Return Of the Blog

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Photograph titled “Reach” by Jennifer Koczan

 

I haven’t made an entry or even logged into the account for this blog since April of 2019.

My motivation and my inspiration fell to the wayside. It has happened a lot over the years since I’ve tried to start and actually maintain a blog.

Lots of reasons. Lots of excuses. Some of those reasons were good ones. Some of them were bad ones. I have had the tendency to care too much what other people think of me. On the other hand, when I am going through something serious. I go quiet.  The last couple of years have been very long seasons in my life.

A lot has changed.

I think that certain realizations come to you in age. Experience brings wisdom.  I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to let go of a lot. I’ve grown a lot. The past is finally the past and I don’t live there anymore.  There is incredible freedom in learning to let go of the things that you cannot change and the things that do not serve you.

This blog is now headed towards a real transition of its own. I’ve decided that I am going to write about the things that I want to write about.  I want to write about all of the things that inspire me. What motivates me. What can bring me down. My experiences. Travel. My day to day. Life.

Everyone has a story.  It’s up to you to decide how you want to tell it.

 

 

Little Perfect Things-

My son, Dominic, is on spring break this week.

We never go anywhere or do anything during spring break. I decided that I would rather use my benefit time that I get at work and the money I would spend on a trip during the warmer months.

Yesterday, it snowed. Every other travel destination that we would enjoy would also likely be a miserable experience this week also. Snow and rain aren’t always my cup of tea and definitely not this time of year.

Instead, we treat this week like an extended weekend. Except, I still have to go to work and Dom still goes to grandma’s house. I get to sleep in past 6am and I find that to be delightful. Dom generally gets up around the same time but that’s ok.

Until my mommy guilt kicks in and I drag myself out of bed at 8am.

On the weekends, when Dom isn’t at his dad’s, we like to make a big breakfast. This usually consists of bacon, eggs, toast and pancakes. Sometimes we have little smokey links. I try to have a little bit of everything on hand because weekends when Dom is home are special to me.

Dom will often helps me make breakfast by making the toast. Then we sit at the kitchen table and enjoy our feast at a leisure pace rather that scarfing down a bowl of oatmeal and then sprinting to the car.

It never fails during a regular week. We never get up on time it seems but we always manage to make it across town and to school on time. Even in bad weather. W just seem to time it right, but it’s still a mad dash to get out the door.

This morning I made our bacon, eggs and toast. My teenager was acting like a teenager. He decided that he wanted to take his plate of toast and bacon up to his bedroom to resume doing whatever he was doing before we made breakfast.

I was fine with it. Sometimes, a morning free-for- all is okay. I decided to wrap myself in a blanket and curl up on the couch with my coffee and a book. I have been trying to read Anne Rule’s book about serial killer, Ted Bundy, titled “The Stranger Beside Me”.

I sipped my coffee and thought about how nice it was just to be still in the quiet. I don’t get to enjoy moments like this very often so I noted how nice that was. I even enjoyed the fact that my living room was clean for a change and I didn’t really have any chores to take care of.

Dom eventually made his way back down the stairs and curled up next to me on the couch. He noticed my coffee mug sitting on the table and took that opportunity to drink what was left. The whole time he kept giggling, looking at me and giving me a devilish grin. He knows that I am powerless against his sweetness.

When he finished drinking what was left he giggled and said “Mmm delicious” and giggled. He was quite proud of himself. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture that he was more than happy to pose for.

I hope that everyone is having a great week!

Happy Spring!

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Another Year Older & A Trip Around the Sun

I made it another year.  Go me!

I’m two years into my forties. I’m training a woman at work that is old enough to be considered a woman and also old enough to be my daughter. It. Is. So. Weird.  I am technically old enough to be someone’s grandmother without other people doing the math in their head.  I nearly gave a “Thank you” card to someone who claimed that they thought I was still in my twenties.  They were probably kissing my ass, but what a nice thing to say!

