Sunday, October 12, 2014

~Dare to Daydream~

She takes my breath away.  There’s no other way to describe it.  I don’t render myself speechless often, but when it comes to her, she takes me to that place where words leave and the soul slows down. 

Big blue eyes.
Blonde whispy hair around her face.
Small dimples in the crease of her smile.

I think she goes there too.  I will catch a glimpse of her in the rearview mirror, gazing into nowhere while the wind blows through her hair.  She makes eye contact and gives me a sideways grin.  She knows that I am all too familiar with that place.

We hear too often how she’s my “mini-me”.  I’m sure in my younger day, it could be true.  While, I appreciate the compliment, I have to say, she’s so much more than I could have ever dreamed.


Her life lullaby, Daydream Believer, almost appears intentional, like a slow molding of her soul.  If only.  If only it were that easy.

“Cheer up, Lily Bean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.”

She came in to this world on her own terms, early and with little preparation.  She simply wasn’t going to wait around until everyone arrived, including the doctor.  Once she made her grand entrance, she barely let out a whimper and immediately found her self-soothers, her two middle fingers.

Our Lily girl, is a spirit all her own.  She is bold when she needs to be, and then in one swift move, she nestles into her calm place, like a comfortable blanket.

Tomorrow she celebrates her 9th birthday, the last in single digits.  I know the next several years have the potential for an extreme amount of turmoil.  My prayers are simple.

May she know she is loved.
May her life shine bright.
May she never stop daydreaming.

Happy 9th Birthday Bean!

~ao, aka Mama

Friday, October 10, 2014


It was the year of the MLB Player Strike and Forrest Gump.  Millions also watched as police chased OJ Simpson in a white bronco.  I was twenty years old and settled in to my first off-campus apartment.  I was starting to gain momentum on my new life in Cleveland.

The call came on a normal October day that started with class and work.  As soon as I heard my mom’s voice, I knew something was wrong.  My childhood friend, Brad, had been killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. 

I met Brad in the 4th Grade.  He was immature and completely ridiculous.  He was the kind of kid that would pick his nose and wipe it on you.  Fortunately for him, he had a charm that far exceeded his grossness and a smile that made you feel like the most important person in the room.  We became instant friends.

We spent our summers bike riding and playing tennis.  In the winter, we would play hockey and inevitably, he would make me goalie.  He said I was great in the goal because I had “good hands”, but I’m sure he just liked watching people shoot pucks across the ice and toward my face.

We had the kind of friendship that felt like family.  He protected me like a brother would and I nagged him with sisterly love.  His parents made me feel adored and like a part of their family.  Since he was an only child, I felt like the daughter they never had. 

His mom, Mary Ann, would sit at the table with me, drink tea, and tell me the most fascinating stories.  His dad would always greet me with that famous Anderson smile. He would walk in the room, wink, and call me “dollface”.  It was obvious where Brad got his charm.

We maneuvered our way through the awkward junior high years and our unique bond grew stronger.  He kept me honest in who I was and didn’t let me get too far from the younger version of myself.  There are not many memories from those years that don’t include Brad.  We were both quirky, fun-loving teenagers who connected in a way that was special.  And we both knew it.

I remember a day at the Prendergast’s Lake House.  We had spent the day on the water with all of our friends.  Brad walked down on the dock and pushed me in.  “Let’s take the paddle boat out.”  Thirty minutes later, we had paddled ourselves to the middle of the lake.  We jumped off the paddle boat and swam around in the deep waters of Seneca Lake. 

I will never forget the look on his face as it started pouring on us.  He smiled really big and said “Looks like we need to paddle faster.”  We paddled back to the closest shore and ran back to the lakehouse in the rain.  We laughed the entire way.

Brad was so many things to me.

Confidence builder.
Loyal and true.

He was the obvious choice as my Homecoming Court Escort.  When I asked him, he smirked and said, “Well, of course.  Who else would you ask?”  He picked me up wearing a mauve sport coat and tan suede shoes.  We were both unusually nervous.  Two friends dressed to impress and making a date of it.  We were two kids playing grown-ups and it felt just plain weird.

One of my lifelong, favorite books is Bridge to Terabithia.  It is the beautiful story of two friends, Jesse and Leslie, who struggle with the everyday trials of adolescents.  They would swing across a creek to a make-believe land in the walls of a forest behind their house.  It was an escape from their regular lives.  Then one day, Leslie suddenly died in a tragic accident in the creek.

“She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there--like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone.”


I spoke about that word at his funeral.  I fought back anger at the idea that he was gone.  I knew a part of my heart would be gone forever.

I think of him often and wonder what he would be like today.  I can see him, standing in front of his locker with his boombox blaring music between classes.  My heart aches to think of never seeing the twinkle in his eye or hearing the convincing way he laughed. 

It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for half my life.  While I was in NY last week, I reminisced with friends about our times with him.  His memory is never far from us.

Twenty years ago, on October 11, 1994, my life changed forever.  I learned the value of life, true friendship, and laughing in the rain.  I learned that life can change in the turn of a wheel and leave you staring at old photos and grasping for memories.

