There was this Kid

There was this kid who grew into a man…

This kid would drive a person insane by tattling on you for smooching with your boyfriend. This kid would try to get into your Barbie’s and rearrange legs, arms and heads. This kid would always want to go with you when you just wanted to be with your friends. This kid got approximately 27.8 cars during his high school years when you had only one. (That’s a serious exaggeration, but I’m doing the writing and exaggeration is how I roll. Ha!) This kid would “burn bugs” and our precious but slightly naive mama let it go as truth. (Calm down all you bug enthusiasts, he wouldn’t literally burn bugs, it’s an inside joke, just not my story to share. Ha!) This kid would play his heart out underneath the Friday Night Lights; but then work til exhaustion for a dear elderly family member on Saturdays, bright and early the very next morning.

Baby brother, I’ve watched you turn from a kid to a man.

I’ve watched you fall in love, fall out of love. I’ve watched you make good choices, bad choices. I’ve watched you carry yourself with dignity and self-respect; demonstrating integrity while my former friend and sister-in-law was oblivious that the words even existed. I’ve seen you give love another try and go on to marry the love of your life. I’ve seen you in despair, heartbreak and anguish in heated custody battles; but also saw you filled to overflowing with joy when a daughter finally made it home to you. I’ve watched you pour your heart into things that never came to be; I’ve also watched you succeed abundantly.

I’ve seen so many things baby brother, but what I will never forget, never stop thinking about, never stop adoring about you is the way you loved our precious mama.

For a solid year, you packed up your family and headed home for weekends. You cooked an insane quantity of the most delicious food to feed the multitudes. You spent time with our Dad. You spent time with our Mama. We cried together. We hugged often. We shared. We dealt. We coped. We laughed. We did what was important; spent precious time. You made a point to be at countless doctor appointments; always keeping the mood light with your craziness. And after a long battle fought, you held our mama’s hand while she neared the end. You held me afterwards.

You taught your kids important life lessons during this past year; taught them the importance of family and what it means to truly step up to the plate as a man. You were an example to your sons of what is expected of them as men; you were an example to your daughter of what she should require in a husband.

What more could I ever ask for in a Brother…other than for you to finally admit I’m the favorite? Ha!

Nothing brother…nothing.

I see your hurt and I see your grief over the loss of our precious mama. I see you trying to be strong when you’d rather just give up. I see your pain…it resembles my own. Be strong when you can; let go when you can’t. Talk about her. Write about her. Think about her. But above all else, keep on loving her. She’s still right here with us.

She’s still right here with us…in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our mannerisms, in our facial expressions, in our personalities, in our children.

Thinking of a sweet…but of course MACHO…baby brother tonight as I sip coffee. Praying he knows God has not taken His loving arms from around him this whole time, nor will He ever. ~paula

Siblings by chance; friends by choice. – Author Unknown

The Lasts

The last time I felt the ocean breeze with you while the morning sun warmed our face; a coffee cup for each…Schlabor Day~2017.

The last Thanksgiving day with you; I was teary-eyed off and on all day, knowing it would be your last.

The last time I watched your face as you listened to your precious grands read the Christmas story from Luke.

The last time I watched your smile as we sang happy birthday to you.

The last time I heard you say ‘Paula Ree’.

The last time “Mom🎹🎶💅🏽” popped up on my phone.

The last time I helped you into a softball game.

The last time I walked slowly with you.

The last time I saw you eat and actually enjoy your meal…Meatloaf, English Peas, Mashed Potatoes, Banana Pudding, Coconut Creme Pie and Ms. Sheila’s Homemade Banana Nut Bread…only bites of each, but utter enjoyment.

The last time the long beautiful acrylic nails created by your “Tina Girl” clicked their way across the ivories.

The last time I watched you throw your head back and truly laugh…Christmas night…something Chris said…captured.

The last time your handwriting was on my Mother’s Day card (2017)…I knew it would be your last.

The last New Year’s Eve kiss.

The last time old friends, aka the “softball grannies” met up while watching their grands run, hit and defend with as much gusto as they did just 40 years prior.

The last Schlabor Day…with you.

The last Mensch ärgere Dich nicht game with the grands…always yellow.

Tears as I sip coffee tonight, missing the moments…missing you. ~paula


He said ‘Our Girl’

As I intently stared at the dusty diamond covered with sweaty, fatigued warriors, while my flattened, aching behind shifted from side to side on cold metal bleachers; my husband of 25 years (26 when June arrives) texted my phone and asked the question “has our girl played”? This happens to be baby girl’s first Varsity season and she has had her share of paying bench dues this season. She had actually played some tonight but I couldn’t text back right away. I was stuck in time sitting there as I tried to get my heart to calm to a slower beat. He said our girl.

