...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness

I've been missing my mom these days...and my dad, and Winston, too.  

As the weather is getting nicer, I find I am wanting to wander in the woods, but that makes me feel extremely untethered. I don't want another dog right now, but I miss my hiking buddy.  I am working on learning to be comfortable in my untethered feelings, to enjoy my alone time, and on being mindful.  My alone time is not necessarily a good thing.  Certain tasks allow more time to ponder life.  Alone... I clean my house, and I think.  Alone... I mow my yard, and I think.  Maybe the reason I enjoy music so much is because it distracts my brain.  I am a thinker, but thinking when one is so alone can be dangerous.  My brain is still asking old questions and trying to rationalize what happened: How did I got to this point in life?  Why did things happen as they did?  Maybe if I... Maybe if this... Am I destined to be alone forever?  What if this is as good as it gets?  What if this is all I get?  What if I had my chance?  What if no one wants me? What if I'm too much for someone else to handle?  I know I am smart, strong spirited, capable, a problem solver, and generally, I have a happy heart.  I know I am empathetic, and kind.  A part of what brings me joy is my need to give back.  

So, what's wrong with me???  

I realize that's not the right question to be asking.  NOTHING is wrong with me. I remind myself that I spent almost 30 years trying to make everything in life perfect.  When things didn't go the way they were supposed to, I took the blame.  Whether it was my fault or not. Emotionally, I'm in limbo. I KNOW what I should be doing, but I don't know how to get to the next point.  I am learning to be intentional in my thoughts; to be mindful.  This is my plan B. When I start to feel down, I allow myself to feel the heaviness in my heart for just a few minutes, and then I breathe a few deep breaths.  I consciously think, 'why am I thinking these thoughts right now? I can't change how things are, but I can change my thoughts.' I try to identify my trigger, then, I acknowledge, right this moment, something that brings me joy.  I think about those things for which I am grateful.  It doesn't have to be something big.  It could be simple things like the tea I'm sipping, or Toulouse or Berlioz, or the smell of lilacs, as the scent wafts inside my house through my opened windows.  It could be as simple as my flowered bed sheets  or something funny that happened at school.  This is a conscious effort that takes practice.  

I have disliked weekends for a long time now.  I have a to-do list for school and one for home.  Both are extensive, so it isn't hard to work myself to exhaustion.  However, I know that in order to heal, I need to make, and take, time for myself.  I am working on finding balance.  This past Friday night, I stayed after school until about 7, even though I know I will be going back on Sunday to finish planning out my week.  Was I avoiding going home to an empty house?  Yes.  As I pulled into my neighborhood I could feel the loneliness creeping into my mood.  I'll be honest.  There are times when I think, maybe I should just have a few drinks, numb the pain, block out the loneliness.  Except, that isn't me. I am responsible.  Damn it!  

One time, about a year ago...I grabbed the bottle of Marker's Mark from my cabinet when I got home. I sent a text to one of my friends and my sister, knowing full well that my sister was busy.  "Here's what I'm doing...," I said.  My friend responded almost immediately, he's been through a divorce. He understands my pain.  He has healed, and is in his second marriage.  "Three shots only," he told me. I had to promise to put the bottle away.  I kept my promise.  It helped in the moment, but it didn't really help.  Also, I know it is unfair of me to put my burdens on others.  It doesn't matter if my sister, or my friends tell me they don't mind, it is not right.  I am reminded that life is not fair, but life is beautiful.  In order to see the beauty, we need to be proactive and live in the moment. So, plan B.  

Friday night, I knew I was starting to feel the weight of my untethered-ness. I allowed myself to acknowledge my feelings. I even allowed a few tears. Crying is a good way to release.   Tears released, I asked myself, why am I feeling like this?  Answer:  It's the weekend, and it's a holiday.  I don't have enough time to travel to be with my siblings and get done what I need over this weekend, so I will be alone.  I am also on my self-imposed sabbatical from church, and I don't want to attend another church on Easter, especially by myself.  So, no family and no church.  Deep breaths, and center.  I focused my thoughts on what I was grateful about at that very moment.  I was grateful that I had a house to come home to.  I was grateful that I had a bed to lay on, and kittens who are happy to see me. My kitties nuzzled my nose. My mood was shifting.  Earlier in the day, one of my cousins on my dad's side, had asked a bunch of us if anyone had a certain family recipe.  I did, but I was at school when she asked.  Remembering this request, I got off my bed, and I found that recipe.
circa 1963
I shared it with my cousins.  "Look!," I said, "bonus recipe, Pigs Feet!"  (Bleh!!!!) Our parents certainly grew up in a very different time.  

I thought about having a drink, but I came up with a different game plan.  What if I baked the blues away???  I went to the store and I picked up the ingredients to make Easter Cheese, plus a few other things.  I came home and went to work in my kitchen.  I turned on some blues...jazz blues and started creating. 
My Easter Cheese draining.  

First, I made the Easter Cheese.  As kids, my brother and I called it Egg Cheese.  Looking at the ingredient list, Egg Cheese makes sense. 


