Do you choose your friends, or do you your friends choose you? 

That debate has gone on for years, and I don’t think I seriously formed an opinion about it until I started doing Campus Life 10 years ago. As we have discussed a wide range of topics with students over the years, friendship has certainly been a recurring theme. Now that my own children are coming of age, the topic means even more to me.   

Each August, I pull out my calendar and try to rein in my activities. I always look forward to a fresh new one. Now is the time. I tend to over-complicate things, creating my own dated calendar each season tailored to my personal goals and my moving target of a work schedule. 

With a son going into first grade this fall, my husband and I are learning quite a bit about options. Should our Little buy hot lunch, or bring a lunchbox from home? Do we feel safe with him riding the school bus? Should we come straight home and start our evening as a family early, or allow him to spend a few days after school participating in extended enrichment activities? Also, if we do decide on said enrichment activities, how often should we participate, should we stick to what our Little likes, or try something we think will be more beneficial in the long term?

Whew. 

With school right around the corner, I’m navigating through these decisions, and I’ve reached a few possible conclusions. 

Growing up, so many aspects of my life revolved around swimming. There was team practice, competitions year round, and, best of all, those shopping trips with my mother to buy new swim gear. And then? You guessed it, rinse and repeat. For 12 years. 

With a growing Little, I’ve had an internal battle. Should I teach him to swim on my own, or should I send him to a more traditional summer swim training program? I opted for the latter, and here are a few things I have learned in the process.

At differing times in life, everyone should take time to reflect and be painfully honest: What have I accomplished? What were my mistakes? Where do I want to go from here? And, how can I do better in the future?

Here’s the deal with mistakes: most people think of failure as an enemy to success. It’s not. The only way you learn from mistakes is to make them.

I love July.

Cities display flags along the highways. I always wonder why they aren't displayed all year round. I sit up a little higher in my car when I go by, realizing how lucky I am to be an American. Even in the midst of so much controversy, we should all appreciate the right of choice to debate.

It’s done! I’ve survived my first wedding as "mother of the bride." I was so proud of my daughter, who didn't freak out that day, as rain blasted sideways and the palms framing the walkway to the beach swayed. She was one of the few, along with me and my husband, Chad, who believed God would not let this day be spoiled.

Welcome to summer in West Alabama, where the humidity levels are surpassed only by the number of orange barrels decorating the city. 

A couple of times a year, I dig into the old electronic mailbag for random questions I get from inquiring minds throughout the community. Some of them are serious. Some of them, well, not so much. 

If you are ever inclined, you can shoot me rando questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Maybe one day, if the stars misalign and you are incredibly unlucky, I’ll answer yours for the world (of Tuscaloosa) to see.  So, without further ado 

Stephanie Barrett, a work-from-home mom of two in Cottondale, has a plan for working at home during the school term. 

With all this rain we’ve had lately, all I have been thinking about is planting seeds. A little cold snap a few weeks ago actually made me thankful I had done some procrastinating. 

Every spring, we have the hope of new things to come. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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