The title of this post comes from one of my favorite Jimmy Buffet songs, in collaboration with Martina McBride  “Trip Around the Sun”. The song is a birthday themed ballad where two people contemplate another year gone by as they remember their failed resolutions while wondering if they made the right choices in their lives.  They finally realize that the world will keep on spinning no matter what they do.  They decide to discard the yearly resolutions except for one final one “That I’ll never make another one. Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun.”

This is where I finally am. I let it all go.  I have finally come to the conclusion that nothing is in control and that I am doing everything right even when I feel like I’m not. There are things that are just out of my hands.

Do things bother me? Sure. The difference now is that I have learned to let go of a lot of the people, emotions and problems that were stifling me.  There is no reason to mull over or rehash anything that I can’t do anything about or is in the past.

Breathe in, breathe out.

I celebrated the day by traveling to Chicago. I attended a presentation, at the House of Blues, for the podcast of Making A Murderer.  It was a conversation involving Laura Nirider and Steven Drizen about their involvement in the Netflix Documentary while representing Brendan Dassey. The pair are Dassey’s post conviction defense attorneys.  This was a neat experience and I will write about it in a future blog entry.  If you aren’t familiar with Nirider and Drizen, you can read an article about them by clicking here.

We then went to a Chicago Wolves hockey game at the Allstate Arena.  The Wolves played the San Antonio Rampage. The Wolves lost but it was a great game! i enjoyed seats next to the bench and the most entertaining fans ( they couldn’t have been older than 4 years old ) in front of me. It was a great time.

Afterwards, we went home and I was surprised with a birthday cake and knowledge that I was seeing my favorite rock band, Tesla,  in concert at the House Of Blues in February.  I am really looking forward to that!

It was a great birthday full of fun, surprises and happiness.  It has been a few days since my birthday but I am still thinking about how fast time flies and it’s hard to believe that I am this old. I can’t help but contradict myself about life and if I’m making the right decisions or if I’ve spent my time wisely.

I know in all reality, there’s nothing to do but enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun..

Until it’s done..

 

 

A Real Live Author As Opposed To Me, the Barely Blogger

Have you ever come across a person who seems to have a back-handed, left-handed, snide, or otherwise insulting remark for seemingly everything and everyone?  A person who just says things and you can’t help but lower your brow and give them the side eye, smirk combo as you go on about your day?

This likely describes a family member or a co-worker. For me, it describes a person whose opinion mattered, and up until this point, I had a desire to please and cared what they thought of me.

This past July, I reconnected with an old friend. It’s an odd relationship that has an explanation that I should save for another time. I will just say, like I did above, that I really respect this person and what they think of me. I take what they have to say to heart.

So much so,  that this story actually happened just after Thanksgiving and I am still thinking about it. I am also still trying to let it go while I bite holes in my tongue. I am not sure that ever mentioning it would serve any kind of purpose.

Here’s what happened.

I reconnected with an old friend. Over the next few weeks we started to get more familiar and little by little, he started to chip away at my bubble and I started getting more comfortable sharing personal things.

I have always had an interest in writing. I excelled in creative writing in school. I carried the passion into my adult years. I loved to write poetry, short stories and then eventually, blogging became popular so I started a blog.

My current blog, the one you are reading, is probably my fourth blog. I have had these starts and stops mostly because I went through life changes (divorce) and in my transitions ( there were many) I lost my voice. Or at least I thought I did. Or I was worried about my ex husband stalking my space and that gave me stage fright.

On those blogs, I wrote a lot about my experiences  being a mother to a child with Down Syndrome. Then, I wrote about being the single mother to a child with Down Syndrome. I also shared experiences from when I worked for the county police etc.   I wrote a lot about my personal reflections in hopes that I could reach other women and girls who were facing some of the same challenges that I had made it through.

On several occasions, I had women reach out to me through post comments or e-mail to share their stories or say “Thank you,” because reading my posts reminded them that there was hope and that they were not alone.

Some of these women were pregnant with babies that were suspected of having Down Syndrome, new moms, recently divorced or whatever their story was. I was getting a lot of positive feedback.

