Long Nights, Longer Days, and Trying to Say “No” (and “Yes”)

I’m tired. There are a thousand factors that go into me being tired – nutrition, sleeping, anxiety – but when it comes down to it, I am tired because I have been saying “Yes” when I should say “No” and “No” when I should say “Yes.” Does anyone feel me on this? Anyone?

For instance, today I said “Yes” to a gigantic coffee and peanut-butter-chocolatey candies. I should have said “No.” This seems to be a pattern that is developing in my life… unfortunately.

In short, I’m pretty sure that my priorities are all out of whack. I need to get some perspective; I’m pretty sure that this is my step 1.

Things to Remember:

1) Relationships are important – very important. However, don’t use them as an excuse to be a slacker (and the church said “Amen”)

2) Make your boss(es) happy – like your big boss(es), whoever that/those person/people are. You have more than one boss (let’s be honest), and some of the people you let be your bosses are unnecessary (originally I said “suck,” but I wanted to remain positive); decide which ones matter and fire the ones who don’t… Oh, and listen more carefully to the ones who DO matter.

3) You are not superwoman, and capes are dangerous (we’ve all seen The Incredibles… at least I would hope you have!)

4) Stay in your lane. I need someone to text that to me every single hour of my life. I hate staying in my lane (like literally – I love switching lanes.) But people who stay in their lane get hit and flicked off.

5) Just because you’re staying in your lane doesn’t mean that you cannot help. Help is good. Being “not stay-y in lane-y” is bad. Don’t get them confused.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “That is like the worst list of priorities I’ve ever seen,” OR, “She’s crazy. That made no sense. And we’re letting this woman teach our children!?!”

First of all, to the haters I say, “Haters gonna hate.” Second of all, these are directly listed to my priorities. You see, your priorities… I mean MY priorities (I have no clue how you think about your priorities) are directly related to how I think about myself in relationship to others. It is also related to how I think about myself in relationship to myself.

It all comes down to these… I think… maybe:

  • Trust. Trust God. Trust that He will give you what you need. Trust that right now is not forever. You see, over time I’ve lost trust. I only trust me (see #3 in the aforementioned list). That’s a problem (obviously). To have my priorities right, I have to be able to trust – completely trust. I have to be able to give up control when necessary AND take charge when necessary. Both of these (giving and taking) are related to trust.
  • Authority. I must understand who has authority in my life right now and beyond that who needs to have authority and doesn’t, and who has authority but shouldn’t. I am finding, unfortunately, that there a lot of people who I have allowed to have authority, but they really shouldn’t. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have people who need to have more authority (or authority at all) in my life, but they do not. I’m starting to fix that. (This pretty much covers numbers 1,2,4, and 5)
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. I realize that all the things in my life that need to be fixed won’t be fixed now. I also realize that when I do fix them, they may not be fixed perfectly. But hey, that’s okay… right?




Okay, I should have posted this weeks ago, but it’s better late than never, right?

Attention Memphians: Early voting for the Memphis Pre-K Initiative ENDS tomorrow, November 16th! (Election Day is November 21)

As an educator, I believe that the earlier we start educating children, the better. One great way to do this with a pre-kindergaten or preschool program. Unfortunately, these types of programs are not widely available in public school, so if you want your kid in pre-k, you have to pay money. Thus begins the education gap that people just LOVE to talk about.

Memphis is wanting to do something about this huge problem. There is proposed .5% tax increase (this is only about .25 for every $50 spent.) That money will go towards putting preschool programs in EVERY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. At my elementary school, we currently can only afford to have 2 preschool classrooms (there are between 4 and 6 classrooms for every other grade level.) Go talk to any kindergarten teacher – the difference between those students who had preschool and those who did not is significant! 

Bottom Line: The gap between kids whose parents have money and kids whose parents do not starts early, even earlier than we would like to admit.  In my experience with parents, they love their kids and want their children to have the best education possible. However, many of them lack the resources and/or the education to help keep their kids on (or anywhere near) the level they need to be in order to be successful in their educational endeavors. This is our reality now. It does not have to be our reality forever.

This is THE REASON that we pay taxes, to fund programs to help people. I will GLADLY pay an extra .5% on my purchases if it means that every single kid in Memphis has the choice to be a part of a preschool program.

I honestly believe that if you live in Memphis, and you want to better the education system in our community, you will head down to one of these locations tomorrow between 10 am and 4 pm and VOTE.

I will WATCH YOUR KIDS, CLEAN YOUR HOUSE, DRIVE YOU THERE, DO ALMOST ANYTHING if it means you get out there tomorrow and vote for this initiative.


