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Today, as I was taking a walk to close my “exercise ring” on my Apple watch, a word popped into my thoughts. I had been lip-singing a song recorded by Gabby Barrett entitled “Got Me”. You should check it out! Regardless, as I walked and “sang”, INSPIRATION popped into my head. Perhaps it was because I often wonder what inspired a singer to pick a song or to write a song. Who knows… I just know the word popped into my thoughts and tookover the rest of my ponderings.

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To begin with, I thought about a handful of people who have told me in the past weeks/months that I have inspired them. For several, it’s because I’ve started sharing a daily post about my workout in my “turning 50 goal” of becoming healthy. A couple of friends have shared how my morning posts or evening post inspire them to have positive thoughts in a world that tends to be negative. Others have shared how my FB posts bring Light in the dark world of social media and inspired them to ponder what they post. Still another is a girl in my class this year who was also in my 3rd grade class last year. Her mother shared how my writing of children’s books has inspired her to want to become an author. Finding out you inspire others motivates you. It encourages you to keep walking or spending time at the gym. It urges you to make time to share some positive quotes before you go to work. It reminds you to offer a positive thought before bed. And…it urges you to continue to pursue your dream of writing and publishing books.

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Understanding how much knowing I inspire others made me smile and urges me forward, I realized I needed to take time to write about people who inspire me. I could write about Maya Angelou who inspires me to put my thoughts into poetry or countless recording artists (Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Lauren Daigle, Kelly Clarkson) who inspire me to attempt to write lyrics or to sing with joy. However, I figure they get plenty of people telling them they’re an inspiration. So…I thought…who inspires me? (If you’re not included, that doesn’t mean you don’t inspire me. It simply means that no one wants to read a post that goes on and on and on. For that reason, I’m just picking a handful.)

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As a Christian woman, I’m inspired by Shirley. She’s a senior saint at my church who is one of the most faithful prayer warriors and servants of Christ that I’ve met. A lot of people venture out of active ministry when they reach “great grandma’ age, but not Shirley. I kid you not…she and her daughter lead an hour of preschool/kindergarten Bible study time each month. She’s active in our senior adult ministry, and in the world before Covid…she worked with our women’s ministry including a ministry to the ladies’ prison. I hope my commitment to serve never wanes. I pray that I will become a prayer warrior as devoted as she is. So Shirley, you are an inspiration.

My pastor, Mike Hamby, inspires me weekly through his messages. When I end up missing one in a series due to serving in children’s ministry, he’ll send me the manuscript, so I can read it for myself. Thanks, Pastor Mike, for the spiritual challenges and inspiration.

As a musician, I’m inspired by Jennifer and her father John. Why? Well, lots of reasons. I’ve always been known for a big voice in choir, but mine pales when compared to the strength of hers. Where I sing melody (unless I can beat a harmony line into my brain), she can harmonize with whatever song is in the praise service. I would LOVE to be able to simply hear a melody and know how to harmonize. When I try, I confess, I often sound like an off-key goose, but alas…I try. Then, she can play the piano and/or keyboard. I would love to play the piano, but I don’t think I have the focus to complete the task. Then, her father….he plays the bass. He didn’t always play the bass, but he learned it…and now he uses it to bring God glory. I play the flute….at least I did back in the mid-80s. To be honest, it’s been over 30 years since I used that for God’s glory. In fact, the last time I picked up my flute to attempt to play a song…there were high notes that I didn’t even recall the correct fingering for anymore. Alas, Jennifer & John, thank you for being a musical inspiration.

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As a teacher, I’m currently inspired by my friend Melissa, but in the past…I was inspired by Mr. Stoner, Mr Duggan, and my friend Mary. Each …for their own separate reason. Melissa inspires me by her classroom management and focus. Her students know exactly what she expects. I can’t recall a day where I’ve witnessed the least bit of chaos in her classroom. Now, if you are a teacher or work in a school, you know chaos happens here and there. I’m guessing it happened at some point, but I’ve never seen it. Then, Mary was “the other side of my brain” for many years. We taught 3rd grade together for over ten years. She challenged me to be “more”. More loving to my students, more focused on my lesson planning and differentiating, and more…organized. Still working on the last part, but the kiddos I have this year who were also in my final 3rd grade class assure me that my corner “is a lot better” than it was last year (haha).

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Mr. Stoner was my 6th grade teacher, and he inspired me to bring music into my classroom and to share my personal life (as in cats and family). Mr. Duggan, on the other hand, inspired my use of humor. I mean, “the math fairy” often visited our high school math class, and if humor works in high school…then it’s a definite win in elementary school. Plus, he defused a possible humiliating incident for me by the use of humor and a redirect. I still remember explaining a problem I worked on the board and instead of saying “sixty” it came out “sexy”. Rather than letting my face turn redder as the laughter was directed my way, he rerouted the arrow by saying, “I’ve ALWAYS found math sexy too, Miss Pflaumer.” So, to Melissa, Mary, Mr. Stoner, and Mr. Duggan, thank you for the inspiration

