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

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 them 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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Growing a Passion

Independence is what Habitat is all about.  The first time I volunteered to help build a house, my mom had recently died.  I built in her honor, and I built on Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. The house I worked on was to be for a single mom and her three children. My mom raised me to think of others, and I felt like I was doing something good in her memory. It felt wonderful to help someone else when I felt that I had so much in life. I had to ask people to donate to my cause, and that was really the biggest challenge for me. I don't like to ask anyone for anything. My parents were very giving souls.  Both worked full-time, AND volunteered in our community as a volunteer fire fighter and an EMT-A, respectively. When I was married, I was made to feel weak if I had to ask for help. So I did whatever I needed to do, to NOT ask for help. Ever.  

In my past life, I was a "super" mom, and "super" wife. 

I stayed at home and ran my household. I worked part-time, but spent the rest of my time figuring out the logistics of dinner menus, chauffeuring duties, house keeping, flower gardening, play dates, birthdays and doing all those things a good wife does to make her husband shine.  Even as I lead a Girl Scout troop, I struggled to ask co-leaders to do anything.  I did not want to appear weak. I could do everything, and I could do it all.  

When I volunteered to build on my second Habitat Women Build, my life was changing.  I had lost my "super" status and was feeling pathetic.  A friend had asked me a year before if I would build with her.  At that time, I was in graduate school and told her to ask me the next year, because I literally didn't have the time.  Thankfully, she remembered, and she did asked me again.  When we went to the call out meeting, I saw so many familiar faces. I found a supportive community that only asked me to give what I was able of myself. No more, no less.  I was drawn to be a part of this greater good.  It was simple to say yes, and to do something for someone else. I was happy to have a new purpose, and something to look forward to doing with others. It was still hard knowing I was going to need to ask for money, but I sucked it up. I asked my relatives.  They quickly put me over my $250 required to build dollar amount.  I thought, 'Wow. That was easy and painless.' 

My build day came.  We were working in a brand new neighborhood, on the very first two houses to go up. I was witness to a new beginning.  I had one of the future owners and her husband up working with me.  That was my first time up on a roof.  It was invigorating!!! The hardest part was transferring from the ladder to the roof and vice versa.  I have learned how to walk on a roof, how to properly cut and lay singles, and how to communicate with new people while speaking a new coded language.  I had a few friends up with me, but most of the people on the team were not people I knew personally.  Trusting others and working together, such great gifts I was receiving.  


The following January, I quickly jumped at building again. I saw the home owners I had built for the year before.  Witnessing the smiles on their faces and hearing them talk about how wonderful it was to own their house made my heart smile.  I didn't need them to know who I was.  I just needed to know I made a difference.  Here was my proof.  Stories of their new place were easy to hear.  Asking for donations for a cause I felt so strongly about made this year's requests a little easier.  I expanded my donor base and ask friends.  With just a little more effort, I was close to earning a pink tool belt, which I really, really wanted.  So I pushed a little harder. That tool belt was going to be nice to have!  

On build day, I again found myself on the roof and working online side the future, and current neighborhood owners. Getting to know someone I was helping felt so good.  I was helping make a difference.  The take away for me was that I was helping better my own community.  As I was working together with others, I was growing, and so were they.  

Additionally, that spring a former student of mine became a Habitat family.  Future Habitat homeowners are selected based on three basic criteria:  1) their need for housing 2) their ability to repay an affordable mortgage and 3) their willingness to partner with Habitat by earning 250 hours of “sweat equity” or volunteer time.*  They must also take classes on home ownership, and simple repairs. The support network Habitat creates in doing all this is such a gift in it's own right. Habitat families are asked to speak in front of others and tell their stories. They inspire.  

When I signed up to build the next year, I realized that I had actually raised $1000 by simply asking the year before; more than enough to get that pink tool belt.  I raised my goal to $1000 and decided to give even more of myself.  I joined a group called S.H.E. -  Society for Habitat Empowerment.  I have agreed to raise $1000 a year for five years.  This year marked my third year in my fundraising efforts as a member of S.H.E.  

I am forever grateful to those friends and family who support my cause.  I am forever grateful to Habitat for allowing me the opportunity to help build a house for someone else in my community.  I am bonded with the knowledge that if I can help make a difference in my community, others can as well.  

We just need to choose to spread positivity, understanding and love.  

