Monday, February 26, 2007

My friends and I have had a tough time bruising our brains, hard up against change ...

Kelly came to visit this weekend! She called us Friday and then came down Saturday afternoon and stayed until Sunday afternoon. Catching up with old friends is always a good time. Her visit included the Murray State basketball game in Martin, Tenn., as well as many stories of her adventures in Mexico. We're hoping she returns to Kentucky for good in a couple months after a year down there straightening out paperwork so her Hispanic husband is here legally and travel back and forth can be part of their lives.

(The title above are lyrics to an Indigo Girls song that reminds me of the era of my life of which Kelly was an every-day part.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

And I know when I've had enough ...

The wind hit my back, cold as I remember
And caught me off guard, in the middle of December
Sometimes a crowded room, can feel the most alone
Sometimes I wonder why, I won't pick up the phone when

(Chorus)
This wall is glaring and it's too high for me to climb
I've ran and ran and now there's nothing left behind
I see a picture of a broken man inside
I've tried and tried and now there's nothing left but time
And I'll wait for you, I'll wait for you alone
And I'll wait for you, I'll wait for you alone

Together we fly tonight
And I leave all of the rest behind
I'll wait for you
These hands can feel like there not even mine
A tree and a nail and a cry in the night
Sometimes a little step is the greatest divide
Sometimes I feel your breath right at my side ...

Here I am at the edge of the road
One hand on the end of the rope
One crack and it breaks alone
Wondering who's gonna take me home
On my knees when you call my bluff
Begging please from the edge of the ruff
And I know when I've had enough, and I know it, and I know it ...

--Mat Kearney in "Wait"

As a resolution of sorts, I made myself some promises at the beginning of the year on how I want my attitude to be. But I don't want to define them as resolutions because it's so much bigger than that. It's about the core of who I am.

Too often I react emotionally and get my feelings hurt and dwell on details that just aren't that important (you all know this ...). So I want to let things go for the sake of the bigger picture. With that, I want to prioritize my marriage and focus on building an even better relationship with Greg.

I really haven't told anyone about these promises because I wanted it to be evident in my actions. I don't know if I'm successfully going that way. You'll have to ask Greg and others are are part of my everyday life. But in my heart I feel like I'm making progress.

We have so much going on with Greg's business really taking off and Cate's birth getting closer. We're moving things around at home and making the pieces fit together, if you will. My work has been busy. There's also big things going on around us: Greg's brother Charles and his family are moving back this way in May and my sister is getting married in August. Life. This is life. And it is good.

I'm enjoying these things. I'm feeling proud of Greg for taking this risk and making it work. I'm feeling grateful that we're settling in as a family. Yet I recognize there is so much more to come. And I'm finally embracing that.

All the while I've realized -- sort of to my ignorant surprise -- that just because I change my attitude toward work, life and play that not everyone's around me has. They may not have made promises to themselves to become better people. Maybe they're happy in their emotional chaos. Somtimes it's frustrating when I think I have the answers for people yet it's not my place to solve their problems. Still, despite other people, I have a commitment to God, to myself, to Greg, and even to these others to uphold my desire to live life with this freedom to rest in peace, take care of my responsibilities and enjoy all the many blessings around me.

And I'll wait for you as I live.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I am thankful

... for the Automated Postal Center. (Here's more than you ever want to know about them ... and I only skimmed that page!) The Murray Post Office is a happenin' place. Always a line. Yet I think I've only waited one time for one other person in front of me. It's quick and easy to use.

.. for my girl friends who promptly and thoroughly responded to mass e-mail asking for perspective on baby registering. I think about these things a lot these days, but I just didn't know if it was appropriate to register for the car seat I need once my baby is 20 pounds or the high chair I need several months down the road or the bouncy seat or the ... well, you get the point. I wanted to know their preferences on what they just had to have and what wasn't so necessary. (For the record, I am not convinced a wipe warmer or Diaper Genie are necessary. Yet the formula divider/measurer seems so very practical!) It's been interesting to read their comments and learn about their mothering styles and their babies' personalities. Yes, I realize every situation is different and different people (mothers, fathers, babies ...) have different needs. Different. Yet I value the insight of people who've been there and haven't set out to write a book on the matter. (That's not to say books are bad, but personal stories give me more to think about because these are women I respect.)

contrast

(Tuesday night ...)