Grandpa Phil

Grandpa Phil on the trolley in Memphis Winter 2010

Grandpa Phil on the trolley in Memphis
January 2010

Grandpa and Aly Christmas 2010

Grandpa and Aly
Christmas 2010

Grandpa and Elizabeth, the baby he called, "My new favorite." Fall 2011

Grandpa and Elizabeth. He’s been quoted to refer to her as his “favorite.”
Fall 2011

Grandpa Phil and Ellie Shea dining Spring 2012

Grandpa Phil and Ellie Shea dining
Spring 2012

Where do I start? I guess at the beginning. Grandpa Phil has always been my favorite; I am sure that I am his favorite too. When I was little, we would watch the Jungle Book at his house, and he would feed us chocolate to the dismay of my health-nut mother. I remember him taking us to the A&W Drive-In in Berthoud. I remember him and my dad teaching me how to swim when I was four. “It’s like riding a bike,” he told me. Needless to say, I swim really weird because of that. When I was little, I always wanted to ride on his Harley, but then I would cry the whole time because I got scared. So he would give me orange sherbet ice cream and hug me and it was all perfectly wonderful.

When I was a little older, my siblings and I would spend the night in his tiny studio apartment for retired people. He slept on a futon, and, even though mom packed up sleeping bags, we all insisted that we were scared and needed to sleep with Grandpa. I’m pretty sure he ended up sleeping on the floor, and, if my parents had known, we would have received a spanking. He took us to Starbucks, let us pick out our very own Starbucks mug. He’d order us decaf carmel cappuccinos, and we thought we were the best and coolest people on the planet.

In third grade, it was “Bring your parent to school” Day. My dad normally came, but for some reason this one year he couldn’t. My mom worked at the school, so I couldn’t bring her. I called my Grandpa crying, so he came. I remember when he walked in the classroom, I jumped on him. I was wearing a dress, and it flipped up. Luckily, I was wearing shorts. Still, I was sensitive and emotional and really easily embarrassedd, and so he took me in the hallway so the other kids wouldn’t see me crying.

He helped (and by helped I mean built) our house when I was in middle school. I mean, hours and days and weeks and months of building and building and building. I remember one time when I was 12 just the two of us went to get coffee at the local coffee shop in the small town where we lived, and I wanted to order the coffee on my own. I ordered a regular cappuccino on accident, so he took it and put a ton of sugar in it so that I would like it. I remember waking up really early and we would sit at the table and watch the sunrise and drink coffee (again, mom was not happy about that). We didn’t really talk. We mostly just sat and watched, and he would hold my hand.

When we moved to Florida, he would stay with us for 3 months out of the year, normally in the fall/winter when it would get cold in Colorado. He’d take me to horse riding lessons every single Saturday on the back of his motorcycle. He drove soooooooo slow so that I wouldn’t get scared. Cars honked, and he would say, “Let them honk.”

He taught me how to drive when I was 15, mostly because  my parents refused to (I was pretty awful). We would go way out to the middle of nowhere and drive his truck, which was a stick shift. One time, I ran a stop sign over. He got out of the car and pushed it up like new… sort of. He got back in the truck, where I was bawling; all he said was, “I won’t tell your mom.” Then he took me to a movie to make me feel better.

He was in the audience of almost every play I was ever in. He was in the stands cheering me on during my very short athletic career. He was at my high school, college, and grad school graduations. When I first moved to Memphis, he made several trips during my first three and a half years here. He insisted on moving boxes up and down stairs, even though his health had been declining for quite some time.

During that one really hard break up a year and a half ago, he hugged me and told me how loved I was.

And this past year has been so hard. In and out of hospitals, surgeries, medications – moving him from my parents home where he had lived for five years to a nursing home. But he still knew me a year ago; he knew me 8 months ago; I don’t think he knows me now, and that is really hard to accept. But what is harder is that this really is the end. I mean, he’s going, and there is not a whole lot of time left.

We all keep hoping that he’s going to just bounce back, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen this time. And there are a million regrets and things that my family wishes we would have done differently. We hoped that the surgery from a year ago would heal him, make his body healthier, make him live longer. Instead, it just sped up the end.

Anyways, I’m just a bunch of feelings right now that I don’t normally let myself feel because they are extremely unpleasant and they interfere with my sleep. But ignoring them is unhealthy, so I suppose I need to feel this and write this and share it, if for no one else, my family and me.

I suppose at the end of it all, I have been blessed beyond measure to have had my sweet Grandpa in my life for nearly 26 years. It just sucks because he’s not going to see me get married or have kids. I guess I had this weird expectation that he would. But back to the being blessed thing – I know that the greatest blessing in my life is the people that I have. I didn’t just get sweet parents and sweet siblings. I got three sweet grandparents who watched me grow up, supported me, loved me. That’s not normal, and it is way more than I deserve.