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As a friend, the list is endless, so I’ll mention the acts without mentioning the names for fear of missing one. There are the friends who drove out of their way to unlock my car when I locked the keys inside and delivered the car to my house. There’s the friend who brought a homemade meal to my door on the afternoon HillTopper died suddenly. There’s the friend who works me into her salon schedule because she knows my schedule and makes the cut or highlights happen. There’s the friend who bought a LONG purple iPhone charging cord just because it’s purple and she knew I’d like it. There’s the friend who nicknamed me “Sunshine” and gave me a hug after I had been to too many funerals over just a few weeks. There’s the friends who edit my books because they believe in my dream…one of whom doesn’t even like to read, but she reads it faithfully to help me correct errors. There’s the friend who was in front of me in McDonald’s drive-thru and paid for my breakfast to brighten my day. There’s the friend who buys me a Diet Dr. Pepper when she runs out on her lunch break just for a little pick-me-up. There’s the friend who made me a hot chocolate when I didn’t take my mug down because she knew my students want me to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate regardless of the outside temperature. There’s the waitress who brings me a LARGE to-go water for breakfast on Saturdays because she knows I sweat a lot on Saturdays when working out and try to drink adequate water. There’s the friend who always schedules lunch out with me on my breaks from school, so I can experience a lunch that takes longer than 30 minutes. There are the several people who bring me tomatoes over the summer because EVERYONE knows I’m a mater-lovin’-girl. There’s the friend who write me a sweet note and actually mails it to me to let me know that I matter and make a difference. Not to mention the dozens of friends who buy copies of my children’s books for their kids, grandkids, or themselves to support my dream. All of these and SO many more inspire me to be a more present, more thoughtful, and more selfless friend. Thank you, ladies and gents, for all you do to inspire me.

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As a single lady, Aunt Eva has been my inspiration. In actuality, she was my great aunt. Why does she inspire me though she died countless years ago? I’m glad you asked. She loved her family. She loved God. She was full of joy! As much as I’d love to meet and marry a man who loves God, I know that may not be in my journey. If singleness is my lifelong path, then I pray I will be like Aunt Eva. If my nephew, or great nephew or great niece somewhere down the road, can utter those same things about me when my journey here is over, then what a great testimony!

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My parents commitment to each other inspires me to hold that same commitment to marriage should it ever be a part of my journey. My sister’s devotion to her family and to live with MS joyfully inspires me to emulate those same virtues in my own life. My oldest sister’s commitment to keep being a student reminds me that I’m never finished learning even though I’m a teacher. My brother-in-law has shoveled out my car when plows block it in…even after working a full day at work inspiring me to never be too tired to help family. My nephew and his girlfriend are the ones who initially inspired my “Get Healthy” goal when they came back to Indiana in May. Thank you, sweet family, for all the ways you inspire me.

Finally, my students. They inspire me daily. They inspire me to be creative, be engaging, be entertaining, be the best “Ms. Pflaumer” I can possibly be. To each of you, thanks for the inspiration.

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I encourage you to tell those who inspire you that they do. I also urge you to examine yourself and see how you can be an inspiration to others. I mean, if an overweight single lady can inspire people, then I’m certain you can too!

Oh, my felines inspire me too. How? They inspire me to …. take a nap! Sounds like a great plan!

Pondering of a Perspiring Pedestrian

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Yep, I’m a big fan of alliteration. Anyway, this morning, I walked in the Run the Falls 5k sponsored by King’s Daughters’ Hospital. My sister is in their IT department and asked me several weeks ago if I was interested in walking. We had walked in it back in 2017, I think, so I figured…let’s go for it.

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So, I had two goals:
1. Don’t finish last.
2. Finish in less time than I did the first time I walked in it. (Over 55 minutes)

Due to modifications for Covid-19, they didn’t start us with a “bang”, but rather we were to line up by our “usual mile pace.” This made me laugh. I don’t have a usual mile pace. All depends on where I am, who I’m with, and what transpired earlier in the day. Since I walk at a slower pace than my sister, I opted to start behind her several feet. In fact, I figured I’d be over 15 minutes per mile, so I started near the back. However, the perk of their modifications is the shoe tag recorded our individual start time.

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Now, a couple years ago, I received a surprisingly generous gift from parents of a girl in my 3rd grade classroom. I had her older sister in my class for part of the year a few years prior. Anyway, at the beginning of 2018, they blessed me with a “thank you” gift of an Apple Watch. I used it a bit, but not as much as I could’ve due to it draining the battery on my old iPhone 5s. This summer, I finally upgraded my phone. Several weeks ago, I ran across this sweet token of appreciation and after a few Google searches, I was able to disconnect it from my iPhone 5 and sync it to iPhone SE. So, I was able to start my “outdoor walk” tracker as I crossed the line.

I figured….that might help me make “goal 2”. I estimated if I kept my miles at 18.25 or less….that I could beat my time from the previous walk, I’m gonna be honest….the first mile and last mile were challenging. It seemed as soon as I walked down & up a hill then another hill was looming ahead. Those two miles…were over 18 minutes each, but the middle mile…it was the least challenging, and I think I finished that one in under 17. Whoop! Whoop!

As I walk, I pondered….I prayed….I appreciated….and I encouraged.

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I pondered why I hadn’t thought to either drink some juice or eat something for breakfast before walking over 3 miles. I wondered why my exercise water bottle was so cumbersome to carry while attempting to pick up my pace. I contemplated whether I should just toss it to someone working the walk and ask them to keep it for me until I finished the event. Note to self: If they don’t provide water along the route due to safety precautions, just chug some water in the morning and drink more when it’s finished. I’m not doing that again. Well, unless it’s really hot…then staying upright will be more important that my pace.

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I prayed, first, that I wouldn’t get lightheaded and keel over. That would be so embarrassing! I prayed for my family, friends, and my future. When you’re walking solo, even when you’re attempting to walk quickly…you can always send up prayers to the One who walks with you every step of your journey.

