6.29.17 VisionFW Ladies Summer Book Club

We’ve discussed before how impactful my involvement with VisionFW has been on my professional and personal life over the past 3 years. This summer, some of the ladies decided to get together monthly and form a book club. As an avid reader when I choose to be, I was drawn to the opportunity to read outside of my normal genres and interact with other women in the process. 

Our first meeting was a great success and I think everyone enjoyed the discussion surrounding the book and our personal takeaways. Most enjoyable, in my opinion, was the lengthy discussion pertaining to the selection of our second book. It was then that we developed a collective purpose for this group and what each person was seeking to gain from their involvement. Also, the snacks were bomb.com 


Our first months selection was The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman 


Easily the most challenging book I’ve ever read, but the endless accounts of her triumphs and determination in a time of unimaginable horror is beyond awe inspiring. 

I plan to have the book finish this week, but so far Here are some of my takeaways:

  • On Jan’s daily rounds of the zoo by bicycle, a large elk named Adam swayed close behind, an inseparable companion.
  • In 1932, abiding by Polish Catholic tradition, Antonina chose a saint’s name for her own newborn son, Ryszard, or Rys for short—the Polish word for lynx. Though not part of the zoo’s “four-legged, fluffy, or winged” brigade, her son joined the household as one more frisky cub that babbled and clung like a monkey, crawled around on all fours like a bear, grew whiter in winter and darker in summer like a wolf. One of her children’s books describes three household toddlers learning to walk at the same time: son, lion, and chimpanzee. Finding all young mammals adorable, from rhino to possum, she reigned as a mammal mother herself and protectress of many others.
  • Jan planned an innovative zoo of world importance at the heart of Warsaw’s life, both social and cultural, and at one point he even thought of adding an amusement park.
  • And then there was Tuzinka, still covered in baby fuzz, one of only twelve elephants ever born in captivity. Hence her name, from tuzin, the Polish word for a dozen. 
  • All the animals telegraph scent codes as distinctive as calls, and after a while, Antonina grew used to the thick aroma of their agendas—biological threats, come-ons, and news reports.
  • Jan kissed her hand lightly according to Polish custom, said it would honor him if she considered the zoo her open-air studio and the animals her fidgety models.
  • Cursed by its strategic location in eastern Europe, Poland had been invaded, sacked, and carved up many times, its borders ebbing and flowing; some village children learned five languages just to speak with neighbors.
  • Optimistic by nature, she concentrated on her fortunate life.
  • a baby badger named Borsunio (Little Badger), too young to leave unattended.
  • and they provided the ensemble of human and animal characters that transformed it from bungalow to burlesque.
  • In her diary, she noted how Badger’s instincts mixed with human customs and his own one-of-a-kind personality.
  • In Rys’s bedroom, she stooped to look under the bed and glimpsed Badger pushing Rys’s training potty out into the open, climbing onto the white enamel bowl, and using it as it was intended.
  • but she also thought how much easier life would be if they could stay together, sharing comforts, worries, and fears.
  • When a platoon of Polish soldiers found the panicky bears, ribboned with blood and circling round their old haunt, they quickly shot them. Then, fearing lions, tigers, and other dangerous animals might escape, too, the soldiers decided to kill the most aggressive ones, including the male elephant, Jas, Tuzinka’s father.
  • “At least humans can pack their essentials, keep moving, keep improvising,” Antonina thought. “If Germany occupies Poland, what will become of the delicate life-form of the zoo?. . .The zoo animals are in a much worse situation than we are,” she lamented, “because they’re totally dependent on us. Moving the zoo to a different location is unimaginable; it’s too complex an organism.”
  • For many Poles, life had become residue, what remains after evaporation drains the juice from the original. During occupation, everyone lost the many seasonings of daily life, trapped in a reality where only the basics mattered and those bled most of one’s energy, time, money, and thoughts.
  • “I’m just like our lioness,” she told the others, “fearfully moving my cub from one side of the cage to the other.”
  • Instigators and helpers are subject to the same punishment as perpetrators; an attempted act will be punished in the same way as a completed act.”
  • “Decree for the Combating of Violent Acts,” which imposed death on anyone disobeying German authority, mounting acts of sabotage or arson, owning a gun or other weapons, attacking a German, violating curfew, owning a radio, trading on the black market, having Underground leaflets in the home—or failing to report scofflaws who did. Breaking laws or failing to report lawbreakers, both acting or observing, were equally punishable offenses.
  • One of Frank’s key tasks was to kill all people of influence, such as teachers, priests, landowners, politicians, lawyers, and artists. Then he began rearranging huge masses of the population: over a span of five years, 860,000 Poles would be uprooted and resettled;
  • 75,000 Germans would take over their lands; 1,300,000 Poles would be shipped to Germany as slave labor; and 330,000 would simply be shot.
  • The Underground Peasant Movement adopted the slogan of “As little, as late, and as bad as possible,”
  • “The wounded city is trying to feed their animals,” Antonina reassured Jan one morning as she heard a clop-and-clatter, then saw two wagons creaking up to the gate with leftover fruit and vegetable peelings from kitchens, restaurants, and houses. “At least we’re not alone.”
  • But given the era, his beliefs, and the ultranationalism of his family, he clearly wanted to please Nazi friends by contributing to the ideal of Germany’s master races.
  • Without his type, maps would still show a flat earth and no one would believe the source of the Nile.
  • After Hitler came to power, the biological aims of the Nazi movement spawned many projects to establish racial purity, which justified acts of sterilization, euthanasia, and mass murder.
  • Although Mengele’s subjects could be operated on without any painkillers at all, a remarkable example of Nazi zoophilia is that a leading biologist was once punished for not giving worms enough anesthesia during an experiment.
  • A 2006 study of mitochondrial DNA tracks Ashkenazi Jews (about 92 percent of the world’s Jews in 1931) back to four women, who migrated from the Near East to Italy in the second and third centuries. All of humanity can be traced back to the gene pool of one person, some say to a man, some a woman.
  • Germany’s crime is the greatest crime the world has ever known, because it is not on the scale of History: it is on the scale of evolution.”
  • Writing of it, she experienced their suffering twice, as human friend and baffled victim.
  • The big-game hunter in Heck coexisted with the naturalist, and paradoxical as it seems, he was a zookeeper who didn’t mind killing animals in someone else’s zoo if it meant ingratiating himself with powerful friends.
  • How do you retain a spirit of affection and humor in a crazed, homicidal, unpredictable society?
  • “As long as we didn’t witness such events themselves, feel it with our own skin,” Antonina later recalled, “we could dismiss them as otherworldly and unheard-of, only cruel gossip, or maybe a sick joke.
  • However, Germans, Poles, and Jews stood in three separate lines to receive bread, and rationing was calculated down to the last calorie per day, with Germans receiving 2,613 calories, Poles 669 calories, and Jews only 184 calories. In case anyone missed the point, German Governor Frank declared: “I ask nothing of the Jews except that they would disappear “
  • and Jewish women, as further humiliation, were forced to use their underwear as cleaning rags on floors and in toilets.
  • non-event known as “Wanda’s Disappearance.” But before Wanda vanished, she decided to throw a farewell party for family and close friends at the old armory downtown, and she chose summer solstice for the event.
  • JAN AND ANTONINA FOUND NAZI RACISM INEXPLICABLE AND devilish, a disgust to the soul, and although they were already assisting friends inside the Ghetto, they pledged, despite the hazards, to help more Jews, who had figured importantly in Jan’s childhood memories and loyalties.
  • “to spite my father, who didn’t like or appreciate animals, and didn’t allow them in the house—other than moths and flies, who entered without his permission!”
  • “I don’t understand all the fuss. If any creature is in danger, you save it, human or animal.”
  • Still, discovery would have meant pitiless, on-the-spot death for him and his family, and who knows how many others. 
  • Many Guests, like Wanda Englert, were longtime friends or acquaintances, and Antonina regarded them as one amphibious family.
  • and she was very smart, a fast thinker with an excellent memory, very polite and sensitive. She had a big full-bodied laugh and a great sense of humor. 
  • in Poland harboring a Jew was punishable by immediate death to the rescuer and also to the rescuer’s family and neighbors, in a death-frenzy deemed “collective responsibility.”
  • The wayfarers often spent years in the dark, barely able to move, and when they finally emerged, unfolding their limbs, their weak muscles failed and they needed to be carried like a ventriloquist’s dummies.
  • Not even Antonina realized that he was collecting fuses for making bombs.
  • (During one month in 1943, they derailed seventeen trains and damaged one hundred locomotives.)
  • She didn’t know during the war that he also infected some pigs with worms, butchered them, then shaped the poisoned meat into balls which, with the help of an eighteen-year-old working in a German army canteen, he slipped into the soldiers’ sandwiches.
  • Since paradise only exists as a comparison, Guests in flight from the Ghetto found villa life a small Eden, complete with garden, animals, and motherly bread-maker (the etymological origin of the word paradise).
  • At odds with Nazi aesthetics (which worshipped classical architecture), building and living in a modernist villa was itself an affront to National Socialism, and Jan and Antonina made the most of all the style implied: transparency, honesty, simplicity.
  • Inevitably, a vital paranoia reigned in the house as the only sane response to perpetual danger, while its inhabitants mastered the martial arts of stealth: tiptoe, freeze, camouflage, distract, pantomime.
  • Would she be one of those people, Antonina wondered, who vanished because they happened to be on a tram or in a church when Germans chose it at random, sealed off the exits, and killed everyone inside as revenge for some real or imaginary insult?
  • The editors also sent copies to the Gestapo HQ “just to facilitate your research, [and] to let you know what we think of you. . ..”
  • Antonina noted that he didn’t even try to make friends at school, but hurried home instead to play with Morys the pig, whom he could talk with as much as he pleased, and who would never betray him.
  • One evening, German soldiers noticed Rys and Morys playing in the garden and strolled over to investigate; not fearing humans, Morys trotted right up to them for a snort and a scratch. Then, as Rys watched in horror, they dragged Morys off squealing to be butchered.
  • in cahoots with another low-level official, the director of slaughterhouses had conspired to rent the zoo to a German herbal plant company.
  • that meant starting clean, replacing thousands of Polish farmers and so-called Polish or Jewish crops and livestock with their German equivalents.
  • Unlike Leist, Jan knew of Kulski’s link to the Underground, and as Kulski proposed a public vegetable garden with individual plots, Jan smiled, impressed by a scheme that served the double purpose of cheaply feeding locals and portraying the Nazis as compassionate rulers.
  • “the idea of really gay, cheerful, witty music—in short, the idea of music with life in it—was gradually being forgotten.”
  • The sheer time it took to catalogue, gas, prepare, and pin them humbles the mind.
  • Watching keyhole life thriving beyond the Ghetto became torture, and in an inspired twist, Warsaw’s Uprising Museum (opened in 2005) includes a brick wall with reverse views: holes through which visitors can glimpse daily life inside the Ghetto, thanks to archival films.
  • If one lived on the surface and was stopped by police, even with false documents one might be asked for the names of neighbors, family, friends, who would then be telephoned or interviewed.
  • Each escapee required at least half a dozen documents and changed houses 7.5 times, on average, so it’s not surprising that between 1942 and 1943 the Underground forged fifty thousand documents.
  • Along with languages, they absorbed the lessons of facade-building, tribal loyalty, self-sacrifice, persuasive lying, and creative deception.
  • “A good strategy should dictate the right actions. Any action mustn’t be impulsive, but analyzed along with all its possible outcomes. A solid plan always includes many backups and alternatives.”
  • “I have one talent, “he wrote, “and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised, surprised at life, at ideas. This is to me the supreme Hasidic imperative: Don’t be old. Don’t be stale.” Most people know that 30 to 40 percent of the world’s Jews were killed during World War II, but not that 80 to 90 percent of the Orthodox community perished, among them many who had kept alive an ancient tradition of mysticism and meditation reaching back to the Old Testament world of the prophets. “In my youth, growing up in a Jewish milieu,” Heschel wrote of his childhood in Warsaw, “there was one thing we did not have to look for and that was exaltation. Every moment is great, we were taught, every moment is unique.”
  • “to open the heart, to unclog the channel between the infinite and the mortal,” and
  • All our senses feed the brain, and if it diets mainly on cruelty and suffering, how can it remain healthy? Change that diet, on purpose, train mentally to refocus the mind, and one nourishes the brain.
  • Zookeepers by disposition, not fate, even in wartime with food scarce, they needed to remain among animals for life to feel true and for Jan to continue his research in animal psychology.
  • According to Jan, “The personality of animals will develop according to how you raise, train, educate them—you can’t generalize about them. Just like people who own dogs and cats will tell you, no two are exactly alike. Who knew that a rabbit could learn to kiss a human, open doors, or give us reminders about dinnertime?”
  • One of the most remarkable things about Antonina was her determination to include play, animals, wonder, curiosity, marvel, and a wide blaze of innocence in a household where all dodged the ambient dangers, horrors, and uncertainties. That takes a special stripe of bravery rarely valued in wartime.
