Saturday, March 28, 2015

An every day conviction

Every day I resolve to be healthier, eat better, clean up the place, and just get motivated..... every. single. day. But then I engage in my avoidance tactics..... television, check job postings, social media, check the email, check them all again.....

Today I read another depressing article about sugar and the horrors it inflicts on our bodies. Yes, I believe it. I believe that sugar is the devil. But it's what I love. So I'll read about it, research some more, make plans to buy the best groceries, and then I'll wait. Until tomorrow. While I stuff my face with sugar.... fudge, soda, desserts. Getting ready to go to the movie. And we'll have popcorn loaded with butter and we will have BIG cups of soda. High fructose corn syrup. Yum. I know it makes me not feel well, I know that IF I would detox off of sugar, I would feel SO much better. I know it. But so far, I do not have the discipline to do it. I love me some carbs, and some sugar. And if it is known to clog an artery or spike the blood pressure, well, sign me up. And every day I think I am REALLY going to make a change. I am going to do it. Get healthier, feel better, begin the change in our home. And then I find some of that delectable fudge, or get a "craving" for a soda, or feel the need for some chocolate. Maybe better yet I find some greasy burger and fries. Yum. I feel my arteries clogging and my heart is smiling.  Yeah, I am totally at odds with myself. My health-conscious self and my greasy, heart clogging, blood pressure raising self. At odds. Today I am ready to head out to the movies, butter up, and drink that soda. Today I know I did not win. Tomorrow the battle will begin again. One day, the healthier me, she will win. And then the change will truly begin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reflecting on sibling relationships

Every day I sit here and mull over the millions of things I could write about and none of them make the grade. Almost every day my blog starts out with "I don't know where to start..." or "My mind is blank." Or some similar phrase. I tell myself that you, dear reader, don't need to know this. That you will just pick up where I come up with something and it will seem "normal" and just were it needs to start. But when I do that, just pick a place and start, the writing falls short, hollow. I can tell you that it is all in my head, and I do somewhat believe that, but when I go back and re-read what I wrote, forcing myself to stop my driveling and pick and point and start, I lose interest. The writing really does seem to fall flat.

Today I saw a million things that I could write about. But the one that warmed my heart, was watching my girls be siblings, playing together and putting aside the age difference to appreciate each other and enjoy their time together. My girls, eight years apart in age, so many light years different, and yet, at times, bonded, woven together by the thread of family. In these moments I realize that blood really is thicker than water, that my children are forever meshed together.  Today I witnessed my girls get along, be friends, and treat each other with care and consideration. From the moment that they chose to start running and exploring to the moment when they walked hand in hand up the stairs, this Momma watched in awe and with a heart full of love, running over, full of peace and happiness. Tomorrow this moment may be history, but today, I will revel in the glory of my little family and I will thank God for the bond of sisterhood. I will dwell on this memory as the day winds down. I will end this day feeling the serenity that enveloped us today. I will enjoy this while it lasts, cherishing the moment that will disappear too soon; this rare moment in time, this rose among thorns, jewel among stones. Tonight I rest in fullness that comes from having enough. This family, it is enough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Sitting in the stillness, surrounded by the sounds of morning. My music this morning is the sound of two family members collaborating in the other room solving a Sudoku, the chirping of the birds, the pitter patter of the rain. There is a dreary drudge to the morning, and at the same time a freshness that the rain of Spring will bring. Colorful little wrens on the fences, trees budding and plants growing and greening before my eyes. It is a beautiful sight. I am surrounded by peace, by serenity, by calm. I feel the quiet renewal in my soul. I am overwhelmed with the sense that it is, indeed, well with my soul. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Focusing on Gratitude. I have to say.... I have a lot to be grateful for. Sometimes I forget how much I have to be grateful for. Then it is time for a gratitude list. So today I will remember the things I have to be grateful for.

I am grateful for my recovery today. I know that in my life, recovery is more than just sobriety. It is about sober living in all areas of my life. When I quit drinking, I really believed that it was true that following steps and doing step-work was just a suggestion. Ha! It IS a suggestion. But if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting! So as long as I continued crazy thought patterns, selfish behaviors, living in chaos.... my life improved only marginally. After years of running on the same hamster wheel, never making any real progress, I finally got miserable enough to start taking suggestions. I started working steps and listening to a sponsor. Little by little, things started to change. My life is not perfect. But my life is improving constantly and consistently. There are areas of my life that are still a shambles. But I have gone back to school and gotten my teaching license, I am making payments on a beautiful HOME for us, I have a running vehicle. I have some debt. Medical debts. But as a general rule, I don't go out and spend extremely and randomly. Today I have the ability to parent my children. I have the ability to think things through, talk to my children and teach them and listen to their questions. For this I am grateful.