I appreciated the fact that this year’s route was an “up & back” path. Why? Before I even hit the 1 mile marker, runners AND a speed walker were passing me in the opposite direction. Those who knew me shouted out words of encouragement. “You got this, Jodi.” “Keep going!” “Good job.” This same encouragement was shared from church family, colleagues, high school classmates, parents of students who attend the school where I work, and….total strangers. Encouragement was also cheered from the KDH workers. As they saw me huffing and puffing (those hills made ‘smart breathing’ quite challenging), they kept urging me to keep going and reminding me that “you’ve got this”. Thanks, Encouragers, you made the 5K so much more positive having a cheering section as I went.

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I also encouraged. As those church family, friends, & colleagues passed, I’d shout out a “Run, __, Run” or a “Go __”. I figured if cheers helped me then they’d do them likewise…even if their time wasn’t needing the boost. Then, as I rounded the cone and headed back on the last half, I saw a few people whom I had passed. I was able to shout out a “keep going”, “you’ve got this”, and “you can do it” to them as well. I knew those words spurred me on, so I wanted to offer the same to those behind me as well.

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As I walked, I’d fix my eyes on a walker ahead of me and tell myself, “you can pass him/her, just keep focused.” I passed one. I passed another. Then, I passed a pair. After the pair of walkers (who were talking the entire time, so it wasn’t like they were trying to beat a previous time or anything, but it still felt good to pass them.) Next, I focused on one of KDH’s new doctors and the female he was walking with…who was walking her dog. At times, I’d get chuckled…because here I was panting and gasping, and there they were…casually strolling through the park with a dog. He’s carrying a beverage and their dog took a few potty breaks. I kid you not, at one point when the dog lifted his leg, I laughed out loud and thought, “I should write a post and title it “The Male in Front of Me Peed!”. I mean, that title would get more hits than this one.

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When I neared the end, my sister, Sherry, came back out and walked the rest of the way with me, cheering me on, and giving me coaching advice. As I neared the finish line and 55-minutes was close at hand, she told me “pump your arms”, “quicken your pace”. I, in turn assured her, that “I can’t go faster”, “I’m light-headed”, “I’m not going to make it.” To which she countered, “yes you will…it’s just around the the curve….straight ahead….you’ve got this”.

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She was right. I did make it. I beat my time. I wasn’t last. And….thanks to the couple & dog stopping a second or the dog wandering a bit…I even passed them a few steps prior to the timing mat. As I walked through the chute, someone took the strip from my number. Then, a high school student volunteering kneeled to cut off my chip, as I called out to my sister. I was right. I was lightheaded….and my legs started shaking…and the park started spinning. Thankfully, it’s the KDH 5K, so there was assistance immediately as I sipped from that cumbersome water bottle. We figured I needed some sugar or nutrients. Sherry asked if I wanted to walk out to get something, but with my legs still wobbly, we decided…nope. I leaned against the bumper of a vehicle, the KDH EMT stayed with me, and Sherry returned with a banana. After a couple bites of banana and a few more sips of water, we ventured out to the award ceremony.

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My sister, even with a knee that is no longer cooperative and a foot that wasn’t a team-player, received the 3rd place medal for our age group. (Yes, we’re both in the 50-59 age group now). The 3rd place medalist in my previous age group beat my time by over six minutes. However, the one that made me chuckle to myself was the first place overall walker. Why? Remember when I said both runners and a walker passed me before I hit the 1-mile marker? Well, that walker…FINISHED the whole 5K in less time than it took me to walk my first mile. I was impressed, and I laughed. I didn’t laugh at myself, as I was proud of myself for meeting both goals. I laughed because…WOW! I mean, I don’t think I ever want to walk that fast. I think I would share my nephew’s perspective, “If you’re going to walk that fast, you might as well run.” Good job, Fast Walker, I was quite impressed!

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So….the conclusion of my ponderings today have these lessons or precepts for you to consider.

  1. Encourage those you appreciate and appreciate those who encourage you.
  2. Keep your eyes focused on your goal, but don’t be so focused that you can’t find a reason to smile or chuckle along the journey.
  3. There is always ALWAYS something (or someone) to be thankful for.
  4. Celebrate your successes.
  5. Be impressed by the accomplishments of others, but don’t let them take away the pride you have in your own.
  6. Eat or drink something before you walk in a 5K. Ha!

Paranoia Peril

Be honest. I’m not the only person who has taken her temperature more in the past six months than in the past couple of decades. I’m sure others do a “smell test” to ensure their sense of smell & taste are still functioning. Covid has triggered illness paranoia in myself, and I’m guessing others.

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So…yesterday, when I started moving around at school, I noticed my allergy-induced sinus-pressure was throwing my equilibrium off. Then, I noticed I was chilling more than normal (as in the hallways in our school tend to be on the COLD side, so since Covid guidelines mandate keeping our doors open for circulation purposes….it enters my room). Between those two observations, I ventured to the nurse for a temp check. 98.1. Yep, it’s just allergies/sinuses/cold hallways.

We had a good day in 404, and my chills ended. By my prep to ensure all was still well, I ventured back to the nurse. 97.8. Yep, it’s just my Covid-paranoia.

A student stayed after school until 4:30 to work on assignments that he had fallen behind on due to struggles with focus. He rocked it. As I drove home, I didn’t turn the cool vent or the AC on …the heated car felt good. What? That’s odd.

Took my temp at home, and it was over 99….no biggie. By dinner, it was over 100. An hour later, it was over 101. Not good. Requested a substitute, notified administrators, modified lesson plans, sent messages to 4th grade team & inclusion co-teacher. Mom called to check and offered to bring me food or drink today. Went to bed at 9 wondering if I’d need to see a doctor or get a Covid test when I awakened.

In the midst of the sleeping hours, I was suddenly sweating. Yep. Fever broke. Then, I was still in bed at 6:40 when a colleague texted to check on me and ask whether he needed to do anything for my classroom or sub. As I lay there contemplating the day, I thought about all I should accomplish while I’m home today since I was certain my temp would be normal.

