A Day in History

Hello All! It has been a very long time since my last post…no real excuse, just life happening. I hope to get back into the habit of posting, but today is a special occasion, but not for the reason you may initially think.

15 years ago today, our country was rocked to its core by a terrible tragedy and the events of that day still seem to shape and color our way of life in ever changing ways. Today I would like to share with you the opinions of one humble writer that may just give us all pause — at least take a moment to think. The opinions expressed may or may not agree with your own, but I ask that you read with an open mind and respond with a respectful post if you choose. As my own personal disclaimer: the humble writer is my son. Andy and I have always tried to teach Justin to be true to himself and have self confidence. Today I am proud to say that his post does just that. Thank you for taking time to read! I will hopefully be posting something from myself in the near future, but for now please enjoy (and think about) the following post from Justin Glover.

I copied and pasted this from his post with his permission. This is the post in its entirety.  Again — Thank you for your respectful attention.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

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Strap in, folks. This is a long one.
I’m going to start this post with a massive disclaimer. I recognize that on this day, fifteen years ago, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in a series of terrorist attacks on the United States. It was a terrible event, and the surviving victims and their families, as well as those of the policemen and firefighters and EMTs who risked everything to help those who were suffering, are still living with the repercussions of that day. I want to say on the front end that this post is not directed at them, nor is it intended to offend them or those who know them. I admit that I cannot fully comprehend the true depth of loss they experienced that day and still experience even now, which is why I want to ensure that this post is not about those who were killed and injured, at least not directly. For that reason, allow me to restate: This post is in no way intended to attack or belittle the thousands who were killed or injured in the September 11, 2001 attacks, or the thousands upon thousands of others who witnessed the fallout from the attacks.
I also want to make it clear that this isn’t going to be a post trying to relate a wild conspiracy theory or anything of that sort. I’m as sick to death of the “Bush was in on it” and “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” and “false flag” as you probably are. If you’re looking for someone to reinforce your beliefs in said conspiracy theories, or if you want someone who legitimately subscribes to those theories so that you can send them a strongly-worded invective open letter, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Now that that’s out of the way…
On this, the fifteenth anniversary of what is admittedly one of the darkest days of our nation’s history, I’m struggling to understand why we choose today of all days to put on a pedestal above all others.
I know that may anger or offend some of you, but I ask that you hear me out before you inevitably unfollow and/or unfriend me. I understand the concept of remembering the low points in one’s life, so that the high points can be held in greater contrast, making them even better; it’s my belief that this principle is in play here, to an extent. I also understand that the point of observing 9/11 is to remember the day when “everything changed,” and that it marked a turning point in our nation’s history. By no means am I saying it should be forgotten. Indeed, we can’t afford to forget it.
What I don’t get are the people who go around on this day insisting that the things that occurred that day several years ago should still be abundantly fresh in everyone’s mind, and that this day is the single most important day in our history. (Admittedly, I’m probably strawmanning a bit here, but some of the opinions I’ve seen both online and in real life aren’t that far off.) These are the people who treat today as an excuse to parade their citizenship as though it were a badge of honor or of superiority, despite being more than willing to attack and belittle the same country the rest of the year whenever they do something that these people don’t agree with. These are the people who insist that the day be treated as essentially a 12-hour moment of silence, followed by a 12-hour loop of patriotic songs.
The problems with this mindset are twofold. First, and perhaps more importantly, it only serves as a method for justifying the rule of nationalism over rationality. It was this day that justified the war against Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Afghanistan again, and now Syria, conflicts that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties on all sides and a monetary price of $4-6 trillion (according to a 2013 Harvard study). And the end result of those wars? The deposition and execution of two central antagonists in the “War on Terror” (Hussein and bin Laden), and the upheaval of the balance of power in the Middle East. While the first part is at least somewhat noble, it does not justify the human or economic cost, nor does it entirely mitigate the issues caused by the latter consequence.