Over ripe bananas were on my counter...which lead to banana bread being baked.  I also whipped together some basil pesto.  I'll be making focaccia bread to go with the basil pesto and cheese tortellinis.  Fresh bread out of the oven cannot be topped!  

Another thing I know to be true about myself is that I am capable in the kitchen.  I love having a reason to cook and share my culinary talents with others.  

I wasn't planning on getting out Easter decorations, and then my sister unintentionally tore at my heart strings.  She started sending pictures of the decorations she had out. She was sharing decorations that our mom had made.  Crumbs.  Up to my attic I went.  I got out the bare minimum...only treasures crafted by our mother's hand...plus two critters she loved.  

Ceramic treasures created with love.  

I do miss my parents.  Having little treasures like these ceramic bunnies and eggs to pull out help remind me of the care my mom showed in all she did. I am very much like my mom.  Having the hand-written recipes above, remind me of previous generations.  As I read the Pigs Feet recipe, I recalled family members actually eating and enjoying these.  Uck!  It speaks volumes though about what they had or didn't have.  It also emphasized to me how resourceful our prior generations were.  Waste not, want not.

My dad would have celebrated his 84th birthday a few days ago, and my mom would have been 75 this year.  I feel their presence in my home, and in my heart.  

~Lisa Kroll

After my morning edits, I must add these Sunday notes: 

Before I went to write last night, my daughter called.  My kids wanted to use my house to share a movie with their friends.  They wanted to show their movie outdoors!  My house is, and always will be, my children's home.  When I returned from writing, I found my carport had been transformed into a drive-in theatre. Food was grilled, beer bottles opened, the porch swing was moved from out back, and camp chairs were scattered about.  Time for the movie.  

Before I had gone to bed, my kids asked if we could share the late morning today.  My heart smiled. When I woke this morning, I found one child and her bf asleep on the porch swing (it folds down into a bed). I made my way back into my kitchen.  Soon, the smells of coffee and cinnamon scones drifted out into the carport.  Banana bread and Easter Cheese were available, too. My son soon joined us and we had the perfect Easter breakfast.  
Cinnamon Scones

Easter Cheese...with salt

Happy Easter to all.  
God is great, and he has risen indeed!  
I am consciously mindful of how blessed my life really is these days.  

Sunday, April 09, 2017

What brings me joy...

birds singing
finding morels 
spring peepers croaking
deer romping through the woods
blossoms and leaves budding on trees
the color of spring wildflowers 
against the gray-brown ground
white clouds
blue skies

cats and dogs
wild grape vines
 the moon and the stars
turtles, snakes and owls
dark chocolate with a sprinkle of salt
red wine: a Malbec or Shiraz
meaningful conversations
holding hands

witnessing love
vistas at National Parks 
the sunrise each morning
sunsets at the ocean
romantic comedies 
captivating novels
playing games

walks on the beach
hiking in the woods
butterflies and fireflies
 tall green grass with dandelions
fresh air and windows open as I sleep
sea shells and snowflakes
salt lamps and diffusers
music and art

                                                               ~Lisa Kroll      

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sunshine, Small Town Coffee Shops, and a March Snow

It snowed yesterday and last night.  Just a dusting, maybe an inch on the grassy areas and rooftops.  Humans and global warming are messing with the weather.  Living alone, I am the one who puts up the Christmas lights outside my house.  I am also the person who needs to take them down.  I have that task on my list of things to do later this week...it's spring break here, and I'm having a stay-cation.  I don't mind staying home, I have plenty "to do".  As my lights aren't on my list to come down until late in the week...I flipped them on last night.  The rebel in my soul smiled.  Take that unspoken rules!  Twinkle lights on, during a March snow.  

Breaking from my norm, today I am meeting a girl friend.  I still cannot hear.  In addition to not hearing, I also seemed to be unable to read.  Our text clearly says 1o'clock.  I read it as 10.  Time for an adventure!  I spent a short time reassuring my friend I am perfectly fine.  My bad, I read our message wrong.  I'll see her, when I see her.  Then, I checked google maps...what local coffee shops are here?  I am a lover of small town coffee shops!  I am out of town for the day.  It feels good to break from my routine.  It's refreshing to go where I can watch the world around me, while I contemplate about how blessed I truly am.  

Friendships.  I know I've said this before, they are precious to me.  Every chance I get, I love connecting with my friends. Most particularly... I cherish connecting with this friend.  She's been my confidant for a very long time.  Sometimes, I feel like she's my guardian angel here on Earth.  I am not sure she understands how much she really means to me.  I know we 'watch' one another on social media.  My heart radiates happiness when I see pictures of her smiling with her own children, or with her grandchildren.  Our friendship is deeper than that though.  She knows my secrets, both from long ago and more recent.  She knows my heart ache, and she knows my joy.  She is witnessing my rebirth.  When I stumble and am feeling like I'm free falling, her words scoop me up, and ground me.  She is to be credited with helping me move forward emotionally.  I don't think there is anything I wouldn't do for her.  