Today I am grateful for Spring Break. I love the warmth and sunshine. I love the break, the chance to renew my spirit. I love sleeping in and living on my own timeline and schedule.

I am so grateful that I am a teacher. The teaching profession is really taking a beating right now, and I am even considering changing careers. But I love the kids, I love it when they "get it" and when I can see the growth. I even love writing lesson plans and getting excited about what I teach. I love shaping little minds and expanding knowledge. I love building trust.

These are the things I am grateful for today. This is a slice of my life today.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring has Sprung

Every day that I slice I start with a blank space, a void, a blank. Every day I think..... I don't know what to write about. I've learned to just start. Just put it down. A theme will emerge and evolve and my soul will be free when I finish. I often lament that my writing so often has a dark theme, wishing I would once write about sunshine and light. But most of the time my writing is a reflection, often ending in an epiphany. It often ends with hope. That's enough right? Hope and enlightenment.

Today is no exception. I sit down and think.... today I'll write about Spring, about gratitude, about some great journey I've overcome and I sit down and there it is, the blank space. Here is my school of thought today....

  • Happy Spring break to me, I must have needed it, I didn't get up until 11. 
  • Where to begin.... the dirty laundry, filthy floors, clutter countertops?
  • I can't wait for our trip to visit family! 
  • I want to reflect on gratitude and the good in my life.
  • I am enveloped by the warmth and sunshine of Spring. It feels so good, calm, serene.

These thoughts overcome the shadows today. Lurking in the shadows are the worries, the sadness, the grief. Today I will focus on Spring and the hope that comes along with it, that just cannot be ignored. The sound of robins, the smell of fresh, green grass, the gentle wafting breeze. This renews my weary soul. I will focus on this today and let the darkness fade away. I will focus on renewal and hope today.

Today this is my slice of life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Yesterday I was not empathetic. I was not considerate or compassionate. I was in pain. A headache, induced by fatigue and stress, split my head wide open. Along with the pain tumbled out a lack of restraint of every negative thought in my head.

But what did happen is this. A realization. An understanding. When my child, who suffers from frequent migraines, feels like her head is splitting open and she is contemplating crying because of the pain, she really is less able to control her emotions. I also noticed I have ridiculously high expectations of others in my pain. I know this happens to/for me all the time, but when I am not in so much pain, I can recognize that my expectations are unrealistic and I can adjust them. In my pain, I was just stuck. Even when I realized that my behavior was erratic and that I was putting unrealistic expectations on others, I was unable to adjust my expectation, I was obsessed. I was stuck in "yeah, but...."

This is so often my daughter. She can even acknowledge or say that she is not meaning to be mean or rude or selfish, but then she is unable to adjust her expectations. This was painful for me. I could see/feel that I was being hurtful, and still felt so much outrage and flat out anger. I felt defeated and deflated. Which are things I see in my child.... when she eats gluten, or she has a migraine, or does not take care of her needs.

I hated where I was at last night. I hope that I can hold onto that understanding when I see someone else, quite possibly my own child, exhibiting less control due to their own pain. Physical pain, makes it much more difficult to regulate emotions. I noticed that I had a plethora of irrational thoughts as well. So today I will strive to err on the side of grace and kindness. I will do my best to remember that I truly do not know what another person is going through. I will do my best not to project my expectations onto another, because I don't know their struggles.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


The push and the pull.... I really want to write about my reluctance to write, but the voice in my head tells me not to. The voice reminds me that I write about this often enough. I write about how writing sometimes eases the pain, but lately, the dull drums have taken over. I have so much sorrow and so little direction because of circumstances outside of my control. I decided to focus on gratitude. But I have a hard time writing about my gratitude without typing about the counterpart. The heartache and sorrow. The poor me and the brokenness. For more than one day I have stared and not won the battle with the vast space of blank white emptiness. I have started some threads and they dwindled off. Some of this from sheer exhaustion. Exhaustion that comes from long hours and an emotional battering.

