Raw honesty.

How are you….?

These three simple words are spoken by all of us. They are considerate, concise, and caring. Right? Absolutely. I appreciate them, I ask them myself, all the time. They almost seem to be a reflex of sorts.

Although, an inner part of me cringes when I am asked this question at times. Why?  I’ll be completely forthright with the thoughts that flood in succession when I search for the response that I choose to share….

Because sometimes I’m not ok.

Sometimes I don’t want to talk.

Sometimes I don’t want to answer.

Sometimes I want to laugh. 

Sometimes I want to cry.

Sometimes I want to punch something.

Sometimes I want to scream into the wind as I am driving on an empty road.

Sometimes I am really, really, scarily angry and sad at one time.

Sometimes I’m ok for a while.

And sometimes I just am and I wish not to share.

I release it when the emotions arise. 

I cry. 

I laugh, I laugh loudly, and I laugh often. 

I punch the air, I kick, I dance, I jump and work it out at my favorite place other than my home, D.D.

Our society sends mixed signals: Be ok at work, be ok here, be ok there, be ok everywhere, be you at home, be not here, be not with me, for I do not wish to see what you may see.

I choose not to suppress my emotions.

I will not mask them.

I will not pretend for others.

I will not choose denial as others so plainly do.

My life is to be lived authentically.

If someone does not like that, then that is their decision.

I believe that karma and one’s own inner battles will heal the wounds that gape open before them.

I will not partake in placation.

I do not pretend when not on the stage friends.

I see you.

I see me.

And I will do me, and you can do you.  

I choose to live my life with honestly. I will not replace what was with something that eases the pain. I am going to breathe through those jabs, and stabs of fear when they rise up within me.

This is the level ground to which my heart is beating upon. I am not just in the throws of grief for my beloved sister. I am at a loss for other personal things that have transpired in the last year; and I wish not to share them with the world. And all of my experiences become these twists that build upon one another like a cyclone inside of my mind.

Oh how it spins, and spins, and spins. 

My sweet husband asked me tonight, “Have you written lately?” To which I simply replied, “No.”  This is why.  I was not sure what I even wanted to say. I realize that is alright. It is after all, my blog, it is my prerogative, it is my life. So there it is. Real. Honest. Raw. My emotion with words stating the underlining meaning. Punctuating  with syllables and letters, these thoughts now formed into words that lay before me.

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Dear Debbie Vol. II

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Dear Sister,

A friend of mine who you would love as much as I do gave me a box filled with tiny cards of inspiration. I open one card each day that I need a little pick me up. They are my, “Be Happy,” cards. I appreciate them ever so much, and the woman who bestowed upon me a gift that keeps on giving.

Much like yourself sister.

Today was a magical day and also a trying one. It has been an interesting few weeks. There are so many things I wish we could discuss with one another. So many conversations that have yet to be had. I have a lot of them in my brain and then I think to myself, “Well that’s just ridiculous because I’m locking it all away, better to share, or write it down for myself and then I can reflect on it later.”

Whenever I want to talk to you I end up turning to writing. It seems to be the best and most helpful thing to do. It’s just so hard to let it all simmer. I have to make something with this tear soup, sometimes I share it, sometimes I let it boil over and form something new in my mind.

Today was a special day at Ridgewood Elementary School. You would have loved it. You always brought people together and you still do.

I parked my car, on the neighborhood street and made my way towards the school. It is such a familiar parking lot, one I have visited so many times that I cannot even begin to count how many. But this time was different. I was not nervous, I just knew that a part of me would be sad because you wouldn’t be there.

Walking up to the school made me think of the familiar sights, the familiar smells, and the familiar vibe that Ridgewood has always had.

You should have seen all of the familiar faces coming together to honor you. It was beautiful to see all the students who loved having you as their librarian all gathered there. Some of them were so tall, so grown up, so stoic, so poised, so curious, and many of them gazing and looking away. I could just see your response to their presence in your library. You would have strolled over casually and had that amazing smile across your face and then started the conversation off with, “Well, it’s nice to see you __,” then given them a kind shoulder nudge or hug to welcome them back into the friendliest space in the building.

There were a lot of memories in that library for me today.

I remember coming to shelve books during my early college days, the smell of old papers and bindings. The sound of the type writer with labels and forms being typed up. The clicking of the keyboard, and the swipe sound as the library books were checked in and out. I can see you and Diane behind the counter chattering away and laughing, fleeting visions disappeared before my eyes.

As I looked around, every corner had a different memory for me. What must Declan have felt in there too?  He was busy in the window space playing a game of chess surrounded by other little fellows all concentrating on the game.  All of us, so many memories, positive, happy, beautiful memories that seem tangible, yet so far away.

