Sunday, January 7, 2024

Is Luck an Actual [good] Thing?

 I'm working on a book. It is likely the same book I've been working on since before this blog existed, beforee my thirteen-year-old daughter existed, and before I met Ben.  I've been writing the bits and pieces in movie quotes stashed in my journal and texted to myself in messages; song lyrics scribbled in the edges of my calendar or shared with one of my kids on my morning drive to school; poems I wrote before parenting took over and my brain still thought in rhyme and meter; and stories I still write when I give myself permission.

I returned to my blog while combing through every file  that belongs to me and was surprised by the date stamp on the last entry. I remember writing it as though it was just the other day.  I wonder if certain memories stay with us - close like that- because they make us happy.  

My surprise quickly gave way to reality because even though I recall the memory as though it were a few days ago - I also know, the depth of pain and sadness that followed us afterwards and which is likely why I chose not to write.

Izzy had said, "We're one of the lucky ones," and I remember feeling so happy and content that she could see and understand how loved she was.  


noun: the force that causes things, especially good things, to happen to you by chance and not as a result of your own efforts or abilities

Looking back, I wish I would have affirmed all the effort we'd put in to creating her family... her existence... her happiness. 

It wasn't long after that conversation that everything changed.  I felt blindsided by Izzy's darkness and how no one could reach her.  

I'm still blindsided even though I know where the darkness comes from.  I do not believe luck exists. I do, however, wish that it did.

Love, me

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I'm One of the Lucky Ones

Isabella and I were sorting through a decade's worth of her belongings this morning when she asked if I'd mind listening to music on Alexa while we worked.  Music is never a non-option so I agreed.  I know most of the songs she listens to and was humming along as she belted out one lyric after another.




"Mom, do you know why I love this song so much?"

"I'm going to be honest with you, Izz. I have no idea."

"I love it because the words remind me to be thankful that I've never witnessed sad love like the girl in the song.  The love between you and dad is good and happy.  I'm one of the lucky ones.  I don't know - she says her parents aren't heroes but they're just like her.  That's me."

I looked at my nearly ten-year-old child and told her, "I am the girl in the song and that's why I looked and looked and looked until I found the person who understood me and would love me the way I deserve to be loved.

Here is Isabella's favorite song.

Sasha Sloan
I used to shut my door while my mother screamed in the kitchen
I'd turn the music up, get high and try not to listen
To every little fight, 'cause neither one was right
I swore I'd never be like them
But I was just a kid back then
The older I get the more that I see
My parents aren't heroes, they're just like me
And loving is hard, it don't always work
You just try your best not to get hurt
I used to be mad but now I know
Sometimes it's better to let someone go
It just hadn't hit me yet
The older I get
I used to wonder why, why they could never be happy
I used to close my eyes and pray for a whole 'nother family
Where everything was fine, one that felt like mine
I swore I'd never be like them
But I was just a kid back then
The older I get the more that I see
My parents aren't heroes, they're just like me
And loving is hard, it don't always work
You just try your best not to get hurt
I used to be mad but now I know
Sometimes it's better to let someone go
It just hadn't hit me yet
The older I get
The older I get the more that I see
My parents aren't heroes, they're just like me
And loving is hard, it don't always work
You just try your best not to get hurt
I used to be mad but now I know
Sometimes it's better to let someone go
It just hadn't hit me yet
The older I get

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Her Favorite

I never knew who I was.  

My little sister has always been special.  She was born gifted in athletics and has an outgoing spirit.  In elementary school she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle and I think that made something about her just a little more magical.  She played softball and basketball, rode bikes, and did band... My parents were proud of her.  They talked about her.  They celebrated her.  

My older sister is my mom's confidant.  They talk about everything.  She is the family sage - the medicine woman.  

But me? I remember sitting on our front steps, watching my dad work on one of his old cars, and talking to him about how mom didn't like me.  

I remember following him around our basement.  The floor cold beneath my bare feet, the smell of grease and metal filings heavy in the air - his workbench cluttered with hammers, wrenches, jars, and screws  - wanting to know if she loved me.

I remember packing a bag to run away, thinking I didn't matter.

A lifetime has passed and no amount of books, journaling, or therapy could give me what I'd longed for, what I needed, what was missing...


I overheard my mom tell a complete stranger how much she loved me...was proud of me...and I was her favorite.

I was thirty-seven years old and might as well have been seven.  It was a life changing moment.  I've spent a lifetime telling myself her feelings and approval don't matter to me because I didn't think I mattered to her.  

...but I do matter.

She loves me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I was a horrible teacher.  The absolute WORST.  I screamed.  I yelled.  I taught things incorrectly or didn't teach them at all...  I started projects I didn't know how to finish and treated most of my students the same.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I wanted to quit.

But I didn't.

Instead, the craziest thing happened.

This silly, quirky, thought provoking kid in glasses reminded me of why I chose teaching in the first place.  He challenged me, day after day, to keep going.  In the years that have followed, Julio continues to be the student who pushes me to do it better... do it with love... and have fun.