I was published in the Huffington Post online. It was a humorous article that I had written about quirks and the human condition.  While it wasn’t a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of literature, it was published in one of the more popular media sources at the time. Most important, people enjoyed it.

I don’t remember how many hits I got to my blog after that.  I do recall looking at my stats one night and nearly going into a panic over what it was that was driving people to my blog in droves.

Dear God! What did I write?

Keeping in mind what I have explained above, I have always felt pretty good about the majority of the topics that I have written about. While I may not always use proper grammar and punctuation I think that I have always told the story and gotten my point across.

I know that there are those who don’t consider bloggers to be serious writers. That’s likely the majority of us. We do however, serve a purpose. If not to others and only to ourselves. We all started a blog for a reason. In my case, I did it as a means of therapy for myself and to help others. I have accomplished both.

Going  back to the re connection to my old friend, I did mention to him that I enjoyed writing and that over the years I have been hot and cold with blogging and that I was currently revamping my blog. I also told him that I wrote reviews for trails and parks for the Outbound Collective. At one point, he knew that I was out taking pictures so that I could update an entry I made to the Outbound Collective.

I was proud of all of this. He seemed interested so I was comfortable sharing about it a little bit but I admit I didn’t go into full detail or even provide him with the web address for anything. He didn’t ask for it either.

Fast forward to that cold day in November where I reach out to see what he’s up to. I get half assed invited to meet for lunch with him and a reserve police officer and a couple of town officials that happened to pass through.

On my arrival, I was greeted by my old, dear friend, and told that we were being joined by a reserve police officer who “was also a real author, as in, had books published,”

Stab to the chest. It wasn’t just what he said but how he said it. I was taken back a little bit. I tried to decide how he meant this and if his intentions were locked up in the crappy tone that he had. I didn’t ask.

Here’s the thing. I never bragged about writing or having a blog etc. I mentioned it as something that I enjoyed doing. I never mentioned how many followers I had or site visits. I never even revealed the title of the blog or passed on the website address.

It was an awkward lunch. I don’t know if my darling old friend was in a mood or what. I got to meet and have lunch with this real live author. He was really nice and easy to talk to. I enjoyed that.

The Real Live Author gave me the short version of his resume and told me what books he had written and published. They exist. He is the real deal. After talking to him for awhile, it didn’t even seem odd to me, that a man this accomplished,  was moonlighting as a reserve police officer.

I couldn’t help but wonder though, was he self published? What a bitter thought. It wasn’t his fault that my old pal had made the comment about being a “real live author”. Who knew if he meant it to come off that way. I am not going to bring it up.

The point of this blog entry to is to remind myself and others to keep on doing what you’re doing. We are important and serve a purpose in our own way. Don’t forget that a lot of people gather their information online from bloggers like you and I that have experience in whatever it is that they are looking for.

I really can’t afford to have a book published, but I can write article after article about my personal experiences as a single mother raising a child with Down Syndrome. I can go on and on about my battles with the public school system as much as I can about the joys of each milestone.

People all over the globe relate to me in so many ways and they relate to you too!

In closing, and I am not even kidding, my dear sweet friend gave me the “real live authors” book as a Christmas gift.  I wish I could reveal who the author is and the book that I received but I can’t count on anyone not mentioning it in conversation.

And I know how some of you can be *chuckles*

I hope everyone has a great week!

My Thoughts and Prayers to Humboldt

On the evening of Friday, April 6, 2018,  15 members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior Hockey Team were killed in a crash, involving their bus and a semi,  as they were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin.

I wanted to express my condolences to everyone involved. Team, family, friends and community.  All of my thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time and every day that follows. I am very sorry for your loss.  There is no other family quite like a hockey family. You hurt, we all hurt..  God bless and God speed..

You will be forever in our hearts…

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Members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team are shown in a photo posted to the team Twitter feed, @HumboldtBroncos on March 24, 2018 after a playoff win over the Melfort Mustangs. RCMP say they are at the scene of a fatal collision involving a transport truck and a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos northeast of Saskatoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Twitter: @HumboldtBroncos

The Dausman Ditch Farm Bridge

In my post about the Northern Indiana Floods, I mentioned the wooden bridge over the Dausman ditch. This bridge is located on the property that belongs to my friend Chalisa’s family.  I often take my horse, Belle, down the lane and across the bridge to ride the trails in the woods and the edges of the fields.