We all need a friend like this.  We all need a friend who truly loves every ounce of our being.  A friend who accepts us as we are, whether we are perfect or not.  We all need someone to whom we can tell our deepest secrets.  I believe we all need this kind of a friendship, and it needs to lay with someone with whom we aren't romantically involved. And we all need this friend, who can, on a whim, meet us for lunch...even when they don't live in the same town.   

As I look out on the busy main street, the sunshine streaming in is warming my body.  I am watching the people who are entering and dining in this little place.  Groups of men...co-workers, maybe and several couples.  Many couples are older, the one nearest to me is sharing a BLT.  They are talking and laughing.  I can't hear details of the conversations, but I can hear the laughter and feel the happiness that is adding to the ambience.   Local coffee shops are on the fringes of mainstream life.  Friendships, like coffee shops, can offer a place of safety, a place of connectedness, and a place of peace. 

I am grateful for my adventure this morning, and the opportunity to witness the happiness of others.  

I am grateful I have a friend whom I can hug.  I can't wait to see her!  


Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Heal...

Gosh, I wish there was an instruction book for this. 

I am currently dealing with an ear infection.  It is s-l-o-w to heal.  I did one round of a Z-Pak, called the doctor because I felt it wasn't working on day five, and they told me to be patient.  

Hey, I have a joke for you.  
I'll be Person A (PA), you can be Person B (PB).  

PA:  Knock, Knock
PB: Who's there? 
PA: Impatient Cow. 
PB: Impa...
PA: MOO!  

This is not a new realization: I am tolerant, but I am not a very patient person.  

I have been without my hearing in my left ear for over a week.  Today is day 10.  I feel it is suddenly going to come back any minute, or in an hour, but I have felt like this for the past three days.  I am tired of not being able to hear.  I can handle being sick, but not hearing....ugh. 

When my dad died back in 1985, I thought my family would never heal from that loss.  We did though.  Time seems to have a magical power.  With time, one is allowed to put distance between the hurt and reality; so one can deal with the stressors.  Time doesn't make it, the thing that caused the pain go away.  Wouldn't THAT be wonderful! Instead, time allows the stages of grief to progress.  Time allows healing to take place, so one can rationally accept how life plays out.  Time allows us to deal with pain and loss, and take away lessons.  In the same way, time is needed for a body to heal from illness. I know my mind needs to relax.  I am sitting in a holding pattern right now.  Clearance to land, has not yet been granted.  

My divorce has hurt my soul more than I'd like.  I wish I could just heal all ready from that.  I don't want to be angry.  I don't want to be sad.  I don't want to feel so alone.  But, I also don't want to forget.  I don't want to be hurt again.  I want to be confident and secure with myself.  I want to feel like someone another might want to hang out and be seen with, and share time.  I feel I don't have many friends who are single and my age.  I am living with the 'odd man out' feeling.  I am aware of not being invited to do things, I mean really, who wants to have the divorced woman sitting there?  Awkward.  I get it.  Conversations, both spoken and silent, become uncomfortable...'hey, Lisa, there's a guy for you.'  Funny, but not really.  I am sensitive to conversations.  When you hang out with married people, guess what gets talked about? I have no one to complain or brag about.  I go home to my cats.  Who wants to hear stories about my cat's antics all the time?  I love my pets, but I don't want to become a crazy cat lady.  When you hang out with single people, those conversations have a certain theme too.  Oh time, work your magic on me, please.   

Time does not heal.  It only offers spacial distance.  In order to truly heal, one needs to learn from the past, make changes, and be proactive.  Only then can one move forward.  This spring I am trying to make changes.  I need more friends.  Oxymoron, I know.  Social being needs more friends.  It's true.  I need more friends.  I need people in my life who want to do things.  I need to find souls who want to get out and have fun.  I am dying slowly each day just working and coming home, and being sick hasn't helped my state of mind.  I can easily be a work-a-holic, but I don't want to be.  I need to nourish the other parts that make up me.  I need to get out!  Being proactive, I have signed up for a class.  Learning and music are two things I enjoy.  In a few weeks, I'll start a five week class on the History of Jazz in my community.  I can't wait!  I am also looking seriously into joining a writing group.  

In the mean time, I turn the music up and dance like no one is watching!  Literally.  My custodian walked in on me last week one night after school.  He said, I guess you still can't and didn't hear me knocking.  He was right.  I kept dancing.  

And I will keep dancing....

~Lisa Kroll
      slowing healing, but healing.  
      turning the music up, and dancing.
      grateful for all I have, and smiling. 

Blogging music:  I had my headphones in so I would look cool.  Ed was playing, after I tried listening to some new stuff on Spotify.  Honestly, I had Adagio for Strings (Samuel Barber) on my brain.  I heard it playing on the radio before I walked out the door.  The Dover Quartet was on A Prairie Home Companion - rebroadcast of Nov. 12, 2016. I am an NPR junkie.  What a beautiful, emotion filled song.  I also had the image of my ballerina and her friends dancing on stage to this song, with a single spot light shining on them from stage right.  Images are powerful.  Music triggers memories, and smiles.   

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Take me to Church...