Got out of bed, made some breakfast, started a sink of dishes that I didn’t wash last night, took my temp. Under 100.

As I started up GoGuardian to interact with my students and checked Facebook, a couple of statements came back into my mind.

Mom: “If you don’t take time to rest, you’re going to wear yourself out.”
She’s said this for years anytime I’m busy. I realized with my new routine of exercising 5 days a week, my resting hours of an evening have decreased and my no-alarm-Saturdays are gone. Hmmm, maybe this whole thing is my body telling me…STOP….REST.

Krista: (paraphrase) “Maybe all the new changes to your lifestyle haven’t fully been accepted by your physical body yet?”

Hmmm…I can’t remember the last time I stayed in bed past 6:30. Perhaps, my body is saying…”Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece…” Nope, wrong song. Perhaps it just needs to be recharged? So, my brief thought of starting my “fall cleaning” with this day off since my fever has subsided will be replaced with a day of napping, reading, and being wallered by my felines. They are much happier than anyone that I’m off today. Let the recharging begin!

Learning to Be Me: Laugh!

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A few years ago, one of my girls looked at me during lunch and said, “Ms. Pflaumer, you laugh more than any teacher in the world!” I asked her if that was a bad thing. She assured me it was a good thing and added, “I’ve just never known anyone that laughs as much as you do!”

It’s true. I laugh daily. If I don’t laugh in my classroom, I most likely laugh at home thanks to my entertaining feline roommates. I laugh.

Do you laugh? As I’m learning who I truly am supposed to be, I’m certainly holding true to the value of daily laughter. I encourage you to do likewise.

You see, laughter is said to be good for your health. I’m not making that help…LAUGHING is good for you! As I was preparing to write my thoughts on this aspect of myself, I did a bit of searching online. Feel free to check out the articles I found on Help Guide and Mayo Clinic websites.

The first article shares how a good strong bout of laughter lessens stress, triggers the release of endorphins, and increases immune cells & infection-fighting antibodies. In the world of Covid-19 with flu season approaching, why not give yourself a daily dose of laughter? Find a funny friend on social media and follow their posts. Find a daily joke site and sign up for their joke-of-the-day messages. Or, just look for the humor of the day. It’s not hard if you’re looking for it. I mean, I was driving behind 3 white pickups last Thursday on my way to the gym and started chuckling because I found it funny. I laughed out loud when I turned left and the first vehicle coming out of the entrance was a white truck. I found it humorous, so I chuckled.

With my get-healthy-over-50 goal, I especially am a fan of the fact that a good round of 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn 40 calories. Obviously to get this perk, it would take more than white vehicles…or even a joke of the day. However, there are plenty of shows or movies you could watch to give yourself a good round of laughter. Perhaps there’s a comedian you enjoy that you could find on YouTube? Give it a try. The laughter will do you good!

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The second article shares how laughter stimulates circulation and helps muscle relaxation. The next time you find yourself tense from stress or your workload, grab the comics from the paper or read a kids book that’s been written with the purpose of causing laughter. I read kids book daily as a teacher and often times I find myself laughing just as quickly as my third or fourth graders. Plus, I’m sure this won’t shock you, but laughter aids in mood management. Laughter can lessen a down mood or anxious mindset. Laughter is powerful.

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Last week, a new student joined my classroom for part of each day. She makes my heart smile. She has a laugh that is genuine and contagious. While I’m reading aloud, I tend to be a “bit” dramatic and animated. She gets tickled and starts laughing. Her laugh is never a little giggle, but it’s always a belly laugh. I try to tune it out in order to finish the book, but I admit…sometimes, I can’t. I have no choice but to laugh with her. The same happens each day before we exit the room and head to the bus. I say or do something that makes her laugh, and her laugh infects me…and I laugh too. So, if laughter is missing from your daily routine, find a friend who laughs. Then, join him/her laughing.

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Alas, some people need more encouragement with this aspect of life than others. A friend of mine is often in a down mood during and after work. When he’d leave work, I’d ask how his day was and his response was almost always grumpy and negative. So, being Jodi…I would try to redirect his mindset. I’d ask him something positive about his day and generally, he could only say he was leaving work. Then, I’d go to my other weapon…laughter. I’d find a meme or a joke that I though would bring a little grin and send it his way. Sometimes it would work, and other times he refused to allow it to have power over his life-stinks view. But…at least I tried. What about you? Do you have a storm-cloud in your life that could use a bit of laughter? Make it your mission to sprinkle chuckles into his/her day. Let the benefit of humor and laughter have a go at overcoming the grumpiness and stress. It might just work!

Jodi’s Tips to Bring More Laughter into Your Life…

  1. Laugh at yourself.
  2. Find the humor in bad situations instead of reasons to moan.
  3. Write down jokes or humorous stories that make you laugh, so you can enjoy them again later.
  4. Not good at making jokes? Find a joke book at your local bookstore.
  5. Checkout TV shows that make you laugh. [You may need to go back a few years or decades to find ones that are clean enough to share with your children or family.]
  6. Buy a DVD (or download) a show of a comedian you like. If they’re good enough, the same material can make you laugh each time you watch it (just like sitcoms).
  7. Spend time with friends and /or family who laugh. Laughter is contagious.
  8. Know what’s funny, and NEVER laugh at someone else’s expense.
  9. Don’t hold back your laughter; let it roll. (Unless you’re at a funeral….or wedding….or in court.)
  10. Don’t go a day without laughing at least once.
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Grimace or Grin? The Choice Is Yours!

