Saturday, October 15, 2016


“So, what have you been doing for the last forty years?”

I’ve been daughter and son, spouse, parent, and grandparent
I’ve been married to my best friend
I’ve been single
I’ve been divorced
I’ve been widowed
I’ve been builder, nurse, mechanic, educator and designer
I’ve been firefighter, soldier and homemaker
I’ve been  caregiver, dancer and artist
I’ve been writer, lawyer and singer
I’ve been traveling and planting roots
I’ve been in my family home and living abroad
I’ve been loved 
I’ve been alone
I’ve been stubborn and caring
I’ve been angry, hurt, lost and regretful
I’ve been generous, open-minded, and loving
I’ve been surviving heartbreaks
I’ve been wallowing in happiness
I’ve been living my life

“What about you?”

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“Free at Last!”

This summer, I trashed the constraints of my bras. I cast aside straps and snaps. I threw away underwire and extra support. Instead of breaking my budget on undergarments I resent, I purchased soft chamois, seamless sports bras, and colorful t-shirts that snug against my skin. I triumphantly enjoy my liberation. After pulling a twelve hour day, I no longer run home to strip out of my bra and into something comfortable.
When I confided to one friend my new found freedom, she gasped, “Why would you stop wearing a bra! Isn’t that bad for you?” And although I told her about all of the research I’d done; and that society plays more of a role in our undergarments than physical necessity, she simply shook her head and stated that she’d never go anywhere public without being held “firmly in place.” 

I’ve waited for someone to run after me, pointing and crying wildly, “Hey, Lady, where’s your bra?” but my modest t-shirts or cute chamois under my blouses and tops fill the bill. 

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, October 10, 2016

“Full Speed Ahead”

          Over the last few school years, I’ve eased back into work with only a couple of jobs in August, and then I’d spend September taking as many sub slots at different campuses as possible to reconnect with the secretaries and teachers. Not this year!
  On a whim, I grabbed a Pre-K job early one September morning, figuring I’d enjoy a day with the “little ones” as I shifted back into work mode. Usually, Pre-K classes come equipped with an aide; so although the younger kids require higher energy, another adult in the room alleviates the drain. I never expected my eight hour stint to turn into a thirteen day stay.
  Both the morning and afternoon groups at this school numbered twenty-three and twenty-four kids; and because a few had special needs, we sometimes had two or three other adults in the room. My days became a whirlwind of song singing, book reading and bathroom monitoring. As the classroom teacher’s absence continued, the kids attached to me—as I did to them. 
  The school’s new principal visited several times while he worked to dissolve one kindergarten teacher’s classes and form another section of morning and afternoon Pre-K. Until that happened, I relied heavily on the tremendous support of other faculty members. Their help made the entire three weeks fun for me and the kids.
  During all of my long years in the classroom, I held firmly to the belief that I’d be happy if I could simply lock myself into a room with the kids and TEACH. No papers to grade, no parent conferences, no faculty meetings. These three weeks proved my belief to be correct. I loved every minute of my unexpected stay.
  After finishing, I slipped back to my usual substitute routine—selecting different grade levels at as many different schools as possible. And I’ve enjoyed kindergarten, first and fourth graders from four other schools. Like previous years, my schedule fills itself, and October brims with a wide variety of jobs at various campuses. 
  But I carry with me the first weeks from this year’s adventures. Over the weeks since, I’ve caught myself singing “Pokey Bear. Poke Bear, why are you so slow?” And I found myself sharing a Pete the Cat book with my husband and son.

(Eric Litwin--author; James Dean--illustrator)

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Journey of Grief"

          The night of my father’s unexpected death, we gathered at my parents’ house in League City. I don’t know who suggested that we watch a movie together to take our minds off of our loss, but before I knew it, I was stretched out on the floor in the family room watching Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon. It didn’t take long for us to burst into uncontrollable laughter at scene after scene.
         And in that raucous, rolling mirth and uncontrollable giggles nestled the first knowledge that we would recover from our unexpected loss. Grief, of course, shrouded us for months and months; yet, that first evening of laughter meant the world would go on. Our lives would change forever, but we’d find myriad reasons to smile and laugh again.
         Our personal grief entangled the next day with the September 11th terrorist attacks. The television, on in the background as we dressed to go to the funeral home, suddenly caught my sister’s attention. 
            “Did that plane just hit a building?” she asked.
         The surreal elements of our personal lives halted as we stood to watch the initial reports, before the second plane hit. We left the house and hurried to the appointment to make arrangements for Dad’s funeral, knowing immediately that the attack would affect our lives immediately.
         At the funeral home, the television ran in another room. The director’s phone calls to Fort Sam Houston Cemetery went unanswered. Mom, able to collect herself as she listened to the news, commented that all of Dad’s friends at the sheriff’s department would go on alert. She made an immediate decision not to have a viewing. We picked out an urn. The director finally reached the National Cemetery at Ft. Sam only to be told that we couldn’t schedule any plans until after the crisis had passed. Mom gave instructions for Dad’s cremation, and we all decided that David, Paul and I would drive back to San Antonio with his ashes. We’d schedule a service later.
         I’ve always admired my mother’s strength, but never more than that day. When she called the Department of Defense to inform them of Dad’s death, the young officer handling her call burst into tears. I sat on the floor, holding the checklist of numbers to be called, and listened as my mother consoled this young man. He had friends in the Pentagon.
         I marveled that my mother, so wrapped in her own loss, could take a moment to consider the shock and loss felt by a stranger. 

          Over the years, I've learned the power of laughter. Maybe if people took a moment each day to giggle or grin, or to belly laugh until they cried, our world would hold a touch more optimism. 

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Kirk or Picard?"

            I love the entire Star Trek franchise. Only nine when the first series debuted, I recall propping up my head against a stack of pillows, my favorite blanket in hand, to watch the adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. My sister’s love for Chekov mystified me as Spock captured my attention with his devotion to logic and science. I dismissed the antics of the plastic characters in Lost in Space while I longed to join the journey “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

            The rash and brash cockiness of James T. Kirk hooked me from the first episode. I loved his assertive leadership and boasting attitude. A Cavalier risk-taker, Kirk’s impetuousness influenced my playground spunk. I emulated his swagger in mock battles. I mimicked his self-confidence as I bossed other kids around. I fought against “aliens” and outwitted opponents with a mixture of wit, charm, and arrogance that guaranteed my popularity in the neighborhood. Small for my age, I learned from Kirk that acting first and thinking later edged my ability to hold my own among the older kids. With flailing fists or whipping jump rope, my brazen attacks against villains may have landed me in trouble with my parents, but no one messed with Lizzy during my Captain Kirk phase.
            As an adult, a different captain of the Enterprise captured my interest. Star Trek: The Next Generation aired its first episode in 1987 with Jean-Luc Picard in charge. This captain didn’t have Kirk’s devil-may-care defiance. Picard, who learned from his youthful mistakes, provided a rational and diplomatic leader for his crew. He often displayed his boldness with subtle nuances that appealed to my grown-up Lizzy. Picard liked music, and art, and books. He understood consequences to his actions. He tried to think first and then act, very different from my childhood idol, Kirk. Picard entered my life when I had matured into relying upon negotiation to solve playground problems. His tact and discretion became traits I admired and wished, sometimes desperately, to claim as my own.
            So when the question arises, as it inevitably does in Geek conversations, “Which captain of the Enterprise is better, Kirk or Picard?” I have my reasons for loving both. The child in me clings to Kirk with his youth and energy while the adult in me would love to sit and sip Earl Grey, hot, with Jean-Luc.   

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman