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

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Blooming Elsewhere...

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following me.

I have written as Hootie for so long, and I have experienced so much. I am no longer the same person I once was and my writing reflects that.  

I have recently discovered a book of poems, whose author's words have touched my soul.

I leave you, as Hootie, with her words:

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
in order to bloom

~rupi kaur

Wise readers and friends will find my new blog.

Yours fondly, 
~Lisa Kroll

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Summer Without....

At the beginning of summer, I made a decision.  

No dating apps.

I had found myself checking my phone way too much for a validation that wasn't happening. My self worth was starting to tank, and I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself. I had been thinking, What is wrong with me?  Why doesn't anyone want to date me?  Why aren't people I am interested in on line interested in me?  So, I gave myself permission to stop that crap. I wasn't going to pay for stressing myself out any more. If I am meant to meet someone, or be with someone...it will happen.

My thoughts are that one day, one of my friends might think of someone who would be a fun match for me.  Or maybe one of my students will have a single, my-age, grandfather.  Then, if that person and I are meant to be together, it will happen.  I know one can't predict or control attraction. When I meet the right person, we will hang out, do things people who want to get to know one another do, talk and either click, or not.

To combat the lonely moments I felt, I filled my time with things I like to do: self care things. I read, wrote, cleaned out old papers, de-cluttered my computer, worked on house projects, or things for my classroom. I put together puzzles and baked MY favorite cookies. I was also spontaneous with my girl friends. I found that whole 'if you build it, they will come' thing works! If I wanted companionship, I just needed to ask. 

One beautiful weathered night, I just wanted to sit out back on my deck, and drink wine with friends. So I made it happen. Another time, a friend from school and I planned a Ladies Game Night, and we played Cards Against Humanity. I must admit, it was the most polite game of CAH I've ever played. I think we needed more alcohol, or maybe a different, cleaner game for the crew invited. One night, I took Toby to an outdoor concert, figuring the worse thing that could happen is I'd be asked to leave if dogs weren't allowed. Another night I called a theatre in a nearby town and inquired if tickets were still available for that night's performance. I just had enough time to get there...so I went. I ended up sitting in the front row. Spur of the moment live theatre! I binge watched shows until the wee hours of the morning. I laughed out loud at stupid, funny movies that I've always wanted to see. I allowed myself to fall asleep, and spend the entire night on the couch, too. I didn't even brush my teeth that night.  Such a rebel! 

In the end, it was still a hard summer. I still had low moments, and I still worry I'll be alone forever. My sister reminds me often that as humans, we aren't meant to be alone. I am grateful for my summer break to be over. I am happy to be back into the chaos of my classroom. 

I am trying to have faith that my someone is still out there.  

Maybe he's working on healing himself, just as I am.

~Lisa Kroll, 
     simple wonder woman, creator of my own happiness, lover of life, and human being

---------- Listening to  Rachel Platten, Fight Song; Family of the Year, Hero; Ruth B, Lost Boy; and my Instrumental Playlist...songs by The Piano Guys and Simply Three.  

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Toby versus Peppé le Pew

When Toby goes outside, he has a happy saunter that he hadn't had when I first brought him home in December.  I commented on this to a friend, and they confirmed my observation.  It's amazing what love can do for an animal.  Together, Toby and I make a happy team,  I love watching him when he's outside, as he patrols his yard.  

A few weeks ago, I heard Toby going crazy inside, at the back window.  Something was outside, and he wanted whatever it was. I looked and saw a skunk underneath my bird feeders, eating fallen seed. Needless to say, Toby was not allowed outside.  I snuck out of the house through another door, and shooed our new friend away.  THEN, I let Toby out.  Knowing now that I had a skunk, I was on high alert and cautious whenever I let Toby out.  A few times, I did have to clap my hands and talk loudly to make Peppé leave the yard.  

