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...