Posted in Caring for others, Children, Friendship, Introspection, Parents

Soul Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

“Soul” Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina)

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Gina and I in Panama City, 1960

 

     We were walking along a Pensacola beach around 8 a.m., after coffee and before the rest of the folks got up. We aimed to walk to the distant pier and talked nonstop the whole way.  Like evenly-matched tennis players, we served and volleyed kid woes back and forth. “He sneaks out the house so often, we have to hide our car keys now.”  “Her grades have dropped ‘cause she skips all the time.” “His room reeks of pot.”  “I hear ya’!” 

     Somehow letting go of our tales of angst gives us a kind of inner release.  We offer the worry and fear up to the sun, the waves, the breeze, and we become free to laugh out loud. Gina and I totally “get” each other, and for two hours we feel better.  On the walk back to our beach-front rental, we even rush into the surf for a quick swim and more laughter as we jump and dive into the waves. Like a couple of kids!

     Gina is my first cousin and my “soul” sister.  Even though she lived an hour away from my hometown, we saw each other often growing-up.  We shared every Keller family reunion or big holiday party at Grandma’s house for sure.  Also, we had full weeks at a time during the summer when we visited each other’s homes or went to our Indian Village camp with Grandma and Stella.

     During the 1980’s we got married and raised our kids in different states.  We didn’t spend long visits together, yet later we grabbed summer getaways when we both became public school teachers. In 1998 and 2010 we even took trips to NYC to visit my sister Gayle and sightsee and reconnect.  Gina and I snap back together easily, no matter how long we have been apart.  We share our Cajun culture, our Keller connection, and our childhood memories, and our family tragedies. Gina is  a close cousin, a trusted friend, a wise woman, a spiritual guide, and my soul sister.  She has a wit like a whip, yet it’s made of purple yarn or silly string. Her sarcasm is swift, yet stingless.  And we share a deep, honest love of movies that began in 1968 when we were both enchanted by Funny Girl.  Walking from Grandma’s to the Saturday matinees at the Liberty and then returning to sneak cigarettes while Grandma napped were big teenage moments for me.  We also worked in the theater’s concession stand and played tennis, went swimming, and obsessed over cute boys to fill the lazy summer days with good times.

     Throughout the sad, sad times and the glory days, humor has helped hold us together.  Two years ago we shared a weekend in Galveston at her sister Dana’s beach house, and while attempting to take a selfie, Gina and I laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks as we fought to keep the other bodily liquid from running down our legs!

     Now she and I even have similar living situations. My 89-year-old dad lives with me, and Gina lives with her 87-year-old mom (my dad’s sister). So Gina and I chat and commiserate and explain and laugh over phone calls.  We still “get” each other, and as we face family challenges, we share sorrows and successes and above all we laugh.  Gina is a devoted daughter, a mighty mother, and a strong Grandma GiGi.  Time with Gina is always honest and often hysterical. It can be gut-wrenching and still stay golden.  We connect easily, strongly, and soulfully.

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Gina, Gayle, me, Andrew, Yvette in Pensecola (2009)
Posted in Friendship

10 Things I Love about Austin & 1o Things I Hate about Austin by Ginger Keller Gannaway

austin-1402097__34010 Things I Love about Austin and 10 Things I Hate about Austin by Ginger Keller Gannaway

