security is going to be staring me down for writing the words “bomb” and “Classified” in one place on the web?  I’m just a Domestic Engineer who loves Jesus and Devil Dogs!  Promise!)

A Little Late, But…

Better later than never, right?  I mean, we can’t ALL have our act together, now can we? I feel it’s my job and duty to lead the Vacation Picture Slackers in their turtle march toward productivity.

Enjoy some of my favorite “scenes” from our vacation and a Word to go with it.  Happy Sunday, friends!

 

Jersey_Shore_Vacay_Aug_Missindeedy

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:3