I finally answered his question and shared of her getting hit by the ball and taking a base, but I was quick to also tell him I liked how he said our girl. He was of course baffled at what I meant because men can sometimes be oblivious to things of the heart. (No offense guys, you just aren’t as mushy as us ladies and we’re okay with that, trust me!)

But it took me only one quarter of a second to formulate my answer. “It’s endearing toward me and toward her and it made me smile”.

Why did my mushy female heart see that as endearing? Well, the phrase our girl was indicative of a relationship that was loving enough to share babies but also indicative of the deep love between a daddy and his girl. He acknowledged all of that in its entirety with that one simple text.

Marriages that have held firm for 25 years, (or 2 for that matter) are guaranteed to have rocky patches, moments when feelings are no longer mushy or exciting and it becomes imperative that the focus be centered on making the choice to love rather than to rely on “feelings of love” that are untrustworthy and flighty.

There is often confusion over love being a noun or love being an action. If you consider love a noun, what does that make love? It makes love the warm fuzzies of a first kiss, butterflies when you remember a shared and heated embrace, the increased patter of your heart when you see your love walk in the room. How long can all of that possibly last? This person you’ve vowed to love, burps and farts…sometimes at the same time; has morning breath; eats garlic bread; pisses you off; let’s you down; gets toothpaste all over the sink; forgets to start the dishwasher; doesn’t notice your new hair cut and accidentally on purpose forgets that you really wanted to see that new movie at the theatre. How can the warm fuzzies continue after all that?

It’s simple. They can’t; they won’t and you newly weds and young adults who are about to enter into wedded bliss, don’t need to think they will.

But when you view love as a choice, the possibility of this thing called marriage making it for the long haul, increases tremendously. Choosing to love this person that you vowed to love is the bare minimum of what is required. Choosing to keep on keeping on; even when things are less than stellar, don’t smell as sweet as you remember and emotions trick you into believing what isn’t real. Keep on keeping on.

The warm fuzzies aren’t gone for ever. They simply come and go for seasons. I certainly wasn’t looking for warm fuzzies tonight after 25 years of marriage, the last 3 of those filled with enormous struggles; but I received one. My husband; who can be into his own world, his own things, his own to-do list, his own struggles; had a moment when he thought of me as his and wanted to know everything was right with our girl.

Smiling as I plan to partake from a fresh pot of coffee after these beautiful warriors are done defending their diamond; choosing to wait for the next warm fuzzy; ain’t giving up. ~paula

They will Never Forget

Branch Ed, short for Branch Education, is provided monthly at my place of employment. We sit through anywhere from one to two hours of necessary information that must be conveyed for us to continue doing what we do. (Effective and efficient is the name of the healthcare game.) A portion of this education can involve being given audit scores so that we have an idea where we rank against our previous scores as well as against other home health and hospice agencies; super important in the health care world. But for one specific meeting, my former Branch Director began stating that we have the best Social Worker in the entire company and we don’t know what we would do without her, her documentation is relevant and she always strives to do the best for our patients. Now, understand, I’m the only social worker in the building and I’m still sitting there wondering who she’s talking about. She can’t be talking about me, I was currently like fifteen charts behind on documentation (not really) but struggling to maintain my head above water. Once I realized that it was for certain me that she was talking about, the room erupted into applause as my cheeks warmed to a rosy blush and tears formed in my eyes. That room was giving me support and love and applause. And honestly, I would do anything for them as do I for our patients. But in that specific moment in time, all I could think was that I want to do my best for these people, my work family, my friends, my partners in crime. All I could think about was “what areas could I improve so that I will never let these people down”? Funny. I actually wanted to seek out my own flaws and fix them!

This made me start thinking. Let’s scroll back a few years to a previous employer. I never heard from my supervisor unless something was a mess. Never a word of thanks on a job well done, never a kind word when days were tough, never a feeling of “belonging” or of being valued as a team member. Let one audit score be slightly lower than a previous month and a meeting with the supervisor and their supervisor was conducted wanting to know what was the plan put in place as to improving said score. No discussion of the previous day staying with a family for four hours while they coped with the pending loss of their mom, teaching them how to comfort and show support to a mama that had loved and care for them their whole life, teaching them to say goodbye in an appropriate manner. No discussion of the hard work put into a recent abuse and neglect case where DHR was involved; where myself and the DHR case worker were in court by that afternoon due to some fancy footwork to insure our patient was removed and placed into a safe environment. Nothing but grief over the lowered audit scores. After leaving that employer for greener pastures I did some soul searching. What made me leave? The exhausting business of constant self validation. I constantly had to defend my actions, my documentation, my skills. I was constantly on the defensive defending my every move. Never once did I say to myself what are my flaws and how can I make them better? I never actually wanted to do better for them. I was too busy being on the defensive about what I thought was right.

