Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011...

I'm actually quite surprised that it is already December 31st.  This year seemed to both fly and crawl all at the same time, which is kind of fitting, considering one big lesson I've been taught repeatedly this year (and will no doubt be repeated next year) is that opposites can coexist at the same moment.  I can feel anger and happiness at the same time.  I can be sad and excited all in the same breath.  This was an incredibly important lesson for me to learn, so it makes sense for me that this year would both fly and crawl by at the very same time.

About five years ago I started a little tradition that I've repeated every year since.  On New Year's Eve, I spend some time reflecting on the year, and come up with a theme.  From there, I list the highlights from the year - the good, the bad, and everything in between.  The theme for 2011 is reality.  Reality was a frequent visitor at my door this year, especially recently.  Now you might think this is a bad thing, but I actually view it as a very good thing!  I needed a good dose of reality, and I'm glad I got it.

What will 2012 will bring?  Who knows.  I'm going to do my best to take things one day at a time, and try to make every moment one worth living.

"You can't start the next chapter of your life
if you keep re-reading the last one." -- unknown

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reality Bites.

I heard that was a pretty good movie.  Haven't seen it myself, but if I remember correctly, it has a pretty awesome soundtrack.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest
The wake-up call from two days ago has finally set in.  The shock has worn off.  The tears have been falling.  Plans have been made.  Changes are starting to happen.  The numbness has worn off.  And I'm left staring reality in the face.

It's not pretty.

But sometimes things have to get ugly before the true beauty can be revealed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wake-Up Call

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a wake-up call?  No, not the kind you arrange with the concierge at the hotel, a real, live, what-the-hell-am-I-doing wake-up call.  The one that often comes disguised as something different, and then once it lands takes on a completely new twist.  An unexpected twist.  And often, an unwelcome twist.

I was the appreciative recipient of a wake-up call yesterday.  It was very unwelcome.  Seems I've gotten myself stuck between the ever-so-popular rock and hard place.  Rocks are not soft and fluffy.  Neither are hard places.  So it isn't the greatest place to find yourself.  Especially when you're already somewhat crabby to begin with.

So it's time for me to look at things a little differently.  It's time for me to appreciate the fact that at least there are people looking out for me that care enough to shove me into that unpleasantly uncomfortable location.  Cause at least they pushed gently.  And the ultimate goal of their pushing, of their wake-up call is to help ME. 

Winter Sun, December 19, 2011
As good as I am at seeing the potential in each of my students, of seeing who they truly are, that sparkle in their eyes, knowing how to encourage them along their learning journey... I'm the exact opposite when it comes to seeing myself.  I really would rather not admit it, but I needed this wake-up call.  I didn't realize how, well... how bad things had gotten because I don't see myself very clearly.

The journey ahead isn't going to be easy.  It involves a complete shift of thinking and behavior.  To be honest, the task is daunting and it scares the $#!& out of me.  Because on this test, failure is not an option.  I have to succeed.  At least I don't have to do it alone... I'm lucky to have a pretty amazing team cheering me on.  Cause without them, failure would not only be an option, it would be the likely outcome.

Oh, and to the people who delivered the wake-up call?  Two words.  
They are not enough, but two words are all I have for you right now:
Thank You.

"Every day may not be good... but there
is something good in every day." -- Unknown

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 11: Recovery

Recovery of what?  My dignity?  Never really had much of that to begin with!  How about my sense of humor?  Eh, that's debatable.  Exactly what am I trying to recover from?  Can I just say "life" and leave it at that?

Didn't think so.

So, it turns out that I must have been born an overachiever, as I seem to have skipped several developmental stages and life experiences while growing up.  And part of what this "recovery" process is all about is learning to move through all those skipped stages and experiences, now.

So.  Not.  Easy.

It isn't easy to do things you don't want to do, even though you know you have to.  It isn't easy convincing yourself that the excruciatingly painful work you are doing is worth it.  It isn't easy acknowledging and accepting that you have something from which it is necessary to recover in the first place.

Don't stress- we're not talking a life-threatening illness from which I will never recover, and I am grateful for that.  But it is something that requires accepting that there is a problem in the first place.  It also requires making a commitment to overcome that problem, and a willingness to accept help from those supporting the journey.  All of which I struggled with.  And frankly, at times, I still do.

When I look in the mirror I see a very different person than what the rest of the world sees.  The twisted perception I have of myself turned into an unmanageable and semi-dangerous lifestyle pattern that wasn't (isn't) very healthy.  And that has become a daily challenge that I live with.  Sometimes I just want to give up, not bother fighting anymore, and keep moving forward, unhealthy as it may be.  Sometimes I'm just too afraid to keep trying to get better.  Sometimes it doesn't seem worth the struggle. 

