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

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.   

Saturday, December 09, 2017

A Successful Online Relationship...

I finally met a guy online.

It was pretty much love at first site!

As with any relationship, there are things we will have to work through.  For one, he's younger than I am, and all ready retired.  He also has a lot of facial hair, which I like,  but he looks to be a brown nose.  Gosh, I hope he is!!!

He's currently living in Rochester, MN...with his mom.

His name is Tobias Edward Sveinn, but everyone calls him Toby.

I'll be meeting him for the first time in Indy.

He's coming to live with me, and I really can't wait.

Stay tuned for more details.

~Lisa Kroll
     love warrior, optimist, adventurer

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Be Kind...and New/Old Traditions

I am thankful, and grateful for my family.  This next week starts a time of the year with which in my recent past, I have struggled. 

As time goes on, I am feeling more excited about the holidays! Still, I am aware that there are triggers in my life.  Just 11 years ago on the 22nd, my mom passed away from Brain Cancer; it was also a day on which I was celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary. Daily I think of my mom with joy in my heart, but I was older when she passed, unlike my sister who was still a young adult.  My sister was just 26 years old, a few years married and had a one-year old when our mom died. My sister and I talk, and I know she misses our mom a lot.  I think about my sister's three children, and all they have missed by their grandma not being around.  I do find myself recalling family traditions from my growing up days and I try to share those with my nieces and nephew, as well as with my sister, and my own children.  Two years ago it was impossible for me to even think about the holidays.  I know that wasn't fair to my own two kids, but emotionally it was just too much for me to handle.  As my children grow into young adults, and as I am becoming more distant from my past history, I am finding that I am able to re-invent how WE celebrate the holidays.  We are creating our own new, family traditions.  We blend traditions from my youth with traditions from my children's life.  I am able to choose all those traditions which I have enjoyed.  Thanksgiving is now MY holiday.  I have claimed it back as a way to help me enjoy life.  My sister and her family will come to my house to help continue building our new traditions.  I will be in my element as I work in my kitchen to create our feast.  We will dine on those traditional recipes that were ours, along with those traditional recipes that my children grew up on.  We will play games and laugh.  We will play music and dance.  We will take pictures and veg-out.  We will go to my downtown and be witness to my community coming together to kick-off the Christmas season with the official Canopy  of Lights lighting.  We will get out my Christmas tree and decorate my house.  Just a few years ago I couldn't do this by myself.  The life lesson I've taken away here...don't do it alone.  Count on others in your life!  

Another life lesson, is that we need to be kind to others.  We need to be kind not just to those in our community in need, but to our friends, our family, and to ourselves.  Heaven knows the holidays are hard, period.  Commercialism has made society feel we all need to have the perfect illusion of time spent together: thank you, NOT, Hallmark.  But, the holidays are extra hard when one has gone through loss, and everyone knows someone who is dealing with, or has survived loss.  One may know loss as death of a loved one or beloved pet, rough spots in a relationship, or divorce. Some people may be dealing with impending loss of life, financial stability, or family members struggling with addiction. When my mom died, it was the day before Thanksgiving in 2006.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were surreal that year. Dealing with loss can manifest as depression. Stress compounds feelings, too. As the year is drawing to an end, there are deadlines to complete, mid-year graduations making some wonder what they should be doing next in their life, or stresses in the workplace.  Please reach out to your friends and neighbors.  Just send hello, or hey, how are you doing?  My personal experience has been to hunker down in my house and to wallow in my own sadness instead of reaching out to others.  There were times when it was hard to adult, especially when others seem to have it all together and be so happy.  Illusion is a powerful weapon. I am happier now, but I do still watch those around me and judge myself against the illusions I see.   

Be kind.  

Don't feel you have to do something just because it's always been done a certain way.  There is joy and power in re-inventing happiness.  

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!  

~Lisa Kroll
     love warrior, sister, friend, etc. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Be You

Found on the curb at Barnes and Nobel
It was written on a stone.  Be You.

Self discovery.  