The clapping thunder and pinging hail didn't interrupt the rhythm of my near-sleep with my head resting upon his chest.

(Wednesday afternoon ...)

The sunshine and the fact I'm not wearing a coat makes me drive with the windows down to Sonic for a Diet Dr Pepper with that great, crunchy ice. All I'm missing is "Ants Marching" in the background and some flip flops.

And to think it's still February. Much more contrast to come.

Monday, February 19, 2007

scrapping, literally ...


Last night I started my 2007 album with my niece. I saw a similar layout in a magazine and tweaked it to make it my own. Plus, I made the whole page out of only scrap pieces of paper!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

chaos personified

Life isn't some elaborate stage play with directions for the actors. Life is a mess. It's chaos personified. --Eve in "Serendipity"

I'm having one of those days that wherever I look I see a project.

... the kitchen needs repainted.

... the cabinets need to cleaned out and organized.

... the steps going downstairs need to be vacuumed.

... the office needs to be transformed into the baby's room.

Then my down-to-earth husband reminded me NEED is probably a bit much. Indeed I should be content with what we have because our life is good. And one at a time all the projects I dream about will be finished.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday

If I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world? ... Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads. I need your grace to remind me to find my own ... --"Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol

Several things make this Saturday so great ...

... I slept in. No alarm. No internal alarm. I just slept until after 9 o'clock.

... My 2006 scrapbook book is complete after a few hours in my creative empire.

... I didn't shower until after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. And then I didn't dry or fix my hair. And I don't plan to. Oh, and I'm in sweatpants and a comfy hooded sweatshirt.

... I've gotten to read some.

... We're going to break in our new board game later and eat sloppy joes.

... As you can tell, I haven't left my house all day, and I don't plan on doing so. The snow is prettier this way.

music on an appetizer-filled stomach

I had chips and salsa just for dinner. Yummy, yes. But the plan was for them to be an appetizer.

Back up ... Greg and I wanted to eat out before we went to see Mat Kearney and John Mayer in concert. The Chinese buffet was packed. I didn't think an hour would be enough time there. So we went to a Mexican restaurant that usually is quick. Keyword: Usually. We got seated, orders waters and started eating the chips and salsa. Finally we ordered. Then about 40 minutes after coming in, our food still wasn't there. I told the waiter we had someone to be and needed to go. We left $2 on the table and left.

At least we had chips and salsa.

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free/Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us/Come on and we'll try, one last time/I'm off the floor one more time to find you/And here we go there's nothing left to choose/And here we go there's nothing left to lose ... --Mat Kearney in "Nothing Left to Lose"

Mat Kearney was really good. Again. He's so mellow that I forgot I didn't get my enchiladas rancheras.

So what, so I've got a smile on/But it's hiding the quiet superstitions in my head/Don't believe me/When I say I've got it down/Everybody is just a stranger but/That's the danger in going my own way/I guess it's the price I have to pay/Still "everything happens for a reason"/Is no reason not to ask myself/If I am living it right ... --John Mayer in "Why Georgia"

John Mayer was good too, especially when he picked up his acoustic guitar. I admit, I like his older stuff so much better. My favorite of the night (You all know I must rank eveything ...) was him with the acoustic singing "Your Body is a Wonderland" with his guitarist on the dobro.

The night turned out yummier than it started.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A pig and your personality

I covered an event this week for a story I was working on and participated in this activity:

On a blank piece of paper have each participant draw a pig. Tell them not to look at their neighbor’s pig and give no further instructions other than to say the pig is of the animal variety. Do not influence how the pigs are drawn.

The results are as follows:
--If the pig is drawn toward the top of the paper you are a positive and optimistic person.
--If the pig is drawn toward the middle of the page you are a realist.
--If the pig is drawn toward the bottom of the page, you are a pessimist and have a tendency to behave negatively.

--If the pig is facing left, you believe in tradition, are friendly and remember dates and birthdays.
--If the pig is facing forward (toward you) you are direct, enjoy playing the devil’s advocate and neither fear nor avoid discussion.
-- If the pig is facing right, you are innovative and active, but have neither a sense of family nor remember dates.