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ
Growing up, church was an important part of my life.  On Saturday afternoons, or Sunday mornings my family went to church.  One hour a week, this was our routine.  Church was where my mother's, and my father's family came together.  Polish, Italian and Irish, it was one thing they had in common. My church gave me a sense of place in the community. I was taught the rules from a very early age, and I knew how to belong.  

Annually, there was a church picnic to attend. Most of my spiritual socializing happened after church, as my parents would catch up with other parents/adults they'd only see weekly. Church was a place that was safe, where I worshipped with my friends. Catholic school wasn't something my parents could afford, so I was public school educated.  My formal religious education started when I was 7 years old.  I can still recall that late May day in 1972 when I made my first communion. I wore a short, white dress that had a chiffon overlay.  I was adorned with white, lace anklets, white patent leather shoes and little white gloves.  My first communion head piece made me feel like a mini-bride, or princess of the church.  It was just myself on the alter, and one other little girl.  After making our first communion, we were greeted by the congregation.  We stood on either side of the Priest.  Nowadays, entire classes of children make their first communion.  I attended catechism along side peers who were my church family.  After catechism, there were confirmation classes to attend.  My confirmation discussion class was very small, just a half dozen of us.  Today, I still have a few of those friends in my life.  Clearly, the Catholic church influenced my becoming who I am.

Right now, I find myself wondering where does my heart belong?  Is the Catholic church still right for me, or have my beliefs changed?  Do I believe in the rigidity of the Catholic church, or more in the ideology of belonging to a church? I know I have become a more aware, spiritual being as I have aged.  My life experiences have been anything but rigid or predictable, and they have influenced my thoughts.   

On February 12, I sat in church and listened to the words being spoken. I felt I was being spoken to directly and I can't shake the feeling I received from the message that day.  I felt a pain in my religious being; as if a nail was being hammered into the coffin of my soul closing me off from the church. I was made to feel that I was a sinner and beyond redemption.  The gospel reading dictated what was being preached.  Rationally, I know the gospel is a group of words from a very long time ago.  Surely humanity has grown and changed in it's beliefs?  Yet in 2017, many churches continue to read old words, and repeat history.  I suppose that is to be expected because the old words in bibles, etc have given so many comfort, and a certain amount of wisdom.  There are lessons to be taken from history.  Sometimes, history keeps people bound to old ways.  Change is not encouraged.  For me, the effects from that Sunday are making me rethink what having religion in my life means.  More precisely, what the Catholic faith means to me.  The full gospel reading was Matthew 5: 17-37.  What struck me first, were the words spoken on the alter that morning to start mass...'you should strive to: "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."' (Matthew 4:48)

When I hear the words 'be perfect',  I feel that means you need to live up to some set standards that have been defined by someone else.  My history has shown me that I cannot be someone else's idea of perfect. I feel I'm being set up to fail.  

The second thing that caused me pause, was how much of a misfit I feel in my own church. I truly feel like an outcast.  Matthew 5:32 "But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of illicit marriage, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

As those words were read, I felt a bright, scarlet A was suddenly floating over my head, and I was sure all could see it glowing.  How can I even think of being perfect in the church's eyes?  Those exact words are in the bible.  Written when?, but spoken today...in 2017.

When I returned to the Catholic church several years ago, I returned after spending years feeling I was disappointing my mom.  I was married in the Catholic church, but I didn't raise my children to be Catholics.  Their father was not and I thought I could raise my children to be good Christians who understand there is more than one way to worship, to love and to care for all.  I believe in my heart I have been successful in achieving this goal.  But in the rest of my history, my mom first told me when she found out I wasn't attending church at all, "any church would be better than no church" in my kids life.  I agreed.  So I chose the church that my husband attended.  The pleaser in me wanted to make everyone happy.  The church that we attended, I found inspiring.  I became an active member.  It was a Christian based church - Geist Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.  I recall one time asking my mom if she would buy a raffle ticket for our church hog roast.  She told me she wasn't into supporting other religions. Ouch. Later in my child raising years, my mom told me she felt she was going to Hell because she failed as a mother.  Enter Catholic guilt.  "Two of my three children didn't turn out Catholic," my mother told me.  My response was she still had a chance with her youngest child.  My sister is the reason my mom went to Heaven.  Not my brother, and certainly not me.  My returning to the Catholic church was after my mom died.  I'm not sure I even believe in Heaven or Hell.  I'm more of the kind who believes spirits are all around us.  I do believe my mom was at peace when she passed away.  She was an incredibly, wonderful soul and I'm sure she found her place in Heaven.  Maybe my returning to church was to appease God on her behalf.  I know I did find comfort in the rituals and routine of church.  It was something familiar that I returned to.  Maybe I needed that familiarity to help get through the challenges in my life that would soon follow.

I tried to talk with one of the priests early in my deteriorating marriage, my husband had made it clear we were not something he wanted any more.  The priest told me he could see there was still love in my heart for my husband.  He told me I would find a way to make it work out. He said all would be fine. 