In our senior Last Will and Testament, he said he wanted to be remembered for "laughing all the way."  He is most certainly remembered for that and so much more.

In loving memory of George Bradley Anderson, IV

Forever in our hearts,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

~Song Sung Blue~

It follows me.  It seems it has always been around no matter what stage in life I am in. 

I went to high school at Marcus Whitman.  The school colors were BLUE and gold.  As a junior in college, I joined a sorority, Sigma Nu Sigma.  Their colors were BLUE and white.  I became the softball coach at that same college.  They added BLUE as an accent to their maroon and white.  I married a die-hard Kentucky fan and became an involuntary member of the Big BLUE Nation.

I started my administrative career at Red Bank High School.  Their colors were not in the red family.  They were BLUE and white.  One would think I applied for the job at Cleveland because of their school colors ~ BLUE & white, with a little bit of red.

It’s a cheesy thread of my journey ~ a pride for all things BLUE.  It could be worse.  I could be forced to adorn yellow, orange or any other hue not in my color palette.  Fortunately for me, BLUE looks halfway decent on a person with my hair color and skin tone.  Because of this, my closet is overflowing with every shade of the color that falls somewhere between green and violet.

Google compares the color BLUE to “the sky or sea on a sunny day.”  If you ask me, it’s the perfect definition.  I tread lightly in this post to not come across as a “fanatic”, but the simple fact is, when it comes to the color BLUE, I’m in.  All in.

Neil Diamond says it best…

But when you take the BLUES
And make a song
You sing 'em out again

This weekend we cheered for the BLUE and white at two venues.  Friday nights feel like home to me.  

The band plays.
The cheerleaders cheer.
The fans sing the alma mater.

And while all these things are awesome, I sit back and revel in the idea that we all belong to something bigger ~ a tradition that has cheered for the mighty BLUE Raiders for fifty years strong.  While I am not from here, I, too, feel the pride that surrounds every Friday night when the BLUE Raiders take the field.  Even more so, I have a heart swell as I watch my husband and two kids cheer from the sidelines.  It’s more than just a football game.  It’s a community brand that has been tested and cherished. 

I wake up on Saturday morning and drive 3.5 hours north to Lexington, KY to experience another version of pride for the BLUE and white.  I, again, watch my husband and kids as they celebrate with the Big BLUE Nation and cheer their UK Wildcats to a victory.

Cats Walk.
Shiny, Silver Helmets.

We stormed the field for a second time in 24 hours.  My kids jumped up and down meeting players and mascots.  My husband flashed his prideful grin. 

There are no words to describe a sense of belonging.  I am lucky to experience school spirit at its finest.  In a world that says our children are lost on the traditions of our past, I know differently.  Each Friday night, after the third quarter, I beam with pride as our student section sings the alma mater.

We lift our hearts in song and praise
For our school, Cleveland High.
In love and gratitude we’ll sing
As days and years go by.
We love the white and BLUE,
We will be loyal, true.
So Alma Mater, here’s to you
Our own school, Cleveland High.

This week our school is on Fall Break.  Many will take vacations.  Others will work.  But on Friday night, there will be no other plans. 

The fans will show up.
The bleachers will fill up.
The players will gear up.

It’s just a game.  That’s how some define it.  But to me, its an opportunity to show pride.  Every pom-pom, instrument, and jersey signifies a love for something that reaches beyond the color BLUE. 


And hopefully, a win!



Monday, October 6, 2014

Eat. Bike. Write.

I don't watch movies often.  I can usually tell you exactly where I was when I watch something, especially when its a movie with which I connect.

I remember laying on the couch.  It was a Friday evening.  Robbie was on the back porch watching a sports event.  Kids were in bed.  The scene was set perfectly for a chic flick.

Julia Roberts is one of my favorite actresses.  I think her smile is captivating.  For this reason, I knew Eat, Pray, Love was a must-see in my book. There was something about the story of a woman my age, searching the globe in search of the woman she once was.  That, coupled with the fact that I loved everything about my trip to Italy a few years ago.

The movie did not disappoint.  I loved the story-line.  I loved the characters.  I even loved that each of the countries she visited started with the letter "I".  Ironic?  While searching for yourself you visit countries that all start with "I".  Maybe I'm grasping at straws for meaning, but I found it incredibly quirky.  I especially loved this idea that sometimes you just have to get away from your life to find yourself.  Again, incredibly ironic.

Stay-cations are really not for me.  I know they have their time and place.  Some that are closest to me would argue a staycation is EXACTLY what I need.  I fear the "stay" part of the cation turns in to organizing tupperware and cleaning out closets.  This notion does not relieve my stress one bit.

However, it appears the stage is set for a week of staycation for me.

Kids are at the grandparents.
Husband is working.
Biggest high school rivalry in the state of TN.

Before I could bury my head in the lost sea of tupperware lids that don't match their containers, I grabbed my computer and started this post.

Stay tuned this week for my version of eat, bike, write.  There might be some scenes with organizing and errands (just to fill in the gaps, of course).