But life is.  Life is worth all the pain and agony and struggle and tears and hurt and stress and fear and frustration and everything else that sucks about going through this right now.  Life is worth living, but it can't be lived the way I was living, at least not for long.  I've been promised that all this work will be worth it when I arrive on the other side, the recovered side, where mirrors aren't the enemy, food is a friend, and life is worth living to it's very fullest expression. 

"Just when the caterpillar thought life 
was over, it became a butterfly."
-- Anonymous

Monday, December 19, 2011

Got Feelings?

I think I found this quote on pinterest.  So did not need to discover that site.  Yet another great way to waste time pass the time.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?  Some people tell me tears are good?) I seem to be skipping the "anger" part and going right into the tears part. 

Right now, the only feelings I know are (in alphabetical order) - angry, annoyed, frustrated, happy, hurt, sad, scared.  All of them evoke the same reaction.  Tears.  When I'm happy, I cry.  When I'm scared, I cry.  When I'm annoyed, I cry.  When I'm angry, I cry.  I think you get the picture.  If tears mean your eyes are clean?  I have the cleanest eyes around.  Yes, lately I cry a lot.  And no, I don't enjoy it.

I actually don't like crying.  I have been conditioned to see crying as a bad thing.  Which is so bizarre, because crying is a perfectly natural reaction to so many things in life - good or bad.  When one of my students comes up to me in tears, my first response is to make sure they aren't physically hurt and require immediate first aid.  Once that is determined, I do my best to comfort them, hand them a tissue or two, and try to figure out what brought on their tears so I can help with whatever it is they need.

Even flowers cry...
But if I'm the one crying?  Do you think I'm that patient with myself?  Not a chance.  I can comfort others, but... I guess I skipped that first course on dealing with ones own feelings.  You know the class I'm talking about?  Feelings and Emotions 101?  I must have missed the enrollment date, because I sure suck at don't know much about dealing with my own feelings. 

The good news is that I've been told it's never too late to learn how to deal with, how to feel your feelings.  How to stop stuffing them down, ignoring them, hoping they'll go away... only to have them explode when you least expect them to, and often in the worst possible situation.  Cause I've gotten really good at doing that - ignoring my feelings and stuffing them away, only to have them explode at a totally inappropriate time.  Supposedly, if you deal with feelings as they arise, they don't explode.  If you deal with feelings as they arise, they are more manageable.  Huh.  Imagine that.  Feelings that are manageable?  That are a natural part of daily life?  That don't need to be a constant source of agony?   Where can I sign up for that class again?

"You can close your eyes to the things you do not 
want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the 
things you do not want to feel." -- unknown

Monday, December 12, 2011


This quote crossed my path over the weekend.  I really like it.  It reminds me that no matter how rotten things might be right now, or how yucky I feel today, I am going through this stuff because I'm strong enough to handle it.

It's like an analogy a friend used to use a lot.  She always said that as we move through life, and reflect on our own lives, it's as if we are wearing glasses.  The deeper we look, the more we learn, the more our prescription changes.  Sometimes our "new" glasses make things look much clearer.  Sometimes they make things seem cloudier.  Sometimes we just want to throw the "glasses" away and bury our heads in the sand till life passes.

What path goes to the end of the rainbow?
Massachusetts, July 2007
But we are only shown what we can handle at that moment.  If we couldn't handle it, it wouldn't appear in our paths at that time.  So while I might not be enjoying the journey I'm currently on, the obstacles that are blocking my path are the ones I am capable of facing right now.  They are obstacles that a few months ago would have been impossible to even begin to think about tackling.  They are obstacles that a few months from now will seem like nothing more than pebbles on the path.  But right now these obstacles, these challenges, are exactly what I am supposed to be facing.

As pointed out to me earlier tonight, four months ago I never thought I'd be able to do what I'm doing today.  I thought it would be impossible to reach the goal that was set for me, and at times, it certainly did feel painfully impossible.  Looking back at those boulders in my path from where I am now?  They seem so small and insignificant.  But where I was then?  They were giant, immovable boulders completely blocking my path.  Little did I know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment, facing exactly what I was strong enough to face at that time.

"I know G-d won't give me anything I can't handle.  
I just wish He didn't trust me so much." -- Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Week 10: Accomplishments

ac·com·plish·ment      [uh-kom-plish-muhnt]    noun.  1. an act or instance of carrying into effect; fulfillment  2. something done admirably or creditably  3. anything accomplished; deed; achievement

I successfully completed my K-12 public education.  Granted, I graduated oh, 15 years ago, but I still consider it quite an accomplishment!

I successfully earned my bachelor's degree in elementary education.  That only took six years.  But it was worth it!  I can honestly say I am working in the job of my dreams.  I LOVE what I do.  I LOVE being a teacher.

The dome of the state capital building.  September 2010
Not my accomplishment, but whoever created this - WOW!
Yeah, I have bad days, I get frustrated with all the paperwork, with the extra hours, the scheduling demands, trying to meet the needs of 20+ individual students within in the context of a set amount of time and with a given set of resources.  But I manage.  More than that, I love it.  I get to make a difference in the lives of my students and their families.  Even after they are no longer in my class, the influence still lingers... I try to always make it a good one.  That's an accomplishment!