-- If the pig is drawn with many details, you are analytical, cautious and distrustful.
-- If the pig is drawn with few details, you are emotional, naïve, care little for detail and take risks.

--If the pig is drawn with four legs showing, you are secure, stubborn and stick to your ideals.
--If the pig is drawn with less than four legs showing, you are insecure or are living through a period of major change.

--The larger the pigs ears are drawn, the better listener you are.

--The longer the pig’s tail you have drawn, the more satisfied you are with the quality of your social/sex life.

So ... my pig says I am an optimist; believe in tradition, am friendly and remember dates and birthday; am emotional, naïve, care little for detail and take risks; am secure, stubborn and stick to my ideals; am a so-so listener; and am somewhat pleased with my social life.

More Peace

It's funny to me that a short post about peace prompted a couple comments from strangers. Like I said, I just liked the quote. And it fit my mood and approach to life these days.

Some other peace-filled constants in my life are the following two girls.

Milla is growing up ... but she's as cute as ever! She turned 3 in January.



And then Katie. She's the most constant friendship I've ever had. She's always been there. Sometimes we exchange more words than others. But she's been there regardless. (I have two favorite things about this picture. One, it's completely naturally. That's just us hugging on each other. Then during this visit earlier this month I gave her the picture you see hanging in the background. It's a scrapped frame with a picture of us from a year or so ago. So my other favorite thing is the fact we're posed very much the same in both pictures!)


Peace to you.

an addiction of sorts

I've mentioned that some high school classmates are planning out 10-year class reunion. Well, I'm totally addicted to the Web site that was set up to collect everyone's contact information. People can post their picture, Web site, job, and family information. Doesn't sound all that interesting, but it really is! In fact I really need to get out my yearbook to answer some questions I keep asking myself ...

Was he seriously that cute in high school?

Now, what was my connection with him? I think he dated one of my friends ...

Wow, she sure has changed? And I mean that in a good way.

Then I realize we've gone from writing people notes on the pages of a yearbook to having MySpace pages. We being the Class of 1997 collectively, not me personally. I just have this blog. In fact MySpace pages tend to hurt my eyes. All those crazy backgrounds and blocks of information. Just doesn't flow very well most of the time. Even so, it's interesting to peek in on these people's lives. I wonder what they think of mine?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Peace

Peace is inside you. Wherever you go, peace goes with you. When you climb on a bus, peace goes with you. When you are fighting, peace goes with you. When you are asleep, peace is within you. When you are frustrated beyond imagination, peace is in you. No matter what you do, there is no place you can go where peace will not come with you. Because it's within you.
--Indian-born spiritual teacher Prem Rawat

(Disclaimer: I don't claim to know anything about what he teaches or believes. I just like the quote and the idea that despite circumstances we truly can have peace.)

So, on to my life ...

Today is Valentine's Day, in case you missed the memo from Hallmark. But around our house it's First-Date Day. I'm sure I've blogged about this before, so I won't burden you with the details. Just know that my husband wanted to surprise me, so he planned a dinner date last night. (See, the surprise was really in the fact it was the day before First-Date Day. That worked not only for catching me off guard but also with our plans to go to the MSU basketball game tonight.) We also went ahead and exchanged our presents, which were bought around the same theme. Our cards also had similar notes along the lines of I'm so glad we went on a date nine years ago and now we're starting a family together ... So I gave him a gift to ensure him that despite our daughter's Bloomington, Ind., birth, she'll be raised a UK and MSU fan. (So she and daddy now both have new Wildcat shirts and she also has a Racer shirt.) And I have a great baby book to journal and scrap all these moments in the process and a great frame. The flowers on the table also are lovely.

We had another visit with the birth mother on Monday. We went to a doctor's appointment with her and then had lunch at a quaint place in downtown Bloomington. Anyway, back to the adoption process: She's met with the attorney and everything seems to be good to go. We've also mailed our paper work to the social worker for the Kentucky part of the proces and have our home visit schedued for later this month.

Peace is inside you.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

saturday's combinations

My blue car no longer looks gray. I'm sure it will snow again soon.