It is interesting to have a chance in life to do this.  I grew up thinking one needed to be married by a certain age, and was young by today's standards when I was wed at the age of 22.  Today's young adults take time to discover what makes up their being.  Most people my age have someone else they need to think about: a spouse, a significant other, children, parents.  I am free from those responsibilities.  My parents and grandparents are deceased.  I have children, but they are young adults and I can truly only offer my words of wisdom, should they even ask me for advice. I am living in a period of my life where I am allowed to discover, or re-discover, what it is that makes up me.  I get to just be my self, all alone, making discoveries. 

So what makes me, me?  

While volunteering to answer phones last month at the local National Public Radio station's fund drive, I took a character strengths inventory test along side the other volunteers.  The Producer of On-Air Fundraising was our volunteer contact for the night and she thought it would be interesting to see our top and bottom five strengths. She wanted to compare all of us and see if, because we all listen and volunteered, we had the same characteristics.  Here's a link to the test:  VIA Character Strength survey.  One hundred and twenty questions later, and our top 24 character strengths were gathered. 

After taking the questionnaire, I felt slightly less encouraged about myself.  It wasn't because of my top five strengths.  It was because at the very bottom of my list was LOVE.  That's right, my number 24 of 24.    

Love...defined as: valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated, being close to people.  

I know I have come far over the past few years, but apparently my subconscious, emotional state is still damaged. I wonder if I'll ever truly heal and that alarms me.  Am I capable of loving others?  What if I am unable?  I do feel I'm becoming more skeptical of relationships.  I look at others, and I think to myself, are they living a lie too?  Maybe all relationships are based on lies and I don't play that game.  What is really going on in their story? Then I remind myself that it's possible they have never experienced the depth of deception, or emotional abuse that made up my relationship.  I wonder, what does real love feel like? What is it like to share everything with someone and have them love you because of that?  It's funny, I feel there are souls in this world who could love me, but also wonder, if they really knew me, would they stay or would they go too?  Rational Me thinks, it doesn't matter, because they aren't with you.  I feel like I'm missing that little something that would make someone else want to stay by my side, no matter what. I am someone who doesn't have a soul mate in this universe. I guard my heart from anyone else who might want to get too close; even my friends.  I can't handle being hurt again.  For my armor to be pieced, it will take an arrow made of Graphene.  Again, Rational Me, knows that I will likely outlive my two cats, so one day I will feel heart ache again.  I am comforted in knowing that my cats won't leave or discard me. Just like my sister and my kids, they love me unconditionally.  Blood links and pets, I have discovered...come back to me.    

Toulouse and Berlioz

Recently, I have been feeling I need a dog back in my life.  I do miss W because he made me get out and I felt I was with someone even though he was a dog. We would do things...like just walk in the woods, or run errands.  I can do things by myself, but it's lonely at times, and my kitties can't go out with me. My recent very late hours at school have made me realize maybe I'm not quite ready for a dog.  I rationalize that if I have a dog, I will have to go home. I have been approved by  a rescue, and should the perfect-for-me-dog need a home...I am open to that addition in my life.  Until then, I am happy to have my two other boys.  I often find them both on my bed acting like I'm disturbing their secret slumber and grooming spot.  Good thing I don't mind cat hairs!  I think these two would love a doggie playmate to chase around the house.  I know that I can love, and I do have love to share.  I am blessed to have a house where animals can be nurtured.  I am an animal lover.  That is part of whom I am.  Another discovery of being me.

Going back to my character strengths, my top five are: Judgment, Social Intelligence, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Fairness, and Honesty.

1. Judgment:  The ability to think things through and examine them from all sides.  Not jumping to conclusions, weighing all evidence fairly and being able to change ones mind in light of evidence.

     This was my number one.  I am compassionate. I do realize there is more to a person or situation than what may meet the eye.

2. Social Intelligence:  Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself.  Knowing what to do to fit into different social situations, knowing what makes other people tick.

     I have spent my lifetime figuring out how to make everyone happy all at the same time, so I wasn't shocked to see this so high up on my list.  I have only recently been practicing mindfulness to learn to be aware of my own feelings, too.  

3. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence:  Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence and or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experiences.

     Spot on.