  • Classes were small and the meeting rooms nomadic, to avoid discovery, floating from one edge of Warsaw to the other, in private apartments, technical schools, churches, businesses, and monasteries, inside the Ghetto and outside. It issued primary school, bachelor, and graduate degrees in medicine and other professions, despite the lack of libraries, laboratories, and classrooms. A certain sad irony (or perhaps it was optimism) prompted the Ghetto doctors, who could only comfort those dying patients whom a little food and medicine would have cured, to teach cutting-edge medicine to a future generation of doctors.
  • Passersby wouldn’t be surprised to hear animals mentioned at the zoo, and one gets a sense that it also just felt right to Jan and Antonina, that naming the usual animals helped them restore a little normalcy to their lives.
  • She was justly proud of the way strong, agile hands cradle newborns, build cities, plant vegetables, caress loved ones, teach our eyes the shape of things—how round swells, how sand grits—bridge lonely hearts, connect us to the world, map the difference between self and other, fasten onto beauty, pledge loyalty, cajole food from grain, and so much more.
  • Magdalena seasoned the villa with “loads of sunshine, energy, and a great spirit,” Antonina wrote, “which she never lost, even during terrible crises, and she faced horrendous ones in her life. No one ever saw her being depressed.”
  • Once its sprightly melody had been a favorite of hers, but war plays havoc with sensory memories as the sheer intensity of each moment, the roiling adrenaline and fast pulse, drive memories in deeper, embed every small detail, and make events unforgettable.
  • An unusually active thirty-four-year-old, she hated being confined to her bedroom, in heavy clothes, muffled under strata of blankets and comforters (” I felt so embarrassed and useless,” she moaned in ink), when there was a large household to manage.
  • details of daily life in the orphanage, imaginative forays, philosophical contemplations, and soul-searching.
  • “I am a doctor by training, a pedagogue by chance, a writer by passion, and a psychologist by necessity.”
  • Thank you, Merciful Lord, for having arranged to provide flowers with fragrance, glow worms with their glow, and to make the stars in the sky sparkle.”
  • he said he chose the play to help the trapped, terrified children accept death more serenely.
  • “A miracle occurred, two hundred pure souls, condemned to death, did not weep. Not one of them ran away. None tried to hide. Like stricken swallows they clung to their teacher and mentor, to their father and brother, Janusz Korczak.”
  • “It would be a pity to waste such good food,” he said of the bizarre scene, as if he’d found the only and obvious thing to do.
  • “They desperately needed hope that a safe haven even existed, that the war’s horrors would one day end,” while they drifted along in the strange villa even its owners referred to as an ark.
  • Typically, when the police stopped Jews on the street, they checked the men for circumcision and ordered the women to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary.
  • who reshaped Jewish noses and operated on Jewish men to restore foreskins, a controversial and clandestine surgery with an ancient tradition.
  • Rys spent more unsupervised time, but she reckoned him “more capable and levelheaded than any child his age should have to be.”
  • Risk isn’t shaped the same in a child’s eyes, nor can a child see as far downstream from an event, and punishment works only if both parties feel it to be fair, fairness being the gold standard of childhood.
  • “Stop that! We’re helping you out of pure selfishness. What on earth could we do without you? Your only job is to get stronger. And to give us our orders! We’ve missed all your energy, wit, and, okay, sometimes your scatterbrained behavior. Amuse us again!”
  • Jan continued: “She has a precise and very special gift, a way of observing and understanding animals that’s rare, certainly not typical for an untrained woman naturalist. It’s unique, a sixth sense.”
  • Learning from our own mishaps isn’t as safe as learning from someone else’s, which helps us decipher the world of intentions, making our social whirl possible.
  • We feel what we see, we experience others as self.
  • Only a month after the Germans occupied Poland, historian Ringelblum conceived the idea of an archive, because he felt what was happening was unprecedented in human history, and someone should accurately report the facts and bear witness to the unspeakable suffering and cruelty.
  • but there’s a difference between not knowing and choosing not to know what one knows but would rather not face. Both she and Jan continued to keep a small dose of cyanide with them at all times.
  • Well, I proved there weren’t any poisonous vipers by catching the snakes by hand!” Then Jan added somberly: “Luckily, I didn’t need the cyanide this time.”
  • “I’m lost,” Jan thought. With disarming casualness, he smiled and said: “How can I open my backpack with my hands up? You’d better check it yourself.” A soldier poked around a little inside the backpack and saw the carcass.