Anna Nicole Smith is crazy. I'm not speaking ill of the dead, I'm just commenting on the documentary I've been watching. Really, her life is a like a bad car wreck: You can't help to look. At least I can't. Even in her death she has all this attention that apparently was never enough.

Today has been a pleasant combination of productivity and relaxation. Post Office. Wal-Mart. Car wash. A clean house. Diabetes and scrapbooking magazines. A book I ordered in the mail. Some time in my empire.

Tonight's agenda includes a combinatin of work and play: the local Republican dinner, supposedly with all three GOP governor candidates, and MSU's game against Morehead. (I didn't say I was playing.)

Friday, February 9, 2007

simple pleasures

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. ... An empty parking space. A cracking fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. ... Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us. --United Technologies Corporation Ad

The small pleasures of my week have included lunches with some girl friends of mine. One was with my favorite nurse from the women's clinic here. We got to know each other during all my trips to the doctor's office. She's also had trouble getting pregnant and has considered adoption. While chatting with her, I got to eat a bread bowl with clam chowder from Quizno's. Then later in the week I had a spur-of-the-moment lunch with Jaclyn. We see each other often and talk and e-mail even more, but it was a pleasant surprise in my work week. Then today I had lunch with a friend from church who has adopted her two kids and had a lot of insight, newborn clothes, book and bottles for me. Her baby doesn't like his car seat, so I think she appreciated the company. And I certainly appreciated learning more details of her experiences.

Other small pleasures from my week ...

the metaphors in Grey's Anatomy that kept me hanging on for another week ... sleeping so soundly the covers barely moved ... wearing sweaters ... hearing an almost 3-year-old tell her mom I was really nice ... my T-shirt blanket ... buying presents ... apples and Diet Dr Pepper in the mornings ... e-mails from high school friends ... eating nachos and granola bars for dinner

My Daddy is a Dancer

Not my daddy, just someone's daddy. Anyway, the following is courtesy of my mom, a retired teacher and Democrat who regrets a recent Republican vote.

One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living.

All the typical answers came up: fireman, mechanic, businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.

However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the teacher prodded him about his father, he replied:

"My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his nderwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and stay with him all night for money."

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some math problems and then took little Justin aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"

"No," the boy said.

"He works for the Democratic National Committee and is helping to get Hillary Clinton elected as our next president, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

Thanks, Katie, for the additional random humor. I especially appreciate you editing out the repeats!

2. Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?
3. If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea ... does that mean that one enjoys it?
5. If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes?
6. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
7. If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?
8. Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?
9. Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a racecar is not called a racist?
11. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?
12. If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?
13 Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?
14. What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?
16. I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what Chinese mothers use. Toothpicks?
17. Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?

choices and babies

It's no secret I think about babies often these days, particularly one baby girl. But lately I seem to be thinking about this recurring theme choices people make, and I so quickly have an opinion about them, at least about what I know.

... One 3-year-old I know has a very adaptable personality that I pray continues to sustain her while she shuffled between parents who barely speak to one another. Then I quickly add my prayer that they "adults" in this scenario grow up, for the sake of their beautiful daughter. Meanwhile, I just continue to love her.

... A friend of mine talked recently about her 17-year-old cousin who is pregnant. The same cousin's brother already has a baby and isn't married. Apparently it's a growing trend in the family. She said she had a hard time loving the first baby and is afraid she'll feel that way about the baby girl on her way. My response: Not the child's fault. Love them despite their parents' obvious flaws.

... Another friend of mine is doubting her decision (along with her husband) to open her home to two foster boys with the intentions to adopt them. She really wants to adopt a newborn baby and is frustrated with the challenges of trying to undo things in these boys' backgrounds. Surely she was aware of the challenges when she agreed to this other way of having a family. I think about her and realize she's losing herself in this situation, then I wonder if frustration is reason enough to change such an important plan.

... I heard about this other teenager who is putting her baby up for adoption. That's a brave decision. But it's her earlier three abortions that make me wonder why she didn't choose adoption sooner.

Maybe I sound judgmental, but it's more about a belief I hold tightly that abortion generally is the most selfish decision a mother can make. I can get over a woman not wanting her baby. I can get over her choosing to give the baby up. But that's brave and unselfish because that decision gives the baby hope for a life he/she deserves. And that decision answers the prayers of people like me.

