Sunday, May 20, 2012

Me


Snippets and Tales came to be when I had a conversation with my friend Karen about my writing and she suggested that I start a blog.  I had no idea how to start a blog, but I was fairly internet savvy, so I figured it out pretty quickly and launched Snippets and Tales in February, 2011.  I have to say that I was scared at first because I really didn’t think anyone would want to read my stories.  
The first few months when I would read my stats, it was usually under 20 readers a month from the US.  I was happy with 20 readers, but then I started seeing readers from Denmark, Netherlands, UK, Bangladesh, India, Sweden, Singapore and even Latvia (a small country located between Estonia and Lithuania).   Since then, I have posted over 60 stories on the blog and have over 5,000 readers from over 20 countries.  
Yesterday, I was talking to Karen and telling her about all the readers I now have.  For instance, I have 219 readers in Sweden but I don’t know how or why they ended up on my site.  I feel blessed that so many people find my stories interesting enough that they keep coming back to read them and must be passing them on to others.  
Anyway, I was telling Karen that I would like to know about these people reading my stories when she suggested that they might like to know about me.  
“What are you talking about, Karen?” I said through the phone, “Aren’t I telling them about me throughout all the snippets I’m posting?”  
“Yes,” she replied, “you are telling them in a roundabout way, but you aren’t telling them who you really are.  You’re not telling them about all your struggles.”  
I listened to my best friend in the whole world (who had the audacity to up and leave me for Texas) when she told me to start the blog, but I wasn’t so sure I should listen to her now.  
“Who wants to hear about my struggles!” I yelled into the phone.  
“They just might want to know YOU.”  She yelled back.  “You want to know your readers.  Why wouldn’t your readers want to know you!”
Karen has this way of seeing through me and getting right to the point.  She certainly knows what I have been dealing with over the years and she might be right.  I’ve been thinking about what she said for two days now and I guess maybe she is right.  Maybe my readers do want to know who I am and what I do.  Maybe they want to know what my struggles are.  
So, I’m taking Karen’s advice.  I’m going to introduce my readers to me which may take a while as I am a very complex person.  Not really.  Truth is, I’m just me.  I live on a farm with my husband and two daughters; one in middle school, the other in college.  I have two children with their own families and one young lady from Bangladesh that I consider a daughter who is also in college.  

My last “career” job was as a special education teacher two years ago.  I’ve been involved with special education it seems my entire life - at least since high school when I was a volunteer in a special education class.  Since high school, I’ve managed group homes for special needs individuals and taught for 18+ years.  Two years ago I made the difficult decision to leave my job and go on medical leave while applying for disability.  It’s been a tough row to hoe since then.  I guess this is what Karen was talking about - telling my story since I’ve been on medical leave.  So, I’ll try.
The worst thing in the world (at least for me) was to think of myself as “disabled”.  Growing up, I was an athlete.  After high school, I rode my bike 1600 miles through Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.  In my twenties I rode my bike 600 miles through Cape Cod.  I’ve always been an avid tennis player and coach.  I also played racquet ball.  In fact, my first date with Bill was on a racquet ball court. 
Nineteen years ago my life began to change.  That is when I had a stroke.  Of course, someone my age having a stroke was unusual and finding the culprit was not an easy task.  Finally, after many many years of doctor after doctor, I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome.  In short, my blood was too thick so I went on blood thinners and have been on them ever since.  Slowly, as the years progressed, I became less and less able to do the active things I loved.  
I gave up coaching tennis.  Eventually, I had to give up playing league tennis too due to severe arthritis in my knees. I no longer could ride my bike any great distance.  I couldn’t play racquet ball anymore either.  Now, when I’m able, I play senior “mini tennis” which is about all I can handle.  
My memory was greatly affected from the stroke and I had difficulty remembering people’s names and faces.  I had whole sections of my life wiped out. I had to stop teaching because I could not physically do it any longer. I had extreme difficulty remembering  the names of my students and the kids on my tennis team.  I couldn’t remember my colleague’s names either.  One time, I had a meeting with some parents and realized an hour into the meeting that I was talking about the wrong student!  The pressure of trying to remember everyone was exhausting not to mention the physical problems I was experiencing.
Now, I battle constant stomach problems and other issues that prevent me from returning to teaching.  Sometimes I get in my car and forget where I’m supposed to be going. I have good days and bad days.  I thank God for the good days and sometimes curse him for the bad days.  I wonder why I have these struggles - what God has planned for my life.  It certainly wasn’t what I THOUGHT He had planned for my life!
I got to the point where the only thing I could do on a regular basis was write.  So, that is why my blog exists.  I felt that maybe God was telling me to write and, in order for me to listen, He had to literally knock me off my feet.  Well, I’ve gotten to the point where all distractions are gone and I’m wondering what’s next?
I’ve been denied disability twice.  My family has struggled financially and my marriage has struggled because Bill and I were so active together - playing tennis etc.  Sometimes I can be sitting right next to him and feel like we are miles apart.  I know every marriage experiences this now and then.  Lately, it seems it’s more now than then.  Yet, I keep plugging along and keep praying and keep writing.  
I have always tried to be upbeat and optimistic in my writing.  I have always tried to stay true to who I am.  Mostly, I have tried to make my readers laugh.   Sometimes I imagine they might cry.  That’s okay too.  Basically, I try to portray life as I see it.  My solemn  prayer is that whatever I write will be something that someone somewhere out there needed to read at that moment in their life.  I don’t know where my stories go.  I just know that I have to keep sending them out there because it is all I can do now.