Let's see... what else have I accomplished.  This blog is an accomplishment.  I've wanted to start one for a while, but always managed to find a reason not to.  Not this time!

Accomplishments... upon making the decision to move out on my own, I have been able to fully support myself.  I've been able to pay my bills, keep food in the fridge, keep the heat running in the winter and the air running in the summer... I've even been able to do a little traveling!  For someone who is afraid of the unknown, flying across the country the first time was pretty scary, but I did it!  And have done it several times since that first anxiety-filled flight.  That's an accomplishment!

Accomplishments... ok, this might sound a little odd, but sometimes, just getting out of bed is an accomplishment in itself... or getting dressed... even eating three decent meals.  All accomplishments, depending on where I am in life at that moment.

Do animals ponder their accomplishments?
Photo taken June 2010
Accomplishments... I love technology.  I have learned how to create and edit videos.  I can take, edit, and manipulate photos.  I've created websites and blogs.  I can mix music that is used in the videos I create.  I can do basic graphic design to create all sorts of things.  Heck, I can even install hardware on both laptops and desktops (Mac and PC, thank you very much!)  I have created and shared multimedia presentations using a variety of technological tools... that's a lot to accomplish considering it's all been self taught!

Life in itself is an accomplishment.  Every day I continue to breathe, to think, to live... all accomplishments... and living each day?  I can't wait to see what else I accomplish in life!

"Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life... 
it's about what you inspire others to do." -- unknown

Friday, December 9, 2011


Thank goodness it's Friday!  It felt like the longest week...  Funny thing time is, though each day has a set amount of it, some days seem to drag on for eons, and others fly by in a blink.  I wish I could choose what I'd like to happen each day!

But I can't.

Sunset.  November 25, 2011
Those days when I'm exhausted and don't feel like I can take one more step, repeat one more direction, answer one more question... those days could end early.  Those days when everything is falling into place, the stars are aligned, the kids are focused and on task, and the sun is shining?  Those days could last forever.  The days where all I want to do is cry and can hardly drag myself out of bed?  I'd love to fast forward through those days.

What do you see?  A stop sign or a sunset?
I might not be able to change time.  Or change my schedule.  Or choose to stay in bed on the bad days.

But I can do something.

I can choose how to respond to each day.  I can choose to wake up on those bad days and remind myself that this bad day will pass.  I can remind myself that it is in surviving the bad days that make the good days all the more sweet.  The grumpy moments help me appreciate the smiles even more.

Cause attitude may be just a little thing, but like Winston Churchill said, it really can make a big difference.

"If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it." -- Mary Engelbreit

Friday, December 2, 2011

What do you want?

I find this quote to be incredibly motivating and inspiring.  It reminds me of the saying "If you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you've always gotten."  I use that saying a lot with my students to help them be more of a risk-taker.

On the other hand, there IS something I want that I've never had.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to get it.  Even if I try something I've never done.  I want something so bad it hurts at times, especially knowing it will never happen.  I sometimes wish that Ollivanders was real, and sold real wands...

Sometimes things just are what they are and we have to accept them as is.  I don't like that.  I don't like that at all, actually.  But I hope I get used to it, cause it seems that there are things that we just have to accept in life.

What I do want, and what I can try, is to keep focused on the things I DO have, or things I COULD have, instead of the impossible wishes I want.  Maybe one day, I won't even want this thing anymore, as there will be so many positive things I do have, not having this one thing won't matter anymore.  After all, when you look for positive things, that is exactly what you often will find...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 7: Words that Give me Meaning - Take 4

Introducing song four:
Gotta Be Somebody by Nickelback

Life can be so lonely sometimes.  I think that's why it's taking longer than I thought to get rid of my so-called "little friend."  I feel much less lonely with all the inner dialogue that goes on.  But at the same time, I know it isn't real, nor is it helpful, and it most definitely isn't what I want to end up with.  Lonely is not a place to live forever.

Right now, there aren't too many people that I let into my life... but the ones that I have let in?  There is nothing like the feeling that someone cares.  My motivation to continue on this journey stems from my desire to keep them in my life, to keep the people that care about me around as much as possible.

Like the song says, you can't give up, even when it feels like you're looking for a diamond in the rough.  I know that it's possible to still find that someone special.  I know that I don't have to go at it alone for the rest of my life.  I can't give up... One day, I'll find that somebody for me out there...

