Seeing Pretty

Before I went to Montana the end of September, there was a conversation that went something like this.  I don't care at all what we do, I just want to be able to see pretty and take pictures of pretty.  I haven't had a chance to do that in a long while and I'm ready to do some noticing of all things - small and large and everything in between. 

No worries on that wish.  I was more than soul filled with beautiful and was able to do the things I love to do.  Like stand in the rain while a waterfall crashes next to me and lay down in the middle of a highway in Yellowstone.  Yep, like that.  Although, really, it was the first time I've ever stood next to a waterfall in the pouring rain.  I just imagine that it was added to the list of things I do before I even knew it.  As for lying in the middle of the road?  This was not my first time on that one.     


Crazy Fast

My little sister is engaged.  And for that, I think this sentiment...most excellent.  I also think this...life is fast.  Crazy fast.  She's the little nugget of the family and here she is, adding a milestone event to her being.  Sister Pister is engaged to be married to a wonderful man who I couldn't change one thing about to make better for her.  Cheers!   


One of the Days

Yesterday, I sat in a brown leather chair, a blue paid wool blanket wrapped around my legs, a hot cup of tea sat on the side table next to me, the mountains looked at me from the window, the first snow of this winter scattered on the ground in all its white fluffy grandiose, and he was working in the next room.  

It's winter.  

The changing of the season and for the first time in a very long time, I don't have the chest squeezing anxiety about the long and dark of it all.  Maybe it's because this fall was the fall of all falls.  Maybe it's because of where I am personally and professionally.  Maybe it's because I had my first taste of snow this year in the mountains and that tainted my reality of the bitter North Dakota cold.  Maybe it's because there's so many exciting adventures coming up.  Maybe it's just because when life is good, it doesn't matter what season it is.  Winter, spring, summer, or fall.  Good is good.  

Fall will always be my favorite and like I said, this one gave me so many chapters in my book which will forever remain written, if not on actual pages, in my heart.  

Driving to a campsite at night and hearing the rushing water when I fell asleep, knowing the spot had been carefully selected.  Waking up the next morning and literally becoming nearly unglued from the view.  Drinking coffee on a rock by that river.  Eating a breakfast while sitting across from the person who cooked.  Hiking up and up and up and up until we came upon a lake that made me become even more unglued.  Eating almonds by that lake.  Talking about the important things.  Laughing at the non-important things.  Squeeze hugging all yellow leaved trees.  Jumping for the unicorns that must live within those rocks.  Realizing even more that being outside, with my face in the fresh air, will always get me and having someone who shares in that sentiment is a bonus.    

It was a Saturday in September.  

Just one of the days in the fall of all falls.   


Standing by the Belief

If you keep a flower chair in the middle of your living room, a little girl named Emma will read a book upside down while listening to her mom and you visit about all kinds of important things like what dresses to wear the next day and which kind of cheese goes the very best with apples.  

If you let a little girl named Emma in on those types of conversations she will pop in with, "Hey!  This book is kinda like you two.  One is blonde and one is dark haired and they are best friends who say and do silly things."  

Right on Emma.  Right on.   

Once again, I stand by my belief that a flower chair in the middle of the living room begs to be sat on and creates a certain welcoming something something.  It's not going anywhere anytime soon. 


Quirking it Up

I tend to prefer things to be rather neat and tidy as evidenced by my shiny floors.  However, I don't ever fold kitchen towels and dishrags.  Ever.  It's silly to me.  A waste of time really.  I just jam those babies in the drawer and pull one out when I need a fresh one.  I figure it doesn't really matter if a dishrag is wrinkly so yep, I don't fold them.  All this to say, I guess nothing is ever cut and dry.  A neat freak kind of gal who doesn't believe in having a drawer full of nicely folded linens in their kitchen.  A neat freak who would never imagine doing that same thing in bathroom - there the towels have to be folded.  Makes sense right?  Nothing makes sense and yet, everything makes sense.

And that might be my favorite part of this world.


Quirks like when it's National Coffee Day I will make us cheers our cups together while driving in the rain and try to capture the moment but totally miss the cups.  Like when it's fall and I will want to take a picture of every yellow tree there is, especially when water reflections and white bark are a part of the equation because at that point, it's pretty much game over to pull the car over.  Every single time.  Quirks like when I hand my camera to a stranger to have them take a picture and then proceed to boss them around - yeah that is a quirk I'm working on.  Nobody likes a bossy stranger, pointing the finger at me.  

And finally, quirks like singing in the car to girl songs (i.e. artists I can not mention here because they are too embarrassing) real loud followed shortly by a Mumford and Sons number to take it to the finale of anything Sister Hazel.   


Little Versions of Big

Look!  It's a mini Karen and Amy.   

Having Firecracker stay with me on Sunday night was the good stuff of life.  Seeing her giggle with Karen's girls and then having her cuddle in with me for a story and looking down to see that she carries a unicorn with her and getting ready with her in the morning and making sure she had a pack the punch kind of breakfast followed shortly by a Sbux treat in the car ride to school with the soundtrack of 1989 blaring...the good stuff.  

I love that these little ladies are growing up to be bigger and are starting to really take on and make their own some things like dancing silly and talking about accessories and being adventuresome and brave.  

 I love that I get to be a part of it, as an aunt and as a pretty much an aunt.  


Missing those 4th Grade Chicken Wings

Part of my job has placed me in rooms with people much smarter, the kind who say nuggets of truth that make you go yes, why hasn't everyone thought of that?  All the while nodding along. 