4. Fairness:  Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.

     I am a people person, and a teacher.

5. Honesty: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way, being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions.

     Trying to just be me.

I am not sure how the results ended for the group of volunteers.  Honestly, I was embarrassed that LOVE was my number 24.  I was so shocked that I couldn't think about anything else at that moment.  I was sure this group of people, was looking at me and thinking, well of course she isn't good at love.  She's divorced.  Reflecting today, I wonder what was their number 24?  Maybe they were just as upset with what landed in their last position on the character graph.  I also know that it didn't matter who I was with, the emotions I felt would have been the same...embarrassment, feeling my results said I can't love.  

With fresh eyes and and opened mind, here's what I'm taking away from that survey: 

I have good judgment, am socially intelligent, appreciate beauty and excellence, and I am fair and honest.  I also work well as a member of a team(work), and am kind to others.  I show prudence in the choices I make, and take time to express gratitude for what I have. I persevere until jobs are completed, and I enjoy the success of doing so. I am filled with hope and believe a good future will happen by working to achieve it. Humor and laughter cause joy and I like seeing all around me smile.  My love of learning is related to my high level of curiosity about how things work in life.  I am a leader, but might show my leadership skills in helping others be organized. I go all in when I do things and am filled with zest.  I do live life as if it's an adventure.  I am humble and my perspective allow me offer sound advice based on my experiences. My self-regulation opens my emotions to be in the moment. I use my creativity to be a problem solver. My spirituality is based on knowing the Universe is a kind place and we all have our spot in it.  

I suppose I am not surprised that Forgiveness and Bravery are just above Love on my list.  I am still working on forgiving myself for how things played out in my marriage.  I am also still working on being brave enough to speak my mind all the time.  My habit to take the fall and let others have their desires, is hard to break.  I do know that in order for me to love, I must trust. In order to trust, I need to forgive myself, and feel brave enough to speak my mind. I need to know that I will be loved because of my thoughts and what makes me - me, and not because I didn't rock the boat.  

The night I found that rock, I came inside Barnes and Nobel.  I had my tea and started blogging.  I had intended to look up what the protocol was for finding a painted rock and re-hiding it, but when I went back outside at the end of the night, the rock was gone.  Had it only meant to be an inspiration?  

I am left with this wonder, Can I care enough about myself, to cut myself some slack and just finally be me? 

I can.  
I just need more time.   

~Lisa Kroll
     student of life

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Universe...and The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives, whatever we are focusing on. Simply put, whatever you are thinking about, is drawn towards you.  I have believed this to be true for a lot longer than I realized.  I also believe that our Universe works in mysterious ways.  I have always felt that positivity is at the root of my soul, and have been told I am an optimistic person.  I would agree, I am.  I believe that when you do good things in the world, good will come to you.  Some might call this Karma.

I have been struggling with my religious beliefs since February.  I am still currently on sabbatical from the Catholic church.  I am a spiritual being, but haven't been able to practice organized religion since listening to a sermon where I felt unwelcome because I am divorced.*  The Universe gives us what we need though, when we need it.

My city has a talented community of artisans.  Supporting the arts and our artisans, on the first Friday of each month, downtown Bloomington hosts a Gallery Walk.  Nine galleries, all within walking distance of one another, offer appetizers and beverages of some type, and stay open from 5-8 pm. I haven't attended as frequently as I'd like, but this past Friday, one of my artist friends had a painting that would be on display.  I made plans to be at the gallery displaying her work when I knew she would also be there.  We snacked and admired all the paintings, pottery, and sculptures before heading to another one of our favorite galleries.  As we walked down the sidewalk, I saw a familiar lady across the street holding open a door, and beckoning us to enter her building.  I yelled hello across to her, but said we were on our way to a gallery.  My friend started across the street and said, 'Come on, let's go in! It's beautiful there. I've been inside for watercolor society meetings."  I followed, then introduced her to my former mother-in-law.  "Cassidy," I said "This is Kate, my next door neighbor." I knew Cassidy had no idea that we were heading into a church service.  Part of the healing process that I've needed to do is to separate my former MIL from her son. I am working on allowing our relationship to be mended.  Earlier in the week I had been dining with Kate, and she had mentioned the Friday Vespers that would be happening at church.  See, this used to be my church for over 15 years.  I all ready knew it is beautiful inside.  In fact, there is so much that I know about it.  If only I had a chance to tell my friend, and pull her back before she started across the street. I wasn't sure I could emotionally handle this building in my life yet. But, the Universe gives us what we need, when we need it.   