1. Green Getaways   North and South Austin meet at Ladybird Lake as the sun gleams on mid-day joggers, dog-walkers, and strollers. Don’t Austinites ever work?? Parks & greenbelt areas stay crowded every day, all-day.
2. Live Music  Venues from the Erwin Center to the Saxon Pub showcase artists like the Roots and the Resentments for music magic any night of the week. Where do we park for all these shows?? spiderhouse
3. Food Possibilities Barbeque and Tex-Mex lead the pack as the fancy and the casual share the limelight for endless tasty options. How do we decide where to get a burger, taco, or bowl of noodles?
4. Shopping Options ThriftTown thrives as do the downtown boutiques and the main malls. Why do we also need the endless cookie-cutter strip malls that litter the highways?
5. Our People  Hippies and hipsters coexist to keep Austin weirdly wonderful). Do we need so many hippies and hipsters?docs sign
6. State Capitol   Political leaders and their constituents meet, march, and make decisions in our “Call to Action” city. How do we avoid I-35 and Mopac and stay part of the action?
7. Movies   Alamo Drafthouses and the Violet Crown rule for mixing film, food, and drinks while Westgate gives us roomy recliners for cinematic comfort. Why couldn’t Austin keep the Varsity and Dobie theaters open?
8. Festivals   SXSW celebrates technology, education, film, and music, plus we have endless ways to celebrate everything from hot sauce& kites to wiener dogs & Eeyore. How do we getaway from the countless crowds?
9. Education Choices   With Montessori daycares, public and private schools, and top colleges, Austin caters to readers, thinkers, writers, creators, and entertainers. Why do the educated masses have to move to Buda to afford rent?
10.Furry Friends   Austinites love their dogs and cats as much as their kids and grandkids. What do we do with all the poop?HEB

Posted in Friendship

Crawfish Tales (repeat) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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Stretch Keller with crawfish in Austin!

I have been living in Texas for over 30 years now, and besides my family and friends, what I miss most about Louisiana is the food, and the food I miss most is the crawfish!
One of my favorite childhood memories is our annual Good Friday crawfish boil / family reunion in Indian Village at my Grandma Keller’s camp on the Calcasieu River. Long tables were set up and mountains of crawfish were boiled for over a hundred mothers, fathers, kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As Catholic Cajuns we were not allowed to eat meat the Friday before Easter, so even though that’s supposed to be some sort of sacrifice, I saw it as a wonderful time to get my fill of my favorite food that day! Just like Cajuns to turn their penance into a party!

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Mardi Gras crawfish with Crystal Fox and Julie Welch!

During the crawfish boil, no one sat to tackle peeling those spicy mud bugs as fast as they could. I remember as a kid squeezing my way in and standing between beer-drinking adults. The crawfish were poured steaming hot in the center of the newspaper-covered tables with boiled potatoes mixed in. I never bothered with the vegetables. Getting to the succulent tail meat was my mission, and I became fast at peeling them. I wasn’t as quick as cousin Jaimie who could simply suck the tails out whole, but I held my own. Also, besides the 10 oz. cans of Schiltz beer, we had little bowls of spiced-up vinegar set out. Dipping the delectable tails in vinegar is still the best way for me to savor the precious crawfish.

Nothing makes me feel at home, nothing makes my mouth water and my heart sing like eating hot boiled crawfish with a cold can of beer nearby and fellow crawfish-lovin’ folks crawfish-1at my elbows. And we eat and laugh and tell stories and share jokes and savor the spicy sweetness of fresh crawfish, and we wrap ourselves in the easy times with good friends and family who are connected by food and culture and the best crawfish tails/ tales around, cha!

 

Posted in Entertainment, Introspection

Top 10 Movie Moments in my Life by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Top 10 Movie Moments of my Life

My grandma owned the movie theaters in the small town I grew up in. Since I (along with many cousins)“got in the show free,” the Liberty Theater and Queen Cinema were my babysitters, my entertainers, and my employers during my formative years. Is that why cinema means much more to me than just moving pictures and why I connect with movies on a very visceral level?

funny-girl1. Funny Girl (1968) Barbra Streisand’s mix of comedy, music, and tragic romance awakened the film fanatic in my 12-year-old soul. I saw it 11 times over a two-week period and Barbra is still “The Greatest Star” for me.
2.  Psycho (1960) I saw this groundbreaking example of mother/son obsession in 1970 for a 10th anniversary showing, and my 8th grade buddies and I literally jumped from our seats during the shocker scenes. Hitchcock became the first director I adored. (seen it 10 times: thanks TCM)
3. Cool Hand Luke (1967) Even though I did not fully appreciate all the symbolism and complex themes when I first saw this, I did fully recognize Paul Newman as the “natural born world-shaker” he was and continues to be. (Especially in 1972 when my friends and I met him during the filming of The Drowning Pool in Lafayette, LA).

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Paul Newman with Cheryl Manuel,Kelly Keller, and Colleen (I’m taking the picture).