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I had planned to write a different post which I started yesterday. Alas, the events of the day bumped it to later, so I could share these thoughts from my day. You see…I had a choice to make today. Would I grimace or would I grin? That was the question.

Let me explain…

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Last night, around 1:30, I awakened, as many middle-aged people do, for a mid-night restroom visit. As I walked through the house, I noticed a dull throb in the back of my head. Not good. As I ventured back to bed, I uttered a hope that it would simply disappear by the time the radio began to play in three more hours. No such luck. If anything, the dull throb had developed into a throbbing ache.

“Don’t fret, Jodi, you know what to do. Grab some migraine meds before you leave and by the time your kiddos arrive…it will be lessened.”

As I reached for the bottle, I realized…EMPTY!! Not good. I grabbed a sad substitute to take with me in case I didn’t find any in my desk. So, as I left my house…it was with a “woe-is-me” perspective on the day. But then….

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I ordered a breakfast sandwich and Diet Dr. Pepper from McDonald’s. I pulled up to the drive-through window and Ruth said, “The man in the previous car paid for yours.” The grimace was replaced with a grin. How sweet! When I arrived to my room, I learned that a parent of one of my previous students had been in the car. When she noticed it was me, she & her husband paid for my breakfast. A drop added to my bucket…. The grin grew.

Derrick, our daytime custodian, told me if I didn’t find any migraine medicine to let him know, and he had some Excedrin I could try. The grin grew.

Krista, our assistant principal, told me who she was certain would have migraine pills on hand, and sure enough Brittany came to the rescue. She came by my room before her first class to ensure I could battle the raging headache. The grin grew.

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As the school day began, I asked my class to try to keep our volume and restroom breaks a bit quieter because of my headache. I mentioned how the light above me was “killing me” currently due to the medicine not kicking in yet. They said, “Just turn it off, Ms. Pflaumer, we can just have the other light on.” I was uncertain that would be sufficient, and one of my girls replied on behalf of the class, “Of course it will, if it will help you feel better.” My heart smiled….

Alas, I finished my carrots on Wednesday and my grape tomatoes were finished yesterday for my lunches. That meant…I only had a small dish of cottage cheese and applesauce for today. Laura, the special ed teacher who co-teaches my inclusion classroom suggested, “I could order our lunch from Jendy’s and run and get it while you take the kids to the cafeteria to pick up their lunches.” Yum! A ham and cheese sandwich was a great addition to my cottage cheese meal. My grin grew…

My lesson plans were formulated by around 5, then I was off to my sister’s to share dinner and watch a movie. We laughed and visited while watching Pitch Perfect 2. My grin grew…

Now, I’m home. My cats are napping on or near me. As soon as this posts, I will be getting ready to head to bed to read a couple chapters of my book.

My headache started coming back a bit this evening, but it’s nowhere as sharp as this morning. I hope it’s gone by 5:30 when the radio starts to play. If not…I will have a choice to make. Will I grimace and grouch….or will I grin and look for the kindnesses and blessings? I pray it will be like today….and I will celebrate the day rather than wallering in gray clouds of gloom.

What about you? Will you grin or grimace in the midst of circumstances? I hope you find reasons to grin. If you need one, send me a message, and I’ll be glad to send some positive thoughts your way.

Peace to You

Peace? fb peace

The cessation of war.  The antonym of chaos.  A friendly greeting. A state of silence.  Harmony.

Lots of words and phrases come to mind when I hear the word PEACE.  As a teacher, a state of silence is a lovely gift.  As a friend of a marine, cessation of war is treasured.  As a single lady with a busy schedule, the opposite of chaos is a blessing.  As a friend, sister, daughter, and aunt, a state of harmony is so sweet.  Yes, peace is a good, good thing.

During this second week of Advent, I was challenged to possess and pass peace as I walk this journey.  If you know me, the first thing my mind thought was, ” Alliteration!  My students would identify the example easily.”  Yet, I pondered my daily, weekly, yearly, and life journey.  I was reminded of how often I pray for peace.

This life can be filled with uncertainty, so a peaceful spirit points me to the presence of the Prince of Peace in my life.  I think back to May 2017 when my father fell outside of Krogers.  A few weeks later a throbbing headache prompted his trip to the ER.  Tests sent him to Louisville.  In the early morning hours on Memorial Day (I believe), he was wheeled into surgery.  It was the middle of the night, so no pastor or minister was there.  It was my dad, mom, one of my sisters, and me.  In the middle of the night with an unknown journey ahead, I prayed for peace. As the three of us sat in the waiting room, Sherry & I would try to keep Mom’s mood light and insert laughter to help alleviate her worries.  I realized that in the midst of the unknown a peace dwelled within me.  A peace that said regardless of what happened in the operating room the Great Physician was holding my dad’s life (and brain) in His hands.  [FYI, he made it to Connor’s high school graduation that Friday having been released from the hospital on Thursday afternoon.]

fb peace1This fall, my mom had some blood count and sugar count issues that took her to the ER and the ICU a time or two.  As I sat down in a parking lot during Old Court Days attempting to sell children’s books, I learned that she was back in the ER. When Saturday’s hours concluded, I headed up to the hospital.  When I arrived, Dad went home to take care of their dog and get some items.  While he was gone, Mom and I talked about the unknown journey of diabetes and unidentified blood issues.  It was obvious that there was a sense of unrest, so I stood next to her bed and prayed.  I prayed for her, Dad, and the physicians.  And…I prayed for a peace that surpasses understanding.