This was the bridge during the flood. As you can see the ditch spilled over into the back fields.  It was an incredible sight to see. This is significant for our area.

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The water came up and over the bridge for several days. Chalisa’s father and brother made attempts to save it by reinforcing the structure the best that they could. Their efforts paid off because the ditch crested and the water slowly receded.  The bridge still stands.

This past week, Belle and I took a walk down the road and down the lane to the bridge and the back fields. It was a gloomy gray and misty morning but warmer than it had been. It felt good to get outside and enjoy some quiet time.

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I can’t explain what’s so great about this bridge. It just is.

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The wooden bridge over Dausman Ditch- March 28, 2018

 

The ditch is back to the usual water level. Thankfully.  I hope we don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

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Nothern Indiana Flood 2018

Yes, I am still alive. I have started several entries this way over the past 2 years since I began blogging here. A lot has happened since the start of the year.  The next few posts are likely to be things that already happened that I want to write about.

I will begin with the flooding in Northern Indiana that we experienced in mid February.

In three days, we received 7 inches of rain that fell on top of approximately 2 feet of packed snow.  The snow was already melting from unseasonably warm weather that we got to enjoy for a couple of days before it began to rain.

Below is a photograph of my house approximately two days before the warm up. I took this photo because I was complaining  discussing how I was clearing snow from the street so I could park and the neighbor kept stealing my space.

 

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This was the scene a few days before the warm up and the rain started. Reports stated that the rainfall would have equaled almost 60 inches of snow.

 

The mayor of south Bend, Pete Buttigieg, referred to the event as our 500 year flood.

“When we talk about flooding in an area we don’t have 500 or 1,000 years of records,” said David Call, an associate professor of meteorology at Ball State University in Muncie. “We extrapolate out, we graph it out based on the data we do have. When people say a 500-year flood, it’s what we would expect the magnitude of flooding to be once every 500 years.”

If you have been following me on social media, you have seen my numerous photographs of the St. Joseph River. I love the St. Joe. I live a couple of blocks away and I often hike along it, kayak and of course, photograph it.  The river is a huge part of our community.

I have never seen the St. Joseph River that high or the flooding that it caused. I have also never seen the local ditches spill over the way that they did. It was incredible for our area. A lot of people lost their homes and businesses.  Roads collapsed or washed out, bridges were swept away.  Schools were closed for several day and shelters were created in additions to the locations that were already available.

In addition to the St. Joseph River, I also frequent the area of the Dausman Ditch, located near Bremen, Indiana. I often take my horse down the lane and cross the ditch to ride a trail and along the fences and fields that belong to my friend Chalisa and her family.  There is a wooden bridge they use to cross their equipment to get to the back fields.

The water threatened the bridge but they were able to save it.  If you’re following me on social media, you’ve seen photographs of this bridge several times.  It’s a plan wooden bridge but for whatever reason, I am enamored with it.

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The bridge over the Dausman Ditch. I am amazed that it’s still there!!

Professionally, we handled numerous water rescues from homes and vehicles. It was bad enough that everyone was out of barricades and signs. Marshall County, Indiana was in a state of emergency.  One of my close friends is an officer there and told me that one of the most frustrating things that he was forced to deal with was figuring out how to get to the people that needed help either because he couldn’t get to them or couldn’t get to them without serious risk of getting himself killed in the process.

I am begging you to NOT drive your vehicles through high water. It never looks as deep as it really is. You’re going to stall your motor and become stranded. You can also get swept away.  Not only does this put yourself into a bad situation but you’re also putting the responders into a bad position when we have to come and save you.

If there is a barricade or a road closed sign set up that means that the road is closed. It means that it is closed for you, regardless of who you think you are or where you think you need to go.  It’s closed for a reason.  Turn around and find another way to reach your destination.