While I make no argument that bin Laden or Hussein deserved to live, I do make note that during this period, it seemed to me that anything our leaders and military did could be justified by pointing to the flag and saying, “They hit us first.” Even now, there is still a large subsection of the population who believes that we should return even more forces to the Middle East in order to spread our ideology and way of life in order to somehow fix the current problems with the Islamic State and the Syrian civil war. I’ve ranted about American exceptionalism several times before, but it’s precisely this mindset that got us involved in the Middle Eastern conflicts to begin with. The fact of the matter is, whether it’s your intention or not, by going around saying that America is the greatest nation on earth and always has been, you’re implicitly supporting this mindset. And this day in particular is a notable example for this because of its antecedents.
The other, and potentially even more far-reaching, problem I see with celebrating 9/11 as what it is is that it hinders the healing process. Tragedies happen on a daily basis, some more prominent and more harmful than others. But the reason it gets easier to deal with over time is that you eventually move on from it. You don’t forget it by any means, but you also don’t break into tears at the drop of a hat, either. Instead, you remember what happened, quietly acknowledge that it still hurts a little—because the hurt never really goes away—and continue moving on with your day. It’s hard to do at first, but eventually it normalizes. It becomes part of your life, just like anything else.
When my maternal grandmother died on April 23, 2009—almost seven and a half years ago–I was despondent. She’d moved in with us for the last few months of her life, and I was able to connect with her in a way I’d never really been able to before. I never did get to say goodbye that day; to this day I wish I had. It’s one of my biggest regrets. When the next year came, I hugged my mom (needless to say, she’s had it far worse than I did) and cried a little, because she was still on my mind. The next year after that, I thought of her sadly, wishing she were still here, and kept going. The next year after that, I thought about her for a moment and fondly remembered the times we’d spent together. And so on.
I never forgot about my granny, and I hope I never do. I simply recognized that yes, this happened, and it was sad, but there’s no reason to be sad anymore. I certainly wouldn’t like to be forcibly reminded of it by someone else, but there’s no sense treating it as though it happened yesterday. You have to keep moving forward. If you stop to pity yourself at every opportunity, you can never learn to let it go. There is a time for grief, as with anything else. But it should never consume you to the point of it being all you can think about, especially so far removed from the event.
Let’s say you’re walking down the street one day. Suddenly, a man pulls out a gun and shoots you in the chest for no reason. You go to the hospital, have surgery to remove the bullet, and eventually make a full recovery. Would you, from that point forward, go out every year on the anniversary of this happening, walk up to strangers, point to the wound, and say, “This is where I was shot on this day X years ago, isn’t that awful?” Or would you quietly try to adapt to being back in the rhythm of your everyday life? Or, in another example, what if you did want to move on, but the many eyewitnesses who were there and the news crew who just happened to be recording the whole thing reminded you of the incident every year on the anniversary of it happening? What then?
I know I’m comparing apples and oranges here, but I think it should be considered that this constant elevation of September 11 does nothing to help us move forward as a country. If we constantly look back to one day when we were at our lowest, we’re going to miss the future days when we’re at our highest. It’s good to grieve for something that legitimately hurt, and did still have a tangible effect on the nation a few years hence, but to make it such a priority after fifteen years speaks less to the “enduring American spirit” or whatever the propagandists might say, and more to the incessant need for America to be at the center of the global stage, for good or ill.
I hope this rant made sense to someone out there, assuming anyone even bothered to read the whole thing. I’m genuinely sorry if this post expresses views you don’t agree with; I’m more than willing to listen if I got facts wrong, or if I come across as fallacious. I simply feel that we as a nation ought to be above fishing for reassurance at this stage. Please let me know if I said anything that is fundamentally incorrect. If you want to offer a rebuttal, feel free to do that as well; I won’t guarantee that I’ll agree with what you have to say, but I can guarantee that I will at least pay heed to opposing viewpoints, as always.
Thanks for reading.