4. The Way We Were (1973) Both Streisand and Redford cemented my passion for the tragic side of love. (I saw it over 20 times in my junior year!) I still swoon and cry over those movie moments that remind me that love does NOT conquer all.
5. Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen so skillfully balanced neurotic humor and awkward silliness to stimulate my college brain and to reveal the laughable side of love’s impermanence. (Only twice in theaters. I don’t”get in free” outside of Eunice).
6. Casablanca (1942) In 1980 I asked my husband-of-now-33-years, Gary, to meet me at the Varsity Theater to see this ultra-cool classic whose sharp dialogue and superstar performances added moral fortitude to the lost-love theme.(8 or 9 times)
7. Brave Little Toaster (1987) So fast-forward to my life with 3 little boys who tangled me up in the wonder of talking appliances, silly songs, and travel adventures. (I lost count of times we watched it; thank you, VCR).
8. Schindler’s List (1993) The teacher part of me mixed my love of historic heroes, masterful moviemaking, and powerful education when I guided tenth graders to examine Spielberg’s genius after they read Elie Wiesel’s unforgettable Night. (Over 16 close-viewing times & the students and I always noticed new brilliant moments).
9.Boyhood (2014) – Linklater’s brave masterpiece about raising kids in Texas in the ’80’s and ’90’s mirrored my own “small moments make a life” experience with my Shane, Casey, and Evan. (Saw it twice in theaters and 6 times on DVD).boyhood
10. LaLa Land (2016) – I fell completely in love with every frame of its musical magic. Oh those gorgeous yearning looks of lost love at the end! Here’s to ALL  the“Fools Who Dream.” (Paid to see it 4 times in two weeks)

So, what are some of YOUR movie moments?  (The 2017 Oscars air  Sunday night, February 26, at 7 p.m.!!)academy_award_trophy

Posted in Caring for others, Children, I love you, Letting Go, Parenting, Parents