(lyrics below video)

This time, I wonder what it feels like
To find the one in this life, the one we all dream of
But dreams just aren't enough
So I'll be waiting for the real thing, I'll know it by the feeling
The moment when we're meeting, will play out like a scene
Straight off the silver screen
So I'll be holding my breath, right up 'til the end
Until that moment when, I find the one that I'll spend forever with

Cause nobody wants to be the last one there

Cause everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There's gotta be somebody for me like that
Cause nobody wants to do it on their own
And everyone wants to know they're not alone
There's somebody else that feels the same somewhere
There's gotta be somebody for me out there

Tonight, out on the street, out in the moonlight

And dammit this feels too right, it's just like déja vu
Me standing here with you
So I'll be holding my breath, could this be the end?
Is it that moment when, I find the one that I'll spend forever with

Cause nobody wants to be the last one there

Cause everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There's gotta be somebody for me like that
Cause nobody wants to do it on their own
And everyone wants to know they're not alone
There's somebody else that feels the same somewhere
There's gotta be somebody for me out there

You can't give up, (when you're looking for) a diamond in the rough (cause you never know)

When it shows up, (make sure you're holding on)
Cause it could be the one, the one you're waiting on
Cause nobody wants to be the last one there
And everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There's gotta be somebody for me, oh

Nobody wants to go it on their own

And everyone wants to know they're not alone
There's somebody else that feels the same somewhere
There's gotta be somebody for me out there
Nobody wants to be the last one there
Cause everyone wants to feel like someone cares
There's somebody else that feels the same somewhere
There's gotta be somebody for me out there

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week 9: Where Are You Now?

Where am I now... 
let's see... 
I'm sitting on the couch,
wearing my jammies, 
watching TV. 
That's not what you meant. 
That's what you mean.
That is a much more complicated answer.

Where am I now... let's see...
I'm in a space where I love my job.  Really love it.  A year ago, I couldn't say that.  Six months ago I couldn't say that.  Heck, 3 months ago I couldn't say that.  But today, I can.  And I can mean it.  Cause I do love my job.  I love the energy that teaching children creates.  Nothing in the world quite like it.

I am not loving my struggle.  I know that struggles make us stronger, but I am certainly not enjoying the process.  I never thought I'd still be struggling like this, right now.  I figured that once school started, and once I was back in the routine of things and loving my job, that this struggle would be over.  Gone.  Fineto.  Finished.  And I'd be back to normal.

The roller coaster of life... as designed by the Santa Monica Pier.
Problem is, when it comes to this?  I've never been even close to normal.  Where I am now is better than where I was, but it isn't good enough.  It isn't close enough to normal.

Normally I don't like the word normal because normal for one person is not normal for another.  (Four times in one sentence!)  But in this case, normal applies to what the average person eats in a typical day.  Which is enough to sustain basic body function and energy levels and all that good stuff.  And in this case, I actually want to be normal, but I'm not there, at least not yet.

Right now I'm trying to work my way up the confidence ladder.  I'm trying to see myself as others see me.  I'm trying to remember that the same rules apply wherever I go.  I'm trying to remember to take one step at a time.  I'm trying to focus on small moments, little successes, and baby steps.  I'm trying to find things to be happy about on this roller coaster called life.  I'm trying to embrace the gifts I've been given instead of hide from them.  I'm trying to grow up.  I'm trying become the person I was born to be.

"Growing up is full of big moments. Some of them you can 
see coming from a mile away; and some you can't see at all."
-- The Wonder Years

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week 8: Fears

Oh boy... seems like these weekly blog assignments flip from impossibly hard to motivatingly enjoyable.  Week 7?  All those songs?  The hardest thing was narrowing down my list!  This week?  Fears?  Oh boy...

Fears... Well, might as well put this out there and get this post over with.  My biggest fear is that people will see me for who I really am.  I am not the confident person people seem to think I am.  I am not the incredible teacher that everyone thinks I am.  I am struggling to keep it together, to keep the toxic energy that radiates through my brain contained so that it doesn't spill out and infect those around me.

Funny thing is, I'm starting to think that I'm the only one who seems to think this way about myself.  Which leaves me wondering if it's just my distorted perception of myself.  Cause everyone else seems to think I'm a pretty awesome person.  Am I the only one that refuses to see that?  Have I been tricking people my whole life, or am I the one being tricked?  Is it all an illusion?  Everyone else really knows me, except me?  Am I that afraid to get to know myself?

Other than that, well... I think that's a big enough fear to deal with... kinda puts all my fears in one neat little package and wraps it up with a stick of dynamite for the bow.  Other fears like the fear of not being good enough, the fear of being alone for ever, fear of failure, fear of being hurt... Not a package I enjoy carrying.  Open at your own risk!

I am afraid to show you who I really am, because if I show 
you who I really am, you might not like it-- and that's all I got. 
-- Sabrina Ward Harrison

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: A day for giving THANKS

The once escaped Penguin...
America's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday.  I guess in some ways it still is.  In my mind, it's the only holiday that is all about being with your family and friends just to be.  No gift exchanges, no dressing up (at least not in my family) no one person in the spotlight, just a group of people sharing a great meal and their gratitude.

While Thanksgiving and I haven't been getting along the past few years, I do have quite a lot to be thankful for right now.

