The Best (Not So Average) Back to School Blog Posts.

Back to school- it’s that time of year again. A time full of hustle and bustle, and schedules. And, let’s face it, it is the second most stressful time of the year. The time of year when we want to pull all our hair out and finish off the last remaining drops of wine from every bottle. But, it doesn’t have to be.

1- 14 Tips for a Successful School Year– In the article, 14 Tips for a Successful School Year, author Joanne Foster provides 14 tried and true tips for strengthening the resilience, creativity, and productivity of children to prepare for a more successful school year. The tips range from fostering creativity through challenges and opportunities to providing abundant resources to promote growth and reflection. The tips also include providing comfort zones that offer encouragement and reinforcement, as well as establishing consistency and routines. Being aware and expressing pride in the accomplishments of the child are also conducive to a successful school year. Joanne also expresses the need for nurturing the children’s need for autonomy and developing the habits of gratitude. I have rounded up four back-to-school blogs that will provide you with enough ammunition to tackle those early mornings and sleepy routines with pride and vigor!

It all begins with a good game plan!

2- The Success Myth– In her article on Psychology Today, The Success Myth, Heidi Grant Halvorson approaches the idea of success. As parents, we naturally want our children to excel in any endeavor they set out to achieve. However, as Heidi explains, not every endeavor will come naturally to every child. We want our children to have the best teachers and the best school curriculum, and we place them in various after-school activities or sports programs so that they can have the best opportunity to go far in life. They say practice makes perfect. And, to some degree is does. For instance, many high profile athletes were not originally very good in their field, but they kept practicing and pushing themselves to achieve their goals. Therefore, as parents, we should always encourage our children to keep practicing. You child may wish to play football or gymnastics, but may not be naturally very athletic. Encouraging them to continue practicing and not give up when things seem hard will not only instill in them the drive to keep going when things get tough in other areas of their lives as they age, but the payoff will be when they make the team that the so eagerly hoped for. The opposite side of this spectrum is when parents push their child to excel at something because it is the parent’s wish for them to be great at it, or the parent uses the loophole of, “I paid for this, now you are going to play.” As parents, we should be encouraging and supportive to help them foster the dreams and goals they envision for their future. Parent involvement is important to a child’s success, both in school academics as well as any after-school activities like sports or music lessons. However, realizing that not every child can catch a fly-ball, or steal home base, or win a championship spelling bee, let them know that is okay too. They will find their niche in the world. They are young. They still have time to try many things to find that niche.

Find ways to combat social anxiety.

3- How to Help Kids With Social Anxiety– In her article, How to Help Kids With Social Anxiety. While many back to school articles will provide you with a plethora tips on how to pick out the best back pack or what lunch box will get you the most bang for your buck, Kate Hurley, LCSW, tackles an under talked about, yet equally important topic- social anxiety. Back to school can be a trying a scary time for kids and teenagers, alike. The stress of back to school can be significantly increased if the child is attending a new school, advancing up from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school, or even just the thought of getting adjusted to a new teacher or new classmates. Kate breaks down social anxiety to help parents gain a better understanding of why kids can experience it, as well as signs of social anxiety to look for in your child. Kate goes on to provide valuable coping skills and strategies to help your child better manage their social anxiety.

Set up a command center

4- 15 Back-to-School Hacks to Get Your Year Off to a Running Start- Finally, in the Good Housekeeping article, 15 Back-to-School Hacks to Get Your Year Off to a Good Start, we find Marisa Lascala providing 15 do it yourself ideas to help back to school with ease. The tips and hacks she provides can be done relatively easy and will help reduce the amount of stress for both parents and children as you adjust and trek through another school year. She starts her back-to-school hacks list with setting routines. I am a huge fan of routines, and use them myself in my daily life. It is important to keep children on a routine, as much as possible, during school seasons. When they know what is expected of them it helps to avoid, or at least reduce, unnecessary rebellion. Also, given that it takes at least a good two months to form new habits, by by repeating their routine daily, they will have a better chance for adopting this new routine and reduce the amount of time you will have to spend reminding them of their schedules. Routines vary for every family or individual. There are many variables that come in to play when developing a school routine for your children. Marisa also discusses the idea of setting up a command center. The size and layout of your command center can depend greatly on the space and location you have available for one. We live busy lives, coming and going. Some families have two parents who work outside of the home, others have only one. But regardless of parents’ work schedules, setting up a command center is an invaluable back-to-school idea. At any given time, any member of the family can easily access and look over the command center and see upcoming events or the schedule for the day. You can search on Pinterest for ideas and suggests for setting up a functional command center. It can be as simple or as extravagant as you would like for it to be.