Months later, I tried attending an over 50's group potluck at church.  I was looking for support.  When I walked into the potluck, I realized it was not billed accurately. It was really a couples group.  They said "everyone was welcomed", but it was a couples group, and I was clearly the odd man out.  Call me Esther. Upon first walking in, I was asked if I was really over 50.  When I jokingly said, "do you need to see my drivers license," I was told yes.  I laughed uncomfortably, but did not reveal my license.  Minutes later I met the Deacon.  His first question was, "Where is your husband?"  I felt like a leper. There were single women there, but they had lost their husbands to death.  They were to be pitied.  They were accepted.  I understand that being divorced in the Catholic church means something very different in the church doctrine versus in the congregation.  The Catholic church offered me no support through my divorce. There was a divorce support group offered at another Christian based church in town.  I reached out, and I went there. I attended two rounds of a 13-week program. During those 26 weeks, my eyes were opened a little.  But I told myself, you're Catholic. That's your home. That's where you belong.  

Being honest, I have not felt like there is a place for me at my church.  I do see familiar faces when I enter the sanctuary.  There are 'regulars' I sit near, greet and know by name.  Many families and couples fill the pews around me.  I have enjoyed the ritual and routine of church.  As I rediscovered my love for music, singing the traditional songs at mass has also been nice. There is comfort in knowing the routine, and in knowing the expectations.  Is familiarity what I am looking for?  Or am I looking for acceptance? 

The old school mentality in the Catholic church cannot live forever, can it?  Surly the unrealistic demands on the rest of society will fade and change as the population demographic changes.  I do not think I can wait for the church to catch up to me.  My church is physically hurting my soul.  Maybe the message that followed the gospel reading that morning was one of acceptance and change.  Honestly, I was trying to stay focused on keeping my silent tears at bay so I didn't fully hear what was being said.  I was really sure my scarlet A was now attached to a large arrow pointing directly at my head.  Right here, it was saying.  Adulteress.  Right here.  I know I didn't do anything wrong.  But I am divorced and attending church.  I do not have plans to get my marriage annulled.  I was married for a long time. I made a commitment, and was honoring it.  I didn't make a mistake.  My children were created out of love, even if it was only love on my end.  I will not make them bastards, as my grandmother, rest her soul, would tell me they will become if I annul my marriage.  In the back of my head, I faintly heard the homily preaching family values.  It is important for core family values to remain strong in the Catholic church.  I understand their position.  Families need safe places they can go, as families.  But, I am divorced.  Yes, I heard something mentioned about gay marriages now to consider. The rest of what I heard was delivered without the conviction that love is love, or that we should love and accept one another. And not once was it said that we are perfect just as we are.

What I am realizing about myself is that I am not only discovering who it is that makes up me in my emotional life, or discovering who I am physically.   I am also discovering whom I am in my spiritual life.  This transformation I am going through is truly a complete transformation.

Spiritually, I think it's time for me to step away from my Catholic roots, at least for now.  I cannot attend a church that continues to endorse old norms.  I cannot attend a church that doesn't nourish me.  I cannot attend a church that hasn't changed as I have changed.  I cannot attend a church that doesn't grow.  I am perfectly me.  I'll admit, I don't quite see it yet, but I am.  I am a divorced person who is still capable of love, and tolerance, and acceptance, and who needs a church who preaches the same, while being able to nourish my soul.  I need a church who doesn't belittle her flock, but instead builds them up and makes a difference in this world.  We only have a short time on this planet.  I need to feel I am making a difference. I don't need to feel that I am less than acceptable.  

Change may be good, but change IS hard.  It's hard to break from the familiar and go to the unknown.  I've spent the past several years charting a new course for myself.  I didn't expect to be alone.  This has been hard, but it has also been good.  I wake each day feeling rested, happy, and grateful for another day on this wonderful planet.  

Not too long ago, this was not how I woke up.  I used to wake up being anxious.  I silently wondered what would I do today that was wrong?  I went to sleep each night feeling I needed to stay on a certain amount of the bed, not make any noises, and control all else.  Literally I needed to control ALL ELSE..things beyond my control: water dripping from the faucet, a dog barking at night.  As I closed my eyes to sleep, I would silently cry and wonder what was wrong with me?  I would physically lay on my stomach and tuck my right hand between the mattress and the box spring.  If during my slumber, I inadvertently rolled over my two foot limit (I sleep in a queen sized bed), I was shaken awake and told my offense.  If the toilet was stuck and running a little or a faucet was dripping, I was shaken awake and asked, "don't you hear that?" If the dog was barking at something out in the back yard at night and I didn't hear it, I was hostilely told "That god dammed dog was barking again last night.  I can't believe you didn't hear him." And if W happened to be barking before I fell asleep, I knew I needed to go and try to hush him.  If I didn't, the passive aggressive mannerisms, heavier than necessary footsteps to the basement and back, reminded me that I was at fault, yet again. Behind closed doors.  Emotional abuse.  Unseen by all, but felt deeply by those in it's path.  I am learning to let this go.  I am learning to recognize the patterns and put myself first.  I have felt crazy, but I am not.  