America's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011
Here's the short list: 
I am thankful for my job - it is the reason I get out of bed every day.

I am thankful for my team - they keep me sane and are the reason I can actually do my job.

I am thankful for my home - having a roof over my head will never be taken for granted.

Lions and tigers and giraffes?
America's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011
I am thankful for my friends - old and new, as they add so much value to my life.

I am thankful for my family - I have learned a lot from them.

As the day comes to a close, I can't help but think that even though there is some not-fun stuff going on in my life at the moment, today was one of the best Thanksgiving Days I've had in a long, long time.  It started with an incredible trip down memory lane with a very special friend, and ended with a great conversation.  The in-between?  That, surprisingly, wasn't too bad either.

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; 
but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude." 
-- E.P. Powell

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week 7: Words that Give me Meaning - Take 3

Introducing song three:
Say by John Mayer

I remember the first time I heard this song, listening to it and thinking that it would be pretty darn awesome if I could speak even half of what is on my mind.  Sometimes I do feel like I'm stuck in an endless battle with my thoughts, and that the only way to end the battle is to speak... but who wants to listen to all the shadows in my head?  I don't, so why would anyone else?

Unfortunately, if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you've always gotten.  And in my case, that means I'll always end up isolated and frustrated about not speaking up for myself in countless situations.  I sure don't enjoy that now, so living in silence forever doesn't sound too appealing to me!  Like John Mayer says... sometimes it's better to say too much than never say what you need to say again... just do it with a heart wide open...

 (lyrics below video)

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say

Walking like a one man army

Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say

Have no fear for giving in

Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking

And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 7: Words that Give me Meaning - Take 2

Introducing song two:
Welcome to my Life by Simple Plan

This was my life.  And on some days, it still feels like it.  I've never really been one of the crowd, yet, I'm not enough of a non-conformist to fit in with the "other" crowd either.  I'm just me.  And so often I've felt like "just me" isn't enough.  That's because I'm "just me." I get pushed around, knocked down, trampled over, taken advantage of... and this song?  Yeah.  Welcome to MY life.

But thanks to lots and lots of therapy, years of self-inflicted reflection, and my incredible support team, I've learned that my life does not have to be like this.  My life is what I choose to make it.  So while this song really did describe me for years and years, it kinda doesn't anymore.  Instead, it's now a good reminder of where I was, and of where I still sometimes visit, only to be reminded why I left in the first place.

 (lyrics below video)

Do you ever feel like breaking down?
Do you ever feel out of place,
Like somehow you just don't belong
And no one understands you?
Do you ever wanna run away?
Do you lock yourself in your room
With the radio on turned up so loud
That no one hears you're screaming?

No, you don't know what it's like

When nothing feels all right
You don't know what it's like
To be like me

To be hurt

To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No, you don't know what it's like
Welcome to my life

Do you wanna be somebody else?

Are you sick of feeling so left out?
Are you desperate to find something more
Before your life is over?
Are you stuck inside a world you hate?
Are you sick of everyone around?
With their big fake smiles and stupid lies
While deep inside you're bleeding

No, you don't know what it's like

When nothing feels all right
You don't know what it's like
To be like me

To be hurt

To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No you don't know what it's like
Welcome to my life

No one ever lied straight to your face

And no one ever stabbed you in the back
You might think I'm happy but I'm not gonna be okay
Everybody always gave you what you wanted
You never had to work it was always there
You don't know what it's like, what it's like

To be hurt

To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No, you don't know what it's like (What it's like)

To be hurt

To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No, you don't know what it's like
Welcome to my life
Welcome to my life
Welcome to my life

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 7: Words that Give me Meaning - Take 1

I want to start off by saying this week's topic was another hard one, but not for the reasons you might be thinking.  See, I'm a music junkie.  Songs run through my head constantly.  I think in music.  No, I don't write my own (and good g-d don't ask me to sing!) but I listen to music almost constantly.  Including in my classroom with my students.

So the challenge for me was narrowing down my list of, oh, 30-40 possible songs that give me a lot of meaning.  I have narrowed the list down to about 8, so I think this will be part one of a series within a series.  We'll see how that goes.
For now... introducing song one: 
Mr. Know it All by Kelly Clarkson

I heard this song on the radio for the first time this past week and was totally taken by the lyrics.  Of course, when I got home, I downloaded it and have been listening to it non-stop, analyzing each line, each image... I've come to the conclusion that for me, this song is like a direct letter to my Mr. Know it All.  The one I fight with on a daily basis.  The one who thinks he knows it all.  And has been feeding me lie after lie which I ate as if they were delicious candies.

Not anymore.  Mr. Know it All is still around, but I'm trying hard not to listen to the lies anymore.  Trying to start living up to my potential to lead, choosing the right people to follow.  Trying to learn about myself so that next time Mr. Know it All knocks, I'm not even tempted to open the door.