Hold on. Let go.A Parent’s Balancing Act by Ginger Keller Gannaway

 Hold On. Let balancing-act-momGo: A Parent’s Balancing Act
Remember. I must remember this. It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’m dropping my three-year-old Evan off at LaLa’s Home Daycare. Since I’m running late for work, I ask Evan to “be a big boy” and walk in by himself. We hug and kiss in the car. “O.K., Momma.” He walks to LaLa’s door, stops, waves, and throws me kisses. Evan will be o.k.holding-on-momLetting go of our kids, whether we’re dropping them off at daycare or telling them to call a tow truck when they’re stranded on a highway on their way to work, is a precarious balancing act. At first, we hold our infants so, so close. Those first few years our babies cry and reach for and only want their mommas. And, for the most part, mothers love being wanted. But soon parenting becomes a balancing act. Kids start to naturally pull away from the pampering and pestering, and just as naturally parents struggle with giving up control of these beings we “brought into this world.” From letting go of a tiny hand as my child takes his very first steps to letting go from an extra-tight hug when I leave that same son at his college dorm, I feel both excited and worried for my kid. As my mind pushes my three sons into independence, my heart aches to clutch them close and pat their heads.
Now Evan is 23, and I often pull up that sweet memory at LaLa’s. It’s a cold, gray day. Evan’s dressed in blue: blue sweat suit, blue jean jacket, steel blue knit cap pulled down over his ears. He takes his thumb out of his mouth, hops down from his carseat, and heads towards LaLa’s door. He’s all smiles, walking backwards, and throwing me kisses all the way down the driveway. Freeze-frame on that face. The smile that lights a universe. Those pudgy hands sending kisses my way. Those sweet cheeks and honest eyes that go down at the corners. I’ll hold tight to that sight, that face, that flood of love forever.
Next, I contrast that beautiful balance of holding close and letting go with last Wednesday when I attempted to help Shane, my 29-year-old, with his car. Shane’s car had stranded him on Hwy. 360 at 5:22 p.m. The thermostat was running extra hot while the engine was refusing to go faster than 45 mph. Now I know nothing about cars and I fear Shane knows less. I drove out to help him, and after he and I fumbled our way through adding a ton of coolant in what we hoped was the right receptor, he gingerly drove the wounded vehicle to his place while I nervously followed behind. Early Thursday morning Shane drove the still hot-running car to our longtime mechanic, and I met him there to give him a ride to work. Shane looked broken when he got into my CRV. Our mechanic had kicked Shane’s down-for-the-count ego to the curb for not towing his car to the garage the day before. There was talk of blowing a gasket or throwing a rod. Shane’s not-yet-paid-for car might be headed to the salvage yard.
“My life already sucks and now THIS!” he said.
“What, besides the car crap, sucks?”
“Well, there’s the fact that I got laid-off two weeks ago.”
“TWO WEEKS AGO!? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“ ‘Cause I knew you’d go berserk and stress me out even more.”
“Well…uh..maybe I could help. I could send you job leads or…”
“No! No! That’s not what- .”
“But I just wanna hel- .”
The rest of the conversation included unfair accusations, teary confessions, and probably some alternative facts. I inwardly told the mothering monster inside my head to, “Back off, bitch!” and the last five minutes of our car ride were a heavy, heavy silence. That day’s morning sunshine mocked our mother/son sadness. Later that day I texted Shane an apology mixed with a pithy proclamation of my love for him.
Why, oh, why doesn’t parenting get easier as we get older and wiser? Why can’t I, an English teacher, communicate with Shane, my English/ Communications graduate son?
I pull my boys in. I try to control. I say I want only to protect and serve my sons. I also want to watch my sons grow and prosper and succeed in life – in their own lives, that is. “Ay, there’s the rub.” Letting go of a kid (even in his 20’s or 30’s or 40’s…) can be like that part of the roller coaster ride when the coaster is at its highest peak, and I look at the straight-down track before the ride goes down, down, down with seemingly out-of-control speed. I LOVE that moment! I’m racing down a rickety track and my stomach jumps into my throat and I scream like a lunatic: a thrilling yet frightening sound! And for about 33 seconds I’m screaming and laughing all at once, and I don’t take a normal breath until the coaster slows and confidently ends where it began. So, seeing my kid scale a mountain or jump off a cliff (both literal and figurative ones) makes me shut my eyes and go, “Please God, please God, please God!” Then I later feel a wild and wonderful wave of relief when I open my eyes and behold my son’s full-body smile. mom-at-lunch-with-boys
Now when I recall my thumb-sucking Evan at age 3, the memory may morph into a bespectacled, bearded Evan at age 23 or blend into a poet/comic Shane, age 29 or a daredevil Casey, age 26. And the older Evan tells me not to “take it personal” when he or his brothers don’t answer my too-frequent texts or have time for dinner on Tuesday, a visit with Papa on Wednesday, a Netflix movie on Thursday, or a play date with our dog Millie on Friday night. My sons, like me, have their own lives. They’re ok. I’m ok. “Let be.”

Posted in Friendship, Introspection, Retirement

Top Ten Tuesday : Retirement

TOP TEN TUESDAYStop-ten

Introduction:
Nancy and I have decided to add a bit of structure to our blog. On Tuesdays we will post a Top Ten List, accompanied by an essay that connects to that week’s Top 10.
And since Sittin’ Ugly Sistahs don’t always follow rules, I have adjusted today’s Top Ten List to include only 7 items. (Please let us know what you think about our attempt to get more organized).
DISCLAIMER: I retired from 35 years of teaching in public schools in 2014. I am truly grateful for the TIME I now have for myself and for my growing love of writing. However, retirement has also given TIME to my “lesser angels” who have been working out 5 hours a day to gain strength and power to develop:

My Seven Deadly Sins of Retirement

by Ginger Keller Gannaway

1.SLOTH – Even though I arise at 6 a.m.,robe I stay in my robe until 2 p.m., watch Netflix until 4 p.m., decide to clean out my hall closet next week (or maybe next month), and leave a sink full of dirty dishes for my spouse to wash later because I need to find out how Stranger Things ends.

thin-mints2. GLUTTONY – I start with a single Thin Mint cookie to accompany my morning coffee, two more for a mid-morning snack, 4 cookies for dessert after my lunch, a few more to help me fix supper, and I help my hubby finish off the whole box later that evening.