Last night, I thought Toby wasn't feeling well.  It was 11:30 pm, I had just taken him out front and we were headed to bed, when he ran downstairs and was whining at the door.  I followed him down, looked before I opened the door, let him out and then...OH, CRUMBS!!!!!  The skunk WAS out back.  

I was yelling like a crazy woman, "TOBY!  NO!!!!"  Over and over!  I was hoping my hunter's instinct to listen to me was stronger than his instinct to get the skunk.  I knew better, but I hoped.  

Toby is very fast and he kept charging the skunk. He was barring his teeth and barking like a mad hunter at the skunk's face. The skunk was maybe a little confused by the crazy lady shouting and the fast, very large and loud dog protecting his yard, that he struggled to turn his backside towards Toby.  

As he tried to run to under my deck, which has wire almost completely to the ground to keep my dog from escaping, Toby was right by his side.  Peppé did wiggle under the deck, and then he sprayed. He didn't get Toby.  What a lucky dog.  

I have all the supplies I need to wash a skunk tagged dog: baking soda, peroxide and Dawn dish soap.  Unused, they are spending another day sitting in my cleaning supply closet.  

I am sure Toby may not be so lucky the next time.  Hopefully, THIS skunk has learned his lesson. 
Last night, my happy dog did not need a bath, 
and he slept snuggled on top of my bed.  
Just like every night.  

~Lisa Kroll
     Guardian of Toby, the luckiest dog of The Burrow

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Feeling Grounded

My mind seems to have settled down over these past few years.
I am grateful.

It once raced to the point that I thought my head was going to explode, or maybe I was going crazy. The emotions inside me were frantically all wanting to be heard at once. My head would pound. My eyes struggled to focus as the pain behind them made me simply want to shut my eyes and tune out the World. Sometimes, I would physically feel my body clench up as my fists pulled inward, towards my racing heart. My arms would close in as well. Instinctively, I'd collapse into a fetal like position, even if I was standing. My body was trying to close off all external stimuli.

Overload.  Capacity full.

Deep breath.

Talk therapy helped.

I wasn't going crazy.
Life was changing, and I wasn't insane.
I was very normal.
Our bodies are amazing, and mine sensed the high stress levels; it was trying to protect me in the best way it could.

I needed to learn to be in the moment.
I needed to learn to be mindful.

Inhale deeply through my nose.
Hold that breath, and focus on taking it deep down into my lungs.
Feel it.
Exhale through my mouth, loudly, making sure all air is expelled, but note the sound of the rushing air as it goes over my teeth and through my lips.  Feel my stress dissipating into space, leaving me cleansed.  No longer is the stress inside me.  When I am mindful, I am very aware of all around me, and of my own being. In the moment, I am here. I am fine.

Rational thoughts slowly permeated the chaos inside my head.

You are fine, I'd tell myself.
You are strong.
You can do this.
You are going to be all right.
You are going to be better than all right.
You will survive (cue Gloria Gaynor, huh?)

I look in the mirror, and tell my reflection,
You are perfect.
You have everything you need.
You are enough.  You are blessed.  

Let's be honest, we live in a harsh world.  We need to practice self care, and that means nourishing our own souls. We need to start by being positive, and loving ourselves.  It truly is the only way we can completely love others.


My morning routine after I wake up, is to take Toby downstairs, let him out back, and wait inside for him to do his business.  A few days ago, if my neighbors were watching, they might have witnessed something different, and personal.

I walked into the middle of my backyard as Toby went out, and I inhaled deeply.  The sounds of the birds singing in the trees filled my ears.  The smell of the fresh mowed grass filled my nose.  The sparkle of the sun peeking through the green leaves, reflecting the morning dew touched my eyes, and the warmth of the Earth nuzzled my bare feet.  I drank in the moment and allowed it to linger on and in me for over five minutes.  I just stood in my backyard, breathing deeply.  My heart filled with joy and I felt something come alive inside me.  I realized I was feeling grounded.  Literally, the Earth was claiming me as hers.  The beauty of those moments were filling my soul.