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Did I Really Just DO That?

I just did something that I always knew was coming, but as usual I kept telling myself that “there are years before that happens.” Well, I can’t say that anymore…I just wished my son a Happy 20th Birthday…I no longer have a teenager. Wow…just WOW… Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was holding him for the first time and promising him that we would always love him and that he could do anything he set his mind to accomplish. As much as things change over the years, the more they stay the same. I find myself still telling him this very thing. I look back over the years and I am amazed at how much he has grown and matured over time. Gone are the days of him putting a plastic bucket on his head and running into things, immediately cackling with laughter; gone are the days that he needs his Beary Bear to comfort him through the night. Gone are the days that he needs me to do everything for him. A lot of things have come and gone in 20 years. (yes, still letting that one sink in) A lot of good, and a lot of bad have happened to us. The one constant in all of this is the love I have for him and what he does/will do. He is an amazing young man who just happens to be my son! I know that there are many amazing young men out there, but I happen to know for a fact that mine is the absolute best! If you doubt me, check my Mom’s Prerogative and have no doubt. I am entitled to and I would dare say required to believe this!

Anyway, I digress. ( I can guarantee you NEVER thought I would do that.  LOL)  Today is a milestone for him, but also for me. He gets the wonder, excitement, fear and anxiety of leaving his teen years behind him and I…well, I get the fear, anxiety, wonder and excitement of him leaving his teen years behind him. While I know he is more than capable, there is (and always will be) a part of me that so strongly wants to be there to help. I guess my new mission is to fully trust that what I have done has been enough to get him a head start and even a heads up to what is coming. While I fully acknowledge that I made a LOT of mistakes, I also see that he is turning our pretty well and – inspire of my efforts – is more than OK.

Today is the first day of the rest of his life, but it is also the first day of the rest of MY life. Not only does he have to adjust to his new reality of adulthood and such — I have to adjust to him no longer being a teen. All I know is that no matter what comes, I will always be his Mom and he will ALWAYS be my baby boy. Somehow, someway we WILL make it through and the future is bright! How could it NOT be with a son like mine?  🙂

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Braver, Stronger and Smarter

When I was a little girl…just a couple of years ago…I absolutely LOVED a certain cartoon bear named Winnie the Pooh! That relationship still exists to this day — he is a special source of comfort and friendship for me. It is for this reason that I introduced my son to him from the very beginning; it just so happened that Disney decided that the world had been devoid of a full length movie about that lovable bear and his friends not long after his birth. Before the time “Pooh’s Grand Adventure” was available on tape, we were limited to a variety of short videos starring this “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” From the very start, Justin was just as enthralled with him as I was; this of course was heavenly for me. There is one quote from that movie that still lives in our family. A. A. Milne had it right when he wrote: “Promise me you’ll always remember You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” To this day, those words have special meaning and touching memories tied to them for our family.

Isn’t that the epitome of what we, as parents, dream for our children — that they would be confident in themselves and their abilities? That they would be braver, stronger and smarter? Of course it is! Naturally, each child is different and one or more of those qualities will be more readily attained than the others. In addition to that, some kids are naturally more receptive to the encouraging we provide and even some of us, as parents, are a little lacking in the abilities to follow through with our ideal plan. Even with those limitations, we still hope and dream that our kids will achieve greater than we did and become the very best they can be and achieve lofty goals — because of, or inspire of, our own involvement.

Justin turned 19 yesterday and I wanted to write something on his Facebook wall for the world to see. As I sat there trying to come up with something particularly witty or sentimental, my mind kept drifting to the above quote; I quickly determined that this quote was exactly what I wanted to say and that I didn’t need to reword it or even try to catch the sentiment. I really needed him to hear — ok, read those words from me. Then the realization happened; at that moment I realized that I needed to say them. Not because I thought he had forgotten or that I was afraid he would not remember — I needed those words to flow between us because I just needed the connection. From his 13th birthday through his 17th, I was not able to celebrate his special day with him — it has always been put off for a day or 2…or 5 because of traveling with his youth group. They returned from the trip ON his 18th, so at least I saw him for a few hours of it. All of that was ok because I had the luxury of seeing him daily leading up to and following. This year is different; not only did I not get to see him ON his birthday, but I don’t get to see him daily any more. That is just how it works when college years attack. We are at the phase of his life that he is spreading his wings and learning to fly on his own. I guess in a very real sense I am doing the very same thing, but that is a good thing. (That is not the subject of this post, but it may come out in another — who knows?!)

The entire quote goes like this:  “Promise me you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is,even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.

As Justin has grown and matured through the years, this quote has always been a part of our lives — and I expect it always will be. We learned it well before he started school and repeated it as recently as yesterday — its message remains the same. To be honest, I expect him to be telling me this one day as he moves on with this adventure called life. When that day happens, I will have to remember that I am braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. But the most important thing is, even when we are apart, you (Justin) will always be with me. 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

The little Things

Well, I am back and hopefully I will be better about the regularity of my posts. As I type this, Justin is less than a month into his second semester at the University of Tennessee at Martin and doing very well! He is now the Assistant Sports Editor at UTM’s paper — not too shabby for a Freshman!  In addition to this, he is set to join the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society in February! Yes, I am more than a little proud of my boy, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. There is just something so satisfying about having a son doing so well AND enjoying himself in the process! Yes, I said it — satisfying. Some of you know what I am trying to say, while others of you do not — and that is OK! I am learning that it is all about recognizing and acknowledging the little things — the little things that build the foundation for the bigger and better things yet to come.