3. ENVY – Since I have too much free time to skim Facebook, I start to believe every one of my friends’ kids are more independent, better-adjusted, more successful, better-looking, funnier, healthier, and happier than my own. Plus, those same wonderful children both respect and adore their parents!facebook

4. Avarice- With my new-found time, I decide it’s a good idea to go shopping everyday. I alternate a day with Amazon Prime bargains with a day full of the deals at Home Goods, Academy, or Ross-Dress-For-Less. Then at the end of each month, I get to better know all the thrift stores in town.

cabinets5. WRATH – Sharing my abundance of home time with my spouse makes me realize how sloppy, lazy, insensitive, and self-centered he has suddenly become. I never noticed how my loved-one did not know how to close a single drawer or cabinet in our kitchen, so around 10:47 p.m. one night I opened and loudly closed each and every drawer and cabinet and accidentally pulled the spice door back too far before I slammed it properly and broke its hinge.

6. LUST – While watching all six seasons of Justified, I become justifiedobsessed with the way Timothy Olyphant as Marshall Raylan Givens cocks his handsome head and wears that well-worn cowboy hat and struts so confidently into a bar or a backwoods danger zone, yet he still has a gentle look in his brown eyes when he holds his baby girl. So I ask my hubby to keep all the lights off the next time we make love and I have country music playing softly in the background. I also suggest total silence during sex so I can replay scenes of Raylan outsmarting Boyd Crowder in my head.

7. PRIDE – I now feel pity for my friends who still have to work, and from my lofty throne of Retired Greatness, I judge those who struggle to make it through a few more years of work. Poor, sad, tired Daily Grinders! I even forget that folks who do the 9 to 5 gig may not want to see a late night live music show on a Wednesday or to check out the midnight feature on a Sunday. Although I sorta strut through my days of freedom and semi-gloat about finishing Anna Karenina in 4 days, I really only want more of my favorite friends to be free from work so that they can “come out and play” with me.top-tentop-tenthrone-retired

Posted in Aging process, Christmas, Grandmother, Holidays, Introspection

Letting Go by Ginger Keller Gannaway

 

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Geraldine Latour Keller

As Dad shuffled out of his 122-year-old home, he went back to his bedroom to take down the large wooden-framed portrait of his daughter, Kelly Ann. Kelly died on September 25, 2004, and he sobbed while he unsteadily carried the picture towards the front door. I met him there and took the picture, wrapped it in a Christmas angel blanket and stacked it atop the miscellaneous mess crammed into Dad’s Pontiac Vibe. After he painfully plopped himself in the passenger seat he remembered Momma. “I forgot Gerry,” he said as he started to struggle to get up out of the car. I stopped him with, “I got it. I got it. The big photo on the hall table, right?” He nodded sadly as I hurried back into the lonely house to retrieve the black and white photo we had blown-up to display at Momma’s memorial in 2014. These were Dad’s farewell actions before I pulled shut the heavy front door of Grandma’s house. (Even though my parents had lived there since 1972, 420 S. 2nd St. would always be “Grandma’s house.”)
In Annie Hall Woody Allen says, “A relationship is like a shark. It has to keep moving or it dies.” Does the simile work for life in general? We keep moving on or we die, either literally or figuratively. And a big part of moving on is learning to let go: of places, of things, of people. The week before Christmas my sister Gayle, our close friend Mark, and I started cleaning up and clearing our Grandma’s house. We organized items in piles: Trash; Goodwill; KEEP; Leave for the house. (My cousin Chiquita had bought the house and she let us leave all the stuff we did not want to take! Merci beaucoup, Chickie!) Gayle kept quoting the book about decluttering: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , “Does it give you joy? No? So throw it.” Mark would sometimes argue over the value of an item. “This old kitchen clock is wonderful! It would remind your dad of his home. Take it.”
Since we had limited space in Dad’s car, I had to make tough decisions. I wanted Momma’s china and Mama Joe’s pie safe. Period. But then a portable hair dryer from the 1960’s and a stack of old 45’s would remind me of the freedom and freshness of being 12 years old. I caught myself putting a tube of lipstick from my momma’s winter coat in my own pocket and setting aside the dented aluminum bun warmer Momma used a lot. I opened stiff books and touched the handwritten dedication from a dead relative to a dead friend.img_3494
Later my brother Emile arrived and he made piles of old things for his three children and five grandchildren. Then someone thought of gift-wrapping unique or sentimental items to put under the Christmas tree: a tarnished tennis trophy, a pair of iron wolf book ends, a biography of Carl Sandburg. The gift tags read “from Grandma’s house” or “from Eunice” or “from Mr. Snowball.”
From December 17 to the last day of 2016, we were slowly saying good-bye to Grandma’s house, to Momma and Kelly’s memories, and to our own childhoods. We let go of stacks and even rooms of furniture, clothes, knick-knacks, and even some treasures. However, each of us took the items we needed to hold on tightly to ( two audio cassettes of an interview with Grandma, a Latour coffee cup Uncle P.J. gave Momma, Kelly’s copy of Walden.)
I let go of almost 60 years of objects from that home even as I squirreled away an LP here or a cast iron skillet there. I know that the things I took are just things, but they hold powerful memories of parties and suppers and stories and games and bad times and good times. Dad and I did not finally drive off in the Vibe until I ran back in for my final treasure from Grandma’s house: the extra-large Bulova kitchen clock from the 1940’s. Time to let go and move on down the road.img_3492