I am strong.

I am better than all right.

I am living as I am meant to be living.

I have everything I need.  I am blessed.  

                     ~Lisa Kroll
                            grounded, happy, perfect

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Grand Memories...

Social media reminded me yesterday morning, just five short years ago I was standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. What a transforming trip. What a wonderful memory. At the time, I had no idea how much that trip was preparing me for my future.

Five years ago, I was alone in my travels. I called it my walkabout, and it was. I was forced to only think of myself for twelve days. What did I want to do each day? What did I want to see? Where did I want to go? What did I want to eat? So many years of being a caregiver, maid, cook, chauffeur, etc needed to be set aside for once. Being a wife and a mother were the only roles I really knew. I had truly forgotten who I was at my core. I was forced to be silent. No conversations. No one else to think about. I needed to learn to be okay with the quiet. When one is alone, to whom do they have to talk?  I ended up listening to others...eavesdropping. I observed people. I watched interactions. I started to hear something that I hadn't heard before. It was my inner voice starting to talk.

Today, when I look in the mirror, I don't see that same person who traveled alone five years ago. I have changed. Layers of my soul have peeled away. I have become a much better version of myself.  I have been upgraded, so to speak. I feel I have always been a confident person, but the past few years have made me even more so. It is still hard to enter some places all alone in my home town. Shopping alone is easy, but a simple thing like dining out is more of a challenge. Who wants to go out to eat all by herself? I certainly won't go for a drink alone either!

This person who is me now...I like her. I am independent and happier. I feel more secure in who I am, in what I'll accept, and in what I like. I speak my mind, and care less about other's opinions. Concerning me, I mean.  I still like to hear others opinions on life, and have deep conversations!

I am grateful for the growth I have experienced. 
I am ready for my next adventure. 
I think it's about time I start planning that next Grand Memory.  

~Lisa Kroll
     still spreading love, understanding, positivity 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Living Alone :: Being Independent as Being Lonely ::__________

There are so many stages I have gone through since my divorce.  I wish there was a handout, booklet, website, etc that had explicit instructions to follow.  I wish I could look into a crystal ball and see my future, or at a minimum, be able to know where I am on this non-linear path of healing. Is there an ending point?

It is so hard NOT looking at another, yes online stalking happens a little, and that leaves me not feeling worth very much. I am smart enough to know that social media is a place where others post to show off. I do keep that in mind. Still, it causes me to wonder what did I do wrong? Why wasn't I enough? What is wrong with me? All questions I hope any average, crazy person who shared nearly thirty years of her life with a cheating Narcissist might ask herself.

It is hard to see words of praise for an other's support, as if I never was a supporter. Note to self: Free up your hard drive! It's now okay to destroy those thousands of photos you took over the years. It is hard to see over the top gifts displayed, recalling I once received a picture of pocket waders as my gift.  Ordered too late to be on time, and so I could walk our dog without getting my feet wet.  Mostly, it's really hard to see my children displayed as items with the trophy.  I remain forever grateful that I have my children in my life, but I do not like to see them on display.  Surely divorce was easier when social media didn't exist.

However, this is not about the devil.  He has hurt me, but I have learned to let it go.  Divorce is a common thing in today's society, as is social media.  Surviving being with someone who has a personality disorder is not as common.  There isn't a T-shirt color I'll ever wear to symbolize my survivorship, nor are there runs or walks that will be done, but I am a survivor.  Each day that goes by, I look up at the heavens and say thank you out loud to the Universe for releasing me from so much hostility and negativity.

Reflecting on the five stages of grief that one goes through with a divorce: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, I feel I am somewhere near the end of my path.  It's been three years since my divorce was finalized, but longer since he emotionally checked out and then physically left.