One thing I am trying to do is step back and let him take over the reins of his life — not an easy thing for this Mom to do. If you know me at all, you know this to be true. I know this is a learning process for all of us, but it is a necessary thing that must happen. As a Mom, I have always believed my main job is to teach, mold and direct my son in such a way that he is ready to step out into the real world and start down his own path. The thing is — somewhere in the process I forgot to prepare MYSELF for the transition and had to play catch-up. The one question I came up with early into his first semester away at school was this:  Who thought it was a good idea  to take a group of recent high school graduates and put them in a dorm  hours away from home with limited supervision? I mean REALLY?! Some of you really grasp that, others of you have no clue, but many of you WILL!  🙂  When those thoughts creep into my head, I have to take a moment and chuckle and then just take a deep breath to regroup. Then and only then can I take a step forward and remind myself that it is just one more step to his independence. For some of you this is old hat and you have much more experience than I do, but for me it is all a little fresh and new. All I can say is that I too am going through a growing process.

Throughout this process I am learning that tiny steps of progress pave the way for more little steps forward that will lead to full strides. All in all I am doing well — most days. There are still days that I wonder who thought this whole college thing away from home is a good idea, but most days I really do see how it aids maturity. For the first time in his life he has to make day-to-day decisions without his Dad or I there to guide him. Yes, there are always phone calls, emails and other modes of communication, but it is different. Gone are the days that I make all of his meals to make sure he eats his veggies or keep track of his schedule so nothing is forgotten — we are full into the days where he has to learn self-sufficiency. Gone are the days that I control exactly how he spends his money — he must now figure out a budget, priorities and balance. Gone are the days that I  vet his friends and protect him –now he must navigate roommate relationships and all that entails.

I am remiss if I simply dwell on what is no more; I am unfair if I concentrate on what “used to be.” and I fail if I neglect to focus on the good, the positive and the growth that I see. Since moving into his dorm, I see evidence of the flashes of brilliance I longed for as the Mom of a middle schooler — those moments when I can actually say “He gets it!” I see evidence of little things that give me hope. You know what I am talking about, I know you do! After years and years of preaching to Justin about planning ahead and not waiting until the last moment, I actually see evidence that he is starting to do just that. Not only did he plan his classes well, but he did so with forethought into future semesters. Granted, he has the help of the advisors, but he asks the questions and makes the plan! And it goes beyond that — thankfully!

In addition to that, he is dealing with some very real situations involving peer pressure. Yes, I know there are always things in high school, but somehow college roommates up the ante. Thankfully, Justin has been open with both his Dad and me about things he is facing, and that is good. We have told him all of his life that we are here for him — not just for teaching, but also for listening. Without going into detail, I will just say that he as faced some pretty tempting things in his dorm room and has made some good choices. I am not by any means saying ALL his choices have been perfect since moving into his dorm, but I am pretty pleased. There is hope — and I cannot express just HOW thankful I am for that.

In all of this I do keep reminding myself to stay focussed on the big picture. My newborn infant is no more; he is growing and developing into a smart, independent and capable young man. That being said, he will ALWAYS by my baby, and he has resigned himself to this — much to his chagrin!  As his Mom, it is up to me to set the example, and I am trying. I would be doing him, and me a disservice to neglect to see the progress he is making. I have found that when I look for the good or positive, I usually find it, or the opportunity for it to blossom. I can spend my time lamenting the fact that my son is not a baby any more or I can just be overjoyed that he is growing physically, mentally and emotionally enough to be away at school. I can dwell on the fact that he is no longer under my roof and my protection or I can celebrate the fact that he is no longer under my roof and protection.  Think about that one for a moment. 🙂

On that note, and with a very happy heart, I will leave you for now. I will keep trying to look for the positive and I hope that you can too. If that sound familiar, I hope that means that you have read some of my previous posts. I can only share with you my experiences — and I hope that I can at least encourage you to try to take one step at a time into the world of looking for the good and positive. Don’t worry — I am right there with you. We can take the steps together and as always…

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

The Storm before the Calm

Well, believe it or not — I AM BAAAAAAACK!!!!  When I started this blog I had plans to write something every week or two; in fact I did pretty well in the beginning, but I have not done so well over the last few months. I ask that you bear with me as I pick this up again and venture into my new reality…my new adventure if you will.

To say that a couple of things have happened and changed in the several months since my last post would definitely be an understatement! Between Senior Prom on April 26th, emptying the house on May 26th and finally making the final move to Nashville on June 4th, we had just a few things to juggle. A few of the highlights include college registration, family visits, graduation, graduation party, packing, moving, cleaning and a trip to Texas. This doesn’t even take into account the regular day-to-day stuff involved with daily life and having a Senior in the house and a husband 3 hours away, but I think you get the general idea — I was BUSY!  Oh, and did I mention that we made another move on June 15th into our current place? Well, yeah, we did that too. I think I am due for a season of not moving for a while.