Again, change is hard.  Initially, I knew the crazy in my life, I knew my place, and I thought I knew how to manage it all.  I was willing to sacrifice to keep things as status quo. I hadn't realized there might be something different out in the world, or that the different might be something even better.  Daily I prove to myself, that I am capable of surviving the challenges and changes that fill my life.  I am not only surviving, but I am healing and happier.  Maybe it's time for me to reevaluate the place a church holds in my heart.  If I have been able to experience such positives in one area of my life...maybe I can feel those positive in other areas too?  Hm.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, top side, Sedona, AZ
I plan on praying over what the correct option spiritually might be for me.  I think I might take a sabbatical from my Catholic faith.  Maybe I'm becoming a spiritual vagabond, or maybe I'm becoming more enlightened.  

In 2013, I traveled alone on a walkabout that was the kick start to me discovering who I was once again.  I went out west to the Grand Canyon and Sedona for just under two weeks.  While in Sedona, I visited a church that was built right into the side of the rocks.  I can tell you, my spirit was touched and filled with peace and happiness while there.  I felt welcomed.  There were no set expectations on me.  I was allowed to just be me, and to shine as brightly as I could.  

Maybe it's time I stop trying to fit myself into defined, and confining boxes.  


Ed Sheeran came out with his third album yesterday.  It's called Divide and I am overdosing on it.  I currently have his songs "What do I know?" and "Save Myself" on repeat.  

From the wisdom of Ed...

          "Remember life is more than fitting in your jeans, its
          Love and Understanding, postivity.  

          Love can change the world in a moment, 
          But what do I know."  

Maybe I need to go to the church of Ed Sheeran for awhile.  :)
I know I do need to allow myself to fall in love, completely, with all I do.

          ...."And before I love someone else, I've got to love myself"

~Lisa Kroll, 
eating, praying and still learning to loving this person who is me. 

Blogging music:  
When I first wrote this pots, I was listening to the music of Amos Lee, from his album Spirit.
My editing music has been from Divide, by Ed Sheeran.  
And, although it's a tad sacrilegious...SNC singing "Take Me to Church". 

Humor has a place in my soul.  
The power of words through lyrics 
and stories 
inspire me 
and help me dream.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Castle on the Hill

Lyric excerpts from Castle on The Hill, by Ed Sheeran

"Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I've grown
But I can't wait to go home
I'm on my way
Driving at ninety down those country lanes
Singing to "Tiny Dancer"
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One's brother overdosed
One's already on his second wife
One's just barely getting by
But these people raised me and I can't wait to go home
And I'm on my way, I still remember
This old country lanes
When we did not know the answers
And I miss the way you make me feel, it's real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill"


Sunset over the Castle in Chicago
Shared pains.
Growing up.
Being Real.

Friendships are precious.

What does a boy of almost 26 know of reconnection's?  Recently, Ed Sheeran released two new songs, his next album is due out on March 3rd.  When I initially listened to both songs I was immediately drawn to the sure-to-be number 1 dance song, Shape of You.  Upon further listening...it is his song Castle on the Hill that touches my soul. It's a song about returning home.  

In January, I reconnected with a few of my high school friends.  We spent the better part of a long weekend in Chicago.  What a blast!  I grew up in a community that was nestled in the cornfields of northern Indiana.  Most of these people I shared the weekend with, I first met when I was 11 years old.

Back in our high school days, we branched out from the safety of the cornfields once in awhile, and headed to the big city of Chicago for fun.  I recall thinking Chicago was ginormous.  My parents wouldn't let me go there without an adult present.  Thankfully, we had teachers who realized, high school students who live among the cornfields, needed to be exposed to culture.  IN MY DAY...teachers could drive a carload of students places without worry of accusations.  More likely accusations happened, but the teachers really knew the families of the students they were putting in their cars.  I think I grew up in a smaller world.  

We had an English teacher who would periodically take a group of us into the city to eat pizza at the Rathskeller, or Gino's.  We would also go to see Second City.  That was in the day when comedians Mary Gross, and Jim Belushi were on the main stage.  Occasionally, we'd head to Chicago to see a musical or eat an authentic meal: Mexican or French depending on what language one was studying. My love for live theatre was born when I was in high school, as I recall seeing both Evita and Annie live. I am thankful for the English, Spanish, French, Music and Band teachers I had growing up.    

The take away from my teachers...respect other cultures, and the Arts are important.

Today I am that "adult present" my parents long ago required. I drove my own car north into the Windy City from my little Southern Indiana town.  I was one of seven high school friends who came together for a mini-reunion.  We came from Northern and Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois and California.  We dined at Gino's, then headed to The Second City Main Stage.  Some history is worth repeating.  One in our group announced to our waitress that we were celebrating our high school reunion.  He told her if she could guess how long it's been, he'd give her a one hundred dollar tip.  Seconds later there was a loud, collective burst of "Oh My Gosh!!!!" when she said, "thirty-five." Amazing!  Or was it?  *wink, wink.  She did get that one hundred dollar tip.  