He was the first one I ever deeply connected with

                                                                         and now he's gone.

I'm still wrapping my head around how this amazing human being who impacted my life in such a tremendous way isn't here anymore.

You see, I'm awesome because of Julio.


Austin Chronicle Article Remembering Julio Santos

Body Found at Lady Bird Lake - Julio Santos III

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Broken Can Be Beautiful

My family is broken.


Because I refused to give up on hope and love and happiness.  Because I wouldn't settle.  Because I found someone who made me realize and understand that I am valuable and worthy of love... of being loved.

Because he refused to give up on hope and love and happiness.  Because he wouldn't settle.  Because he found someone who made him realize and understand that he is valuable and worthy of love... of being loved.

We are broken.





Because that's what you call a family that has separated for specific reasons, resulting in a step or blended family.

We are a family with roots twisted deep into the earth of two vastly different worlds.  We are both parents and step-parents...our children - sisters, step-sisters, and mostly sisters with siblings somewhere else.

But are we really broken?

I don't know.  

Were we fractured?  Yes.  Damaged?  Probably.  No longer in one piece or in working order?  That's just it...  We took the broken pieces and put them together to create something more amazing than we ever could have envisioned.  How is that broken?  

We are blessed.

So blessed.

...and oh so beautiful.

A year ago, we were plagued with uncertainty.
Six months ago, I wasn't sure the broken pieces would ever come back together.
Today, we are the family I remember... my family.

It has been a difficult year but we are closer and stronger because of it.  In the end, love prevailed.

We are broken.
We are blessed.
We are beautiful.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Journey to Happiness

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the day Ruth's dad and I wed.  I still remember everything as though it happened just a week or so ago.  It's funny to me how that happens... how some memories get lost and others stay with us.

Even though my marriage to Ruth's dad didn't make it and is seen as a failure to most, I look at it and see an amazing gift - true success if there ever were such a thing.  Because of Ruth's dad and our marriage I grew and evolved and became this incredible person: A scholar, a teacher, and a mother.

Our marriage did not last but our family and a life long friendship has prevailed and that, my friends, is why I continue to honor this day each year.

To my first loves, Ruth and Chris, Happy Family Day!


Monday, February 10, 2014

That's Right.

Earlier today I heard Ruth explain something by saying, "...because she's my mom and my mom is awesome."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Love Notes

One of my absolute favorite things?

The little love notes left for me from my daughters.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I've never been one to think I have a lot of friends.  To go out on a tenuous ledge, I'm even willing to admit I tend to spend most of my time wading in the waters of inadequacy and loneliness.  So I was surprised tonight when my thirteen year old daughter looked at me between bites of her dinner and said, "You have a lot of friends."

Do I?

Have a lot of friends?

My initial reaction was to gasp and deny the audacity of it - of course I don't!

But then I took the time to think about what she sees, hears, and takes part in...not just this week but always and I realized it's possible she's right.

I do have a lot of friends.

Ashtin spent several afternoons at West Pensacola with Sabrena.  We made brownies with Ms. McQueen the week we left Pensacola.  We celebrated Isabella's birthday one week and Harper's the next before the Hendersons packed my house...oh how I miss the Hendersons.  Ashtin went swimming and ate ice cream with Pippin.  She spent a week this summer with my best Texas friends Courtney, Mark, Chris, and Carolyn before we spent another week with Wendy -- someone who doesn't have to be my friend but is (and the best kind).

This week she's been on play dates and dinner visits.  She's been home when someone dropped by just to say hello and helped her Dad deliver a pie to friends who gave us soup in return.  She's walked up to our front door to find more than one holiday surprise and watched time and time again as friends offered their time, their trucks, their muscles, and their support for one reason or another.

"One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood."

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
-Albert Schweitzer

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."
-Helen Keller

I have friendships.

...More so than I realized.

I believe that is the best Christmas gift I could have been given.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Middle Name Day

Sometimes it's HARD

to keep your chin up,

to smile,

to carry on

the way

you know you should...


So I did what any super awesome person would do.

I stood in the kitchen and made a declaration.

"I hereby bequeath this day, December twenty-third, two thousand thirteen,  Middle Names Day!"

We would address one another by our second and third names rather than our first.

Let me introduce:

Ella Renee

 Nicole Carole

Destiny Grace

Awesome Sauce and The Captain

Life is better when you can step back and laugh at it even when it's being cruel and unfair.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Handful of Snow

I'm incredibly grateful for the gifts that I've been given.  Who can feel downtrodden when they have the best of everything?  From my fella and our family to all the friends I've picked up along the way, my life is full.  Knowing that is better than any material possession...even though I won't make Mr. Sides take back the Bose blue tooth speaker he ordered me.


Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013


You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.  -- William Hazlitt

The Road Not Taken
-Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay,
In leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

For Ruth

Dear Ruth,

These words are for you.  I love you.