We were inside and now heading towards the sanctuary where live jazz was enticing all within earshot to come and listen.  I was greeted by familiar faces with hugs, and words of joy, "I'm so happy to see you."  The words and hugs were heartfelt.

We picked a pew in the back of the church and sat down to listen to the music and singing.  I thought maybe we could find a moment to sneak out before the service got started.  My MIL, whose job as greeter was now over, entered the sanctuary and made her way back to sit next to me.  This was now going to be more of a challenge to leave.  I could walk though, if this became too emotionally difficult.  When it came time for us to sing the first song, my MIL reached out to stead her side of my bulletin because I had offered and was sharing it with her.  Cassidy chucked under her breathe.  We hadn't talked about leaving early, but I suspect she had been having the same thoughts.  We were now all in. We were meant to absorb what the universe was offering.  We needed to be in this moment.  

This service was called a Vesper Service, which means a sunset prayer.  As the service went on, I felt it was more meditative in nature.  It offered soft words that were meant to calm the chaos of life.  The minister, whom I have known for what seems like forever, spoke in her positive tone. She and I are kindred spirits, and I felt the connection once again.  I was being drawn into her positivity.  The service was about balance and letting go of those things in our life we need to let go.  After singing psalms, and poems of peace, there was a period when communion and prayer time was offered. This is a church that accepts all, and they mean all. No one is turned away. At this service, the church had several stations set up as alternative ways to be one with God. You could choose communion, you could lay your hands on a large globe and say a prayer for someone else in the world, you could go to the back narthex and draw a small picture, you could choose to light a candle as an offering, or you could write something on a piece of paper to let go.  The paper could be placed into a bowl of water, stirred, and then melt away...releasing you from whatever you were holding on to.  Cassidy looked at me at this point.  She said, "Did you need to be here?" I felt her question was rhetorical, but responded any way, "I think I did."  She asked if I wanted to participate in any of the stations.  I said yes, and asked if she minded because this had not been part of how I thought we'd spend the evening.  She gave me a smile of friendship and said she was happy to stay.  It was in that moment that we both realized that the Universe was actually working some kind of magic.  I decided I needed communion, because I needed to feel nourished by God, and I needed to release, by writing on one of those small bits of paper.

First Christian Church
Bloomington, Indiana
I went forward and the minister's smile radiated down on me, "Lisa," she said, "You are loved, and there isn't anything you can do about it."  I told her I might cry.  The lump in my throat was not from the gluten free bread and wine I ate.  I went towards the back of the sanctuary and I wrote, I am letting go of ----- There is joy in my heart and love, and peace, and happiness, and I am grateful.  I choose love, understanding and peace.  As I swirled the paper around inside the glass bowl, I saw it melt away as the ink from my words floated to the surface.  My words were mixing now with the words from others.  I was released. I looked up at the front of the church.  The tree of life stained glass window still looks as beautiful as I recall. I could hear the spirit of my father-in-law's voice and feel the pressure of his hand on my right shoulder. So many times he had signaled me to go forward when it was time to serve communion to the congregation. I recalled my own children being baptized in the waters of the baptistery just beneath the tree of life years ago. Their baptism was by immersion.  My children were old enough to make the commitment and know what it meant. I taught vacation bible school in this building and did children's ministry every Sunday for the first five years I was back in town. I have been a very active person in this place.  So much personal history is in these walls.  

I believe the Universe was speaking to me tonight.  I have given so much and now it was time for me to receive back.  I need to be able to heal completely so I can move forward in my life. Thank you Universe.  Maybe my sabbatical from church is nearing it's end?

My soul was shattered and my spirit was broken. 
Life is a forever forward moving process.  
I am open Universe, 
please continue giving me what I need, 
when I am ready for it.  