I've been e-mailing an old friend (former co-worker) this morning about motherhood and babies and work and how in the end it all fits together. I told her about how deciding to pursue adoption was the easiest decision of all of those made along our nearly two-year infertility (hate that word) journey. Seriously, this process has made me appreciate how we got here and who it is making me. I have a hope and peace that only grows as May 10 gets closer. The forms and phone calls don't wear on me, especially after all the times I had my blood drawn and made appointments with doctors.

All of this to say, my friend said: "I will tell you I fully believe that people have to endure things to appreciate who they are and why they are here. Sometimes, going through things like what you had to go through makes it so much easier to appreciate the gifts we are given. ... Like I said, it's a good thing God knows what's best for each of us. Your experiences are going to help you be a great mother."

The first part of what she says is what I'm learning and the latter is certianly my hope.

Teacher's loving, generous spirit unforgettable

This is a great story for so many reasons ...

Remembering Carrie Godbey is easy, because she made it that way.

She was the good kid, the generous kid, the kid who loved sunflowers, the always-smiling high school student who helped the special-needs children off the bus.

She attended Murray State University because the school gave her an opportunity to ride horses -- and she wanted a degree in elementary education.

She became active in the Baptist Student Union at Murray. She met her husband, Lawrence Godbey, at Murray. They graduated in 2000, then got married in Murray during graduation week because all their friends and family were already on hand.

She began teaching kindergarten and first grade at Frayser Elementary School. She loved her work and her kids so much that her first year, the principal had to call her into his office to ask her to quit carrying them down the hall.

Later on, she would ask her students to write letters saying what they wanted for Christmas. Reflecting their home lives, none of their wishes (mostly dolls, TV creatures, Nike wristbands) exceeded $10. Every year, with her family's help, every child got what he or she wanted for Christmas.

Carrie and Lawrence Godbey wanted to have children of their own. Conception proved difficult, so two embryos were implanted through in vitro fertilization. The odds were 10 percent that one would take; Carrie became pregnant with twins.

There were medical worries. She had been born with a bicuspid aorta valve -- two working valves instead of the normal three. The condition was monitored, but she was always strong, athletic and healthy. She passed a full cardiovascular workup before the in vitro procedure.

Carrie was eight months pregnant June 25 when she felt severe chest pains. She was taken to Suburban Hospital, where doctors found a slight tear in her descending aorta -- worrisome, but not considered life-threatening.

She was transferred to Norton Healthcare: Kosair Children's Hospital. Her twins -- Sydney Elizabeth and Matthew Logan -- were born about 4:30 a.m. June 26. Both were healthy, weighing in at about 4 pounds each.

Their mother kissed the twins once before they were moved to intensive care. She was then taken to a cardiac observation area. She died nine hours later when her aorta failed. She was 29.

Feb. 3 would have been her 30th birthday. To honor that, six of Carrie's co-workers at Frayser invited her mother, Janette Smith, to a school birthday party -- a "woman-teacher-mother thing."

They shared cake and told Carrie Godbey stories: the Christmas presents; her best-dressed ways; her forever smiles; the little boy who brought a sunflower bouquet to class.

The still-healthy twins are being raised by the entire family, a strong combination of fathers, brothers, daughters-in-law and husband. Lawrence Godbey's co-workers at ResCare shared enough of their personal leave days to give him six months' time with the twins -- with pay.

The family also started a $1,000 Carrie Godbey Memorial Scholarship with the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation. Call Linda Johnson at 485-6636 for more information.

The money will go to a Jefferson County public high school senior in academic good standing who's been accepted to Murray State -- preferably a student majoring in elementary education. The other stipulation is that the recipient must have completed at least 20 hours of community service.

Now you know why.

--Bob Hill
The Courier-Journal

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

the steps we take in life

I finally feel like I can take a deep breath. Yes, it's been like that lately. No, it's not been bad. And, no, I didn't get everything done. But that's OK.

Yes, that's my major revelation. I can have peace and still have items on my to-do list. Amazing, I know.

My high school class is having a reunion, and there's a Web page involved in the planning. Man how things have changed in 10 years. It also makes me feel old that people have had time to get married, have kids and get divorced, unfortunately in some cases.