Setting routines and fostering an encouraging and supportive environment are key components of any successful school year. Getting back into the school swing, doesn’t have to be an exhaustive and stressful time. I hope these related articles will help provide you with some insight and encouragement as you set out on the new school year. Happy schooling!

A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

School’s In! Tips for Getting Organized for the New School Year.

It is with a degree of difficulty that we think about giving up that last little slice of the summer pie we have been afforded year after year. But, alas, as summer draws to a close and fall is upon the horizon, it is time to prepare for that ever daunting task of getting back to school The time doesn’t have to be stressful, however. And, I have created some tips to help get you organized and all set for the new school year with a degree of optimism and enthusiasm like never before.

Morning Routine– No matter if you are a busy mom with children heading back off to school, you are a college student, or you are a more non-traditional adult with no small children, but have a full time job and are working on college courses, either online or in a brick and mortar university, having a solid morning routine can substantially set you up for a more successful school year. Morning routines are as varied as the individual that is executing them. Perhaps, you are a stay at home mom who only needs to be mindful of the time in which the children need to be ready for the school bus or time to leave for the school drop off line; or maybe you work outside the home and have a specific time that you have to have everyone ready to leave the house in order to arrive to work on time. It is simply a matter of taking into account any times that have to be allotted for non-negotiable things, such as school times, work times, and commute times. My current morning routine consists of two components- house chores and self care. My morning house routine is to being my day with unloading the dishwasher, swish and swipe the bathrooms, make the bed, and begin a load of laundry. Likewise, my morning self care routine is brushing my teeth, applying my morning power serum, day cream with sunscreen, make up and hair. I’m both cursed and lucky in the regard that my hair is short and thin, so I do not have to allow for extra time for hair straighteners or curlers. My whole morning routine takes me less than thirty minutes to complete. I currently work from home, so I do not have to stick to a rigid time frame for completing my morning routine. However, that was not always the case. I used to work outside of the home and I knew what time I needed to leave to arrive to work on time, taking into account that I was in the heart of the rush hour commute in Atlanta traffic. I made allowances by getting up thirty to forty minutes earlier to provide the time needed to complete my morning chores and maintain my morning routine.

Make a Plan– I cannot stress enough the value of a functional planner. I put emphasis on the word functional, because it is all too common and all too easy to start preparing for a new school year by purchasing a crisp, clean, and gorgeous new planner to keep track of all of your important dates and reminders, yet after a few weeks or so, the planner seems to fall by the way side and gets written in less and less as you find yourself forgetting more important things. The planner system that I currently use is the Happy Planner brand. I chose it for its functionality as well as customization. I have played around with a variety of planners from the generic Walmart planners to Franklin Covey and I have a set up ready for 2020 from the Agenda 52 line to go back to a binder style planner. Regardless of what brand or style of planner you choose, it should be one that is functional for all of your needs and user friendly enough to inspire you to refer to it and write in it daily. The idea is that keeping a planner is essential to tracking appointments and assignment due dates.

Prep for the Evenings– As important as a morning routine is, having an evening routine can be just as vital. Evening routines include tasks such as dinner, cleaning the kitchen, baths, and laying out clothes for the next day. A good way to prepare for the evenings, and alleviate a lot of undue stress is menu planning. By planning out your menus in advance, you can adjust day by day, according to any after work or after school appointments or errands and prep easy to fix meals on the days that you have commitments that would otherwise take away time needed to prepare a complicated recipe dish. For instance, ball practice after school? Toss an easy roast in the crock pot, set on low, and when you arrive home dinner will be ready with only a quick side dish or two. Side note, steam vegetables make a wonderful quick side dish on those busy nights! In an effort to try and have an easy and stress free evening, try to implement planning for the evening and night routines as much as you can early on in the day or on a Sunday evening, to alleviate a lot of the juggling and panic to try and decide on a dinner choice or locate the baseball mitt on the fly.

