Bless My Heart

the improvement of a southern girl


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The Oregon Trail, Day 2

We left out of Amarillo at 7am sharp. Well, actually 8, but it quickly turned to 7 at the state line so let’s just go with that. We settled into “the zone” quick and the biggest disappointment of the day for me was seeing this just as I drive past, not stopping. I should have stopped.

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Take note, that is NOT my photo… As I did not screech the behemoth truck to a stop and U-y over the East bound lane to get a better look.

I just kept going. And she fell asleep.

Photo cred comes from this pretty good write up here.

Just as soon as she fell asleep, I spotted a pretty little herd of antelope (pronghorn) near the road. This made me happy and I knew that I would get to see much more wildlife all day long.

I was so wrong.

I saw nothing. Not even cows again till the late evening. Nothing wants to live in New Mexico. Nothing.

The first gas stop was in Temecula, which is apparently THE town for Route 66 memorabilia. I snapped a few pics while we cruised to the Flying J truck stop. I have them on Instagram here and here.

Then, it was boring. For a long time. Albuquerque was ok… But nothing notable. Mom was snoozing again so I didn’t want to stop anyway. I just plugged along, staring at stuff like this for a loooong time.

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And then, the Petrified Forest National Park came along. For time’s sake, I’ll just post the pictures without descriptions. I thought everything was so interesting, though. I highly recommend it!

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We rolled into Flagstaff right at dusk a d it was an exhausting day. 14 hours in the road with all the stops and side trips. Yikes!

Looking forward to the Grand Canyon!


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The Oregon Trail, Day 1

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There was a clear bluebird sky today as we set out on our journey. A five-day trip across 7 states and 2500 miles. The bright yellow moving truck was packed to the gills and heavy, but I am quickly becoming a (self-proclaimed) pro at navigating it.

I’m pretty tired, but I wanted to share a few pictures before I called it a day. This country is such a diverse place. It was the big expanse of Texas today.

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I had to take a closer look at the massive wind turbines working so diligently with the hot west Texas wind. They look like something a spaceship came and placed on Earth. Right in the middle of a cattle pasture. I think I could have sat there for hours and stared at them.

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It would be fair to say that the wind machines were the most interesting part of the trip. Well. Save for one little sighting of something quite peculiar. One of those things that will always make a road trip superior to a quick flight on a plane. Something that catches your eye and makes you slam the brakes on a very heavy, loaded down Penske moving truck so you can make a quick u-turn to see again.

Something like this.

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Closer look? Yes. That’s two bikini’d mannequin chicks living the good life. Checking out the oncoming traffic on Hwy 287N.  Carry on, America. Carry on.

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The Smith Science Laboratory – Experiment 1

Abby, my 8 year old, is a young scientist. The only problem with this is that science isn’t really taught like it ought to be anymore. Math and English, kids.. that’s the important stuff.

Yeah… whatever…

I decided to take matters into my own hands and let her do some experiments at the house. This was helped by me walking upon this book one day. I quickly snatched it up, as it was EXACTLY what we needed.

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She giggled a mischievous giggle when I handed it to her. We have decided to do as much of them as possible, but at least one a weekend. #1 is quick and messy. We learned about the rapid release of carbon dioxide.

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The video speaks for itself :)

MVI 3572 from Juli Smith on Vimeo.

 


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The Problem with Authority

As I was working outside this evening I saw a group of girls pass by on their bikes. It reminded me of a memory of when I was in 6th grade. A friend and I were bumming around the streets of our mobile home park one afternoon. I don’t remember anything particular that we were doing, just hanging out as so many kids do on the streets of a trailer park. Being outside because life inside the trailer is usually tougher.

My friend’s dad came home from work and stopped to talk to her. I can not remember what was said, or how the conversation was exchanged, but I do remember the end of it. He told ME what to do. I back talked in some form or fashion. He left.

My friend told me later that her dad said that I was on “his list”.