(lyrics below video)
Mr. Know it All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Ain't it something y'all
When somebody tells you something bout you
Think that they know you more than you do
So you take it down another pill to swallow 

Mr. Bring Me Down
Well ya like to bring me down,
don't ya But I ain't laying down
Baby I ain't going down
Can't nobody tell m how it's gonna be
Nobody's gonna make a fool out of me
Baby you should know that I lead not follow 

Oh you think that you know me
that's why I'm leaving you lonely
Cause baby you don't know a thing about me
You don't know a thing about me
You ain't got the right to tell me
When and where to go, no right to tell me
Acting like you own me lately 
Yeah baby you don't know a thing about me
You don't know a thing about me 

Mr. Play Your Games
Only got yourself to blame
When you want me back again
But I ain't fallin back again
Cause I'm livin' my truth without your lies
Let's be clear baby, this is goodbye I ain't comin' back tomorrow 


So what, you've got the world at your feet
And you know everything about everything
But you don't You still think I'm comin' back but baby you'll see


Mr. Know It All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Yeah baby you don't know a thing about me
You don't know a thing about me

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 Things

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year in the century.  Kinda special day today, at least for those mathematically sentimental.  To mark the day, the Friday writing prompt for my class was to make a list of 11 things they are thankful for, telling why they are thankful for each.  It was really surprising to me how the kids struggled to get their lists going!  Many were easily able to list the basics - family, friends, pets, but after that?

The flag that waves to everyone
as they arrive at my school.
Only after our morning discussion, where we talked about the double importance of today - being not only 11/11/11, but also being Veterans Day, a day where we pause to remember and those that fought for our country... being thankful for those that protect what we are so grateful for... Well, after that discussion, it was if their brains unlocked, and I was blown away by their thoughtful thankful lists.  They, once again, showed me that there is nothing like the mind of a child - innocent, naive, yet incredibly observant.

Since I asked my students to celebrate the day with a list of 11 things, I decided to do the same.  So, in no particular order... my list.

1.  My friends.  I might not have a lot of them, but each and every one of them brightens my life.
2.  Technology.  Corny, yes, but thanks to technological wonders, I have learned much, met many, and gained an endless amount of learning that will never run out.  Nor will the joy of digital photography, carrying a computer in my pocket, connecting face to face with those thousands of miles away....
3.  My job.  I love my job.  I love what I do.  I love where I work.  I love who I work with.
4.  Life's challenges.  What doesn't kill me just makes me stronger.  Challenges also help me remember to appreciate the good "stuff" more.
5.  My family.  They've taught me a lot - some great "how to" lessons as well as many "how NOT to" lessons.
6.  Children.  There is nothing more rewarding than watching a child learn, grow, and explore their world on their journey...
7.  Mother Nature.  Her gifts are endless - from the sunrises to the clouds, from the ocean waves to the crunchy autumn leaves... She never ceases to amaze me.
8.  Chocolate.  Life is usually a little easier to handle when it's covered in chocolate.
9.  Peace.  No explanation needed.
10.  Books.  Whether on a kindle or an iPad, or (my personal preference) a good old fashioned page turner, books, like the internet, have opened my eyes to a world of possibilities.  With books in my life, I am never, ever bored.
11.  Hope.  It is because of the hope for a better tomorrow that I often keep going...

"We often take for granted the very things that 
most deserve our gratitude." -- Cynthia Ozick

Week 6: Where I am at this moment

I've had the blog topic for this week in my mind for a while now.  I was hoping to have a bit more positivity to write about, but I seem to be running short on positivity these days.

Taken Wednesday 11/9/11
However, while I was on my way home the other day, I actually had to pull over and get out of the car to snap these photos - the sky was brilliant!  And they are so fitting as to where I am right now...

See, some of the clouds are incredibly dark and somewhat frightening, which is how I've been feeling lately - dark and fearful.
Taken Wednesday 11/9/11
But if you look closely... surrounding the darkness is a beautiful glow, one that may even take your breath away.  (Or cause you to pull over to the side of the road, despite freezing temperatures, and snap a few pictures!)  That glow, though, is not created by the clouds... it's the light of the sun that illuminates the cloud... And with all the darkness that I've been feeling these days, my life is illuminated by those around me.

There's been a lot of stress in my world lately.  Some of these stressors, I have control over, most of them, though, I don't.  I really don't handle stress all that well.  (I don't know many people that do!)  Unfortunately, in my world, stress is the norm these days, and I'm trying to learn how to better deal with it all.

Taken Wednesday 11/9/11
Kinda reminds me of this picture, where the cloud looks like it's ready to devour whatever crosses it's path.  There are lot of things "eating" at me lately, occupying my mind, invading my thoughts...  I sometimes feel like those dark and dreary clouds, ready to unleash a storm.... I'm working to stay lighter, to surround myself with the sunshine others bring, and above all, I'm trying to take things one day at a time.