While tackling the dishes in my sink, one of my pretty butterfly glasses that Katie gave me for Christmas last year decided to tackle me. I was cleaning it (with my hand inside it ... Mom always told me that was a risk!) and it suddenly broke, cutting my hand in three places. It didn't hurt, but it took awhile for the blood to stop coming from one of the cuts. And it took me even longer to realize there was a third cut, which was bleeding all over the kitchen towel. Anyway, I'm fine, but it freaked me out for a few minutes.

I also took care of another wedding task for my sister. The date is Aug. 4, and she's planned so much of it ... church, reception, dress, bridesmaid dresses, food, cake, photographer, flowers. And she has plenty of other things in the works. I think it's pretty cool that Cassie and I are almost five years apart in age, and our wedding anniversaries are going to be five years and one day apart. (Doesn't this picture look like it was taken while they were vacationing in Colorado or somewhere else that's used to having snow? Well, honestly, it's outside my mom's townhouse in Louisville this past weekend.)

I filled out some more adoption paperwork tonight. I am nearing the end of everything I have to have prepared for the home study, and each blank I fill in makes me more and more excited about this process of us starting our family. I realize there's many more steps to go, but taking the steps is such a blessing to me.

Friday, February 2, 2007

letters, expectations and choices

Some I forgot why I have a blog. Sure, I like sharing my life with people based on a belief that we can learn from each other. Somebody doesn't have to be your best friend to teach you a lesson or make you think more clearly about something. But the real reason I started this in 2001 was for myself. A friend had prompted me -- maybe so he wasn't alone in the blogging world, maybe because he know how perfect this strange form of communication was for my personality.

While sitting in court the other day waiting for jury selection to conclude and the murder trial to really get underway (more coming on that), I read this:

… writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer and the self stronger. How is it, at a time when clarity and strength go begging, that we have moved so far from everyday prose? Social critics might trace this back to the demise of letter writing. The details of housekeeping and child rearing, the rigors of war and work, advice to friends and family: none was slated for publication. They were communications that gave shape to life by describing it for others. … Words on paper confer a kind of immorality. Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind? … That's also what writing is: not just a legacy, but therapy. As the novelist Don Delillo once said, "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. …" --Anna Quindlen in her Newsweek column published Jan. 22, 2007

Yes, it's healing. And I agree that letter-writing is most definitely a lost art. At different times in my childhood I had different pen pals. I still clearly remember the joy of getting a letter from one of these people in the mail. Some of the relationships were solely based on the ideas of pen pals while others were built from other events and thrived because of the letters we exchanged.

Times change. Sometimes I wish for these old bonds to surface, but most of the time I recognize that life is a journey with all sorts of people and places along the way. And sometimes the best parts are when we are completely caught off guard with the beauties and joys of living.

We all think we are going to be great, and we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren't met. But sometimes our expectations sell us short. Sometimes the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected. You've got to wonder why we cling to our expectations because the expected is just what keeps us steady, standing, still. The expected's just the beginning. The unexpected is what changes our lives. --Meredith Grey at the conclusion of "Great Expectations" on Jan. 25, 2007

Sometimes life takes unfortunate turns. I covered something yesterday that hit me harder than I expected it to, something that I probably categorize among the most emotionally intense moments I've witnessed as an outsider. A 21-year-old Murray State student was convicted of murder for striking a 62-year-old graduate student in the early morning of Nov. 11, 2005, while on his way home from a fraternity party. It's the worst-case scenario of a drunken driving accident combined with a hit-and-run accident. Two families (and probably lots of other people connected to them) have suffered. One family lost a woman they loved for no real reason while another family learned yesterday this guy with his life ahead of him will spent at least 17 years in jail before he's eligible for parole. It's all very disheartening and reaffirms why drinking excessively is really just a very silly, irresponsible choice.

That's the summary of what came out of the four days I sat in this courtroom, listening and taking notes and eventually writing. Life is expected, certainly, but we do have a choice to make decisions that aim toward greatness. Things do happen that are completely out of our control. That's when I turn to this healing therapy of mine, and maybe yours. But that's different than creating a risky situation that probably could have been prevented.