~Lisa Kroll
     volunteer, wonder woman, independent soul who is still learning to ask for help and knows she is not weak for doing so...just smart

*from the Habitat For Humanity of Monroe County Web Site. Click Here for more details. 

Words to Build By... Habitat Women Build, Day 7, 2018

I was asked to give the devotion, or words of wisdom, before a Habitat Women Build day.  

Here's what I had to say... 

"Independence is an amazing gift to receive.  But I have found, it an even more amazing gift to see, and be witness to.  

'I spend a fair amount of my time each day trying to build community and independence within my classroom.  There are skills my students need to learn, and tests that I am required to give, but I know the bottom line is that the group of students whom I am molding at any given time, will, with a little bit of luck, have 11 more years of school together.  

'I figure I'm really laying the foundation of their people skills.  Learning to work together and solve problems is what life is really all about. 

'I  like to think of myself a little bit like Wonder Woman.  Not as a hero, but as someone who is a little bit mysterious, someone who has a past that has shaped them, someone who is strong, and someone who can accomplish anything when they focus their mind on it.  I find that’s how I live my life these days really.  

'I am old enough to know, we all experience adversity at some point in our lives.  And because of those experiences, we can look at the rainbows and flowers and the butterflies in the world and see their colors a little more deeply.  We become more compassionate and understanding. One of life lessons we must learn is to ask for help.  And when we do this, not only do we become richer by admitting we are human, but those we ask become richer as well.  For in being asked to help someone, we feel valued.  And truthfully, isn’t that what we all want is to add value to the world?  

'So today, I ask that the powers above,  help us to share our mysteries, embrace our pasts, give us the strength we need to focus on and accomplish today’s tasks.  

'When we work together, we grow together.  

'Thank you all for sharing today with me."  

Our day, in pictures.

May 5, 2018 - 7:30 a.m.
Bloomington, Indiana

new shirt, old hat and tool belt

two houses to roof, my fifth time to build

instructions on the roof

selfie time! 

when in Indiana...Indiana Jones time

part of our team working on the ground

...and we are off!

morning picture of both roofs under way

first build, first cut,
first time on the roof, strong lady

power tools

our chef, taking orders

team work

my work area

roof one almost done!

my tools, and roof two almost done!

6:00 p.m.
                                                            ~Lisa Kroll
                                                                    wonder woman, lower case W's


Independence: The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by others; self- subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference.

Habitat for Humanity: Women Build
information and my web page: click here

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Earth Moving... Can You Feel It?

Earth moving as I jet off to Chicago
"I feel the Earth, move, under my feet. I feel the sky tumblin' down." ~Carole King, April 1971

Sometimes, adventures come at exactly the right time.

After a long, and unusually emotional week of teaching, I had a weekend date with seven of my high school friends.  Some of these people I have known since the fifth grade.  After school, I drove an hour north and caught an evening flight to Chicago.  Technically, it takes less time to drive to Chi-Town from my house, than it does to fly.  Our group usually likes to do this trip when we can all have three days off, this weekend would not be a 3 day weekend for me.  I told my friends to enjoy the weekend. I didn't have the energy to drive north after working all day, chat until the wee hours of the night, then to head home in less than 48 hours where I would still need to spend several weekend hours in my classroom prepping for the week ahead.  So, I was pampered.  My friends have generous hearts...it might be an unspoken stipulation for being in our "club".  My flight arrangements were made for me so that I wouldn't miss out on the weekend fun.  The benefit of frequent flyer miles: a gift from my world traveling buddy.  

I arrived at O'Hare five minutes after the world traveler.  He had started his day in Lisbon, Spain, before stopping in Boston and then landing in Chicago. We took a taxi to the hotel, and after checking in, had fifteen minutes before we needed to head out to meet up with the others.  Having arrived earlier in the afternoon, they had all ready started the reunion fun!  As in our past trips, we traveled from different parts of the world; four states...cars, trains and planes connecting us.    

Dinner was at the Copper Fox, per our gastronome's suggestion and was fabulous!  As the late comers sat down, others were all ready imbibing.  The waitress asked what we wanted but needed to wait, as I was too busy tasting drinks around the table before I could decide.  In the end, a whiskey drink called ONE FLEW SOUTH landed at my place. A little tongue in cheek fun as I had flown north!  It was a mixture of diplomatic reserve extra anejo rum, lime juice, luxardo maraschino liqueur house demerara, barrel aged bitters, and tart cherry juice.  A great combination, and the best way to kick off the weekend with my buddies.  