What is the difference in these two scenarios? I’m human, so in both situations, there were certainly things that needed fixing on my end. But the difference was how I viewed myself in either situation. I was made to want to do better by a Branch Director who knew to provide encouragement.

While researching this particular topic, I came upon an article by Vicki Hoefle, The Difference Between Praise and Encouragement. Vicki Hoefle is a parent educator, author, speaker and coach and when I read her article…on went the light bulb! Such wonderful information and so spot on. She explains that “praise focuses on perfection rather than progress and improvement; a right or wrong outcome rather than a meaningful experience; good or bad decisions rather than the decision-making process; pride or disappointment rather than acceptance and support.” Man, did I say this was spot on?

How does this relate to us in our everyday life? Well, relationships in parenting and coaching and supervising and spouses and friends and the guy at the “parts house” (as my husband calls it)…should I go on? How we talk to and approach every single person in this life matters. It brings to mind the phrase “fair weather friend”. As long as things are going well, those fair weather friends or parents or coaches or spouses or supervisors are, as my sweet Mom would have said, “hunky dory”; but, when things are more difficult, when there’s not a word of praise that can be uttered because there is no perfection to be found…then what? Then what.

“They may not remember what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Carl W. Buehner

Man, that was a refreshing cup today! ~paula

I also believe…

If I’ve ever published an entry and immediately knew I had more to say, it was this time! Feel free to comment. I LOVE a good debate! If you agree or disagree, I would love to hear!

I also believe…

…there’s nothing more cleansing than an ugly, snot bubble cry or a fat roll jiggling, belly laugh with tears included.

…grief has it’s own timeline that you don’t get to dictate.

…the happiest sad moment of your life is when your baby is grown, lands their first “real” job and you realize they really are moving out.

…it’s okay to walk away from your cell phone on your personal time for as long as you want; they are not mandatory.

…you can say “no” without guilt when your sanity is in question.

…visiting with an elderly person is the most fulfilling history lesson you will ever receive.

…the low carb and Keto diets are my only ways to eat AND stick with a diet. Yum!

…that as you sing in the choir, your face should not look pained.

…that if you’re a Social Worker, you are destined to have some crude, rude, tasteless humor floating around in your brain. Know your audience before sharing!

…not everyone uses the talent they were given.

…a hot fudge Sunday can be supper every now and then.

…just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean they’re your soulmate, it might just mean you’re attracted to them.

…if you can tell your social worker what the programs are, you can apply for them yourself. I’m here to empower, not give handouts.

…if you’ve never had a full body massage, goodness, get one scheduled!

…if you’ve never sent your spouse a risqué text you might be boring.

…you should mix mayonnaise and ketchup together for a splendid dipping sauce for your French Fries.

…if you don’t have sauce all over your mouth and fingers, your wings aren’t as good as mine.

…you need to have that one thing you do every week with your spouse, of which you allow nothing to get in the way.

…you have to have a sense of humor in this life or you’re gonna go crazy!

There may be more later, but for now I think we’re out of coffee. Thank you so very much for joining me around the coffee pot. ~paula

I believe…

I have some things that just need to be said out loud for all to hear. No one on this planet has asked my opinion on any of this, but I have taken the liberty to share it because Paula ALWAYS has an opinion; and opinions are for sharing. I think a little outside the box occasionally and that’s okay. If you’re offended, that’s okay as well. If you smile a little while you read, then maybe we think a little bit alike. If you’re snarling by the end, maybe we’re a little different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get along and live peacefully on the same planet. Opinions are like butt holes……so the saying goes.


…that most people are good…and so does Luke Bryan.

…judgments rendered by others on who YOU choose to love are irrelevant.

…if someone is using the entrance ramp, you need to get the *bleep* over and be a courteous driver.

…you need to make eye contact and smile at everyone you meet.

…you need to smile at choir members while they sing, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing.

…that if you’re riding in the left lane and not actively passing someone, someone is, or is about to start, cussing at you.

…that babies are always super cute, but are much cuter when they’re quiet and sleeping.

…you should know what relaxes you and that you should do that often.

…family is more important than anything and you should love on them as often and as much as possible because one day you or they won’t be here.

…that every now and then you should just eat a King Size Kit Kat while chugging an ice cold Mountain Dew.

…it’s okay to drink a beer sometimes.

…it’s okay to have a tattoo or twelve.

…a hug can right a lot of things.

…more can be said by sitting quietly with someone while sharing a pot of coffee than a hundred red roses sent with no time shared.