I am a third year teacher, looking for a job for a fourth year. It is not pretty on the resume. It is grueling. And even with the state-wide job board, it is time consuming... every. single. time. The applications take forever. And how do you explain to someone the quirky ins and outs of a district that for all intensive purposes is dysfunctional? That throws money into things only to change its mind before the miracle happens? This causes an outflowing of money that leaves a budget deficit that they don't understand or know how to deal with. But experience says that they will do this again, they will throw dollars after some new thing, only to yank the funding before they see the fruit of it. You can blame our governor, because he has done horrific things to our education system, but the truth is, my school district has been doing foolish stuff like this for far longer than these crazy hateful cuts have been getting handed down. While I am handing out blame, I can ask myself, "Why did I get on the roller coaster?" Roller coasters go around, they never change their course. Every single time it is the same ride. I willingly got on. And I can tell you why. It felt "right." After all this time I went with what felt right. But I also took the job because I love to teach. I wanted to teach. I wanted to ignite the passion in the students and I wanted to contribute to their knowledge and help them to find out how to drive their learning.

So I am grateful. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach. To learn. I learned so much this year. I have so much left to learn. And as a believer in life-long learning, the fact that my life is not over, is driven home by how much there is to learn. Much to learn about working with others, and much to learn about taking direction, and taking initiative. So. Much. To. Learn.

Today I woke up grateful for the hope that is born each day in the Spring. The warmth of the sun and the freshness of the breeze and the newness of each day. I woke up in the midst of my sorrow with praise in my heart. Spring brings hope with it by its very nature. It wakes the earth and awakens the song of her inhabitants. I hear the robins and cardinals singing their joy this morning and I feel the hope.

The next right job, career, beginning is out there. I can feel it in my soul today. I think it is spelled H-O-P-E.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A ray of hope

Today the sun shone down and embraced us with lovely warmth and light. The light and warmth of Spring. In this glorious sun, during morning recess, I look over at a usually ambitious little learner. He is not looking ambitious. He is not necessarily smitten with the sunshine. He looks sad and forlorn. I call him over ask what the matter is. He says his stomach hurts. I asked if he wanted to sit with me. He did. He put his precious little head on my chest and just took in all the love I could give him. He did not want to pick up his head. You know how some students tolerate affection because you are the teacher and they might secretly like it, but they wouldn't want their friends to see! This was not situation. Finally I said, "are you sad?" "yeah...." I prompt a little, "...about our school?" "yeah." "Me too buddy. Me too...."

And so we sit and soak up the warmth of the sun and grieve together. Just being together is comforting. It gives us a ray of hope.
This is today's slice of life. Join the challenge or read what others have shared at Two Writing Teacher's blog.

** Our school board voted to close our school the other night. We are a small school, project-based, and a very, very close little school community.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Splintered into a million pieces.
The pieces are shattered,
into pieces too small to recover.

The ache,
it grows.

The hole in my soul.
No redemption in sight.

*written on the eve of the vote to close the school I work in and love.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Word Vomit

My Sunday Slice of Life.

Sometimes I have this uncontrollable urge to "enlighten" people. Most recently, I have done this to my students. What this translates into is the crushing of hopes and dreams. I know I am crushing some poor kids sky high, crazy insane, pie-in-the-sky idea and I can't stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth. I am aware that this generally comes from some personal experience that was heart-wrenching, either for myself or someone I know/love. My ex-husband is an excellent guitar player, very talented. He never could break into the music industry. But he's good enough, he has the talent. He never had the freedom to pursue it at the break-neck speed and with the dogged persistence required to break, to me discovered, to become an overnight sensation. But he's no slacker. He is very, very good. I know this experience is related to not being able to just say "Rock on my little friend" when one of my little learners talked about how he is going to be in a rock band and play guitar when he grows up. He is going to be a rockstar. And vomiting out of my mouth were words that were anything but encouraging and I could see his shoulders drop and his head slump and he realized that his teacher did NOT actually think he could be anything he wanted to be. I hated me at that moment. I have done this to my own children too. Knowing that it is my job as their mother to be their biggest fan and head cheerleader, sometimes I fail miserably because I am afraid their choices will lead to even more heartache and they will continue to know the crushing pain of rejection. In trying to spare them future pain, I crush their spirit and their hope. Hope killer. This is not a title I wish to carry. So why does this happen? Why can I not just continue to encourage?

When I was a freshman in high school I had this English teacher who encouraged me to write. She taught us to write poetry. And I fell in love with poetry. I wrote poems as a freshman, as a sophomore, and beyond. I continued to go back and visit Mrs. Penner over and over again. Every time I went back she would read my writing and smile and say.... "Keep writing!" She never once said... "Maybe writing is an unrealistic goal for you." Mrs. Penner is a teacher that I emulate. If I can be like her, my students will fall in love with what I teach them and they will know I am their biggest fan. That is my goal. So I know that I have to overcome the word vomit and keep their trust and build on it.