The show was a blast.  When it was over, 10:15 seemed too early to end the fun even though I know personally, my life as a first grade teacher finds me ready for bed shortly after I get home each night.  It was suggested we should go to a nearby (Uber ride away) bar, called The Original Mother's. Apparently Rob Lowe was in a movie that featured this bar.  Sadly, he wasn't to be seen on our visit.  We did play a non-traditional game of Beer Pong where we did not consume beer.  Two of us sang a karaoke duet to "Summer Loving," from Grease.  There is a video, but it's not blackmail worthy.  Both singers had a blast, with one having his own doo wop posse. 

The next day was filled with shopping at The Water Tower Place, followed by a decadent late afternoon lunch at the Ralph Lauren Club.  

When it was near dinner time we weren't anywhere close to being hungry.  One in our group made a small mention that her daughter is managing a hotel nearby.  Off we went on another short Uber ride; we all wanted to meet this beautiful young offspring of our childhood friend. As it was still too soon for dinner, we decided to catch a show before we dined.  This weekend was filled with many firsts.  

We headed to the world famous Baton Show Lounge that features female impersonators.  Holy crumbs, were they great!  Despite the group next to us embarrassing themselves with a party member who had too-much-something before they arrived, we had a wonderfully, entertaining evening.  All of the females in our group commented how intimidated they felt by the performers. The performers were sensual, curvaceous, owned their bodies, were flirtatious...and, yes a little outrageous!  As we were leaving, I stopped to tell the owner how much I enjoyed the evening. When we arrived that night, playing on a large screen over the stage was a video loop. The video explained how The Baton got it's name.  The owner, Jim Flint, twirled baton 47 years ago.  Well, so did I.  On a whim, I asked if he twirled and competed against another fairly famous Indiana baton twirler.  He had!  I knew it!  So had I!!!  I recall just one boy in the area who twirled when I was growing up...not including my brother and friend, Gordon, who were made to take a year of twirling due to complaining and competing with their sisters.  I am sure it was likely Jim.  Small world!

As we left The Baton, the male in our group was asked if he was follicly challenged?  Gathered on the sidewalk was a bachelorette party, on a scavenger hunt.  They needed to take a picture of the bride-to-be kissing a bald head.  My friend is such a good sport!  Payment came in the form of small jello filled cups for all.  Have you seen the movie, The Hangover?  I was sure one of us was going to end up sleeping on the roof of our hotel!  Strangers, on the streets of Chicago, offering Jello Shots out of a plastic Wal-Mart bag.  Oh my goodness! This evening really was to be filled with firsts.

At 10:30, we were now ready for dinner.  Off we headed to The Purple Pig where we shared, gourmet tapas plates.  Perfection!  Laughter filled the rest of the waning evening.  We opted to walk back to the hotel so we could enjoy the global warming effecting our January visit to the Windy City.  The walk home was filled with questions and curiosities about the performers from The Baton.  The costumes were very revealing...

Our weekend came to an end the next morning.  We shared breakfast at another wonderful eatery, the Tempo Cafe.


What I have failed to mention is that all weekend long, there were little conversations that happened.  Sometimes two of us would get a chance to have a private conversation and rediscover who our former friends had grown to become.  We re-discovered...we are all beautiful human beings, and discovered we all survivors. We are survivors of the challenges life has offered.  In our presence was kindness, authenticity, acceptance, and maturity.   There was a realization of deeper connections that happened over those few days we shared. When you are older, and reconnect with those you knew growing up, you realize you didn't really know that person as a 17 or 18 year old.  How could you?  That person wasn't finished become the person they were meant to become.  Or maybe, they hadn't yet been colored by life.  They hadn't had the time to develop into the layered, intellectual soul they were meant to become.

Some people have things happen when they are young that does color them.  Most of us are able to survive our teens, and twenties without much damage.  I think it's typical that one hits 30, and life becomes more challenge filled. Not Adulting is NOT an option after a certain age is reached. (adult used here as a verb) By fifty, many are married, may have kids and/or possibly have gone through a broken relationship.  Our parents are starting to age, and their, or our, own health issues may be starting to rear their ugly heads.  The realization that one's career/dreams are not being reached means we start to re-evaluate what it is that we are really chasing.

When connecting with old friends, one can reminisce about events from one's youth, but the real connections begin when one realizes that none are completely comfortable in their own skin.  That doesn't mean we aren't comfortable.  What I am trying to say is that what others may presume to be true, may in fact not be true. Before I met my friends that weekend, I was thinking...these people were so beautiful when we were young.  Today they are even more beautiful AND successful. How can I even compare?  What ended up happening was I shared my weekend with real people.  They ARE beautiful and successful, but they are also very human.  I didn't really know that before.  My definitions for beauty and success are so different now than what they were when I was young.  For some reason, I was stuck with those old definitions in my brain.  

There is a certain safety in returning "home".  I ask again, how does a boy of almost 26 know of such reconnections?  Ed Sheeran, I admire your insights.  

~Lisa Kroll, healing with the help of my friends. 

Tonight's blogging music:  

Inspired by Ed Sheeran's, Castle on the Hill single to be released on his new album called Divide. Due out on March 3, 2017.  