There was one man in one room I was in who wrote a book or something - I'm not the best with details like that, just ask my friends and family if I can quote a movie.  The answer?  No.  Heck no.  So, he wrote a book.  I can't remember the name of it.  Nor can I remember his name.  But I do remember vividly him saying this, "Fences are perception and there's always that one cow who understands this and gets outside of them and always will." 

Now, you might be thinking I've become a veterinarian or a professional cattle tamer, but no.  Heck no.  He was using an analogy to make the connection between his growing up on a ranch and becoming an educator.  We put fences around students.  The rules of school.  Here's how we learn.  Sit here and listen to me.  But there are always those few who need outside of those fences - those perceptions.  They need a different reality and they will get out and always will.  Just like those cows.  

I think this hit home with me because I also grew up around stubborn cows, those cows.  There was one red lady bovine who would literally shut her long eyelashed eyes and simply walk over you.  She would.  All with this air of, watch this.  I'm bigger and I'm stronger and I will get to where you think I shouldn't go.  

Oh how I wish I could give this same power to those students, the ones who need different fences than the norm.  I wish I could tell them to shut their long eyelashed eyes and walk on through.  

Tell them that one day, someone will get them.  Someone will understand they need something different to discover their own genius.  

The one thing I miss the most about being a classroom teacher?  Getting those kids in my room, I loved those kids.  

If I could hope one tiny morsel of something it would be that in all of this running around and standing in front of groups of other educators, that the notion that it's our responsibility to change the fences would stick.  And stick hard.  I believe we have to sometimes let our adult preferences go in school and do what is truly best for kids.  

Kids?  They aren't the same anymore.  Captain obvious speaking here.  

They can't be taught the same way as fifty years ago, thirty years ago, ten years ago...they almost need to be taught more so than academics, the things that used to be assumed.  The things that go like this - I care about you as an adult in your life.  I will teach you that you won't touch your cupcake until everyone has one.  I will teach you that you will look at each other when you speak.  I will teach you that you will not be afraid to say your opinion.  I will teach you that you have to try hard things and do hard things until they are done.  I will teach you that I will not rescue you from your mistakes but rather let you figure those items out on your own.  I will teach you that you are not entitled to one thing in these four walls of my classroom, but rather that you will earn them - including my respect.  I will not fluff and buff you - when you fail, you fail and when you succeed, you succeed big.     

All that?  

I miss that.  

So I hope that when I stand in front of a large room with my cowboy boots on and my arms flying that it might mean something.  A tiny morsel of something for a kid out there somewhere.  

Because kids are where it's at.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the academics too.  I just think they fall in place a bit more when we care about the kid behind the pencil first.  

"Yesterday, I was clever so I wanted to change the world.  Today, I am wise so I am changing myself."  Rumi

All kids are someone's daughter, someone's son, someone's sister or brother, and someone's niece or someone's nephew.  Love them up.


Waiting Graciously

Taylor Swift's 1989 album is currently jamming through my house as I sit here in this flower chair in the middle of my living room.  I said jamming, I'm that cool.  I'm also so cool that I'm willing to admit I'm a big fan of T. Swift.  She did it again with this one I tell you.  It's not country and it makes me think I'm invincible and can write words right now that will make you give a double clap and a foot stomp and can run an extra seven minutes on the treadmill at the gym in the morning.  Isn't that what fantastic music is supposed to do?  Create inspiration.  Makers going to make, make, make...or shake, shake, shake.  Whichever.

I don't know what I want to say but my fingernails are painted and I have a cup of hot water next to me and my one leg is crossed over the other and there are dangly earrings hitting my neck and I feel that even though life is absolutely a wild/unpredictable ride right now, I'm happy.  Love a duck, I'm happy.  

My mom and I just had a chat on the phone.  Yes, I talk to Momma D. frequently.  She's a smart lady after all.  We talked about many things - small things and big things.  Mostly we just talked about whatever which happens to be my favorite kind of talk.  It came up at one point about my tendencies to always want to know every detail.   

For many years, my life has been rather routine.  High school - college - teach a classroom - work in the school - they are all structured - and now?  Now my life is not in the least bit routine.  Each and every single day is different.  This town, that town, this meeting, those people, this road...it's a continuous ball of change.  Which causes me to throw my hands up and yell a little, "I love this!" to the sky and at the same time, causes me to go into mild anxious fits of curling in a ball and whisper a little, "Well what's next?!"  

It's pushing me to grow and adapt yet again, which I'm ever so thankful for because I want to always be striving to be different than I was before.  To be learning and grooving and jamming to T. Swift's new album.

Momma Debi gave me some of the very best advice a few weeks ago when I was having an anxious fit.  She is my mom after all so it's like she knew one day that I happened to be home, she knew I needed a little grounding and a little something from her.  So, she drove in without a real reason.  She drove in and showed up at my door all like let's visit.  I didn't tell her it was a day of curling in a ball but she came.  I kid you not, sometimes moms are really something.  

"Amy, we can all have patience.  But real patience means not just waiting, but waiting graciously."  

Yes.  I will wait graciously.  

It's a mantra I have on repeat.  

Along with the song Wildest Dreams - Taylor nailed that one. 

These pictures are from a drive on the Beartooth Pass in Red Lodge while the fog rolled in, followed shortly by hail, and him proving his steady being yet again as he navigated us and his sense of adventure as he pulled over to let me capture, "This is actually where the unicorns live, I just know it!" 

We ran.  Ran through the rain to the edge of the lookout point, laughing and carrying on until the thunder hit and we both had the look of we need to get the hell out of here before we are struck down by lightning.  The drive down from that top lookout point held feelings I hope I never forget. 



Content in the not knowing what's coming around the next foggy bend but being ready to tackle it when it does.   

Looking over and thinking yes, this guy is kinda good.  The kinda there being a big word.