I remember way back in 1992-1996 how often I would pray for a peaceful spirit in the midst of my unknown journey.  Trusting and hoping that the next phone call would offer me a teaching position.  In the midst of each disappointment and alongside each tear of rejection, I was reminded of the peace He gives me.  Even when the world doesn’t make sense and when our life is not what we had planned, we can experience the peace of Christ.

The job came, yet the unrest of singleness continued.  Just when I would believe I had accepted that aspect of my life’s journey, someone would utter that dreaded question, “Are you seeing anybody?”  Of course, if you know me, my go-to is generally humor (well, sometimes sarcasm) and I’d reply, “Yep, I see about 20 kiddos every single day.” I knew their heart was in the right place.  From their point of view as a married person, they believed my life wouldn’t be complete until I found ‘the one’.   Thankfully, the only person who tends to toss the question to me these days is my oldest sister.  Now I simply say, “If I was, you’d know.”  Each time the question arises as well as on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, I generally utter this familiar prayer again, “Lord, give me Your peace and help me trust You with all aspects of my life.”

Ah, the peace that surpasses understanding.  That is what Jesus gives.  That is what is offered to those who choose to call on Him as Lord and Savior.   Oh, how much a peaceful spirit can testify to the greatness of God.  From my perspective, a peaceful heart in the midst of chaos and unknown steps is part of our testimony as Christians.  It doesn’t make sense to the world for someone to walk in peace when hatred surrounds her.fb prince peace

Just as Pastor Mike challenged me this morning, I challenge you to possess peace daily.  Pray to practice it in your speech and actions.  Then, while you possess it, take the time to pass it along.  Whether you pass it to others through prayers or through actions of kindness and service, I pray you will be a passer of the peace you  possess to point others to the presence of the Prince of Peace.

{Yes, I had to end with alliteration too.  It’s what I do. }


Thankful Thoughts, the Feline Finale!

There was Ginger…and Sassafras…Taffy and Moses.  Buckey and Sampson then there was Shadrach…but to top them all….was the most unique cat of them all!
Jasper, the territorial feline.  Had a very uninviting hiss.  And if you ever met him, he would let you  know all this!  All of the mail carriers used to laugh and shake their head…until he chased them down the sidewalk to prove they had something to dread…jasper4 Wow!  That’s not too bad for not putting much thought into it!  I may have to finish it into a full parody in December (Umm, that’s Monday. Ha).

I’ve always loved having pets.  I had many living at home with my parents.  Then, when I moved out after starting my teaching career, Sammy (Samson’s nickname) moved out with me.  Then, Shadrach was with me a bit, but I was never home at that point due to both teaching full-time and working with collegiate ministry.

Then, there were a few feline-free years.  However, when field mice thought they could move in, I decided that cat hair and kitty litter were much preferred over mice droppings!  Thus, I adopted a calm kitten from a co-worker of my sister.  Soon, his desire to be cuddled or petted as a kitten was pushed away.  He developed his PURRsonality, which was like none that I’d ever experienced in a cat.  His behaviors and habits became storytelling moments and inspire my model pieces ABC Coverduring writing instruction. Then, in the midst of Jasper scaring grown men and chasing mailmen, he triggered me to finally act on a dream.  So, even though his life sadly ended almost a year ago, his reputation and stories will endure.  Though his 4-book memoir series has concluded, his voice will continue to teach and entertain in my picture books.  Jasper, thanks for being the only attack cat on guard duty 24-7 I’ve ever met.  I cried when I hung your ornaments, but you’ll be proud of my current felines.  They’re enjoying the effects of your tree decorating instructions.  Your jingle bells are bringing them great joy!

Within a week of Jasper’s passing, I became the human to two new kittens.  One was five months old while the other was only 8 weeks old.  R H and meRockyTop started with pretty white fur with orange accents (thus the name), but has transitioned into creamish with orange “lowlights” along the edge of his fur.  I laughed when I had lowlights added in October as I told my stylist that the color almost matched Rocky’s.  Topper was a cute black and white cuddler.  Actually, he was a cuddler only when he was sleepy. Then he’d nuzzle my neck, cheek, or chin.  On their instagram posts, I had him call me “Mama” due to his toddler behavior.  He reminded me of little ones I’ve babysat who had no desire to be held or cuddled UNLESS they were ready to nap or go to bed.   Speaking of instagram, Rocky refers to me as PoofyHair because as he’d sleep above my head on my recliner, he’d often sniff through my hair.  Perhaps, my poofy hair reminded him of his mom or life on the farm before he came to be an inside cat in downtown Madison?

Anyway, I was shocked in August when HillTopperwas playing on the bed at 7 while I made the fb topperbed, then playing with Rocky in the living room, then….gone by 8.  His sudden passing has triggered what I have named Feline-Death-Paranoia.  Poor Rocky has been awakened from more naps than he’d care to lose due to my suddenly yelling his name to ensure he’s still breathing.  This morning, as I looked for photographs for my blog post, tears fell when I got to ALL of Topper’s photos.  They were either of him playing with Rocky or him nuzzling my neck during fb topper 2his naps.  What a sweet and playful kitten he was.  HillTopper may have not been here long, but his impact on my heart was great.  He & Rocky proved that felines can choose to cuddle and be lovable.  After more than a decade of Jasper’s aloofness, it was a welcome change.  For his cuddly disposition, I am thankful

Losing a pet is never easy whether you’ve had them a few months, a few years, or over a decade.  However, to avoid Rocky becoming territorial like Jasper had been, I decided to get another cat “in a week or so”.  Well, that same day a friend posted about a litter of kittens who needed homes.  She specifically mentioned a black cat who had had a home for a small time, but due to too many pets, it came back.  She shared how all it wanted was to be held and due to her allergy…she couldn’t oblige.  So, my methodical planning went out the door, and I went to give this outdoor stray kitten an inside home.