Posted in Food, Holidays, Introspection

I Dread Christmas by Ginger Keller Gannaway

I Dread Christmas

by Ginger Keller Gannawayimg_1589

     Like the cliched tangle of several strands of colored lights, I am a mess of knotted stress and on-and-off joy. For me, the Christmas smiles and laughs of surprise get swept away by the demands and deadlines of consumerism. First of all, why do we put so much money, effort, and worry into a holiday season? We spend hours spending dollars we cannot easily spare on presents most folks do not truly need or want. We drag out dusty decorations and spend more hours making our homes “merry and bright” for a few weeks of over-hyped, commercialized holiness. Why?
Perhaps when I was a kid or when my 20-something sons were kids, I enjoyed the getting and the giving. Back then we had Santa’s magic and loads of brand new playthings. Now I mainly see just the aftermath of the Christmas explosion: cookie crumbs, dirty napkins, discarded toys, and dead pine needles. And after the overdone turkey, off-key caroling, and cranky kids, all the cleaning and organizing and putting away looms large. Why?
I know. I know. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But how do days and days of shopping and decorating and shopping and planning and shopping and cleaning and shopping and cooking and shopping and traveling and shopping and visiting and shopping add up to celebrating the birth of a savior who praised love over possessions?
Call me Scrooge or the Grinch or just a grumpy old lady. This is my truth. Christmas comes too soon and demands too much from our bank accounts and our time sheets. I enjoy holiday time with my family . I savor our delicious holiday meal. I enjoy the thrill of opening presents (and watching others do the same). I still get misty-eyed when singing Christmas carols. But I need to turn the whole thing down several notches. Today is December 14 and I have not bought my sons a single present. May I stick with my “single gift for each person” plan. My home has not a single decoration. May we simply trim the tree on December 24 and call it Christmas.
A picture of a Finnish proverb is taped above my desk:
“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.”img_3375
May this thought rule my life and especially my Christmas this year. A shorter and simpler holiday leaves me more time for true joy and peace.