Over the next hour and a half, there was laughing, stories and sharing of food.  After dinner, there was talk of chocolate dessert, but we wandered back towards the hotel to hang out in the suite between the girl's rooms.  

Upstairs we toasted one another again, and began to really relax and catch up in private.  Another of our classmates happened to be in town as well, up from Atlanta, celebrating his mother's 80th birthday with his family.  We chatted with this friend for a few hours, too.  It was funny to watch as he worked the conversations around the room, basically interviewing each of us. He also admitted to a little facebook stalking before hand. Aren't we all guilty of that?  I don't think I've seen this friend in person since we graduated high school.  Facebook has the power to make one feel they haven't missed a beat with friends.    

This get-together for our main group, was much over due.  A year has passed and each of us has grown a little more since then.  Grand babies have been born, a new business venture has started, education is being continued, a spouse was lost to illness and another is leaving due to divorce, parents continue to age, children continue to grow, and our souls continue to heal from those every day challenges we all face. We shared our successes and our hurts.  We talked about the love we have for others we grew up with and our wishes that they would feel comfortable to come and join us some time.  We all have secrets and pains.  Share them or not, we understand that growing up has been hard, but we also know that our early in life friends knew us when we were still dreamers.  Friendships that can weather life are the best friendships.  This group coming together is what true friendship looks like.  The seven of us seem to turn back into our 18-year-old selves when we are together, but we are realist and know we now have a wisdom about us.  We are people who can come together, and love one another, no matter what.  

The weekend plans this trip were simply to share time together.  We each have a role to fill, and our social director suggested we see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Palace Theatre.  We are the generation who grew up influenced by the music Ms. King created. Our production was on Saturday at 2pm.  Perfect!   After our late night Friday, we gathered near 11 to walk to brunch and then the theatre.  Brunch was at the Hubbard Inn and featured Rustic Wheat Avocado Toast, Blackened Tiger Shrimp and Grits, Pork Belly Benedict, and Slow Roasted Corned Beef Hash all washed down with mimosas.  After brunch, we expected to encounter the Women's March due to our timing, but we must have walked on paths not being used by the march.  

The show was wonderful!  We couldn't help but comment at intermission, 'I didn't know she helped influence THAT song."  We were reminded that Carole King IS an amazing lady! I found myself wiggling my feet, but really wanting to be up and dancing, with the music. After the show, we walked back towards our hotel and shopped along the way.  We tried to decide what the evening plans should include.  Dancing?  Karaoke?  More talking?  Many suggestions were thrown into the ring for consideration.  Sitting in the hotel bar, we got serious about deciding the evenings plan. In the end, we decided we'd order pizza, buy a game, change into our pajamas, and stay in for the night!  

Dinner and a game
Pizza was ordered from Lou Malnati's.  Two brave souls donned PJ's.  Drinks were made for all. Our game of choice...Cards Against Humanity.  Everyone laughed until they cried at some point in the evening.  "New" words were discovered.  Interesting conversations were sparked..."how does THAT happen???" was asked. Explanations were given in code, which made us laugh harder.  Siri was asked, and responded "You don't need to ask that question!"  Truly, tears from laughter filled our eyes.  

Local Treats

We only went to bed that night because we were all exhausted and are a bit too old, and too smart, to sleep on couches when we had paid for feather topped beds.  


Two in our group had to leave before Sunday brunch.  Our weekend together was coming to an end.  The few of us who were still together went to the LuxBar where amazing Bloody Mary's topped the menu. As we returned to the hotel, hugs and kisses were shared.  Ubers arrived and we parted ways.  Until next time, I will love my friends from a distance, and stay in continual touch.  We have a thread of messages that at times can instantly blow up to 95+ comments!  Blink and you'll have to spend half an hour catching up!  Thank you FaceBook for reconnecting this group a few years back when we were planning our high school class reunion.  This was our 36th year get-together.  

For others who are lucky enough to have friends like I do, I hope you realize too what a special connection and joy are friendships. We all have secrets, but when you can let down your guard and trust others, you can heal and grow in unthinkable ways.  