I was so out of sorts with the suddenness that I referredfb black to him as Nameless for several days.  I took suggestions from friends.  Then, FB friends and a class of third graders voted, and BlackTop became official.  [You see, third graders think it makes sense for both cats to have ‘the same last name’.]

RockyTop wasn’t so sure about this new roommate.  He didn’t warm up as quickly as he did to Topper.  Perhaps it’s because he’s older or perhaps it’s Blackie’s unique spirit.  The poor kitten isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch, but what he lacks in cat smarts he makes up with in feline enthusiasm.

Rocky?  He’s my walking cottonball who loves to eat!  I’m talking…he may love food more fb rockythan sleeping which says a lot for a cat. The funny thing is….until recently, he’d never put a cat treat in his mouth.  As you can see by the picture, anything that I eat seems good for him to try (Don’t worry…I always research whether the items are safe before sharing.)  Just like Jasper, he lets me know when it’s time to be fed.  Only where Jasper would literally nip my ankles, Rocky meows.  Then, the volume increases just like on some alarm clocks.  He’s all about his food!

He has other similarities to Jasper as well.  He has turned on his predator skills.  I believe there must be an intruder somewhere in these walls, as he’s often on full alert.  Between him and Blackie, I’m confident that I won’t have to assist like I did with Jasper. Perhaps it’s because they both lived outside prior to moving in with me.  Who knows.

A final similarity between RockyTop and Jasper is the welcome home they extend me.  At least once a week, I’d find Jasper’s face in the windowfb rocky 2 as I’d walk up to the door.  A few weeks ago, I saw this pretty boy beckoning me to pet him.  He wasn’t quite sure how to get through the glass to me. As soon as I opened the bedroom door, he came running….right through the living room and to the kitchen, where he meowed for a scoop of food.  Yep, the boy loves to eat.

The most noticeable thing about Rocky are his pretty blue eyes, but close your eyes and you’ll know he’s still there.  Why?  His motor is loud enough to hear across the room.  What a sweet boy he is!  Yes, I’m thankful for this MEOWvelous roomie.

My students ask if my new cats will get to write books too.  To which I say, of course!  I hope “Tales from Two Kitties” will begin next summer.  I told my class that I need to “learn” Rocky & Blackie’s fb catsvoices, so I can write as them.  So far, Rocky is the smart one who loves to eat.  (Did I mention that?) BlackTop is the not-so-bright little brother with a bushy tail and loud meow.  I kid you not…when I first got him I didn’t know if I could get used to how loud his meow was.  Thankfully, as he adjusted to life with Rocky and me, his volume decreased.  Funny thing is, that his hearing must be extraordinary.  Why?  If I call Rocky’s name or give an “air smooch” to him, BlackTop will come running from wherever he’s been and do a running jump up onto my chair.  Hmmm, I think he may be a little attention-seeking.

Yes, I am thankful to be “the cat lady”.  No, I don’t want another cat, though I’ve been offered countless since becoming a 2-cat home.  Yes, I talk to them.  Who knows if they understand, but eventually I bet they’ll figure some things out just like Jasper did.  So, as my final thankful thought…I’m honored to be the human who shares her home and her heart with two sweet felines.

So, for what are you thankful? Perhaps, as Jasper suggests in “his” memoirs, you could consider giving a cat or kitten a home.  I know for certain that the animal shelter near you will have one who is waiting for YOU!  Think about it.  I think it’s a PAWSitively MEOWvelous idea!

jasper bye

Hats, Hats, Hats.

First, I don’t wear hats.  Well, on “Hat Day” I do….or a birthday party, if asked.  My fluffy hair tends to frown at a hat, but today….I wore several figurative hats.

I started the day at Frisch’s eating breakfast with my parents and some friends.  Daughter & Friend Hats.

Then, I was off to my church because we were hosting a Health Fair for our community.
Church Member & Citizen Hats.

While there, I visited with the grandma of one of my students and sold a set of all 7 of my books to a friend.  Then, I had the joy of holding a cute baby while his mama signed some papers and took care of some other duties.
Teacher, Author, & Friend Hats.

From there, I journeyed to the home of the parents of one of my high school classmates.  They were purchasing my three latest books.  While there, we visited about our families as we’ve known each other for over 30 years.  Plus, one of their grandsons had been my third grader several years ago.
Author, Friend, & Teacher Hats

After leaving their house, I drove downtown to deliver another set of books to a friend who was purchasing them for her granddaughters.  When my friend had time, she invited me to the back of the building to be introduced to two of her granddaughters as an author who teaches. (Generally, I’m the teacher who writes, so this introduction made me smile.)
Friend, Author, & Teacher Hats

Then, Hanover beckoned, and I traveled west to Hanover Park for “Celebrate Hanover” where one of my girls came running up to give me a hug.  I then visited a few minutes with her mother after she introduced me to her baby brother.
Teacher Hat

Finally, I stopped by the store to grab some corn to  make a corn cake for tomorrow’s Jubilee Dinner.
Church Member Hat  image1 (2)

Now, as I try to force myself to go finish the sink of dishes then take a shower, I have a cat curled up on my lap.  Before this, I signed thirteen books to deliver tomorrow while the other cat was checking out my ink pen.
Feline Human and Author Hats

image2Hats!  I often talk about how I’m “Miss Jodi” at church but “Ms. Pflaumer” at school.  Now, I’m also “Jodi Lea Pflaumer” the author.  In the end, it’s all me…I am she.  At different parts of my day or week there are aspects of her personality that overshadow the other, but it’s all me.  I am who I am because of the One who created me, gave me talents and abilities to do various things, and molded me in my mother’s womb.  I’m learning to accept the “she” I am. She may not be everything I thought she’d be, but I’ve learned to love her….cause He loved her first and He loves her (me) best.