Healing requires going through the emotional stages of grief.  In an attempt to speed the process, one couples these emotional stages with self-soothing strategies.  Dating sites are turned to and some less than perfect matches are tested out.  Some perfect matches too, but if one isn't fully healed, they cannot possibly open their heart and trust before they have fully grieved.  Other relationships MUST also be built.  Same sex, meaning the sex you aren't attracted to, friendships are important because one needs to have safe relationships that will not, involve sex.  When one is hurting, self-soothing with sex is a tool that unfortunately gets used.  To prove that one is still desirable, one can make someone else happy, and one still has it, sex becomes an unhealthy tool.  In the moment, the satisfying feelings seem justified.  After the fact, they only make one feel worse.  One wants to be desired not for sex, but for their brain, for how one compliments another, for their compassion, for their conversations, etc.  With longevity in mind, those other qualities are truly the most important.  Physically, we won't always be able to perform on cue...and I suspect our sexual appetite and stamina will betray us as we age.   At least so many commercials and ads seem to imply this will happen without help.   The sex you aren't attracted to relationships help build our trust, build our self esteems, and remind us we can be liked and loved for more than our bodies.  This is just SO important!!!!

I have spent the past few years working on and renewing my female friendships.  I am not attracted to females in the way I am to males.  Sorry, ladies!  I'm not the next Glennon or Elizabeth!  :)  I do believe that when some people get married, they buy into the societal unwritten rule that once you say "I do" that means you do everything as a couple...with your husband or wife.  I know in all my Catholic upbringing I believed it hook, line and sinker.  "The two shall become one", "...and a man leaves his family..." etc. In my being with someone who was so controlling, he was an equal opportunity abuser.  No one ever measured up.  Family, friends, no one was immune.  Behind closed doors I was told such negativity about others. Because I was the sounding board, I told myself others just didn't understand him like I did.  I told myself that I was special.

And I was special.  I could make him look good.  Until I started to know all his secrets, flaws and eventually outshine him.  Somewhere along the line I stopped putting him up on the artificial pedestal he is clinging to.  That was when I discovered, that even I was not immune to his brutality.  Thank you Universe for helping me be set free.  With my female friendships, I have learned to be validated in who I am, and to validate others in true and sincere ways.  I have learned how to be loved without needing to have sex to prove to someone else my worth.  Love takes so many forms, and I have so much to give. Having sex is just a tiny part of how I want to show my next greatest lover that they mean the world to me.  

When married, I know I had several years where I did need to put my children first, and I am happy I did so.  They were young, and they needed me.  As they aged though, I found myself missing something that went unnamed, and that I didn't even realize at the time I was missing.  Reflecting on the past few years, I'm not sure how I ever survived without my close, numerous female friendships.  My girlfriend groups have reminded me how to have a variety of conversations: deep and serious, light hearted and naughty.  They have reminded me how to go out with friends for dinner, and how to laugh with others and at myself.  I love our intimate conversations be they about our children, relationships, aging or something in the news.  I love hearing other opinions and thoughts, as well as sharing mine.  I suppose the take away from my marriage ending is I can tell my children, and anyone else who will listen to me say, don't lose your friends and friendships just because you get married!  Find ways to stay connected!  

The current challenge I have been working on is filling in that blank in the title. Learning to live alone and love oneself is another stage to truly healing. Living alone, I have been learning what I like, and dislike. I have become stronger in my confidences, my abilities, and in my strengths.  I try to solve challenges and problems on my own because I have become an even better problem solver. I don't need validation from some one else, because I prove to myself that I can, or that I know where to go, or who to ask for help.   There is comfort and strength in being independent. I suppose when I was married I unknowingly cowered a bit because I subconsciously knew marriages can end.  The old me certainly felt if my marriage ended I'd whither away into nothingness. How could I possibly survive?  I felt I was a vine, intertwined with my host and if uprooted, I wouldn't, couldn't last. In living life, I have discovered that vines, have so many more hidden roots and shoots.  They can't possibly die. In fact, they have so many that they come back even stronger than before.  Three short years ago, I thought becoming a healed me was impossible.  

