My mission: outer order, inner calm

My name is Susanna and I am terribly unorganized. 

I’m not a messy person or a hoarder, just disorganized. My desk is a mess of papers and sticky notes. I always have a million tabs open on my laptop. My closets and cabinets and pantry are full of stuff with no thought to rhyme or reason. I have to dig in my purse for three minutes to find lip balm. My shoes are thrown into the bottom of my closet so it takes inordinate amounts of time to find a matching pair. 

Friday night lights, then and now

I took my first baton lesson when I was 3 years old. My sister had been twirling for a while, so baton practice and competitions were the norm for our family. Four of our baton teachers were Clemson Tiger majorettes and my parents grew up in Greenville, S.C. We frequented many a football game in Death Valley wearing purple and orange and hearing “Tiger Rag.” 

Grief is love’s souvenir

Three of life’s top five stressors are death of a loved one, divorce and moving. Within the past two years, my mom passed away, I got a divorce and bought a house. I say this not for pity but as a fact that’s required for the rest of this column to unfold, and the anniversary of my mom’s death is this week so it’s hard to think of anything else.

Coming full circle as a cat owner

Growing up, my family had an abundance of cats running amok. These were the days before spaying and neutering were common occurrences. We all know what happens when there’s no protection against the passions of nature, so inevitably we had a feline family much bigger than our own. 

Each time a litter was born, we would keep a few kittens and give others away to neighbors or friends. I remember my sister and I feeding many a kitten with a medicine dropper, making cozy beds for them out of Avon boxes and towels, and nursing those with parasites back to health. She and I also created a pet cemetery in the woods behind our house where we would hold a memorial service and bury the cats or kittens that passed on. 

My eyes and heart open after Mexico trip

Though my parents were both teachers and worked second jobs to give my sister and me all we needed, they never put travel on the back burner. Their mentality was “less stuff, more experiences.” We always had a used station wagon and a modest home but we never sat still very long, and for that I’m forever grateful. 

Thoughts on water and traditions during the holiday

Are you a lake person or a beach person? I always thought I was a beach person, but now I’m not so sure. 

I’ve written about my childhood beach trips before and with it being July Fourth week, nostalgia is more paramount than ever. As a little girl, Independence Days were always, always spent at Ocean Lakes Campground in Surfside Beach, just south of Myrtle. 

Living in The Valley

During a divorce, one person is required to move out of the family home. After months of rigmarole and this and that, I decided that person would be me. No one particularly wants to leave the place where children grew up and memories were made but then again, it’s easier to cope with the emotions when you’re not constantly staring at wedding china or knick-knacks bought on summer vacations. 

Students and teachers are on my mind

It’s high stakes testing week for students and educators in Haywood County. This is my 9-year old’s first year taking an End-of-Grade test and he is very nervous about it. When I was teaching, I remember this time of year looming ahead like an ugly, stressful punctuation mark to a well-constructed, creative sentence. 

Summer break is coming into view

Watching my two little boys get excited about summer vacation makes me reflect upon my own childhood summers. Both my parents were teachers, so the countdown to that last day of school was a significant family event. 

Moms, remember to breathe it all in

Last week, I went to a conference in L.A. with 800 other moms who tell their stories through creative outlets, whether it be blogging, writing, photography, video or social media. Flying out on Wednesday, I was feeling significant mom guilt about leaving my boys and indulging in a conference in sunny California. 

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