Delegate- As mothers, we tend to want to do everything for everyone. It is, in essence, in our nature to be nurturers. But, being a nurturer and being a martyr are two completely different things. While we love our families and love taking care of them, we do not have to do it all. It is possible, and essential to delegate our work to the other members of our family. Even small children can benefit from being assigned to pick up their own toys or put their clothes in the hamper for washing. Taking on everything can be stressful and limiting in the amount of quality time we spend with our families. So, take a few items off your to-do list, and graciously gift them to family members who can handle those tasks. The work will get completed much quicker, and you can enjoy a few moments of blissful silence relaxing in the bubble bath with a glass of chilled wine at the end of the evening. Oh yeah, and enjoy time spend with the family as well. Now, the important, and I do me the most important thing to remember when delegating tasks to the other members of your family is – do not expect perfection! Perfection is an illusion best saved for fools. Be grateful to them for the help they provide you. Do not go behind your children and re-make their beds or re-fold their clothes in the drawer. Just enjoy that you had the time freed up and enjoy sitting with them on the couch enjoying a movie before bed time.

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Finding One’s Self

            The quest to find one’s identity is the heartbeat of humanity. The quest for identity can be attributed to many things that lay the foundation to one’s identity, such as race, culture, sex, or even personal history. Daniel Keys’ writing of “Flowers for Algernon” is an example of one man’s journey to find himself. Everyone lives their life as a journey to simply find their one true self.

            Everyone deserves to be treated as though their life has meaning and value. Incidentally, Charlie Gordon defends his right to be seen as somebody. “” But I’m not an inanimate object” I argued, “I’m a person.”” (Keys p 89). This argument of his has the haunting element of the many peoples who have been trapped in the bonds of slavery over the years, proclaiming their right to be seen as equals, also that statement can be ingrained in a society of oppressed people such as the Jews who were horrifically persecuted and maimed simply because of being Jewish and their desperate cries to be seen as a real people, who deserved a place and a right in society as much as any other nation of people.

            Another standard by which some choose to use as a form of personal identity is one’s status. For some people, the more they have, whether it is friends or possessions, the more popular or revered they will be. Charlie Gordon believed that if he gained more intelligence, was smarter, everyone would like him more and he would have more friends. He recorded this theory as he was writing in his progress reports before he had the surgery to make him smarter. “If your smart you can have lots of friends to talk to and you never get lonely by yourself all the time.” (Keys p 15). This is much the same way of thinking by people who believe that the more nicer things they have, such as, expensive sports cars, boats, or expensive material things the more status they will have and therefore people will look up to them and admire them. It also correlates to the idea that others have, in that, if they “go with the flow” and do what the “in crowd” does, they will have more friends and not be lonely; such as, if they go clubbing or to bars and drink and party like everyone does, they will always have lots of friends around and never worry about being lonely. However, sadly enough, this way of thinking is shallow and generally lends itself to reckless actions that leads on to finding themselves in a much worse place than they were before they tried to use their status to forge friendships.

            Charlie learned after his operation that intelligence is also an identifying factor in one’s identity. People become categorized by the level of their education or intelligence and others react to them accordingly. Often times people of higher intelligence tend to look down or dismiss the validity of someone else because they are of lesser intelligence. In a conversation between Charlie and Alice, this idea was addressed as she pointed out to him that he, in fact, made her feel awkward following the operation because she could not keep up with him intellectually and stated that next to Charlie, she felt dull-witted. She went on to say to him that now, most days that they see each other, after she leaves him, she goes home with a miserable feeling that she is now slow and dense about everything. She explains that she reviews things that they have said to each other and thinks of things that she should have said and thinks of all the bright and witty things that she should have said, then feels like kicking herself because she did not think to say them when they were together. This kind of intelligence segregation begins early in life. One can see it in schools where the smart, or more commonly referred to as, “preppy” kids demean or simply ignore the lesser aptitude students. It is also prevalent in the workplace as higher up the management chain. The more educated and higher salaried employees do not really do any kind of socializing wither the lower educated and lesser salaried employees. In many cases, it falls back to the status ideology, but mostly in these situations, it simply rests on the principle that at different intelligence levels, they do not have very much in common and do not have the ability to communicate on the same intellectual levels.

            From birth, one’s family, culture, heritage, and ethnicity begin laying the groundwork to their identity. As one progresses through life, factors such as education, work experiences, status, friends, and relationships mold the clay and help to define their one true identity. Each individual lives out their lives in a way so as to find that quest on one’s true self. Charlie Gordon gained just enough intelligence to realize that no matter how much one can alter their life, deep down, there is no changing who a person truly is. The core value of the idea is that all men are created equal, but society sets the standards by which all men are perceived.