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." 
-- Winston Churchill
Taken Wednesday 11/9/11

P.S.  I found it kinda cool that I finished this post about where I am on 11/11/11...
which is a once in a lifetime day. Maybe that means things will start looking up!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

My favorite walking path
I realized that it might seem a little odd that my posts thus far have all been "Week such and such" yet, I posted three "weeks" this past weekend.  See, I'm playing a little game of catch-up (not mustard, mind you) on this blog project.  The project began in August, but I only recently jumped on board.  I've been wanting to start a blog for a while now, but never really had a good reason.  This project was a great reason for me to finally get going!

So while the bulk of this blog will likely end up NOT being related to the project, for now, I'm going to keep it simple, take it one day at a time, and see where this project takes me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 5: Sunshine

"If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, 
you'll never enjoy the sunshine." -- Morris West

"Keep your face to the sunshine and 
you will never see the shadow." -- Helen Keller

Hmm.... things that make me laugh, smile, and be happy... 

Butterflies, butterflies, butterflies!
A cloudless November day
An autumn walk
February Sunset
Sunshine. Butterflies.  Squirrels.   Noticing the flowers.  Watching the buds pop into leaves.  Nature.  Cloudless blue skies.  Fluffy white clouds.  Sunsets.  Sunrises.  Finding a great deal.  Perfectly seared Ahi tuna.  Reruns of Friends.  Reruns of Gilmore Girls.  Reruns of Big Bang Theory.  Fresh cider.  Bare feet.  An unexpected text from a friend.  Finding something other than junk mail and bills in my mailbox.
Snow Day = Smile!
One of my feline friends
A cozy sweatshirt on a cold day.  A soft blanket.  Sitting by the fireplace with a good book.  My favorite song on the radio.  Children laughing.  When my favorite movie is on TV.  Spontaneous dance parties at lunch.  Playing in the autumn leaves.  Dragonflies.   Driving with the windows down and the heat cranked up on an *almost* spring day.  Taking it one day at a time.  Music.  Watching the sunlight turn the fresh snowfall into a blanket of sparkling diamonds.  A cloudless, starry night.  The sense of accomplishment.  Celebrating my students "light-bulb" moments.  Making someone else smile.  Random Acts of Kindness.  Reaching a goal.  Helping others.  A home cooked meal made special for me.  Hugs.  Feeling like someone cares.  Horses.  Kittens.  Snow days.  A clean house.  Fresh baked cinnamon rolls.  Laughter.  Making snow angels.  Holding a baby.  A good book.  Friends.  Coincidences.  The beach.  Finding the rainbow after the storm.  Knowing that this too shall pass.  Making someone proud.

Winter Squirrel

"Those who bring sunshine
into the lives of others cannot
keep it from themselves."
-- James M. Barrie

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week 4: Aspirations

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. 
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, 
believe in them, and try to follow where they lead." -- Louisa May Alcott

One day
"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss,
you'll land among the stars." -- Brian Littrell
I would like to live in a world
where teaching is a
respected profession,
embraced as an
ever-evolving art form,
and teachers are seen
as upstanding contributors to society.

One day
I would like to meet
the father of my future children,
fall madly in love with him,
flaws included,
and build a strong and stable foundation
to spend the rest of our lives enjoying.

One day
I would like to publish a book...
or two...
and be somewhere in the top half
of the best seller list.
"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet
we forget that he is someone today." -- Stacia Tauscher

One day
I would like to open a school
that teaches the entire child, 
nurturing their mind,
and spirit,
while preserving
the precious gift of childhood,
that passes too quickly.

One day
I would like to own an incredible camera,
so that I can capture the moments
fly by
"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain
of improving, and that's your own self." -- Aldous Huxley
in life.

One day
I would like to love myself...
to find true happiness
and inner-peace....
to be confident
and self-aware....
to be healthy
and pain free....
to be happy
and love life...

One day...

© November 2011 MGD

Week 3: Inspirations and Influences

I have been struggling with the topic for this week for quite some time... as simple as the first two weeks were for me to write, this week is made up for it!

After pondering the difference between someone's "inspirations" and "influences," a wise friend finally brought the answer to light.  "I guess someone who inspires you motivates you, and someone who influences you impacts your behavior."  So simply stated, but it finally made sense!  No wonder I was stuck on this topic, I couldn't nail down exactly what I needed to ponder!  (Thanks Rish!)

The best and most beautiful things in the
world can not be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.