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Near Wyatt, Indiana- Someone spray painted “road closed” on this van. This was approx 3 days after the rain stopped.

 

The first morning that the water was really high and covering the roads, I had to get really creative to make my destination and at one point, I was going to simply cancel my reasons for travel. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk.

Below is a small gallery of photo’s from our area. I did my best to add captions since the locations are from different areas with different sources of water.  I wasn’t able to get very many because I didn’t go near the affected areas since the roads were closed.  I took the majority of the photo’s and noted which ones I didn’t.

 

I’m Giving Up My Smart Phone- Sort Of

I am so sick of my cell phone.

I am sick of looking at it.

I am sick of looking for it because I’ve reached that point where I’m convinced that I need to have it close by 24/7/365.

I am sick of listening to it.

I am so sick of listening to it and looking at it that I have  it set up to tell me who is calling when it rings. I have also designated special text tones for my close friends.  Chalisa is “meditation bell” while Kate is “bird whistle” and any supervisor from work is “telegraph”.  The list goes on. If you’re not a close friend, also known as the mystery messenger, then you’re the generic “ding” and I will get to you when I get to you.

Sadly, the mystery of the unknown “ding” text notification is often so overwhelming that I will go see who, outside of the tribe, has dared to send me a text message.  Thus, shattering the whole point of giving those close to me a special sound when they reach out.

It’s not just the phone calls, the notifications and the text notifications. It’s the multiple alarms that I set to wake me up every morning. I go into a blind rage at 5:45 in the morning, every morning, when the alarm goes off on my cell phone. I also have an alarm clock.

A cell phone was meant to be a tool, not to swallow your entire existence. I depend on my iPhone way too much. It’s my alarm clock, my calendar, my jukebox and camera. It has literally become this tool that I cannot live without.

I am old enough to remember life before cell phones. As an adult during that time, I never sat and stared at my phone waiting for it to ring. I was perfectly fine with leaving the house for the day and allowing anyone who called me to leave a message on my answering machine.  Sometimes, for days!

Back then, coming home to a message waiting for me was like a delightful surprise, depending on who it was from, but there was no stress over it. If someone called me then they called me.

There was no expectation from anyone to get a call back in 2.5 seconds either.

I miss the good ol’ days before all of this nonsense. Life truly was better back then. It’s great having the conveniences that come with cell phone/smart phones, but I miss the way we behaved back then. We didn’t expect people to drop everything to talk, text etc.

Seriously, I know people who will send an e-mail, then send a text that they sent an e-mail and if you don’t respond to that text quick enough to suit them, they’ll call. What is the point of all of that and why does anyone feel that entitled?

I am a mother, friend, girlfriend etc not the President Of the United States.

I am also over being annoyed at friends, relatives and the boyfriend being on their phone while we are spending time together. Nothing reminds me of how unimportant I am to the other person like watching them scroll through social media and text while we are having dinner.

I admit that I have been guilty of looking at my phone when I probably shouldn’t have. I’ve noticed that it usually encourages the person that I am with to also check their phone but that’s no excuse and it isn’t polite. It shouldn’t be the new normal. I also admit that when someone else has checked their phone when I wasn’t, I felt a little crappy because of it.

What am I going to do about it?

I have decided to challenge myself over the next month.  I am going to stop looking at my phone as often. I am going to delete the majority of the apps that I have that seem to constantly distract me from more important things.  I honestly don’t get that much out of them in the first place.

I am going to set the phone on my night stand vs allowing it to be on the bed while I sleep. If it rings or goes off during the night, I will still check it.  Main reason being, I work in public safety and am subject to last minute mandates into work and also,  my boyfriend is a police officer who works midnights.

I really don’t need to be on Instagram at 3am. Or checking Facebook.

I am just sick of feeling like I have to be connected at all times. I’m done. I am wasting too much time just mindlessly scrolling.  I am not missing anything that can’t wait until a specific time of day. The thought of breaking free from my phone feels like freedom.

We will see how long this lasts.

 

 

Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!