~Lisa Kroll 
     eating, praying and loving

*my feelings.  The church didn't say, Lisa you are not welcomed.  I just don't like being made to feel like a sinner for being human and living life while always trying to do the right thing.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ed in Indy... September 8, 2017

"Do I love you? Do I hate you?  I can't make up my mind. 
So, let's free fall and see where we land."
     ~Ed Sheeran, Where We Land,  
                 from the album 5 (2009)

Ed, I love you!  

I don’t have the words to describe how wonderful it was to hear Ed Sheeran live for a second time.  

THIS time I was prepared.  

I knew his tour playlist. Well, I knew the general playlist, and I do know all the words to all his songs, so I was good to go.   

In March, I had an opportunity to buy tickets to his current Divide Tour,  and he would be playing in Indianapolis.  I was lucky enough to purchase two tickets on the floor. Row 19…hmm, for my first concert of his I was in row 10…clearly, I was feeling snobbish.  What was I thinking!? This time, I would be taking my sister! I would still be close to Ed.  His energy, and positivity would reach me.  

I had foolishly hoped to buy four decent seats at Ticketmaster prices, but I wasn’t willing to settle for seats that would give us “just the experience”.  I experienced that once when I saw Genesis in concert.  I’m not even sure they were really in the same arena we were in that night.  So, go big or go home.  I went big.  

My sister had a birthday in June, and guess what I gave her?  She needed to be my date for this concert.  She needed to be with me because, years before she had been the one who introduced me to Ed. "You should listen to this guy" she said. "He has this song called Lego Houses.  I really think you'd like it." I have to admit, I was too busy to take a even a few minutes to listen to her suggestion.  I was deep into student teaching at that time.  

Six months later however, a guy I was dating played some Ed for me.  This guy had a guitar and he actually PLAYED, and sang to me.  I was smitten!  Not by that guy, but by the music.  The words and melody captured my heart.  I HAD to find out about this young artist.  It was mid-June, and my divorce had just been finalized.  I was suddenly very free, and I was obsessed with a new artist.  Two CD's purchased, my detective hat askew, and I was finding out all I could about the wordsmith who created the poetic songs I was now in love with.  I talked to my sister on the phone one day, “Hey, there’s this singer I'm in love with, and I don't mean like I’m in love with him, he's like 24 and that’s gross, I'm in love with his personality, with his drive, with his word choice, and rhythm, and language. His music is intoxicating! Have you heard of Ed Sheeran?" I'm sure if she was with me face-to-face, her look would have been one of her shaking her head at me while she had that 'I-told-you-so' look in her eyes. I suspect she was rolling her eyes at the heavens as she patiently responded, "Yes (long pause) I told you about him months ago.  He has this song called Lego Houses, remember?" As a Lego lover, I did kind of remember that song name now that she mentioned it.  As a Harry Potter fan though, I also recalled my sister telling me this singer looked a bit like Ron Wesley in the Harry Potter movies. Which I suppose he does.  lol It’s funny how and what our brains choose to recall, and when.  

Well, in my obsession, I realized that just a few weeks later (7-7-15), Ed Sheeran would be playing in Indy, just over an hour from my house.  I asked the guy I was dating if he wanted to go see Ed. He was a fan, too.  He hemmed and hawed, but was noncommittal.  I was all in.  If I was going to this concert, I was going to spend a little money and REALLY see this guy.  I found two tickets close to the stage.  They cost $400, a piece.  This guy I was dating could afford it, but he had excuses.  I wasn't asking him to buy my ticket, just go to the concert with me.  He wouldn't pull the trigger.  I gave him an ultimatum...let me know by a certain time, or I’d buy myself a ticket and go alone.  He didn't respond, so I bought myself a ticket.  Go big, or go home.  I went big.  

Two weeks later, I drove myself north to attend my first rock concert, alone.  My seat was in row 10, dead center.  It was A! MAZE! ING!  I was in awe of the young performer before me.  One guy on stage, making magic happen.  He worked his loop pedal and recreated the tracks I had purchased.  I couldn’t get enough.  