Editing music: Music from the album Spirit by Amos Lee. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Loose strings...Don't pull, cut them!  That's the rule.  If one pulls a loose thread, the edge of whatever the thread is attached to will unravel. Then what?  The edge may slowly, or quickly, fray.  

On the other hand, when given a helium-filled balloon, one holds tightly to the string.  Sometimes, the string is circled around, and around something, before being tied securely, and anchored down.  Time and again, strings for balloons work their way lose.  They either aren't secured properly, or they slip through fingers, whose owner was sure they had a tight grip.  Once untethered, helium-filled balloons drift, higher and higher.  It is believed they reach a certain height and then explode, shattering into many tiny shards, before returning to Earth.  

Lately, I have felt untethered.  When my marriage ended, I was left with most of the responsibilities we had shared together.  A major part included the family pets.  One was a diabetic and needed shots twice a day.  Never mind the cost of her medicine and needles, she required a lot of time management. I was tied to her by time constraints.  The other responsibility was the family dog who was 14-years old.  The typical lifespan of his breed is 10-12 years, which makes me realize he had a purpose for coming into our family. Dogs can't be left for days without human interaction.  He needed companionship, food, fresh water, and walking.  So did I.  I was tied to being home for him each night. New, to the full-time work force, and as a first year teacher, I couldn't spend as many long hours as I would have liked working in my classroom.  I'm sure that was a blessing in disguise. The end of my family pet responsibilities happened when both had their lives come to an end, within three months of one another.  The emotional fallout from their loss is still with me. It's only been a few months.  Sitting near Lily as she took her last breath in September has seared a spot in my brain, and on my heart.  I had no partner to be by my side.  For better or worse... I had to do that night alone.  I am capable.  I can do alone, and I did.  In early December, Winston started having troubles.  He was a large dog, and Lily's passing was so fresh in my brain...I knew I couldn't handle him dying at home.  Again, I had no partner to help make that decision.  I had to do that night alone too.  I am capable.  I can do alone, and I did, again.  But something broke in me that night.  The ties to my past life were suddenly gone.  I was set free.  I am untethered.  I am drifting.  I wonder if balloons can look down and see the beauty beneath them? Actually, I wonder if there is beauty below?  I search the Internet, I see pictures from satellites of planet Earth...Is that beauty an illusion?   I am not seeing the beauty yet beneath my untethered self. 

When a person is married, there are constraints.  Expectations.  Roles to be filled.  Different people perform different roles.  As I grew up, I believed the roles to be more defined.  Nowadays, the roles are neither defined nor are they gender specific.  I believe marriages today need to be more like partnerships. I don't believe my ex and I were very good examples of a true partnership. There was give, and there was take.  But there was not real give-and-take. Narcissists are incapable of giving without taking.  I look at my adult children and know they will find someone to share their lives.  They will likely grow with that person. At least that is my hope. I hope they form wonderful partnerships. I know, that won't happen for me at this stage. I think at my age, I'm not sure I can grow with anyone. I am fairly well defined as a person. I am more than capable.  I can do alone. I am responsible. I can take care of myself. I can pay my mortgage and bills. I can cook for one, although I have experience cooking for many.  I can manage my yard. I can work full time. I can go wherever I want: traveling, the movies... whenever I want... and I can do it by myself. I don't need to be taken care of.  I can solve my own problems, although I am grateful that I have friends I can call when I need.  Calling on others for help is not something I am used to doing.  For 27 years, when I showed weakness...and needing help was weakness...I was made to feel there was something pathetic about me.  So, my being able to ask for help...that's a big deal.  

Untethered.  Will I drift higher and higher until I shatter into a million little pieces?  What will happen after that?  Is this the time when I need to embrace myself for whom I am?  Learn to love myself?  Give myself a break?  Oh, my heart is so broken.  Maybe it's all ready shattered.  I want to be brave and let someone else in to help me piece my heart back together. I need someone who is farther along on this journey.  I need someone to enter my life who has what I have, but maybe he has even more.  I need someone who has more to give; someone who enjoys the things I enjoy, and can offer me new experiences. I need that person to not only help me see the beauty, but want to experience that beauty with me by his side. Yes, I want to be swept off my feet. I want to be romanced. I want to be wowed, and wooed. I am drifting. I am not ready to shatter.  I've done old married couple, and I don't want to repeat my past. I'm not saying I don't ever want to be married again. I just know I need more now.  Looking back, I feel I let myself be made to play a certain role in my marriage, I was being put into a well-defined box.  I no longer see myself as fitting into any box.  As Laura Petrie found out when she opened a box delivered to her house, once out, it's hard to stuff something back into a container that is so confining.  (view video from 20:35, for fun.  From: The Curious Thing about Women episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Air date: January 10, 1962) 

If asked, my defense mechanism is to say that I've had my chance at love. My heart doesn't really believe that, but I am so scared of being hurt again.  Maybe, I'm just not healed enough yet. Time...please work your magic. I do feel very untethered right now, in this place and in this time.  

~Lisa Kroll
        untethered, wanderer, animal and nature loving, romantic, adventure seeking soul, who cannot be contained...still eating, praying and loving, but working on loving me these days as I continue to find my voice.