…every person has a talent.

…if you’re too good to fill the toilet paper holder at work, you’ve gotten too big for your britches.

…there was a day when I thought the first drag off of a Marlboro Light was the best.

…the sound of the ocean can drowned out all of the unnecessary clutter in your brain.

…every girl should have a pair of jeans that make her butt look amazing.

…every girl should know what it feels like to have someone tell her her butt looks amazing. If you’re currently acting appalled, you’re lying to yourself.

…every girl should know their perfect shade of red lipstick.

…every person should know what it feels like to have butterflies while remembering a romantic night that went the perfect distance.

…everybody has, at one time or another, had that one person they couldn’t keep off their mind.

…music has the ability to take you anywhere you want to go, back to feelings and moments you thought were lost with time.

…parents need to focus more on their marriage than on their children; when you don’t, it does your children a great disservice.

…kids need to hear the word “no” sometimes; as well as to know what the sting of a good pop on the bottom feels like.

…that when you are married, if one partner wants sexual intimacy, it’s time for sexual intimacy.

…that when both spouses work outside the home, all chores are halfed; there’s two adults living there and both should be pulling equal weight.

…compliments should be given freely.

…compliments should be met with a simple “thank you”; not excuses of what should have been better; compliments given take courage and energy that are expensive enough to not be shortchanged by your struggling self image.

…that if someone wants to spend time with you, they will.

…if you want to spend time with someone, you will.

…handwritten cards are a thousand times better than store bought cards.

…I don’t need flowers from anyone to feel loved; their time means so much more.

…you need to kiss with your eyes open at least once.

…New Year’s Eve is made for kissing.

…some of the best moments in my life involved mud from head to toe, 4-wheelers, ice cold beer and Marlboro Lights.

…concretely that you should treat others the way you want to be treated; unless they are consistently being the south end of a northbound donkey; then they deserve whatever Karma presents. But remember, Karma isn’t from you.

…depression and anxiety, at times, can steal the joys of life from both partners in a relationship, even if only one experiences the two.

…any time you get the opportunity to do something new, you should.

…trips to new places are the best.

…true confidence doesn’t come until your mid to late thirties.

…trying new restaurants has to be one of my top ten favorite things to do with friends.

…you are probably getting tired of reading about what I believe. LOL!!!!

That’s probably enough coffee for tonight. Thank you so much for your time! ~paula

Green Beans on the Interstate

Yes, I meant to say “green beans on the interstate”.

I was minding my own business, zooming in and out of traffic, of course singing to the top of my lungs, as countless others minded their own business and zoomed all around me. As any good and faithful, upstanding, skilled people watcher would, I found myself glancing over at fellow zoomers. Some held phones to their ears, half watching traffic while they wholly socialized with a longtime friend. Some even text. (Shame on you!) Some touch up their lipstick or straighten their hair. Some use two hands to light up and take the first drag off their Marlboro Light, driving momentarily with their knee. Some drop hamburger condiments onto their business suits after the first juicy bite; then scurry to find the napkins that may or may not be in that Wendy’s bag. And some eat their green beans…cue vinyl record needle scratch. Yes, I looked over and one lady was straight eating green beans…with a fork…driving on the interstate. Needless to say, she got two glances, as opposed to the typical one glance courtesy most fellow zoomers get.

I immediately stopped the top-of-my-lungs duet with the radio and began to ponder what the bloody hell would make her be in such a big hurry to not just take an extra ten minutes before she left home and sit, while not zooming, to eat her green beans. Is she that important that she would halt the earth’s perfect rotation if she didn’t leave at that exact moment in time? Were those green beans the only nutritional source capable of sustaining her body? Was there nothing more simple, less messy to eat while zooming? I mean, what? What made her choose green beans? Say she actually did just order those through a drive-thru window in order to make a more healthy food choice than the typical yummy, divine, manna-from-the-gods French Fry; what made her think this was going to end well? Green beans certainly have juice that HAD to have dripped on her during all the zooming. Green beans are notorious for falling off a fork, at which time said bean would land on her clothing creating continued problems with the previously mentioned juice.

Thank goodness my girlfriend, who-doesn’t-know-I-exist-in-the-world, Ashley McBryde, came on the radio and her soulful, moving musical tones interrupted my reverie on that fellow zoomer’s food choice for the day. The top-of-my-lungs duet with my girl was back on again, just as if no one had ever dared to eat a green bean while zooming up the interstate.

The only thing I learned from this lady is that I want to learn to stop and smell the roses…or should I say…stop and not zoom while I eat green beans. Slowing down some in this crazy life is okay folks. =)

Chuckling as I sip coffee and think about green beans. ~paula