Sunday, March 25, 2018

The gradual shift
It happened slowly. Gradually. Little by little. I realized some things about unions are needed for my profession. I realized that social capital is a real thing. Without it, it's just me against the world. And in order to make my life better for myself and my kids, I need help.  I need friends. I need a village. So I take one more step away from my conservative roots. First I go from union buster to union member. Then I go from each-man-for-himself to working for the good of all, greater good, blah blah blah. Only its not blah blah blah. As I become more aware of my need for help from others, I realize that I can't believe I need help from others and also that "my" tax money shouldn't go those lazy slobs on welfare. Because I might be a teacher, but I am still one of "those" people. My first three years of teaching I still qualified for vision assistance. And let's face it, I needed it. My family needed it. I can't be one of those "if they really want to get out of poverty, they can just get a job...." and be the person who is digging out of poverty with the help of an army of caring, selfless people. I can't be the teacher, parent, opinionated jerk, who says.... "We just need to spank these kids, my parents spanked me and I turned out fine...." Because these kids are not you and your siblings, and I really am not sure you turned out okay, in spite of your claims. Because when I look around, I see a broken society. When I see the science explaining the connection between trauma and the gaps we're seeing in children's learning and the behavior problems present in schools today. I say.... maybe black and white isn't working for us these days. Maybe there's a lot of gray area. Maybe adults who were traumatized are pushing through the best they can and in turn pushing our kids to push through the best that they can. Black and white; right and wrong; punishment and reward. They are not working for these kids. These children don't respond well to judgment, harshness, legalism. They respond better to patience, kindness, even tones. Don't we all. But follow the science. DNA doesn't lie. Trauma makes a DNA marker. Toxic stress makes a DNA marker. I could go on all day. I might do that.

So... if your trauma, stress, etc., marks your DNA, it's altered. Changed. Compromised. Predisposed to the marked behavior. Now we have a nation full of people battling trauma, toxic stress, effects of abuse, affects of neglect and poverty and all that goes with that. And we plan to treat it by cutting mental health spending, bringing back corporal punishment and letting those poor starving bastards dig their own selves out of poverty because it will be good for them. Oh wait, and blaming teachers for nearly every thing wrong with society today.

I'd tell you my rant is over, but it's not. It will surface again. and again. and again. From right wing conservative to moderate to a little bit liberal to full out ranting socially charged independent woman.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Up and down merri-go-round

So hard.
It takes practice.
Turn it over.
practice different behaviors.
Pick it up again.
Put it down.
Practice new behaviors.
Pick up old behaviors.
It's the dance.

Okay. Here's the deal. Last Summer I got serious about changing my health. Between June 21st and December 10th I lost almost 30 pounds.... 28 to be exact. But, you know.... holidays. winter. And slowly, celebration by celebration, more and more sugar crept into my life again. Then soda pop (or whatever you call it, Coca-Cola to be exact). Walking became lonely. Healthy eating became a chore. I got more and more out of practice.

Now I feel stuck. 10 pounds heavier. Sugar addicted. Sluggish. I have started experiencing health problems that I had not dealt with for months. 

Every morning, I start out strong. I resolve to eat well, avoid sugar, walk for my mental and emotional health. After I get done with my day, I don't care anymore. I want sugar, I want my chair, and a mindless tv show. I want cookies, carbs, and comfort.

I want it. I don't want it. I want it. I don't want it. I want it.

I want it. I think.

How do I get back to wanting it all the time? Because my health is in need. And my soul. And my emotions.

Here I go again.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11, SOL, Time....

Just uttering the word drums up emotions, song lyrics, thoughts, images. I ponder the time change and how hard tomorrow morning will be and my mind is flooded with little snippets of songs about time... "does anybody really know know what time it is, does anybody really care?"; "time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future...."; "time after time," and (of course, with all the memes) "if I could turn back time..."

Some days I really do want to turn back time. I want a do-over on so many shortcomings in my life: bad parenting, poor citizenship, less-than-stellar teaching. Most days I just want to maximize the time I have. But I know that this next week will leave me worn out and exhausted. The time change drains me and while I despise it, I love more sunlight during my waking hours. I know it will help me over come my winter blues.

Take time for yourself. Give of your time. The most precious gift you can give is time. Time keeps ticking. You can't stop time. Your time is what you make of it. Money can't buy love, it is spelled t-i-m-e. Not enough time in the day. Make the most of your time together. Time to exercise. Take time for meditation. You will not regret investing your time. You will regret not giving of your time. Time to play. Time to work. It's all about time.