As many others, I became an instant Sheerio.  That’s what Ed Sheeran fans are called.  After the concert, I made sure my music library included all the songs he has recorded.  NOT every song he’s ever written, this guy is a prolific writer.  I just want to own everything he’s recorded.  I check periodically to make sure my library is still up to date.  I believe in buying CD's to support artists, so what ever I can get a disc, I do.  Ed likes to keep things simple and digital.  

I follow Ed on Twitter, and Instagram to see what is happening in his life.  I know he doesn’t manage his official sites, but still, I love feeling in the loop.  I can’t imagine having my life in the limelight as celebrities do.  Yet, I willingly follow him, always wanting to know what he's creating.  There are a lot of wanna bees in the world, but Ed Sheeran is the real deal.  I knew from the moment I truly listened to him that his talent puts him in the same league as Michael Jackson, Elton John, Prince, George Michael, etc.  He IS a big deal.  I hope he’s around for a long, long time.  I love his positive energy and I think the world needs what he has to offer.  

So, in March…I had an opportunity to buy tickets.  This time I wanted my sister to share this with me.  I persevered, and found two seats on the floor, pretty close to the stage.  I pulled the trigger.  Sold.  Next, we just had to wait for September 8 to arrive.  

The next six months allowed me to do even more research.  What would the playlist be?  Who would be the opener?  Did I really own all Ed’s music?  Did I know all the words to his songs?  I’m pretty sure that if Berlioz and Toulouse could talk, they’d be able to sing along with Ed, too!
When September 8th arrived, I couldn’t believe it.  The day didn’t feel real to me.  I took my first personal day, and left school at noon to head north to Indianapolis.  My sister arrived a few hours later.  We haven’t spent any real alone, sister time together, since I turned 50 back in 2014.  We have stolen away a few hours here and there, but just a few hours.  We needed this weekend.  We walked to the venue, stopping for a drink and an appetizer.  Then it was time to go see Ed!  

When I saw Ed the first time, I knew Rixton was opening for him. I educated myself with their most popular songs.  This time I hadn’t been paying attention to opener James Blunt.  I found out that Ed and he were friends and not surprising, Ed has written several of his songs, too.  I was surprised when Joshua Radin came on stage.  I am not familiar with him, but he was a nice opener for the evening.  Apparently Blunt was sick.  I didn’t really care.  Sorry for the lack of love James, but I was there to sing with Ed.  

I apologized to the people sitting next to me.  “Im sorry.  I will be singing every single song tonight, and I’m not a professional singer!”  
They laughed.  “That’s fine.” They approved.  It mattered not, I was going to sing even if they didn’t.  My sister had been warned months ago.    

In my research, I found a YouTube of Ed singing a song that he’d be singing live…Feeling Good, by Nina Simone.  Last spring I took a history of Jazz class, and this song and artist fell right into that genre. How cool!  Nina started her recording career in 1958.  She was the daughter of a female Methodist minister.  She was also a civil rights activist as well as recording artist.  I was excited to be able to hear Ed singing her song live.  I knew he’d be fusing it with his song I See Fire.  He was commissioned to write that song for the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). The songs are opposite in mood and message, but melodically they work well together.  I was ecstatic to have my new phone fully charged, and with loads of memory, in my hand.  To see Ed singing Feeling Good/I See Fire in Indy on September 8, click here.  

With my Anna! 
I took photo after photo of Ed, and longed to have my big camera with us.  In the end, it didn’t really matter.  I was in the moment; going big.  I was with my sister, singing with Ed, and having the time of my life.  

I was feeling good.  

The next time I see Ed, I'd like to hear him singing unplugged, and in a small, intimate venue.  I want to hear him sing all his early songs I love from the album 5...Sunburn, So, Be Like You, Firefly, The City, Let It Out, Homeless, Where We Land, Wake Me Up...Oh my, I want it all.  I want to go big!

~Lisa Kroll
     hopelessly romantic, music junkie, Sheerio

Cell phone concert pictures: 

September 8, 2017
Bankers Life Field House
Indianapolis, IN 

Ed Sheeran

From row 19