26. Terrifying 

Starting the #30by30 was the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. This blog, this list of challenges, this opportunity to meet amazing people and have amazing experiences is more than I could have ever imagined. 

One of the items on the list was to do something that terrifies me. Growth, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and terrifying the snot out of myself is something I’ve done numerous times in my life but today takes the cake and number 26 on the list:

on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at the Texas Rangers vs Boston Redsox game, I will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of ALS Awareness Night. 


Y’all this is insane. I mean, what? Is this real life? How is this real life?

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. Terrifying in all the most exciting ways. 

Want to join us? Buy your ticket here by Friday, 6/30. 

Erasmus family pitching practice starts today, i’m already sore just thinking about 60 feet to the plate. Maybe they’ll put Napoli behind the plate, have I told you today that Napoli is my favorite? because he is. wowza 

Here’s to hoping I don’t faceplant, and the ball gets to the plate, but mostly that i don’t faceplant. 

6.26.17 Rest

This little “sprinkle” popped up on my phone the other day and has been on my heart and mind:


Did I rest? Well, you know better than that. I pushed back, I achieved topknot greatness, and God hit me with this “sprinkle”:


Peace is what my being was craving at its core, mind, body, and soul. Peace is what I needed in life, at work, in my marriage. Peace in it’s entirety, saturating every detail of Sunny Brous Erasmus. And do you know where I found said peace? I just told you! 

“Rest in faith”

You gotta keep up, buttercup! Those three words spoke so much to me that I took Friday off, stayed in my jammies, Jaci came through in the clutch with lunch AND chocolate chip cookies, and I Netflix’d and chilled all day long. It was glorious. 

this was taken at 5:31 PM

 

So glorious, in fact, that Kenneth joined me on Saturday. So maybe there was a HUGE storm that rained out his golf plans, but I’m happy to take what I can get. Possession is 9/10s of the law, right? We watched a movie, we played with the pup, and this guy even came out to keep the fun to a minimum:


Thankfully this sweet boy is a snuggler, but I’m afraid we won’t fit in the chair, together, much longer. He is the perfect example of lazy Sunday. 


Now, it’s Monday and it’s time to put all of this rest to good use. This is a good “sprinkle” to start our week on:


And if you can’t embrace it, take Baloo’s advice and just plop:

Nighttime Prayers 

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

“Our God is an awesome God he reigns From heaven above with wisdom, power and love. Our God is an awesome God.”

“Now I’m begging for forgiveness, I wanna make a difference even in the smallest way. I’m only one person, but I can feel it working. I believe in better days. That’s why I pray.”

“I have been blessed And I feel like I’ve found my way. I thank God for all I’ve been given At the end of every day. I have been blessed With so much more than I deserve. To be here with the ones That love me To love them so much it hurts. I have been blessed.”

“God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

“Now i lay me down to sleep And pray the Lord my soul to keep. If i die before i wake, feed Jake. He’s been a good dog My best friend right through it all. If i die before i wake, feed Jake.”

6.22.17 Staying Grounded, Literally 

Wednesday was cued up to be a good day: I posted a witty, honest, suuuuuper cute picture about how despite feeling the ALS effects in full force, I achieved top knot greatness and was excited to share it with the world. As the day progressed, I was smothered in love from friends near and far. 