What? I didn’t know what that was.

“You’re on his shit list.”

Well, I didn’t know what that meant. But I found out. He didn’t like me. He didn’t like that I didn’t follow his orders. He didn’t like that I had a different opinion that he. He didn’t appreciate my attitude.

I think I’ve made a lot of people’s “lists”.

I’ve really never thought about it too much, but something my husband said to me the other day sticks out in my mind. He said, “You just don’t like people telling you what to do.”

“Is that a bad thing?”, I replied.

“No. It just makes you who you are.”

Which, ladies and gentlemen, confirmed the fact that I married the perfect person for me ;)

It’s true. I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. Especially when that person has “authority” over me. Authority does not educate. It does not protect. It does not comfort. It controls.

Well… I don’t like people telling me what to do. I don’t like people trying to control me. Why? Because..

I need education. I need protection. I need comfort. I need the things that I didn’t have growing up. My parents were divorced and remarried and we were moving to Wyoming from Arkansas the summer before I turned 9 years old. Abby is the same age now as I was then.

My father was gone. My mother was there, but I can’t really say that she was present. She was busy keeping us alive and working nonstop to pay the bills. The siblings were 4, 5, and 7 years older than me. I remember being alone, a lot.

I remember finding things out for myself. A lot.

I remember mowing the yard and digging out the snow and changing my flat tires on the side of the road. I remember teaching myself how to bake, how to shave my legs, how to wear makeup. I remember teaching myself how to check the oil and change the windshield wipers. My momma taught me how to drive and how to love unconditionally. My momma is my hero, don’t get me wrong. She did what she could, but there was a lot to do.

I have no room in my life for the controllers. You were not there for me when I needed you to be there. You were not there for me when I didn’t know what I was doing. You were not there for me when I had room for you to be there.

You were not there for me.

So I became the controller. I became the leader. I saw the void in my life and I filled it with myself.

And it gets me in trouble.

It got me in trouble in high school. I mouthed off at my science teacher one too many times. I was pulled into the hallway and told if she could give me a trophy for the rudest student in the school, she would give it to me.

It got me in trouble in college. I walked out of a rehearsal when I disagreed with how the director was treating the music majors. We had a huge argument in his office. It cost me one year of school because I failed to take a major exam the next day.

Yes, it gets me in trouble with my husband. We learned that very early in the relationship, and still we work on it. Luckily, he is as hard-headed as I am.

I butted heads with people in my career for a good 5 years nonstop. Someone who wanted CONTROL over me and I refused to give it. I refused to sit back and be a sheep. To follow blindly and ignorantly. That is not who I am. It is so very hard for me to be controlled. I see things being done that I know are wrong. I see things I know that I could do a better job at doing.. and I want to do it. I am the leader. I am the one that gets things done when there is no one to do them. I am the controller.

I AM the authority in my life.

But there is a problem with that, too. Because as I stated before, authority does not educate. It does not protect. It does not comfort. And these are the things that I need.

All the traits that are good and right and make me who I am… get me in trouble sometimes. But sometimes they save me. It is a lesson I am learning, when to know the difference. What battles to fight, what battles to lose.

It’s okay to do both. I’m learning. Please have patience with me, I’ll have patience with you.


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Substitutions for Happiness

I am 6.5 months post-surgery. I’ve disappeared for a while, mainly because I hate feeling like I’m being self-centered when I post a lot. Which, I know, is ironic seeing as I have a blog dedicated to my musings. It is what it is.

My body is healed, as far as the surgery is concerned. This is a completely new body, however, and we are still trying to get to know one another. In replacement for my entire reproductive system, I now have a sticky little circular patch on my lower abdomen at all times. It doesn’t seem like an even trade.

To be honest, things aren’t going as well as I would have hoped. I would like to be recovered wholly and completely and it’s just not happening.

I’m not really sure how to fix it.