Time. Such a precious commodity. I am trading an hour of sleep and many tired days of adjustment, for more time to enjoy my children and live my life to the fullest. But today, I am just barely dragging into this time change. It's time to embrace the time change.
Read about everyone's Slice of Life in the March SOL writing challenge.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Day 3: Slice of Life

My slice, glimpse, peak into the mundane.... sounds easy enough. Every year, every day, I find it completely overwhelming to try to just find one slice per day, not a potpourri of every imaginable sliver.

Somehow I have gotten off the gratitude train. I have gotten pulled down by the muck and mire that is life. Many days I feel myself drowning as I slog through the sludge. When I take a minute to reflect, I think, "what happened to my intentional focus on gratitude?" What indeed. Somewhere, somehow, I just started slipping away from an intentional focus. I assumed it would naturally carry on. But the reality is that I know myself and I know that deeply ingrained in my psyche is a tendency to cry the victim, to succumb to a feeling of being beaten down. Gratitude is not second nature to me, it has to be practiced. So today I will make a choice. I will start small and find 3 things to be grateful for.

Today I am grateful that I can re-train my brain. This is small. This is ginormous. Because I can choose a focus and practice it, over and over and over, until new dendrites grow in my brain and retrain it. If I can do this, I can teach little people to do this. This leads to resilience and a sense that the circumstances that pull us down cannot defeat us, that it is just a circumstance, not who we are. I saw "we" because I know that it is necessary to model and teach this is to the community of 6 and 7 year olds whose daily outlook on life is deeply colored by my outlook on life.

Today I am grateful for my class family. They are simply amazing.

Today I am grateful that I have choices as to how I respond to whatever life might send my way.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Only Love Can Do That....

Today, the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, my brain is full of so many thoughts. Starting with the beautiful children in my classroom of many different shades of skin color.  And how we hold hands and drink out of the same water fountains. How some children have been instructed not to say the Pledge of Allegiance and how the expectation on me is that I will say it. And that I will expect my entire class to say it. But what if I empathize fully with those students and wish to stand with them? Or kneel with the NFL players who are not standing and participating in the flag salute. How they are called traitors, unAmerican, and so much more. How I have to be careful how much I voice my support because we are not so different in the 20-teens as we were in the 1960's. How often I hear, "Protesting is okay, just not that way...." So which way IS okay? Another way that doesn't draw any attention? Because that has worked so well in the past. Because I know that as a white woman with professional stature I don't see color, I don't see "white privilege." And I know that is exactly what white privilege is. Because children of color, they know what color their skin is. If they don't know in the First grade, they will in a couple more years. My Kinders last year were very aware of race, skin color, privilege or the lack thereof. One form of name-calling in my classroom last year was "half-white." It was not just a descriptive. It was a BAD name. Today I am in awe of the late Dr.'s self-control in the face of so much hate. I cannot believe that so many socially just quotes and just plain ole good teaching we gained from him. I know that we no longer live in the division of 60's, but we are no where near "there." I have a dream that one day before I die, I will see Dr. King's dreams come true and we will truly live as brothers and sisters with all our friends of every skin color.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Melancholy Majesty

 A touch of sadness
in your naked branches,
while you reach bravely,
toward the sun.
Vulnerabilities exposed,
boldly thrust forward.
 Something so beautiful
in your sadness and strength.
Representative of the seasons
of life.
Death to the old,
casting off of what drags you down.
 Very soon,
you'll blossom again.
Life and hope
represented by your green leaves
and covered arms.
Adorned with grace....
both bright and fragile.
But today,
you show me
how to stand tall,
forlorn and alone.
Grace and strength
your only covering.
Your lonely branches
lain bare
like a soul
stripped of its defenses.
Melancholy and majestic.
Breathtakingly beautiful.
-Carrie H.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018.... OLW.

I reposted last year's sentiment about my word for 2017. Or not a word, but a plethora of possibilities. And it's on my mind again. still. What is my one word for 2018? What will my focus be? I think the word this year will be....
This is the year that I will free myself of the "not good enough's," the drive for perfection, the coloring of what is with the pain of the past.
Sounds simple enough, right?
In truth, I've been striving for this for most of my adult life. It is not easy. It is a struggle. It pulls me back to what's familiar, time and time again. I am not free from the wreckage of my past. Not the damage I am responsible for, nor the damage done to me. I nurse my wounds, I beat myself up, I hold up a mirror and look, look, look at things best left behind.
This year my quest is to be free to love without strings, even if there are strings on the other parties love; to feel without shame; to parent without guilt; and to teach without second-guessing.
Ahhhh. Now it doesn't look so simple, does it? Because nothing in life is ever as simple as it first appears. And most things take work. Lots and lots of work. One thing I will strive for is relaxation, letting go, and embracing the simple. Because I think that is what freedom looks and sounds like. I am worth it. And so are the people that I exert influence over every day.
Freedom. Free. Free to be.