But not before I hit the ground, hard

Lesson learned: get too big for your britches and life grounds you, literally. Well, in my case anyway. No harm, nose is good , teeth still intact and thank goodness for carpet, I am definitely sore from full body contact with the ground. And the best part of falling, yes there is a best part, Our Jennifer came to clean Tuesday so I wasn’t covered in dog and cat hair WHOOOO HOOO!

this sweet boy jumped in to make sure I had more than enough lovins and we curled up to catch our breath before trying to stand up. his grumpy brother watched intently with no plans of helping the damsel in distress. 
Thank God for these couple of things:

  • my apple watch was on so the life alert of 2017 worked
  • i still have my teeth 
  • no bloodshed 
  • happy hour date with my husband and a long lost friend 
  • free quesadilla bar

When life literally grounds you, happy hour with two goodlooking guys is the best way to recover. Life can plan for tomorrow, but I won Wednesday, faceplant and all. 

Miller Lite fixes everything

oldie but goodie

6.21.17 #WCW: Rachel Doboga

Source: Pacing Myself by Rachel Doboga, Author of “howilivewithals

I have always struggled to acknowledge and accept my limitations to the point that I often push myself far past them. From middle school through college, I participated in at least three extracurricular activities each year. OK, that’s a lie. It was more like four or five. I was in a leadership position as often as possible, too. Of course, that all came on top of a driving need to get straight A’s (and yes, I know that is a misplaced apostrophe, but I stand by it as a legitimate way to make a letter grade plural).

My first year teaching, I started the middle school book club, served on the information technology curriculum committee, proposed and planned an interdisciplinary curriculum fellowship and a fellowship to rework the English curriculum to include multicultural literature.

I love being busy, operating at full speed, running out of room in my planner, making multiple to-do lists and slashing through each item before falling into bed exhausted.

Now, though, at least half the days of the week, just functioning leaves me too tired to do anything productive. ALS puts such a strain on the body that simply existing is like running a marathon every day. Three years into this nightmare, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I can’t set the same amount of goals for myself as I used to. Doing that sets me up for depression, frustration, and failure. If I want to preserve my mental health and use my time well, I have to learn to prioritize and decide where to scale back. I’ve got to stop spreading myself too thin. Thus, without further ado, my freshly pruned list of goals:

1. Enact Phase 2 of my “Save the Registry” campaign (you didn’t really think I would stop at an article and blog post, did you?)

2. Fundraise for The Walk to Defeat ALS

3. Write one essay or section per week for my book on living with ALS

What I expect to sacrifice to accomplish all of this is the frequency of my blog posts and social media updates. Rather than posting every few days, I think it will only be manageable to post once every 1.5 weeks. I consider this a loss since connecting with readers is such a source of joy for me. However, I am hopeful that after I torpedo Trump’s attempt to defund the National ALS Registry and complete my fundraising efforts at the end of September, I will be able to write for my blog weekly. Getting my muscle spasms under control would also be a big help since I wouldn’t spend half the week sedated by Baclofen and Vicodin. The plan right now is to increase the amount quinine sulfate I take and undergo a test to see if installing a pump to push Baclofen directly into my spinal fluid would eliminate the spasms. The pump should increase the effectiveness of the Baclofen while diminishing the sedating side effects. I will definitely keep you posted on that.

For now, I will conclude by thanking you for your support of my writing, my health, and my dream of a world without ALS. I’ll write again soon(ish)!

More about Rachel: https://howilivewithals.com/author/howilivewithals/

When I was diagnosed with ALS at age 28, I lost my teaching career, my plans to travel, and the chance to start a family with my husband. I lost my future. I almost lost hope, but being surrounded by so many people unwilling to let me go, I stepped back from the edge. Now I am determined not to let a day go by without smiling, laughing, and fighting for my life. Follow me to learn about ALS and join the fight to defeat it!

6.20.17 Small Town Kid

Full Confession: Kenneth and I are binge watching Netflix addicts. We change shows almost daily, and take turns picking since our preferences are completely different. Our current show at bedtime is “The Ranch” with Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, and the always dreamy: Sam Elliott. As a “That 70s Show” fan, this new show was a no brainer.

Last nights cheesy one liner that still has me giggling:

Colt (Ashton Kutcher): “I’m so tired, I fell asleep at the red light. Cop woke me up, neither of us could believe I wasn’t drunk.”

10 minutes later and still laughing, Me: “I don’t know why that’s so funny”

Kenneth, matter of factly: “It’s because you’re from a small town”

YES SIR I AM!