My take aways from the weekend were literally an Anchor bag...meaning a bag with Anchors on it.  We had a running joke about bags we'd be bringing...heavy because they felt like they held anchors.  One of our tribe made sure we all actually had these bags for our next trip. Another in our tribe gave us all necklaces with words that reminded her of each of us stamped onto a key.  Together we are Belief, Fearless, Inspire(ing), have Faith, Strength and Hope. That sums us up nicely.  I think her word might be Joy.  While she is certainly beautiful on the outside, her inside Joy simply radiates.  

In the end, we all know We've Gotta Friend....or two, or seven.  


Additional thoughts: 

My weekend away happened a month ago, but more recently I have been questioning what makes a friendship weather the test of time, how long one needs to know someone before they can truly call them a friend, and at what point does one earn the title of friend?  

I don't believe we can have too many friends in this life, and I think friendship becomes undefinable when you are at your lowest point and these people whom you call friend step up and go above and beyond what you would have expected.  One of those times for me was when I was dealing with my mom's terminal illness, and my friends stepped up to nurture my soul.  Then, I had times when I thought my life might end because I was dealing with a divorce, and friends stepped up once again and loved me despite that, encouraging me to push on, telling me I was strong and brave and capable and beautiful and that everything was going to be all right.  And accomplishments...friends celebrate big and little accomplishments, too.  

I have watched friends lose those they love, and have known others who have traveled great distances just to hold a hand and be an ear.  I know others who right this minute are sitting by bedsides in hospice care, so death doesn't happen alone for their friends.  Truly these friendships are signs from above that we can and should care for one another, and that it's easy to do!

Friends are not just people who share the fun times in our lives.  Friends are there for the dark times too, and they stand with you, no matter what. 

Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if we could all be kind to one another like we are to our best of friends?    

~Lisa Kroll
     Friend, Member of the Class of '82, Hope, Love Warrior

Blogging Music:  Carole King - Tapestry (1971) 

additional pictures from Ferris Bueller's Weekend Off
Magnificent Mile from our Suite View

Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago from our Suite View

In the morning, Suite View looking out the other window...Lake Michigan

When someone has a selfie stick and says...smile!

...and smile!

...and smile!  

...and just after I said smile...they thought I was done! lol
Please know, they actually ASK me to get out the selfie stick!
No one wants to own one, but everyone is happy they know someone who does!  

Chicago River with a little ice

We all recall having a Social Studies book in high school
that stated you could see Lake Michigan
from every room in these towers.
We all wondered if that's really true.  

I love these lines against the blue sky! 

Sitting on a stone, only evidence from the Women's March that we saw. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

My Addition and Some Advice

in the woods near the Burrow
Adding Toby to my life has been a positive addition.  

I love having him to come home to, or being able to say, "Let's go for a ride!" and have him eagerly run to the door.  I enjoy his company as I do errands or travel, and we've all ready been on one over night adventure.  I love taking him out for walks at all times of the day, but I'll confess late night walks in the dark, where I can star gaze might be my favorite walking time.  We've been out many times all ready in below zero weather, and have pounced in 12+ inches of snow in lower Michigan.  We are learning to walk in the woods together. It seems like the leash is a new experience for Toby.**  We both need to have plenty of patience as we learn to read the other's signals.  I love having him to cuddle with on the couch at night while I do my school work, or play Words With Friends! He loves belly rubs, and I enjoy the distraction.  

You smell familiar, yet new. 
I love watching Toby touch noses with Berlioz, then witness as he allows Bear to rub against him.  It warms my heart.  Berlioz was raised with Winston, and I think he has missed his company.  Toulouse is competition for Berlioz, but Toby is not.  While I believe Berlioz enjoys playing with Toulouse, there is a gentleness I see in his interactions with Toby that has been missing.  

Berlioz and Toby 

Toulouse is still in that curious stage.  He likes Toby, but likes to fain annoyance, too.  He likes to lay in the middle of the carpeted walkway and then act grumpy as our gentle giant shakes his head, jingling his dog tags. As a cat, Toulouse is a show-off.  He likes to jump from the floor to the top of the kitchen counters, or from one counter to the other in front of or over Toby.  Toby just wants to be part of the action.  He likes that I give him a kitty treat when the I spoil the cats!  It is fun to watch such a big mouth eat such a little treat.  He's lives up to his reputation as a gentle giant.  
Toulouse cautiously watches Toby.
 Toby has seemed like one of the family since he stepped into the Burrow.  I am so happy for that.  I anticipate that as time goes on, all three boys will be running around the house together.  They currently all sleep on the bed with me, which has it's challenges.  Space is limited and the human is the "top dog".  But, I don't mind sharing my bed, and I gingerly get out when I wake in the middle of the night.  My heart overflows with love, and my fur babies are the benefactors of that overflow.  

