It’s Been Too Long

Hmmm . . . it’s been two years since I’ve written a post, and to be honest, I pretty much forgot about this blog until I got a reminder to pay my annual dues. I debated on letting it go and read through the posts, trying to make a decision.

I think I’m gonna keep it. Yeah, I’m definitely gonna keep it. I have always found peace and joy in writing, and looking back, I realize that I chronicled some really hard memories of my parents that now – today – touch me so deeply. I don’t need to let those go. But I do need to write more.

Our kids moved last summer in different directions. On the same weekend. Yep, it was almost impossible to keep myself together when Lauren and I hugged before they headed out to Iowa, but I tried. I really did. Because she doesn’t need to carry any guilt with her that she left home. She’s a grown woman, extremely well-educated, and deserves a happy life that, for the moment is taking place in a big, beautiful city where she is finding joy and peace.

On the other hand, I was just excited for our son. They moved close to Denver where he was starting a new job, fresh out of grad school. The had been living in Austin then Fort Worth, so I had already made peace with the fact that they were so far away, but they came home for a few days in the middle of moving, and those days were fabulous. And they are fabulous.

And my kids have the best spouses in the world. We are a pretty high-strung group of people, and Andy and Kendall are laid back and help the kids deal with life in a way I never could. And they love each other. So, so much. When I see Hoss and Kendall together, the love they share is amazing, and they still look at each other like they did the first time I saw them together. And Andy appreciates all of Lauren’s quirkiness, which is the best part of who she is. He is devoted to her and will do anything to make her happy. And she knows, without a doubt, that he is the one. The only one she’ll ever love.

Life for us has been busy but peaceful for the most part. This year I played video poker in Las Vegas with my cousin, who is an expert, and in fact wrote a video-poker-for-dummies book. And about my third spin, I hit a royal flush. My 25 cents turned into 400 bucks! I still have it, too! I met my sisters in Oklahoma where we played at a really fun casino, and I even made us matching shirts, which I might post soon.

We got a new cat – Sally – who reminds me of Betty, an outside cat named after Betty Draper. She was bouncy and happy and loved being in the garden with Chris. She died on New Year’s Eve of 2016, and we buried her in the backyard, exactly one year after my mom’s funeral. We tried so hard to save her, but multiple trips to the vet didn’t do much. I felt horrible guilt because I had debated so long on bringing her inside.

When Sally wondered up in the yard, she was tiny with a beautiful gray stripe, and she bounced just like Betty. I did bring her in the house, and she had some infections the vet treated as well as a hernia after her spay surgery. But she is no longer the petite little kitty we first saw. She’s tall and healthy and happy. And I can’t even begin to say how much I love that little Sally Draper Carroll.

I got a special recognition from my co-workers at graduation this year – one I was not expecting at all, so when I thanked them, I choked down tears because, well, I’m an ugly cryer, but I hate crying in front of people. Especially thousands of people. But the recognition was so precious to me and I even got a standing ovation from everyone – students, parents, coworkers, and friends.

I made new friends, lost a friend or two, changed my office space around, gained 35 pounds, lost 30 pounds, got my sugar back under control and started eating right. I improved my embroidery skills significantly, and started reading for pleasure again.

Oh, I can’t even begin to convey how much I love to read. The whole time I was working on my doctorate, I read only one or two books for pleasure, and when I finished, I got back into reading slowly – it took about a year for me to stop feeling frazzled and guilty for not spending every free moment doing my Texas Tech homework. Every single free moment. But now, I’m reading lots of books about ghosts and hauntings, and none of them are going to end up in the canon of literature, and I love that I am not worried about that anymore.

So now, I’ve pretty much told my life story for the last two years, so I can go ahead and get started moving forward. If you’re reading this, thanks for being patient.

on turning 50 and feeling good about it

Friday was my fiftieth birthday, and I made it! I said I would do it, and I did it! The people in my office gave me a party with a strawberry cake and pink roses. I love them!

Yikes! I'm 50!

Yikes! I’m 50!

Last February, we had a big blizzard in Texas, and I was out of town. I was in Florida. At Disneyland. And I wanted to be home. I wanted to be sewing and drinking hot chocolate and checking on my collection of cats. I wanted to be with my husband and smell baking bread and brown sugar. I wanted to put on my snuggy and watch movies all day. And I couldn’t get home. I was traveling with a co-worker (the one who forced me to go to see Mickey, and it really is magical, but I just wanted to be home), and we spent hours trying to figure out how to fly home. We couldn’t get to Dallas or Oklahoma City or Houston or Albuquerque.

And I realized something that was kind of important: I was going to have a stroke if I didn’t do something. I don’t handle stress, I don’t like stress, but I have stress. A. Whole. Lot. Of. Stress. And I realized I was almost fifty and miserable. Then I decided I didn’t have to be. I made a vow to myself that, on my 50th birthday, I would swim a mile.

The pool where I swim

The pool where I swim – notice how dark it is at 5:00 in the morning.

So I started swimming. Every morning. At 5:30. And I hate mornings. I can’t tell you how much I hate mornings. But I kept going. I started out at 8 laps, and then it was 10, then 16, then 24. Over the summer, I reached a mile. It took me an hour and a half, so when the fall semester started back, I started getting up at 4:45 so that I could swim my mile and still run home to get ready. And on Friday, I turned 50, and I got up at 4:45 and swam my mile. That’s 32 laps. That’s up and back 64 times. That’s pretty good for someone who hates mornings.

My lane!

My lane!

Next week, I am going to start biking and lifting weights twice a week. I want to bike 25 miles on my 51st birthday. I’ll let you know how that goes!