So, who are you?  But more importantly….whose are you?

Love or Fear? Which Will Win?

I’m currently battling feline-death-paranoia.  at3Honestly, it’s not a medical diagnosis or a mental diagnosis, but it’s my personal realization that having both Jasper and HillTopper pass so quickly has created a huge fear that it could happen again.

What does this mean?  It means that I often disrupt RockyTop & BlackTop while they nap IF I can’t see their body moving with their breathing.  First, I gaze at them, then…I’ll yell their name until I get a movement from their body.  No wonder they’re always wanting to nap! It doesn’t stop there.  If I go a while without seeing one of them, I will find myself making a lap around the house until I find the (normally napping) cat who is ignoring my pleas for “here kitty kitty kitty” to come.

cat4Today, as I realized Rocky was napping on my legs and Blackie could not be located, I got up and went on a lap.  Fear and dread filled me as I turned the corner in the kitchen where I had found Topper last month.  My heart leapt to my throat as I found Blackie laying in the same exact spot perpendicular to how Topper was found. Only Blackie’s taile was twitching this way and that. He looked at me as if saying, “I’m just taking a rest.  This looked like a great spot.  It’s halfway between my food bowl and litter box.”

Later as I went out to finish washing dishes, I again saw Rocky but Blackie was out of sight.  Again, I went in search….All through the house I looked & called his name.  Finally I found him laying parallel to the shoe rack in the dark bedroom.  His dark fur makes him harder to locate in unlit rooms.  He was laying with his paws outstretched and eyes opened.  My heart sank.  I yelled his name, and his tail switched and his meow sounded.

By this point, my heart rate was elevated, and I grasped cat2how much my paranoia had developed into full-fledged-fear.  This saddened me.  I mean, I don’t like fear having a hold on me.  During tornado warnings, I’m rarely phased.  I pray for safety and prep my mattress.  Why in the world am I allowing this fear to takeover?  Then, it occurred to me.  I’m a feline-loving-female.  I have no children or spouse.  My kittens are the ones who anxiously await my arrival in the evening or react when they hear my alarm go off.  They’re the reason I opted to make tuna salad instead of a bowl of cereal for supper because I knew they’d get great joy from “tuna water”.

In the end, I realize it’s my love of my kittens that fuel my fear.  But….it’s my love of the One who created me that can overcome it and give me peace.

He can overcome your fears too.  However big or small.  He cares about them all.  He knows the number of hairs on your head, so He most certainly knows each worry on your heart.  Place them at His feet and let Him give you a peace that surpasses understanding.  It’s the PURRfect place for your fears….and mine as well.


More Than Mean

Have you ever known someone who is known for only one aspect of their personality?  For instance, when former students are asked, most will say “Miss P was the teacher with the funny voices.”  Obviously, I do more in Room 302 than speak in different voices, but that’s what stands out because it makes me different from a lot of other teachers.

Now, Jasper…he’s obviously known for being a less-than-hospitable feline.  He’s known for hissing, swatting, clawing, and occasionally spitting at unwanted guests, relatives, landlords, house repairmen, roofers, mail carriers, and…you get the picture.  So, it was simple to use an arrogant and demanding feline voice for “Jasper’s ABC Book”.

However, he’s more than mean.  He can be sweet, at least to me.  Once upon a time, he was also sweet towards my nephew.  In fact, on October 7th, a FB memory from ten years ago showed Connor with his arm around Jasper, his head leaning on him, and quoting him as saying that “Jasper is nicer than my cat.”  I quickly sent the pic and quote to Connor to remind him of a time when Jasper liked people who visited our house.

I think over the past ten years since it’s 99% me & Jasper only in the house, not including an occassional field mouse, wasp, moth, or cricket that sneak in.  When you get used to not having other living creatures around, it seems that you gain an attitude of “This is my kingdom and you’re not invited.”

Now, this cat who hisses and swats and has become known for his dominant ways…is only that way when others come.

Many evenings, he jumps up on my lap and either laps on my legs, my students’ work, or my lap.

At night, he’ll often curl up beside me and lay his head on my hand.

While I shower, he generally moves his nap to the purple rug in the bathroom.

While I cook, he’ll relax on the rug by the kitchen sink.

In the midst of fall cleaning, he’ll jump in empty drawers, lay on newly made beds, and follow me from room to room until the vacuum starts to roar.

On Wednesday, while having his annual check-up and vaccinations at North Madison Veterinary Clinic, another veterinarian was amazed at the stories of his behavior towards others.

You see….he’d known for being “mean” but he is also protective, sweet, and a seeker of company….on his terms…in his time.

Now, this makes me think of a discussion my Bible study group had last night.  We so often just see God as a “Loving Father” because…He is.  But…He’s also so much more!  He’s also…Just….Righteous….Holy…Jealous…Sovereign.  If we just look at one aspect of who He is….we will miss out on what a Mighty and Great God we serve!

So….I’m more than a teacher who makes funny voices…I’m also an author who writes in the voice of an arrogant cat…I’m a friend who tries to be there for the people I care about…I’m a church member who serves in various ministries…I’m a daughter who   spends time with her parents…I’m an aunt who has a one-of-a-kind relationship with the “best nephew in the whole entire world”…I’m a follower of Christ who attempts to live out her faith in word and deed.

Oh…I forgot.  I’m the roommate of a cat named Jasper who is known for being (more than) mean.

What are you more than?