Toby wonders how he can climb the cat tree to join the fun.  
It's a dog's life at the Burrow! 
      I am grateful for my life; all I have, and all I can give.  

I have spent this past year truly on my own. In doing so, I realize what I miss the most in life is physical, human touch.  I am a person who likes to be close to another.  I do reach out and make physical contact with those around me.  I invade personal space bubbles.  I give hugs.  It's a good thing I teacher first grade, because I am a first grader at heart!  I like to listen to others, but I also like to talk.  I have a lot of friends, and no real enemies. I am a happy soul.  

I love to watch others, but I am secretly jealous when I see hands being held or little acts of love being shown.  It's a good envy.  I imagine my parents were like that, and their love created me!  True confession though...I mostly miss having a hand to hold on to and being kissed.  I miss running my fingers though an other's hair, or caressing their face.  I miss a confidant to tell my secrets.  I miss having a partner who will just share the burden of living.  

Going through my divorce has reminded me that I am a strong woman.  Although I miss those physical, human touch things, I am really fine on my own.  I do talk to my animals, and let them snuggle on my bed, but so what.  I am me, and I am free to share love how I want.  No judgments now. I believe you get in life what you give.  I choose kindness.     

So, who am I to give advice?  
No one, 
and someone who has been hurt 
and who knows loss.

Life is too short. 

I have been saying this since my dad passed away in 1985, but I started living this when my mom died in 2006. 

I heard a comment recently, '... being together for so long...you get bored.'  WTHeck???  

Don't let this happen in your relationships!  Your relationship may end without you realizing it because you were bored.  No matter what relationship you are in...same sex partners, long/short term relationship or marriage.  I say to you, love one another.  It's likely you've been through a lot together.  Remember that!  Reminisce.  Remind each other of the good in your hearts.  Think about what drew you to that person.  Chances are, they have forgotten, too.  Trust me on this..the world is a lonely place and it's not easy starting over.  Touch your loved one!  Hold hands when you can.  If you are riding in the car, hold hands.  If you are walking in the grocery store, hold hands.  If you are heading back to your bedroom, hold hands!  Simply touch one another.  I'm not talking about sex, I'm talking about making physical connections. Reach out and push a hair out of some one's eyes, stroke their cheek, cup the back of their neck as you look into their eyes.  Listen as they talk.  Ask questions.  Be engaged with them.  If you do this in public know that if others see you, your love will be contagious.  Maybe you can spark a different kind of movement.  We all need to feel loved.     

The lack of human touch was not what ended my marriage. I was married to someone who has a personality disorder.  I still fear that I won't be able to allow someone close to my heart again because I am scared of being hurt.  I just know I really miss human touch.  

My life is happening the way it is supposed to for a reason.  It is not my place to question why, but I do know that right now, I have animals in my life because I love them. 

I know I can love another human again, too.    

I am working on spreading love, understanding and positivity. I hope you will, too.   

~Lisa Kroll
     love warrior, animal lover, happy soul
*******I do not know Toby's history.  

Here is what I do know, English Setters are bred to be hunting/gun dogs.  They have gentle mouths because they are bird dogs.  They flush out prey and then will retrieve their hunters trophies.  They are used as a tool, not kept as a pet.  They are not fixed, because it is believed that neutering or spaying diminishes the hunting ability.  When an English Setter reaches about five years of age, they are finished as a hunter.  

When owners turn animals in to a shelter, and most are kill shelters, the animal's fate is sealed to die.  On the other hand, when someone finds an animal that was dumped, and brings it into a shelter, that animal has at least a few weeks reprieve to be reconnected with it's owner. Or possibly, even be adopted by someone better!

Rescues, like Above and Beyond English Setter Rescue, whom I worked with to adopt Toby, step in to find homes for certain breeds.  

English Setters do make wonderful house pets.  It is likely that I will never be able to let Toby off his leash as we hike in the woods...his drive to hunt is very strong, but given space to run and someone to love, he will have a wonderful life.