A fellow Hiconian and sweet friend of mine posted this the other day and it’s kept me smiling:


This resonated with my soul because the entire time I was in grad school, every conversation I’ve ever had with Thomas Abbott or Amanda McCaffer,  and about once a week at work, this what happens:


I loved growing up in a small town “Where Everybody is Somebody”. I love the memories we share and the friendships we have, simply because we all have the same mapdot.
I don’t know if it was Katy’s pictures of Lance McLean, or the fact that I’m homesick for a Hico weekend, but you could cut the nostalgia with a knife. My phone sings “God Bless this Town” by Wade Bowen every time it rings; a personal favorite of my Pedro and myself. Or maybe it’s this silly video of my nephew splashing around with his chicken entourage

 


I love the subtle reminders that I come across daily that make me think of my hometown. I love the village that raised me, and the hugs from the people that loved me through to the person I am today.


My shirt says it all.

6.19.17 Aunt Kelly

We all have that person in our life, you know the one: kinda bossy but in a subtle “maybe it really was your idea first” kind of way, OCD but in a “huh, that really does make more sense” way, and always has good advice but follows it up with “it’s really up to you, though” to alleviate responsibility or guilt by association. You know the type, you’re picturing them now. Well, here’s mine:


and today is her birthday, so everyone join me in wishing Aunt Kelly a very happy birthday!

You know that thing I do sometimes where I start a story and can’t finish because I’m laughing so hard? Or how I always know where the best dessert stops are on road trips? Or how I can walk into a room of strangers and know them all when I leave? Yep, that’s all Kelly. I’ve been her personal apprentice for 30 years now, and I’ve been razzle dazzling everyone around me because of her investment in me as a woman, a leader, and a person. 

we were cute babies, circa 1987


Kelly is a badass, a business owner in a male dominated industry, an entrepreneur, a painter, a mentor, mother, wife, and friend. You name it, Kelly can do it or she’ll gladly outsource it to someone who can. Seriously, I have learned something in every conversation we’ve ever had. Everyone needs a Kelly. 


We’ve had a lot of fun through the years. She gave me a love for cowboy hats, corn dogs, and good camera angles. 


This year has been especially fun because I’ve gotten to see her love our Peyton and soon assume the important role of Mother of the Bride. 


I could ramble on and on about our shared passion for travel, or our love of humanity, or giant cinnamon rolls. Trust me, she’d let me ramble on and on about how great she is, and how young she looks, and how much we all love her. I’ll leave you with this, Kelly when she started Ricochet:


That’s her story and she’s stickin’ to it. Happiest of birthdays to you! Thank you for helping me become the bossy, people loving, middle-nameless woman I am today!

6.18.17 Father’s Day

Today is a big day for a lot of great fathers in my life, not mine of course, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. For the record, I know I got the best part of him, my sisters, and i’d give him up again and again to keep them. 


Today we celebrate all of the amazing men who are raising kids to be decent, God fearing, contributing members of society. Whether it’s their own kids or someone else’s, today is your day. My sisters and I always told Mah happy Father’s day because she selflessly pulled double duty our entire lives. So we celebrate you single moms, too. 

Thankfully we have been surrounded with love from father figures, with no shortage of support and guidance from strong men in many different relationships. Our grandfathers, uncles, and cousins stepped in to make sure us girls had everything we could possibly need. Our friends fathers, who we all call “Dad”, lectured and disciplined us as their own – it takes a village, right? My brother in law would line up anyone that messed with his girls and whoop them into next week. Trust me, we are well fathered. 

The man I introduce as my dad, who danced the first dance with me at my wedding, who my kids will one. day call Grandpa isn’t my father, and I love him all the more for it. Guess he’s more like a hostage, but at what point does it turn from a hostage situation to self inflicted? Regardless, Mitch loves our Mah and we love him for it. 


Now that I’m an old married woman, because apparently there’s no such thing as a young married woman, I have the honor of having a father in love. His love for his family and his faith in God is apparent in everything he says and does. I’m grateful every day for the man and husband he raised Kenneth to be. Joining his family, becoming an Erasmus, and learning from Kevin has been an amazing adventure. One day my kids will call him Oupa and they will be spoiled rotten and loved beyond imagine. 


I’m excited for the day that Kenneth gets to celebrate Father’s day. I trust Gods perfect timing for our family, and know that he will provide. Until we have kids of our own, we’ll continue being fun Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Sunny to all of the sweet babies around us. And dog/cat parents, of course.