I do still have fears, which I think are in our human nature. I am scared that this is as good as it gets. I'm scared I will be alone, and I will not get a chance at love again.  I don't know how I'll ever meet someone who wants a mature, curvy, independent lady as their soulmate.  My dental hygienist happens to be a woman and I've all ready said I'm not into women.  Sorry, Vicki!  lol  My opinion on dating sites is that the men my age there seem to be looking for young, needy things who will hook up and feed their egos.  I am not young nor am I needy.  I definitely am not shallow and will feed egos only if they warrant being fed.  I want to compliment someone and have them compliment me.  I don't need to be fixed.  I am perfect just as I am.  Being alone and being lonely are two very different feelings.  The loneliness I feel is from lacking intimate connection with another human.  I miss being held and kissed.  This was also a take away from my divorce.  It wasn't because I was married to someone who kissed and held me, far from it in fact. I learned this about myself from the self-soothing stage AFTER my divorce.  Self-soothing isn't a bad thing, as long as one realizes it doesn't help one move forward, it simply is a must for survival.  

Putting my faith into the Universe and still holding out for my complimentary partner, 

~Lisa Kroll
     Independent, Curvy, Smart, Animal Loving, Life Thinker, Survivor


Monday, May 28, 2018

Wrapping up the School Year...

“Charlotte,” said Wilbur. “We’re all going home today. The Fair is almost over. Won’t it be wonderful to be back home in the barn cellar again with the sheep and the geese? Aren’t you anxious to get home?”
For a moment Charlotte said nothing. Then she spoke in a voice so low Wilbur could hardly hear the words.
“I will not be going back to the barn,” she said. Wilbur leapt to his feet. “Not going back?” he cried. “Charlotte, what are you talking about?”

                                                     ~from Charlotte's Web, by E.B.White


Until I became a teacher, I didn't understand what the end of a school year and summer break truly meant.

As a parent, the end of a school year means, time to find help with watching your kids, or finding ways to keep the kiddos occupied for eight to ten weeks.  Family vacations or other travel plans are typically carried out.  Summer reading program schedules are accessed, and put on the calendar.  Swim, or soccer lessons fill time, as well as league games, and hitting a swimming pool.  Playdates, and overnight stays become a daily thing.  The first few weeks of summer break are welcomed by all.

I recall falling into the summer routine with my own children.  Sleeping in and playing with Legos or crafting.  My kids LOVED being on break, and I loved having them home, until the boredom set in, which happened quicker than I always liked. Yikes, being a parent over summer has it's challenges!  As a parent of two, at times it seemed I could not get them to agree on ANYTHING.  Nor could I get them to do what I wanted them to do without yelling or getting angry. Where were the teachers now?!  How did they do it, day after day with my two - both who were good kids I might add???

The end of the school year is filled with emotions.  Yes, this group of students came to me in August, but my year started before they arrived.  Weeks before school starts, I have to get my room ready for the year.  Items that were packed away need to resurface and find their home again. There are curriculum manuals to read, papers to copy, homework folders to set up, thirty-six weeks of lessons to generally spread out, to just name a few things that fill a teacher's time. In fact, as soon as school ends in May, I will attend professional development seminars, so assuming teachers have the summer off is truly wishful thinking.  Most teachers go to classes to help further their knowledge over the summer.  We attend technology, reading, writing, social studies, math, science, and classroom management seminars.  THIS is how we fill our summers.  We become students during our two month break.  Some of us also teach summer camps, so we spend time preparing and teaching, as well.