There are tons of amazing people who motivate me, many of whom I've never met, yet I'm inspired by their words and actions.  I am a big fan of quotes, as I find that sometimes a few simple words can pull me out of a pit of despair, giving me a glimmer of hope.  One of my favorites is by Helen Keller, and I have a heart necklace inscribed with it.  Anne Frank is another person who from the first time I read her Diary until today continues to inspire me, as do many who experienced the tragedy known as the Holocaust.  Anne was wise beyond her years when she said "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Animal crackers still make me smile!
From the the moment I was born until she died, my Auntie was a huge influence for me.  I was her favorite, and she was not shy about expressing that!  She was such a kind and caring woman, always there with a hug and kiss, and saying something to make me smile.  We visited her on Sundays, where she had animal crackers and some sweet chocolate treat.  Auntie was always ready to be with me, whatever it was I was doing.  She made me feel very special, and though she passed 20 years ago, I still miss her.

Outside of my family, I have known S for longer than anyone.  I met her on a cold February day when I was 15 years old.  Little did I know that I had just met someone who would become one of the most influential and inspirational people in my life.  She was a teacher who went above and beyond.  She saved my life on more than one occasion.  We drifted apart as I wandered aimlessly through my college years, though she was and still is, always close to my heart.  As fate would have it, we reconnected years ago, and I was given the opportunity to help her out, bringing our friendship full circle.  Now, though we don't get together often, I know she is always there for me, and always will be.

I am lucky to call K a friend.  Since I've known her, she's gone through her own transformative growth, painful and joyful and utterly remarkable.  As a recently divorced mother of three boys - though two are men in their 20s - she runs a very successful business, all while volunteering to help others on their journey toward happiness and contentment.  It is K who helped kick start my journey, and while I didn't enjoy that conversation, and I still don't always enjoy the process, it is and was for the best.  Knowing that she's always there for me makes everything a bit easier to digest!

My friend D never ceases to amaze me.  She is an incredible person who deals with more challenges in one day than most deal with in a year.  She is raising a beautiful little girl with special needs, and is constantly running her daughter from one appointment to another.  Just hearing her weekly schedule exhausts me!  Yet D manages, and more than that, she does it all with grace (and a little bit of sass!)  To top it all off, she works with some incredible organizations, and supports countless others through her volunteering.  AND she makes time to take care of herself, too, which in itself is a great reminder that no matter what is going on, if we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be able to help anyone.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 2: Favorite Childhood Memories

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to find quite a few happy childhood memories! 

(insert wavy, psychedelic, Austin Powers inspired, digitally enhanced time travel transition here)

I remember having backyard camp outs in the summer... All my friends at the time were the kids of my parents friends, and we'd sleep in sleeping bags in the tent in the backyard, roast marshmallows over the grill, and eat powdered sugar donuts for breakfast.

This was the little playground near our campiste.
I remember camping trips as a family, stopping at the IGA on the way to the campground, it was a great old fashioned place and no camping trip was complete without a stop there.

Mini version - just right for little hands!

I remember Saturday mornings, where my parents slept in and we got to get our own breakfast, which was specially set up the night before.  They would leave bowls and spoons set at the table and our favorite cereal boxes waiting for us. There were little pitchers of milk in the fridge with just the right amount of milk for our little hands to carefully carry to the table and pour ourselves. I always felt quite grown up those mornings!

I remember sitting in my room, entertaining myself for hours with my record player and records and books and crayons. Captain Jane was my favorite record, and years and years later, when I actually found the book that went with the record, I could hear the record playing in my mind as I read and couldn't help but smile.

I remember escaping into the world of books, from the time I was in grade school until now. Books have always been an escape for me... as I joined Francie Nolan in Brooklyn while reading from atop a perch in my favorite tree... Ramona as she skipped along Klickitat street in her musical shoes... Kristy and her babysitters club full of big ideas...
I remember fun babysitters we had, who were practically family... visiting my favorite Aunt where she always had animal crackers and tootsie rolls for us...
going to the sledding hill at the park... building forts out of couch cushions and blankets...  reading Calvin and Hobbes on the back porch with my neighbor... roller skating in the basement... playing on the swings for hours on end... picking raspberries from the neighbors garden...snuggling with my favorite blanket on the couch in front of the fireplace...

I like ending on a positive note, so I'll just wrap it up there...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week 1: What Is Beauty?

Beauty.... I'm not sure I have my own definition, yet, so I dug up a few quotes to help me explore the topic...

Winter Sky January 2011

A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.  
-- Anne Roiphe

Morning Dew July 2009

Beauty is worse than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder.  
-- Aldous Huxley

SnowDrops December 2010

Because beauty isn't enough, there must be something more.  
-- Eva Herzigova

Trumpet July 2009

Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. 
-- Confucius

Sunset July 2011

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. 
-- Kahlil Gibran

Inner Beauty July 2009

Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical. 
--Sophia Loren

And one of my personal favorites...
Sunrise October 2011

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. 
--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Pink in the Pool August 2009

I struggle with finding beauty in myself, but can easily find beauty in those and the world around me.

New Year's Day Sunset January 2011
New Years Sunshine January 2011
If they say
that what we recognize in others
is something
we have in ourselves, 
there is still hope 
for me to find 
beauty within, 
since it is so easy 
to find it elsewhere...

© October 2011 MGD