Keys, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.  

When the Water Recedes

Life throws a lot of things our way. Life will send the storms; the flood, the fire, and the rain. But I believe the most important thing to consider is, when the water recedes, what does your character say about you? I have literally been through some of life’s storms. My son and I were trapped in our severely damaged home after the Palm Sunday tornadoes in 1994, and most recently my family survived a devastating flood. Having to jump from a window because we were in danger and getting to higher ground to watch our life literally floating away before our very eyes. They say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but I like to take that a step further and say that I believe what doesn’t kill you can make you kinder.

One who learns to value how fragile life is can in turn learn to appreciate even the smallest gestures of kindness. Since the flood, I have seen my sixteen year old daughter really grow in her maturity. She has ministered to friends at school, and even to those in school whom she does not consider very friendly. She makes posts on Facebook and Twitter that get hundreds of likes and retweets. She has become quite the inspiration to many, and she is without doubt the most uplifting person I know. Her character speaks volumes of the wonderful person she is, and people are naturally drawn to her because they feel better just being around her.

 Since the flood, I have become more aware of people, as in their actions and reactions. I recently took my car in for service at the dealership, and while I was there I planned to catch up on some of my reading. I found myself getting sidelined by people watching instead. Mostly I was watching and listening to the employees of the service department. Many of the “grunt” workers of the department were coming into the main area and mingling a bit. As I watched them and caught bits and pieces of their side conversations, I gathered it was lunch time and the service department manager had lunch catered in to them every day. I was highly impressed by this. Not by the fact they were enjoying BBQ sandwiches as much, but rather in how they responded to him and him with them. He was more than a boss to the men in his employ, he was a leader. Many places would think nothing of the employees clocking out, fighting traffic to get to a place of choice, and waiting to get their meal before finally eating only to fight traffic getting back. But there was no “every man for himself” attitude in that service department. I could easily see the employees not only respected him, but admired him, and they followed his example. I was so impressed by witnessing of the service manager’s character, that I called my daughter right there in the lounge and bragged emphatically over the place.

I’ve also taken notice of people’s reactions to you in checkout lines. Of course employees are taught to say the generic “have a nice day” as part of their customer service training. But how many people going through those lines, actually appreciate or take time to reciprocate their “have a nice day?” I have started a habit, sadly I do not remember to do it every time while in checkout lines- I’m far from perfect, but when the cashier says for me to have a nice day, I reply with “thank you, and you have a blessed day as well.”  I have had quite a response to this. I’ve had many people take a double take, light up, and say, “Thank you so much!” with gleaming smiles.

am I being Kind

We all have bad days, bad weeks, and bad years, but the trick is, not to let the storm make you bitter. Besides, we never know when someone else’s day is worse. Are they still in their time of flood season? Maybe just a simple gesture of kindness can make a difference in someone’s storm. So when life throws her perils your way, and the waters recede from the flood, what will your character say about you? Anyone can learn the mundane task of repeating “have a nice day” as part of your routine. But I believe people should be sincere in their delivering and receiving of even the simplest acts of kindness. I believe that once the dust settles and when the water recedes, people have the ability to learn valuable lessons from the story, and even greater, the ability to grow from the experience. Just like glass is put into the fire to refine it and make it something beautiful, I believe we can use our trials by fire to refine us and build the kind of character that legacies are made of.

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Stella Got Her Groove Back, Why Can’t I?

Being a strong, independent woman is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet, it does not always serve one well in the grand scheme of life. Never, will I ever, say that being strong or independent are characteristics that are not admirable or desired. However, there are times in life where we find ourselves at a crossroads in which it is best to just sit back and allow fate to control our paths. It has been said that some of the best things in life are either free or unplanned. The greatest things in life are both.

I was doing pretty well for myself. I had a good job and made a decent living. I had a cute little “hipster” house for myself and my then eighteen-year-old daughter. I was taking college courses to complete my next-level degree. And, I had a pretty rad car, a brand new 2013 Camaro, that I felt like a total bad ass driving around. I belonged to a Camaro car club and went to car shows and races when I wanted to and did not go when I did not want to. I had a friend who had introduced me to gold prospecting, and when I was not off on some car club event or writing six page essays, I was knee deep in some North Georgia creek shoveling out pans of pay dirt to sift through and add to my vial of shimmering flakes of promise and prosperity. Ah, there was something very intoxicating indeed about holding up that glass container full of nuggets and flakes that had not been before touched by human hands. I had a good life. I had it all together. My life was utterly perfect, right?

Enter, stage right. It seemed simple enough, a friend request from a Facebook car group was not an uncommon occurrence. Then, he showed up in my direct message inbox. Also, not altogether an unheard-of occurrence. I checked out his profile. I mean, we can all say we are not, and we can try to pretend and even convince ourselves we are not in the least bit materialistic and reactive to people based on their physical appearance. But all of the pretending in the world does not change the fact that we are human, and we are reactive to people based on their physical appearance and how they can be perceived by the world. He was surely cute, and very small-town country, which lent an air of charming about him that made him all the more appealing. But then there it was. His birthdate. How could this be? I had a child of my very own that was older than him. I mean, sure, it was very flattering to be flirted with by a younger man. But, was this too far? Was he too young? I let reason and logic get the better of me and fought back his flirtatious advances by calling him “small fry” continually reminding him that I had “given birth to people older than him.” It seemed the more I resisted, the harder he pursued. That boy definitely had no quit in him. Eventually, I had given in and gave him my cell phone number so that we could chat with each other on just more than the Facebook app. His voice was so deeply rich in southern twang. I am, myself, from North Georgia and have for the better part of my life been made fun of for my southern accent. But this small-town North Carolina boy even impressed me with how country is twang was. He was charming and opinionated. Over time, getting to talk to him and listen to his infectious laughter became one of my most anticipated highlights of my day. Eventually, we reached that critical point in every online relationship, he wanted to meet offline. Deep down, I wanted to meet him too. Just to be near him both excited me and scared the hell out of me simultaneously. I mean, there was still that giant elephant in the room, and I was not sure how that would play out if we did meet and discovered that we did, in fact, have a real romantic connection. My daughter and her best friend, who, after reading every single text between us and convincing me to put him on speaker for some of our conversations to listen in on us, encouraged us to meet. My daughter’s friend struck the final blow when she told me that, “if he is willing to make that much of an effort, he deserves a chance.” To this day, I still give Lauren full credit for everything that has happened since then.

So, with nervous anticipation, I packed a small weekend bag, and headed out after work for the longest and most nerve-wrecking five-hour drive of my life. What was I doing? Was I really driving two states away to meet a boy half my junior, and for what? What did I really expect to come of this? Did I really think this was going to be some romantic fairy tale? I experienced every emotion imaginable during that drive. When I arrived and I saw him in person for the first time, my hands were shaking. He immediately calmed me as he wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. The kind of hug that says, I have waited for this for such a long time. Suddenly, all of the playful banter and flirting became very real. We spent the next two days barely out of each other’s sight. It was magical, and surreal all at once. We went out in public, and I was aware of the questioning and condescending stares from strangers. He did not care, or he was completely oblivious; either way, he had no reaction to anyone and their judgments. He was enthralled in our spending time together. That Sunday morning as I drove him back to his house, it was the most somber and sad drive. He all but begged me not to leave, and admittedly, there was a part of me that never wanted to leave his side. But my life and my job and my family were back in Georgia, and Georgia was where I had to be. I left the radio turned off in the car and just reflected about the weekend and what it meant as I drove south. Once I crossed the South Carolina state line, I was overcome with such sadness, already missing him. I cried.