By the time "Meet the Teacher" happens the day before school, most teachers have all ready been working for two weeks in their classroom.  It's true, teachers do love school.  We are so excited for the new year to start!  In first grade, there are brand new, sharp crayons that still have their paper wraps neatly around them.  There are long, pointy, number two pencils whose erasers have yet to be pulled out and whose ends haven't been chewed on.  There are chunky erasers waiting to be shredded by scissors.  There are perfect folders and composition notebooks that teachers neatly have written student's names upon.  Name plates with student numbers on them have been carefully taped onto the student desks.  All their edges are smoothly stuck down to the desk tops and ready to be picked at by all the little picker's fingers.

In August, students and teacher come together, and a new community is born.  Rules must be established and enforced.  How to line up, walk in a line, sit at ones desk, play on the playground equipment, use the bathroom, get to the library, the specials rooms, and cafeteria are taught over and over.  Where to sit in the cafeteria and what manners there look like are explicitly shown.  Expectations are set for all aspects of the day and strived towards.  Letter formation,  spelling, number sense and learning to read are the curriculum that start a first grade school year.

Fall break is not really a break for teachers.  Grades and comments are due on report cards just after break.  There is also other data that is collected on students skill abilities.  This information must be added to a grade level data chart.  Teachers spend their days teaching, and it's nigh impossible to sit down to input information.  So our break is filled with inputting data and getting ready for term two.

When October arrives, a teacher has parent/teacher conferences to host after the first report card has been sent home.  These conferences give us a chance to connect with parents after we've had a little time to find out our student's strengths and areas of concerns.  We are happy to share positives with parents and offer ways to help their child be the best student they can be.

By Thanksgiving, we know our class very well.  We know who needs extra TLC, who needs pushed, who needs watched so they aren't falling through the cracks and who has it all together.  When winter break arrives, we finally have a few days we can turn our brains off from school, but the holidays quickly fill the school void.

The winter months of the new year find the class running smoothly as a community.  Light bulbs seem to click on as students suddenly "get" what is being taught.  It's a rewarding time to be a teacher.  One's efforts can be seen paying off.

By the time spring break hits, the end of the year is now in sight.  Teachers panic a bit...can they get through everything they need to get through?  Students start acting more like siblings.  They pick on and tease one another.  They are much more comfortable and they speak their minds.  Class rules and expectations need to be revisited.  Students rat out each other's poor choices, ones made while away from the teacher, without blinking an eye.  Even best buddies do this to one another!  That is, unless they were making poor choices together...like using the bathroom as a parkour training room.  Then, students from other classes rat them out!  The first grade beast is both funny and fun to watch.

May arrives, and the finish line approaches.  One hundred and eighty school days completed draws near.  Charlotte's Web is the last read aloud.  Tears stream down teacher's cheeks and his or her voice may crack as these words are read...

"But as he was being shoved into the crate, he looked up at Charlotte and gave her a wink. She knew he was saying good-bye in the only way he could. And she knew her children were safe.

“Good-bye!” she whispered. Then she summoned all her strength and waved one of her front legs at him.

She never moved again. Next day, as the Ferris wheel was being taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon forlorn. The infield was littered with bottles and trash. Nobody, of the hundreds of people what had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died."

Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to my students.  They are ready to move on, even though I am not yet ready for a new groups of kiddos.  I will have the summer to let this group go in my brain.  My students have had a great year, and I am happy they have been in my life and classroom.  They will always be my kids.  That's how a teacher's heart works.

The day after tomorrow,  I will clean out files, take down things hanging on the walls, and clear off shelf tops.  I will be in my classroom, all alone. My heart will ache a little at the end of the day when I turn off the light and pull the door closed.

I will wake on Thursday and I will not head into school to see my students.  I will not start each day seeing and greeting my friends.  When I decided to teach, I hadn't expected the bond I form with other teachers to be as deep as it is.  I adore all the people at my school.  It truly is an extended family.  I will fall into my own summer routine.  I am looking forward to nuzzling my kitties randomly through the day, and hiking with Toby.

When August rolls around...

I'll be ready for my next class full of kiddos.  More importantly, I'll be ready to be back home, in my barn cellar, alongside all my friends.

~Lisa Kroll