The desk has been moved. The stuffed animals atop the bookshelves are different and there were less faux plants than I remembered.  The door to the garden was open and there were birds chirping and sun spilling in amongst the kids wandering in and out. The chess board is the same one, and it sits in pools of sunlight that break through the window.

Walking to the back of the library where your desk and piles of books used to be, I spotted a familiar sight that made me smile.

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Nina was your first author friend. I remember seeing the photograph of you two when she visited Ridgewood. What a special magical day that was. You were ecstatic and beaming.

It’s funny how so many memories are intertwined into moments we shared with one another. How those moments piled up on one another for me today.

You provided me with such a strong professional educational foundation in your school. Your colleagues welcomed me with open doors to observe, learn, grow, and question as an undergraduate student. I started as a volunteer, continued my observations, and with a masters degree graduated into a substitute teacher in the building. Your principal helped provide me with the most generous half hour of my career. I had the best coaching lesson for interviews in that school. I learned to be honest about what made me a unique individual, a forthright pioneer for education, and how to answer questions in a direct manner.

Little did I know, or any of us know that our paths would cross in this way today, all of which to honor you. Your work, your passion, and your connectivity to humanity in a community that grieves for your presence.

Sweet Catherine said she could feel you in the library today. Truer words were never spoken. I could feel you too. You touched so many wonderful student’s lives and so many community members gathered today to honor you.  Dad recited poetry and dedicated and a wonderful poem to you by Alice Cary:

True worth is in being, not seeming,— 
In doing, each day that goes by, 
Some little good—not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by. 
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth, 

There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.
We get back our mete as we measure—
We cannot do wrong and feel right, 
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight. 
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

‘Tis not in the pages of story 
The heart of its ills to beguile, 
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile. 
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas! it is only to prove 
That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets; 
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small, 
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late.
No jot of our courage abating
Our part is to work and to wait
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth.
For he who is honest is noble
Whatever his fortunes or birth.

I know that I am sending this out into the blog-a-sphere in the hopes that it reaches you. My tears wash over me and soothe my aches as I type words for you that you cannot read, but I know you would love to. Signing off with sparkles from earth, from your little sister.

Thank you to Debbie Ridpath Ohi for creating a beautiful image of Debbie. The picture to honor Debbie Alvarez will live in the library with new books displays under the art. Some beautiful new books are already in circulation.

Please check out: “Cranes of Hope,” on Facebook for more information about a beautiful nonprofit organization that a former student of Debbie’s started long ago and is continuing to blossom and grow. This student’s creations help patients going through cancer treatments gather hope each time they visit. She lovingly creates paper cranes and delivers them to locations around the greater Portland community. Her work can always benefit from positive support. ❤

Cat like visions

I was a cat in a previous life. I am certain of it. I think that the essence of former lives can be carried over into another life and tangibly or metaphorically driven into our view. I have many other feelings about who I might have been before this life time as well, but they’ll lay in the banks of my mind for now.

                                                                                Why a cat?

I am quiet, but always thinking.
I am loyal yet conscientious.
I lay low, and pounce when I need to.
I take mental notes, and I consider upon them later.
I care not for what other’s may think of me, yet I listen still and cast aside the unnecessary commentary that does nothing for the speaker nor myself. 
I have no problem staring down a culprit and pinning them with a knowing look.
I know that when truth is sought, it will become free, and there is little that I need to concern myself with in the interim. 
I can curl up and nap anywhere.
I like to cuddle and snuggle up under a blanket of warm clothes.
I make piles  to organize myself.
I drag around bags of items to and fro with teaching, to exercise, to home. 
I leave my friends and family little presents of my time or trinkets to bring them joy. 
I am content and happy to sit upon a spot  and read, just simply be, write, or what have you, for hours on end. 
I fear not when I am left in the lurch because I know that my skills will see me through. 
I speak up when it is imperative, and yet I choose what I say and do wisely.
I am an introvert. 
My claws come out when necessary, but only when I feel that the life situation has left little else to draw upon. 
I believe in karma and cats have 9 lives.
I see the truth in other’s eyes and continue watching.
I believe my spirit animal is a panther. 

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I try to believe the best in people, always.  I have a friend who taught me this phrase. I did not have the right words for a long time to express that particular notion. But there it is now, and there it shall remain. However, I will always seek the truth in the humanity around me.

In my daily life, I have found that, as of late I can be bombarded with so many signals, messages, gestures, information, and pieces of communication that have very little to do with who I am, deep inside my heart of hearts.

I think it is essential to stop, quiet my mind, and really consider without all of the noise, “What am I seeking at this current moment in time? Am I believing the best of myself and those around me?”

Sometimes it is easier to busy ourselves with another person’s story. Another person’s trials and tribulations. Another person’s words. Another person’s vision. Another person’s thoughts. Another person’s actions. Another person’s feelings for this… or that… Tit for tat.