So I substitute. I substitute for the happiness that I can’t seem to find.

I curse. A lot. 
I leave town. Always hoping that the next town over has something that I’m missing out on. It usually doesn’t. New towns are distractions. Substitutes. 
I eat. 
And then I keep eating. 
I drink. 
And then I keep drinking. 
I smoke (sorry, Mom). Nicotine gives a relaxing sensation over your entire body that is not achieved by previous two things. It works so efficiently that it is easy to ignore the smell. I quit, and then I get completely stressed over something and go right back. 
I seek approval from others. But this doesn’t matter much because I never believe anything good that is ever said about me. 
I plan vacations constantly. Always wondering where the next escape will be. 
I search on realtor.com daily for the next house. Because maybe my house is my problem?

But what IS my problem? THE PROBLEM IS THAT I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS!

I have THE best husband in the world. He works hard and he loves me fiercely. I have no void there.

I have two beautiful girls that have brilliant little minds and who love me completely.

I have, probably, one of THE best jobs as a music educator in Northeast Louisiana.

I have a nice house and a nice car and a nice golden retriever to go along with it all.

But still, I substitute for my happiness. I am trying to fill a void that was not there last year. Never so intense and with me as my constant companion as it is now.

I have a slow song that I have on my running playlist. It’s been around for quite sometime but never gets old to me. A desperate song that speaks so much of how I feel. A feeling of not being enough. A feeling of not being what I should be. I have severe insecurities that stem simply from the fact that I KNOW I am not living the life that I am meant for. I am bigger than what I am. Maybe I am unhappy simply because I have succumbed to my own weaknesses and shortcomings way to often? I feel defeated by my own self.

I am not whining. I am not calling out for help. I am just stating facts. Almost every gritty post that I have made has been answered by someone privately that was going through something similar. I am honest, and people benefit from honesty… whether they like it or not ;)

“That I Would Be Good”

that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten poundsthat I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowingthat I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy

that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you


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10 Weeks

Sigh. 

I just wrote a wonderful post for two hours. And then, poof. It was gone. No back button or Command Z was gonna get it back, either. Super sad face. 

I am just gonna check in now to say that I am feeling quite great at the 10 week post-op mark. Have been feeling myself for the last couple of weeks. It is a good place to be :)

I have many other things to say, so I guess I’ll just remember to save more often next time. And not use the quick entry feature on WordPress ;)

Love. 


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One Week Post-Op

Thank you all for the messages and comments that were sent after my last post. They were all very encouraging “virtual hugs” that were much-needed and appreciated. I feel much better just getting the feelings out of my head.

The week has been slow, slow, slow. My pain medication makes me feel better than I really am, so I mess around and pick something up or clean something that I shouldn’t and BAM, back to the couch with an ouch! I’m learning and taking it slower. I try to take the dog on a little walk each morning. The first day we got about 100 ft. Today was the 3 attempt and we got about 2/10 of a mile. Ha! I start with great intentions, but then I feel my belly start aching and we turned around and head home like a barn sour horse. Looking forward to longer walks, though. I think that is key in a good recovery.

I am super excited about it being the weekend now. The Man worked hard all week long, so I was pretty much on my own this week. That was okay during the day, but a 4pm when the girls got off the school bus, it got real – real quick. Last night was a desperate supper of fish sticks and ketchup. Awesome for the girls. Not so awesome for me. We got through it though, and Jerod has promised to help me out as much as he can this weekend. Good man. :)

Things to look forward to:

  • My sister (and BIL) is flying in tomorrow from Oregon. They’ll be here for a week. Whoop, whoop!
  • Cold front is coming in tonight. I expect to wake up to a little more Autumn-ish weather. Is it sad that I’ll probably go to bed early tonight just so I can get to my morning cup of coffee on the deck that much quicker?
  • One week closer to be done with recovery ;) I’m ready to get this behind me and go for a bike ride!
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