Cheerleading 101. Cheer. Leave the gloom and doom at home. Sometimes I am overcome by that urge. But I hope I can stay focused and remember what teaching is REALLY all about. Hopes and dreams. It will never by my job to crush them.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I've Got a Blank Space Baby....

Here I sit with this blank space looming. Sometimes (many times) I just start typing in almost a gibberish style, whatever floats in. Just to get rid of the blank space. Then the "real writing" starts at some point after that. I saw a picture on social media that said, "If you are good at art, you are an artist! If you are not good at art, you are an artist!" That is sort of how I feel about writing. I don't know if I am a good writer. But I am writer. Writing is cathartic. It lets me use that vocabulary that I can't use in everyday conversation (who says cathartic anyway?). Writing brings peace. Writing brings clarity. It clears my mind, which is often filled with the fog and smoke of too many things on my mind to think clearly. Those are few of the things I love about writing. I love the sound of my voice when I write. And yes, I love that opportunity to "use big words" but I also love that I write like I speak. A direct contradiction? Maybe. Because my writing sometimes uses too many "Ands..." "alsos" "buts" and that is because I type it like I say it. I so often just add on to the end of the sentence with an and, or a but, and I write in a way I encourage students not to. My writer voice is not always grammatically correct. But neither is my speaking voice. So I woke up this morning and realized that I did not slice yesterday, I wanted to jump in and get started today, and then that blank space was looming. Today my writing epiphany is this: When I write really well, I am a writer. When I write poorly, I am a writer.

I heart writing.
This is my slice of life for the Slice of Life 30 day challenge. Read about it and join the fun.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Socks? Responsibility? Poverty? Weight of the world....

Slice of Life, day number 5.
Today's slice is brought to you by the queen of burn out. Yep. I think it's burn out. Or it could be depression. Or maybe just exhaustion. Then again, it could be some sort of deficiency. *sigh* I am feeling fatigued. Like yesterday. Today I feel fuzzy-brained. It's hard to get a clear line to my thoughts, which tends to give me the sensation that I am less-than. Less than human. Less than enough. Less than you, my peers. Less sane. Less capable. Less. I hate this feeling. I feel robbed.

Today I was conflicted about student needs. My student didn't come to school prepared to learn. For one thing, she didn't wear any socks. Then she asked the office to provide some for her. The thing is, I actually had extra socks here for a center activity (Fox in Socks math). But the student didn't actually ask me, she asked the school secretary. Sometimes for this particular student, the choice to go to someone other than the teacher is an indication that it is not an actual need. Then the thought occurs to me, "What if she just needs to be loved? What if she will feel loved by wearing my socks?" Well, What if? I had a hard time weighing it out today. I left her sock-less. I chose to go with the "she has to learn to be responsible for her own life (and socks)" idea. Third graders are more capable than I sometimes give them credit. Third graders in survival mode might just need to know their teacher doesn't want their feet to be cold so they can learn.

The thing is, as someone who is only sort of on the fringes of poverty, and not deeply immersed in it, I am able to be sympathetic (on some level), but I am still so often unable to really grasp the difference in the way poverty skews these little citizens' view of the world. I know enough to know that we as a nation shame poverty stricken people for something we perpetuate, and that we act as if it is something they choose.

People can work their way out of poverty. Both in a mental sense and in the physical act of finding ways to provide that don't leave us wondering where our next meal, paycheck, fill-in-the-blank is coming from. But poverty is more than just not enough money to take care of what is needed today. It is a way of life and in order to change it, we on the other side of it, need to be understanding, and we need to empower people to change.

This is where I go when I think about my student who did not come to school wearing socks today. Is it as simple as, "You need to make the choice to get up earlier and put on socks next time."? And can I let her know I care just by offering her my socks for a day? Deep thoughts with no easy answers. No wonder I am so tired.

I was going to go back and take that first part out after I got a flow going, but really (seriously?), it may just part of the whole thing. Weighing all the options and responsibilities of being a teacher is exhausting and I wear this badge with pride. Because it is my ticket out of the "I have no security in my finances at all" world I have lived in for so long. Never fear, I am not disillusioned about the riches I will incur teaching. I am aware. But I know that teachers have a more steady/stable income than when I was working for minimum wage, not knowing how we were going to pay our bills. Do we still have to be careful. Absolutely. But it is different now. I am climbing the ladder out of poverty.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Joy in the ordinary

Today's slice of life...