Anything but our own mind, our own story, our own hardships, our own fears, our own feelings, our own grief. I stop and ask myself though, “What have you done to be honest with yourself, as of late?  Do you face your fears head on?

Are you honest with yourself about how you feel, about yourself, about what reflections you leave with the actions you take?

These are the questions I stop and reflect upon when I feel the tendencies as a human to slip into habits that are easier to manipulate than forcing my brain muscle into what I need and want, versus what is easy.

Life is made up of little moments. Small choices, like pebbles we leave behind.

What are the shades of your pebbles you leave on this pathway in life? Are they a reflection of your aura or are they misconceptions of what your scattered visions are with interrupting signals from afar?

So right now, in this current moment, I am choosing to be like my cat. I am going to quiet my mind, remain loyal, and continue to seek truths of all kinds for myself in my cat -human state.

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Dear Debbie Vol. 1

Dear Debbie,

It’s been over two months since I talked to you. I think that’s the longest we’ve gone without speaking since I was born.

One of the first things I did after we left the hospital was pull out my letters to you and re-read them. Dating back to 1991, when our pen pal adventures began. It made me feel better. Don’t start worrying, Andy’s got you covered with that.  His first question to me was, “Whatcha’ doing? Is that going to make you sad? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I snappily replied in wonderful Rachel fashion, “Yessssss, I’m very happy….” and went back to my land of happy in the midst of your wisdom from your freshman year of college.

In the last two months there have been so many times when I’ve stepped towards the phone and thought, “Oh I just need to call Debbie…” and then stopped myself.

I’m not going to lie. That sucks. It just sucks.

The words from Avenue Q. popped into my head, “It sucks to be me… It sucks to be you…It sucks to be ….” fill in the blank… that was one of my favorite memories of you and I. It was late spring, and we took a selfie and didn’t know it would later be called a, “Selfie.” Hahahaha. We were so ahead of our time, what else can I say? Our smiles say it all.

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Today for instance a beautiful soul in my classroom eagerly pealed open her new copy of, “A Wrinkle in Time,” she beamed up at me and said, “I just can’t wait to finish it, I have the whole series, it’s so AWESOME!” Her enthusiasm it was palpable, she is a reader after your own heart, you would have melted. She and Anne Shirley have much in common. They both hide books under their desks during arithmetic. I’ve played Ms. Stacey’s role many times. I love it. She knows how much it means to me to hear this from her too. I told her it was one of your favorite books and she was so excited to start it. Your work is never done big sis. We’re keeping it alive.

The same child wrote to me the following in early January, “Dear Mrs. B. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that wherever she is, that she’s happy. I love you.” I cried when I read that, of course. I have to appreciate the wisdom of a child when it is dispensed. Speaking of wise children…segue to the best there is, Declan.

We had a really sweet date night a few weeks ago. We wrote letters to Lenore. I wish you could have seen his joy upon digging through my sticker bag. (We know what a big deal it is to SHARE the stickers we treasure…) He found these beautiful scrap booking writer’s stickers and reveled at how perfect they were for his letter to Lenore. He bounded down the stairs and dove into creating the card, decorating, picked up the pen, and then looked at me. All I said to him was, “Do you want to write a rough draft first?” He nodded and began. I gave him a non-teacher-y lesson in how to write a letter and begin the process. He was a natural and prattled off questions and all sorts of things to share about his thinking. I was so proud of him for drafting, editing, and creating a final product by hand with lovely handwriting. He received a big high five from Aunt Rachel for that one.

That night we read a couple thoughtful books about loss. One of them he had read with you, “Boats for Papa,” and the other one was, “Missing Mommy.”  I didn’t push the topic or conversation. I simply said when picking out some story time books, “I have a couple books I’d like to read with you if you’re ok with it.” In true Declan form he said, “Oh yeah, which ones? …. Ok! I read that one with Mom.” Of course you did kid. 🙂 We had a sweet little chat about the concept of still being a family even though we can’t see you, you’re still here with us always in our hearts. I think I feel my strongest and my best when I’m with him and our family. I do ok when I’m working and staying busy too, or at least I try.

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“Idle hands are the devils playground…” is that how that saying goes? Well, irregardless, night time is the hardest for me. Perhaps it is because I am tired, emotional, calm and or, just finally listening to my heart.

I remember I had a conversation with a friend years ago about why we like youtube and she told me that, “Sometimes it’s nice to just step into someone else’s story and out of your own for a while.” And I’ve done just that.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading, I’ve been exercising, seeing friends here and there, sharing, talking, being social, and I’ve been writing.  I just haven’t felt like sharing it. I had nothing to say for a while. Then everything to say. And then nothing again.