There were times in the midst of this maddening chaos that I really did want to throw my hands up and just scream; I needed an outlet for everything that was being pent-up because of the seemingly unending list that I needed to accomplish. In addition to this I had my new “normal” reality pressing in on me too — Andy was 3 hours away and we had only brief contact daily and the occasional face to face visit when it worked out. I felt alone and at times all I could do was to stop, cry it out and start over. Those times weren’t often, nor did they last for an extended time, but they served as an emotional reset of sorts and allowed me to reset and begin again. Ultimately it all worked and I managed NOT to maim or murder anyone or anything! See — self-control really does pay off!

Throughout the storm of circumstances swirling about me I knew that it would ultimately be worth it — our family would be back together in the same city and under the same roof!!! I was SO ready for that! All in all that, along with my Faith was what brought me through and kept me going even when it seemed that all was lost and I would fail. Never have I ever been more grateful for friends, family and Faith as I have over the last little bit. Without a doubt– even in the darkest of my days — did I ever lose sight of that or my goal. Now that we have made it through this storm we can set sail into the open waters and see just what the future holds.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Just a Number

We are a society of numbers — Social Security Number, telephone number, license number, address, weight, height, credit score, GPA, age, clothing size, shoe size, employee number, income, debt, ACT, SAT, school ID, password…the list goes on. Add to it as you wish. We are surrounded by numbers and there is no escape from them! Numbers are an integral and inextricable part of our lives; we have no life without a number somewhere, period. Some are in our control and others are not; that is a fact of life and I see no chance of that changing anytime soon. Yes, like it or not, our lives boil down to a series of numbers and the list is continually growing, so get used to it! (Doesn’t that sound all rosebuds and sweetness?!  haha)

Ok, Ok, Ok, so it is not all that bad and the numbers aren’t really out to get us…BUT how much power do they have OVER us? Think about it. I would chance to say that at least one — probably several — of the numbers I listed above send a you screaming or cringing in horror…Yeah, that one in particular… Perhaps another one — or two — fill you with immense pride and happiness for whatever reason. If I am like most of you, (and for this I believe I am) we have a few that we wish were bigger, longer or stronger and we have others that we really want to be smaller, shorter or weaker.Others, we just want to be DIFFERENT! The specifics vary for each of us, but the emotions run the same; we cower in fear of what the numbers tell us or rejoice with how good we look through their eyes.

For some reason our society has taken this necessity for numbers and turned it into an emotionally packed mine field that even the most confident and accomplished among us cower to their authority; numbers have come to symbolize WHO we are and not just stats about us. For whatever reason, society has convinced us that if our numbers aren’t in line with a predetermined mold we are less than worthy of respect or lower on the totem pole than what “everyone” expects. My question of the day is, Who in the world decided that one set of numbers (whatever category you like) is better than another set of numbers? Think about it – in our society we cater to the rich, famous and powerful. Why? Because their numbers fit what we have been told are the “ideal” and that is what we should be emulating. Well, if you dug into their lives or their head you would find that they too are striving for a certain set of numbers and they feel the pressure too! Guarantee it! Continue reading

Merry Christmas — and a day full of Peace!

Ah Christmas — that free-flowing, relaxed, pressure free time that we can just put out feet up and enjoy those around us!! Those around us are those that we hold most dear and just enjoy having around all year-long; no pressure, no stress and of course no guilt!  Such a wonderful time of the year!

Wait — What?  You think I am crazy? Well, the jury is still out on that, but you may have a point about my opening statement. Most of us, myself included have had the exact opposite of the peaceful, joy filled experience referenced above at least once in our lives. We live in a time where there is much pressure in place to make the Holidays “just so,” throw the “perfect party,” or simply find “the” gift; we feel the need to match someone else’s idea of Holiday cheer or be labeled a failure by others, or even worse, by ourselves. If for some reason we don’t spend enough, look long enough or labor hard enough, our Holiday is a complete disaster and we may as well have just thrown in the towel to begin with because we knew from the outset that we were just not up to snuff, so why did we even try?!  WHY oh WHY can’t Christmas just be over already!!???

OK  — STOP!!!  Breathe… good.  Inhale…Exhale…good. Repeat as necessary — I’ll wait for you!  🙂 Continue reading