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.