Posted in Uncategorized

SHIFT HAPPENS by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Shift Happens.img_3280
When I studied poetry with 9th graders, I told them to look for the “shift” in a poem. “Shift happens,” I’d declare. The poem may begin with a young girl crying over a loss in her life, but then end with an epiphany about acceptance of life’s impermanence. “Notice where the poem changes course,” I’d advise. There they could discover the poem’s kernel of truth.
Making sense of this recent political shift is a challenge. I read one comment that stated, “The people have spoken. Deal with it.” However, the popular vote did not go with the guy who won. The majority of voters SPOKE for Hillary. How do we all deal with the discrepancy? I do not believe the election was rigged or flawed, but I feel utter disbelief and confusion that so many voters supported a person I consider a bully and an instigator.
I taught public school for 34 years, and I saw kids from ages 5 to 17 who acted like this person does. I dealt with fearful, ignorant bullies who mimicked and insulted other students who were different. I handled these public assaults by counseling both the bully and his/her target. Other times I dealt with trouble-makers who tried to start fights in classes and in courtyards by using prejudice and hate to spur others to violence. Often these ringleaders would stir up the more impressionable or discontented kids in an effort to create chaos. These were kids and teens. How do we deal with adult bullies and instigators?
Calm and rational words do not tame people full of unpredictable bluster and unnecessary tantrums. How did a person who blurts out immature insults and encourages others to chant asinine threats gain the most powerful position in our government? And how do the people who voted against him handle our new reality? There is no ISS (In School Suspension) or expulsion for this bully. We are charting new territory now. Teachers often guide students who have opposing views to listen to one another and to learn how to compromise and collaborate. Who will guide this self-obsessed bully?
Let me remember that “Shift happens” in life as well as in poetry. Our country has felt a monumental shift. I have given up on predictions and likelihoods. Anything can happen. Right this moment fear and worry rule my head, yet I do not know what this major shift will bring us. All of us need to be observant and vigilant. Instead of whining and crying, let us use intelligence, wisdom, and strength to outwit instigators and out-maneuver bullies. Bullies may sometimes be beaten with hate and violence. However, blustery bullies may also be subdued with clever elements of surprise. If we reach out and connect with those whose views are different from ours, if we seek to understand and to learn from our differences, we may navigate this frightening shift in productive ways. The shift HAS happened. Now let us seek to understand its message. I am still confused, but I do know we all need to learn from each other and work at finding new American epiphanies. More of us have to come together and cooperate to navigate this new SHIFT.img_3282

Posted in Uncategorized

Overwhelmed by Ginger Gannaway

img_3117-sam     I am retired, so how can I feel so overwhelmed?!

Let’s blame it on television, the internet, social media, the Republicans, the Democrats, the liberal media, the Tea Party, 24/7 news, my kids, my husband, my 89 year-old dad, guns, toxins, gluten. Whatever.  There is too much “too much” in my world.

I may start my day at 6 a.m. and “sit ugly” with coffee, prayers, meditation, and a  casual list of things to do. I may write a letter or a thank you card.  I will read from Billy Collins’ Poetry 180. I  will walk my dog at 7:08.  Now my coffee is as strong as my spirits …until more of my world wakes up or I open my laptop.

It is all too much!

Facebook minutia floods my head.  I have way too many “friends” and I don’t know the difference between a notification and a news feed and that’s alright by me.

Later in the day the TV bombards me with too much:  DirectTV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and way too many shows recorded for my viewing pleasure.  All of my choices seem cool in theory, but we do NOT have enough time.  And the last time I binge-watched a show (Bloodline), I felt worn out and lazy and guilty and sort of sleazy.  Too many choices add to my “overwhelmedness.”

Also, the options of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and such overwhelm me.  I strive to stay connected with close friends and my three grown sons and my bro and my sis; however, at times  it is too, too much.

At times I feel like the blind cat Cupid I had as a child.  He was once attacked by a pack of wild dogs in the middle of the night, and my dad awoke to growling and shrieking in our backyard to find three dogs fighting over Cupid with either a tail or a leg in each of their mouths.  Dad shot his hunting rifle into the air and the dogs scattered.  The next morning Cupid was gone, and my parents tried to help me handle my loss.  But five days later, Cupid came limping home, so we cleaned his wounds and pampered him as much as a semi-wild outside tabby would let us.  And Cupid lived to be huge and happy for years and years.

So what in the rifle shot that will set me free and allow me to crawl into the fields and lay low and nurse myself back to a place of sanity and calm?

Just unplug and drop out, some say.  Perhaps that’s my answer, except for my music (my balm that heals all wounds).  I’ll have my paper and pen and books and I’ll stay “close to home.”  I’ll pull back from social engagements and social media.  I’ll focus on my big writing project and give it the time and attention it is insisting it really, really needs.

May I not explode or implode from this overwhelmed feeling!  My “rifle shot” may be the ink on this page.  I may not fully retreat from people and responsibilities, but I just might achieve a simple sort of balance to let me slip away just a lil bit.