A week later, there was a huge car show event in Atlanta, and then a big race that every car enthusiast around planned to attend. We had talked about it several times. I had already made plans to go, and we had hoped for him to get to go with me. He decided to. Since he lived a solid five and a half hours away, the plan was for him to stay with me for two weeks and we would enjoy the two car events. I was excited during that week to get to see him again. I had confided in a few of my coworkers about our meeting, and there was, as expected, mixed reactions, given the great white elephant. But, at the end of the day, they loved me and wanted me to be happy, they just also wanted me to be smart about what I chose to pursue that happiness. The week passed and we were back together. It was glorious! We enjoyed both car events, and just spending the evenings after I got home from work being together. I showed him some of my favorite and most special places around town. We talked, and laughed, and held hands, and fell in love during those two weeks. The weeks passed and he continued to stay at my place. At first, I did not mention it, because I was really enjoying having him there with me. One night, we drove to the mountain overlook, one of the most sacred and special places for me. I brought up the subject, given that he had came to stay with me for an intended two weeks with nothing more than a duffle bag full of clothes. As we sat overlooking the city down below us and the stars above, shining incredibly bright against the black sky backdrop, we talked, and we cried. We talked of what we wanted out of life, what made sense, what seemed irrational, and what felt right. We both cried a little as he talked about how torn he was between going back home and staying with me forever. I said little, because deep down, I had come to love him, and I wanted him to stay. But I could not be selfish, so I simply said that it had to be his choice. As if on cue, the Perseid meteor shower began all around the sky overhead. He pulled me in close to him, pressed his face to mine, and I could feel his tears as they washed down my cheek. A great silence filled the air, and I knew no matter what he decided, I had to accept it and simply be grateful for the moment we shared. He pulled back and looked at me. The light from the stars and the meteor shower reflecting in those big beautiful eyes of his as he smiled down at me. He did not have to tell me that he had made his choice, or what he had decided, I felt it in every fiber of my being. We sat for several hours under the spectacular light show the universe had put on for us that night and we talked about our future. Being in a real relationship would not be an easy feat, given the white elephant. There would be many people, even family and friends, who would not accept it or support it. We talked out every scenario and defeated any doubt lingering. Everyone would not agree with it, but we had reached a point where that no longer mattered. We were in love, and we were going to do this.

As expected, a lot of people were not very excited about our relationship. Many questioned it, others doubted it would last past being more than a summer fling. But, over time, everyone changed their opinions of us. My daughter has always been very supportive of our relationship, as she had said once that she has never seen me this happy. It is not about me being unhappy prior to meeting him; remember I had a good life going and had my shit together. I had a good family support system, I had friends both at and outside of work, and I had hobbies and did things that I enjoyed. But she knew, as human beings, it is in our nature to desire being in relationships. Whether they are platonic, family, or romantic, we are ingrained to have relationships. I was not looking to find someone to date when I met him, yet our relationship has provided me so much in ways that I had never imagined. She saw that and has always been our biggest cheerleader. I always said that I never wanted someone to complete me; that I wanted to be complete and whole as a person on my own, then to find someone who would simply add to the quality of my life. I have stuck by that idea. He did not bring anything material to the table, as I had a good job, a nice car, and already lived on my own fully self-sustaining. But what he has added to my life has been companionship, friendship, romance, love, and joy. Things that I would not have otherwise. Our life was shaping up to be something great. One night, over a half a bottle of Everclear and Orange Juice, we talked about making this permanent. We joked about it after the fact, but I believe mainly that was because each of us thought the alcohol was talking for the other and we were nervous to ask each other if we really meant everything, we said that night. Yet, with Brianna’s help, he set up the most incredible scene at the million-dollar view on Christmas Eve, and slipped a ring on my finger. A promise of forever was made under an overcast rain-drizzled night.

Since that night, we have made things official and were married on a sunny September afternoon. We also made another huge leap of faith when we decided to follow my son and daughter in law to Southwest Florida to live. Ironically, my dream for the past ten years has been to live in a condo in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first trip we had taken together for our birthday was to St Augustine Florida, not exactly the Gulf, I know, but it somehow made Florida special for us. Sadly, Ryan and Teresa decided not to stay, and they elected to move the babies back to north Georgia. It was very hard for us, but at the end of the day, we had to respect their choice. For various reasons, we have stayed in Florida. There are days when we hate it and days when we love it. He is more than my best friend; he is my rock. He holds me and lets my cry when I miss my family or want an ice cream date with my granddaughter. He risks an almost guaranteed sunburn to brave the beach with me, because he knows, “that’s what you move to Florida for.” Our relationship has not been without it share of storms, but we have managed to weather them, thus far. Will our age difference defy the odds and our relationship stand the test of time and last forever? Who is to say, really? Only time can tell. But I am not planning to waste any precious time right now trying to worry over whether it will last or for how long. Right now, it is, and that is all that matters. I told him once that regardless of whether we make it or not, and there will always be a chance that we will not, no matter what happens, I will always be grateful for the time that we have had, for the things that we have shared, and for the love created, and for the life that we have enjoyed. I have also told him that we are going to have a great life, and we do have a great life. No matter how long it lasts, if it lasts forever or if it only lasts a few years, I have a great life with Henry, and a life that I will always be grateful for.

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