"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
-Albert Einstein

"You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream."
-C.S. Lewis

"Whatever you are, be a good one."
-Abraham Lincoln

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"I am only one, but still I am one."
-Helen Keller

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't."
-Mark Twain

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."
-Ernest Hemingway

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
-Thomas A. Edison

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Seven Life Lessons

I love it when I come across good, solid life advice.  Michael J. Fox candidly shared this list in the October issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  Thanks, man.  I appreciate it.

My Seven Life Lessons
-Michael J. Fox

Don't let an opportunity pass you by.

Marry the right person.

Keep your head up.

Listen to your loved ones.

Teach your children well.

Fight the good fight.

Never give up.

I'm Awesome

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Be Courageous

Complaining comes so easy... it's ridiculous.

(and there I go again)

I find myself caught up in my woes, my misery, and all the ways I've been wronged instead of counting my blessings and paying attention to the grandeur that surrounds me.

This week, as one thing piled on top of another, was no exception.

I was tired.
I was emotionally drained.
And work just plain sucked.

Then, I reached out to a friend who reminded me...

I am not alone.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


   determined; firm of purpose

I embark on this new year much the same as I embark on each new day.  I am determined.  I am firm of purpose.  I [certainly] have wishes and desires but I believe I want nothing more today than I wanted yesterday - to live each moment as it presents itself and to appreciate it for what it is.

      by moment,




here          and


I shall enjoy this life

-as it is-

          it is mine

it is beautiful.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Changing Landscape

Change bothers me - uprooting my emotional nervous system at its core.  For decades, I have coveted those who drape themselves in spontaneity, rolling with the punches gracefully and with flair.


I don't roll with anything [punchy or otherwise].

Launch something on me in the spur of the moment and I can promise you I'll entertain the idea for a different moment and a better time.

This strikes me as incredibly odd for someone who will soon be able to say she has lived in five houses in five years.  Okay, one of them was a hideous apartment but, if you ask me, hideous apartments count double.  With each move and every new address I tell myself it's okay and I can do it because it will bring me one step closer back to where I started...back to Texas...back to where my soul belongs.


We can't escape it.

Much like the landscape changes with each raindrop, gust of wind, or speck of dust, we also change.  No landscape is ever exactly the same from moment to moment even though it may look that way from afar.

I believe I am a landscape.

Perhaps then, change is beautiful.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Gratitude n. acknowledgement of having received something good from another: the state of being thankful.

First known use - 1523
           Most recent use - right here, right now.

15.  All of his names sound super cool - No matter my mood, the occasion, or the place.  Ben, Benjamin, Babe, Sir, Mr. Sides, Captain Sides, My Love, Mr. Amazing...

14.  He is smarter than me but never talks about it.

13.  He sings [ALL] the words to "I'm Elmo and I know it."

12.  He has his own recipes.

11.  He can give all five girls pigtails before I decide between the blue t-shirt or the green t-shirt.

10.  He knows how to make a spreadsheet.

9.  He's humble.

8.  He never forgets to brush his teeth.

7.  His eyes actually sparkle.

6.  He was not eaten by the shark (although his Red Snapper was).

5.  He's the guy who made all the mechanical monkeys sing in the Target display.

4.  He loves Mexican food more than I do.

3.  I can trust him [and I do].

2.  Sarcasm.

1.  Loving [and being loved by] him is the greatest thing I have ever done.

Thank you, Ben, for being who I need, want, and love.

I love you.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Begin Again

I was just about to give up the day I met him.

I drove him to my favorite cafe for dinner [on a Wednesday].

I remember laughing more than I ever had.

I think I knew then [I'd found my soulmate}.

Me throw your head back laughing
like a little kid

I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause
                                                                    he never did

I've been spending the last eight months
thinking all love ever does is


               and burn

and end

but on a Wednesday in a cafe
                                          I watched it begin again.

Sunday, November 18, 2012



Definition of failure


  • 1lack of success:an economic policy that is doomed to failurethe failures of his policies
  • an unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing:bad weather had resulted in crop failures
  • 2the omission of expected or required action:their failure to comply with the basic rules
  • a lack or deficiency of a desirable quality:a failure of imagination
  • 3the action or state of not functioning:symptoms of heart failurean engine failure
  • a sudden cessation of power.
  • the collapse of a business.


mid 17th century (originally as failer, in the senses 'nonoccurrence' and 'cessation of supply'): from Anglo-Norman French failer for Old French faillir (see fail)

That pretty much sums me up in a nutshell these days.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Our Summer Vacation

In February, I vowed to be more aware of my everyday.  I also vowed to snap pictures again.

Turns out, we Sides know how to cram all sorts of fun into summertime.  We're so good at it, I found over seven hundred photographs in my computer from June to now...

What does a person do with so many photos?

They make a photo book, of course!

Turn your favorite photos into a photo book at

Live your days.