This girl loves…making connections.

The calm after the storm.

The calm after the storm.

My day began with a resounding beep, beep, beep.  Once at 3am, again at 4:45am, and finally at 6:30am.  The beeping was followed by tings from text messages and ding-a-lings from the phone.  What was all the commotion about so early on a Monday morning?

A storm had hit.  Roads were flooded.  Panic ensued.

News reporters spoke urgently of the massive, wide-spread flooding throughout our desert valley.  Cars were stuck.  People were stranded.  Schools were closing one by one.

My brother, safely at work, helping to report on the happenings around the valley, phoned me to ask that I let his dog out because he wasn’t sure when he would be home to do so.  I obliged and Kelev and I sat watching, intently, as the television reports literally flooded the airwaves.

As APS and ADOT tweeted that people should refrain from using the roads, I checked my email to see if my school was following the countless others and closing.  The minutes ticked by and I began to get more anxious.  Finally, a message arrived saying we would be open for the day.  Apparently the flooding was not severe enough to warrant a closure.

Disappointed by the news, I glanced out the sliding glass door to see the steady rain drop pelt my grassy lawn.  What was I going to do?  If the roads were flooded then how would I get to school?  Would there be any students there to teach?  Would I be the sucker that went out blindly into the torrential downpour only to be stuck in a ditch and paying a hefty “stupid motorist” fine?

Yes.  Yes, I would.  Because I was a rule follower.

Much like the character from one of my favorite biblical stories, I was willing to take direction and, no matter the cost, do what I was told.  I felt a sort of kinship with my friend, Noah.  Sure, he’s received a bad reputation for only saving his family and two of every kind of animal, but he did take direction.  No, he wasn’t the chosen one [Abraham] who would father a great nation.  He was the most righteous of his time, not the most righteous.  Compared to the rest, he was the lesser of the two evils so he was spared the death and devastation of the flood.

After forty days and forty nights, the story goes, the rains stopped.  The water receded.  A promise was made and Noah survived.

Because of Noah’s exemplary rule following, I am here today.  Because of my rule following, my students read, wrote, and learned a little bit of flexibility today.  They soldiered on as the rain damped their shoes but not their spirit.  They moved from classroom to classroom throughout the day because ours was without A/C.  They did this all without complaint.  For any of you who have ever met a pre-teen, without complaint is a pretty big deal.

Was today the greatest of days?  Was it a day that changed the academic lives of my students?  No.  But it was worth writing about.  And, seeing as this is a blog, I’d count that as a pretty significant event.

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This girl loves…unexpected pleasures.

It's a foggy day here in Phoenix-town...

It’s a foggy day here in Phoenix-town…

The month of July here in Phoenix has been unusually rainy.  The fact that July is Arizona’s monsoon season has not historically had any bearing on this fact whatsoever because, as of late, monsoon has come to mean just a lot of blowing dust.  This summer, it is as if the Phoenician gods have smiled down upon me and sent down some of my favorite weather.  I guess committing to living here in Arizona has pleased them so.  I’m happy to oblige, in any case.

This morning began with brunch at a local favorite, Postino.  This was a first for me as I usually reserve Postino for wine and bruschetta.  Nevertheless, I had a coupon and decided to give it a try.  I was pleased with my meal and also by the freshly squeezed, locally grown orange juice that accompanied it.

The B.E.L.T at Postino

The B.E.L.T at Postino

After a delicious and filling brunch I took a drive through a mountain preserve not too far from Postino.  The rushing water drew me like a magnet.  I sped up the hill in order to get a closer look at this mysterious steady flow of water.  What I was met with pushed my senses to the limit–70 degree temperatures cooled my skin, cloud-covered skies dazzled my eyes, fresh rain water tickled my nose, and rushing water filled my ears with the most soothing of sounds.  Even now, with words and pictures, I can not quite seem to capture the feeling of pleasure that overtook me today.

The past week has been a stressful one so the calm I experienced today was truly an unexpected pleasure.  I tend to think those are the best kinds.

I have been reading the blogs of my traveling friends and family and while I love seeing and reading about their experiences I can’t quite stifle that green-eyed monster.  I want to be traveling, writing, and showing MY pictures to the world.  I want to be eating at new and interesting places taking in the sights, smells, and tastes they have to offer.  I want to be writing about these experiences  and sharing them with my friends and family.