Today was somewhat of an ordinary day. This detracts from grandiosity and breath-taking moments in all their splendor. Today wasn't full of "Wow" moments or miracles. Today was full enough with ordinary moments.... a student who succeeded by finding that missing assignment, celebrating a friend as she muddles through her pain, snow.... but not enough for a snow day, staying late for an iep meeting, meeting up with a friend, and striving to protect my children from themselves (they are their own worst enemies, as well as each other's worst enemy). This was my day. I had zero moments that screamed at me, good or bad. I have no moments that say I was a hero today. But I also had no moments where I was a zero today. I drove on snow-packed roads, but not scary-bad roads. I hugged some kids, but not in a creepy way. I pushed some students today (not physically, no worries), but not to their breaking point. I was stern, I cajoled, I encouraged. This is ordinary life. This is real. It keeps me busy, it makes me tired. Day after day after day.

Tomorrow I will do it again. I'll love some kids, mine and yours. I'll push through my pain. I'll smile and laugh and forget that pain. I'll embrace joy. This is a reward in itself. And today, this is enough.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Empathy, the two-edged sword...

The ability to feel another's pain is... well, painful. And more often than I can say, it is awkward. Awkward that I am in tears when someone else tells me their pain.

Today, someone else's pain was unbearably too much. I think that is weird and ironic. I should be there for them. Not broke down in tears. But today I wonder.... what is wrong in the world today? Why do so many people feel the need to end their own lives? Why is the pain so great? When did it happen that fifth grade girls considered suicide? How do parents cope?

I know how we cope. Truth. My 10 year old daughter told me not too long ago that she thinks about suicide. So I know how I cope. I talk to her, I call the mental health center, I make sure there's a plan in place. Then I put one foot in front of the other. But so so so many youngsters are thinking like this. And today I heard of just one more person who's inner pain was so great that she didn't want to face another beautiful sunrise. Today the dam is breaking and I am not strong. I am not a good friend. I am in pain. And I feel so guilty because for now, I am the lucky one whose child just thought about it, no harmful action was taken. Today my river of denial is breaking the dam and tears are flooding down my cheeks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My focus

What I focus on increases. *sigh* What? Goodness and light will not somehow flood my thoughts while I wallow in pity and gloom and doom? Truth. Every day when I talk with my child I think of this and every day when I interact with students I am reminded of this. I cannot overcome and improve and be the best me that I can be if I continue to focus on my shortcomings or on circumstances outside of my control.

Today I will....

  • Live my best life
  • give all I have to give
  • be responsible for my actions
  • be responsible for my emotions 
  • focus on the good 
  • overcome the bad, sad and negative
  • remember that it is a practice to have joy, not a feeling
Okay. I'll stop there. Already it is a tall order. I am a worrier by nature. I am one who frets. Look up fret in the dictionary and there could easily be a photo of me. But today I choose to focus on the good things in this day. The joy in the ordinary. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Today's Musings

My mind is a jumble this morning. I could write about the snow.... I could write a gratitude list.... I could write about my grumpy cat named Sam.... I could write about my unusual and interesting daughter. 

This year I have a commute to work, it is about a 50 minute commute. My 10 year old accompanies me. She goes the the school where I work. The commute has become our time to discuss deep subjects. There is a girl in her class that she has almost constant conflict with and she often dwells on this and talks about it over and over again. So this week she said to me, "how do I stop being mad at her all the time?!" I love teaching moments. So.... here we go. I said, "Stop talking about her. Focus on something else beside the conflict with your friend." "How do I do that?" she asks. "Good question" I think to myself. I say to her, "Your brain can only think about one thing at a time, so think about something else and focus on that." Her response is, "How do I do that?" "It is easier said than done," I think to myself.  I think to myself, "Now what? She is still at that impressionable age. She still thinks I really know what to do. What am I going to do now?!" But what I say is, "I am not sure. But one thing is to stop talking about it. No more negative comments about this girl." She says, "Okay, I'll try." 

Driving home I say, "So how was your day?" She is really quiet. I say, "Any drama with (her)?" She says that there was not. I make a little bit of a smart remark. Something to the effect of "Kind of surprising that she didn't cause drama today." My girl looks over at me and says, "Mom.... stop. If I can't do it, you can't either." 

Lesson learned. Practice what you preach. You live what you focus on and talk about. So who learned a lesson this day? The pupil or the teacher? How often do I learn from my child? More than you know.

Join the slice of life challenge at Two Writing Teachers