I compose a lot of drafts in my mind. I have always done that though. I write a lot of letters, and messages I would rather write than speak. That is the introvert in me though. I’ve been working on writing out ideas here and there. Sometimes they are emotional rants, diary entries, what have you, and other times they are story ideas or skeletons of things I’ve muddled around for a while.

When I went through a writing training for Lucy Calkin’s work I was first taught, “Writers write best about what they know…” So that’s what I’m doing.

That is one of the reason’s I started the blog.  That and I realized it was high time to put my ideas into one place to share and not be afraid of my own voice.

A book I read this fall had a character in it who basically lived a shut in life after a turn of events.  However, he did reach out in his own way.  He would broadcast his own type of radio channel and music through a special radio he built for himself. He had lost a sibling and felt that the best way to reach him was to put out into the universe what he hoped would some how reach him.

I think that’s what I’m doing here.

I’m writing to you because having the conversation in my mind just isn’t working as well anymore. It seems natural in some way though. I blogged for you last year and loved every minute of sharing our memories to help surprise you every day you had that blasted radiation.

So for now, after this long winded and rambly letter I will leave you with this. A list that came back through, “Facebook memories,” something that you posted back in 2009 on my wall.  Sending you sparkles into the universe. 3 x 3 = I miss you. I love you. My sister Debbie.

Debbie Alvarez  March 5, 2009 at 7:08pm (Here’s what you’re supposed to do. Copy, paste in your notes, delete my answers and type in your answers. Then tag a few good friends! The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known things about each other. **I’m not keen on spam, don’t feel obligated to do this… :)**)

Three Names I go by:

1. Mrs. Alvarez

2. Mrs. Library Lady

3. Mommy

Three Jobs I have had in my life:
1. Data entry clerk for a trucking company
2. Waldenbooks Employee
3. Library Media Specialist (10 years and still loving it)

Three Places I have lived:
1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Bellingham, Washington
3. Beaverton, Oregon

Three TV Shows that I watch:
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Scrubs
3. Heroes

Three places I have been:
1. Hawaii
2. New Jersey
3. Europe

People who e-mail me regularly:
1. Family
2. Way too many advertisers
3. OBOB Folks

Three of my favorite foods:
1. Thai noodles
2. Pesto noodles
3. Raspberry Sorbet

Three songs you love:
1. Somewhere over the rainbow- the Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’ version
2. Ice Cream – Sarah McLachlan
3. Most Paul Simon and most Beatles songs are way up there.

Three books you would read more than once:
1. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
2. Twilight Series
3. Goodnight Moon… Any Sandra Boynton Book… Kitten’s First Full Moon

Three movies you love:
1. Princess Bride
2 You’ve Got Mail
3. Grease

Three friends I think will re-post:
Ech, brings me back to that 25 things I hate about Facebook movie… ☺

Things I am looking forward to:
1. a healthy household
2. Spring Break time with Declan
3. Summer Break time with Declan

Three drinks:
1. Chai Tea
2. Thai Iced Coffee
3. Hot Apple Cider

Three people you miss:
1. My grandparents… and family sprinkled all over
2. Jessica in Singapore
3. Good friends spread out all over…

Three sports teams:
Totally NA, not my thing.

 

Melancholy…

“Tears are words that need to be written.” 
― Paulo Coelho

The feeling of sadness I will liken to going through the ebb and flow of the tide. It rises and falls steadily each day. Sometimes I can ride it through, other times it crashes right over me. It seems unexplainable and if allowed all consuming.

Key word being: if.

I continue to fight through the fear, the feelings of sadness, and I turn towards things that bring light into my heart. Sometimes they might seem mundane, but they bring me joy.

Warm laundry.

My cat’s swishing tail on my lap.

The sound of the alarm going off allowing me to rise for another day.

The thought occurred to me to seek comfort in other wise human’s words on this subject. I paused at these quotes and found them to be harkening back to what I was finding troubling alone, when in the midst of my own thoughts today…

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer

“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.”
― Clive BarkerDays of Magic, Nights of War

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”
― José N. HarrisMI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love

“I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.”
― Salvador PlascenciaThe People of Paper

Sometimes I find it difficult to put into words what I am feeling. When I talked to my little classroom students today I said this when they wanted to know what I was absent on our last Friday before winter break, “Someone I was very close to and loved greatly was very sick, and then passed away. It makes me very sad to talk about it, but I can if you want to know more. Please ask me privately, another time, and I’ll answer your questions as best I can. For right now, let’s focus on all the happy things we have the opportunity to do together. :)”

I think she would have liked my explanation.

They all looked at me with such seriousness and we moved forward with the day, as we should, and as she would have done.

I hope that with the words of Ms. Stacy from the tales in which Anne Shirley found challenging, I will look anew at the next day, “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.”

❤ Sparkle on friends. ❤

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