But, wait.  I am doing all of that.  I am writing about MY travels, sharing MY pictures.  I am even eating at new and interesting places.  It just so happens that it is in my own backyard.

This learning to bloom where I am planted is still such a new concept to me.  I am finding, though, that when I dig into that fertile ground the green envy is quickly replaced by a myriad of colors blooming up and all around.  It is like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home and one doesn’t have to look any further than their own backyard to find adventure.

A motto I am trying to live by

A motto I am trying to live by

 

 

This girl loves…letting go.

Problems just "drifting" away...

Problems just “drifting” away…

This year has been about self-reflection.  It has been about learning to just let things certain things go and not sweat the small stuff.  I am a worrier by nature so this task, simple as it may be for others, has proved to be a little more difficult for me.

I worked myself up this morning after reading a few emails containing information from various aspects of my life.  I felt my heart rate accelerate, my blood pressure increase, and my head ache.  The more I thought, the more worked up I got.  The more I talked about it, the more fuel was added to my fire.  Venting did not decrease the tension in the slightest.  No, the tension was alleviated with a simple thought: Keep Calm and Remember England.

It is amazing how escaping with a memory of your favorite place can make everything better; how it can allow you to just let go.  As my thoughts drifted back to my flat in England, the angry thoughts I had had a few minutes before, subsided.

I remembered a particular day at the start of my British summer.  It was the first rain England had seen in week,s as they were experiencing an unusual dry spell that summer.  The grass was brown; the heat most oppressive.  The day the rain began started like any other.  The sun shined as I walked to class.  The air was stagnant as I read in my room, windows opened to full capacity to allow what little breeze there was, to come through.  Then, the clouds increased, the sky darkened and the rain began to fall.  The breeze picked up, as did the rain.  I leaned out the window allowing the rain to spray my face, cooling me.  Keeping the windows open, I read Shakespeare’s inspiring words.  The pitter-patter of the rain lulled me into the deepest sleep I can ever recall.  I awoke hours later, book draped across my chest, blanket drawn up to my chin, and rain splattered against the window sills.  I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with the freshest air imaginable.  I walked along the rain soaked streets, breathing in the life that this summer shower had created.  The trees bloomed fuller it seemed; the grass shone brighter.  The world had come to life again; the oppressive heat a distant memory.  I ate a local pub that evening, allowing the warmth of the liquid restore strength and vigor into my body.  I watched as the punters drifted down the river, laughter and smiles enveloping them.  I felt ready to tackle the world.

Reliving this memory reminded me that letting go is good, that bad things are always replaced by good.  When I have allowed myself to let go of the things I cannot control-people, circumstances-I feel peace of both mind and body.

This girl loves…rainy days.

Raindrops on Wellies...a few of my favorite things!

Raindrops on Wellies…a few of my favorite things!

Waking up to clouds in the sky and rain puddles at your feet probably does not do much for your attitude. You are thinking about the traffic that will ensue, the water that will inevitably soak your socks and shoes, and the mist that will either frizz your curls or flatten your straight locks. All of these are the general result of a rainy day in a normally sunny state.

Waking up to clouds, though, for me has the opposite effect. Instead of dooming me, a rainy day means I will get to remember my favorite place: England.

The smells, the sounds, the feeling of raindrops upon my head or the cool breeze prickling my skin allow memories to literally “flood” back.

I can remember walking down a street sodden with rain, dodging puddles of muddy water, on my way to class. I would clamber into the classroom, instantly shrug off my rain coat and settle in for the latest lecture about the life of William Shakespeare. To learn such things in the land of the Bard, while rain gently tapped at the window, would engrain itself forever in my memory. After class a walk over to the nearest pub for hot soup and drinks with my friends would energize me enough for the reading that awaited me back at my dorm. Falling asleep as the wind blew lightly against the heavy felt curtains, the rain fell softly, and the sound of a nearby owl hooted would lull me into the deepest, most peaceful sleep of my entire life.

These rare rainy days are ones I look forward to for in them I get to time travel through my most favorite memories, reliving the most important and exciting time of my life.