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11 years

I started this blog almost 11 years ago.  So long ago it seems.  So much has happened in those 11 years that it’s hard to wrap my brain around it all!  I am not the same person I was back then.  I find that to be fascinating in a way.  On the outside, I’m about 25 pounds heavier and I’ve stopped coloring my hair.  There are lots of grays and those must be naturally curly, because this is what happens when I let my hair just dry naturally.  754C9677-C2C3-4082-B9F5-67A6504B8E38_1_201_a

I went from being a stay at home mom to a short stint as a catering manager and now I’ve been teaching school for 10 years.  This year I graduated from a regular classroom teacher to an academic support teaching position focused on English language learners. I LOVE my job!

I navigated the ups and downs of dating girls and then married one of those girls.  C0212852-A820-4EB3-A550-E8197262DE5C_1_201_a

My kids have all grown up and are living their own lives, and I have been blessed with two super cute grand babies!

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I distinctly remember the place I was in mentally 11 years ago as well.  My life had been turned upside down by choices I had willingly made.  I was looking up from rock bottom and trying to figure out how to get back up.  I knew things would get better and that as time passed, I would begin to feel settled in a new normal.  And I do feel settled.  I can admit that my new normal is definitely harder than my old normal, but I wouldn’t go back to where I was before.  I’ve learned too much and am more open to new experiences and different people than the old normal provided. That bubble I lived in before was comfortable and cozy, but it also alienated people and ideas that didn’t fit right.  I know what it’s like to feel like I don’t fit right.  And as I’ve contemplated all of the change in the last 11 years, I think I’ve come out on the other side innately the same person I was before.  Which is and isn’t surprising.

I’ve just been sitting here staring at the computer for the last 10 minutes thinking about the ideas of things changing and staying the same and I have no words left for it.  And I wonder where I’ll be in 11 more years.

Things change

Well, with Covid 19 it seems the world is trying to tell us something so I’ve decided to take some of my social distancing time to tell you guys some things.  Let’s see how this goes.

I am a Christian.  I will always define myself that way because it’s how my early beliefs took root.  But life has a way of changing things and thoughts.  They evolve.  They become.  And then they evolve some more.  I miss some of the basics of the christian faith though.  Like peace.

Anytime I had a problem or was worried about something before, I would pray about it and most of the time the worry would lessen and I knew that God’s plan was best.  And now…well, it’s not that I don’t think that God’s plan is best, I just feel more anxious about the unknown and have fears about the future.  For example, this summer I had anxiety over having my grandchildren at my house for a week of Camp Grandma.  We have a pool in our backyard and the fear of them drowning was almost crippling.  I knew I would be extremely vigilant about watching their every move, but the fear was still there.  In the weeks leading up to summer, there were several stories on the news and online about children drowning.  I could barely handle hearing them.  When I was pregnant with my second child in 1995, one of my cousins lost a child to drowning in a backyard pool.  She was 15 months old.  She managed to open the back door which she had never done before and by the time they discovered her missing, it was too late.  The memory of their loss combined with the many news stories at the beginning of summer caused me to have anxiety like I’ve never known.  I think the fear and anxiety kept me from praying about it and giving that fear to God.

And now this Covid 19 thing has me feeling anxious once again.  I worry for my family’s health and safety.  When I heard the story of the family in New Jersey where a mother and 3 of her children have died due to this pandemic, I felt that familiar anxiety creeping in.  I think the mother was in her 70s and her kids were all in their 50s, but the impact that 4 people from a single family dying within days of each other had on my psyche wasn’t good.  Most of my family is in pretty good health.  When I think rationally, I know that most people recover easily from this virus.  But then I see the news and read the headlines and fear creeps back in.  I am trying hard to not be overwhelmed by it.

I sometimes feel like I should stay away from news and all the depressing things on the internet, but then I guess the better idea is to just pray more.

Life is for the living

I said I would write this summer and I haven’t.  Summer isn’t over yet, but it is quickly winding down.  I can’t believe how fast it has flown by.  Time seems to be doing that lately.  I know that as we get older, time seems to move faster.  I will be celebrating my 50th birthday in just 5 short days.  That baffles me.  How can I be 50?  I don’t feel 50 most days.  I’m not even sure what 50 is supposed to feel like.  I am, however, faced with the stark reality that my life is most certainly over halfway over.  And I can’t believe that.  I know we aren’t promised any certain amount of time and that life goes on long after we are no longer part of the living, but I look at my parents, children, and grandchildren and can’t even fathom not being with them.  I look back at my relationship with my grandmother.  She died back in 2008, and I couldn’t imagine life without her.  Life has gone on though, and I have many great memories.  They are so vivid and real that sometimes I feel like she would be at her house if only I would stop by for a visit.  I still miss her terribly, but I remind myself that if she were still alive today, she would be well over 100 which isn’t normal.  I see my parents aging, and I know that despite their pretty good health, they won’t be alive forever.  My dad recently said something about the very real possibility of not seeing one of his great grands grow to adulthood which makes sense but caused all kinds of feels in me.   So we all get older.  I hope to do it gracefully and with purpose.  I want to work on improving my health and strength so I can live well for however many days I have left.  That is my goal for the next year.  Hold me accountable!

Connecting

It’s summer, and I think I will have time to write.  I think I want to write.  It’s hard to tell, honestly.  I’m not as good as I used to be at putting my thoughts into words.  But, I read something this morning that I can relate to, and it made me think.

It’s ironic that somehow busyness has become a status symbol of self importance. What it really does is dramatically lower consciousness due to high amounts of external stimuli the brain has to process. Even the most conscious aware are perceiving only a tiny amount of incoming data at any given time. When we slow down it allows greater conscious awareness in order to better process data and allow for choice. High stimulus creates high stress due to over stimulation of the central nervous system. That signals the brain to operate on autopilot where it requires no consciousness. What this means is that all thinking, feeling and doing is reactionary. It’s repeating all your habits unknowingly, which unconsciously recreates the same shit different day type of reality. It also feeds numbing, aka wine, weed, food, digital media, tv, etc. to take down the noise and calm the system by a taking the edge off. It’s a vicious cycle that self perpetuates creating neuro chemical dependence on the numbing agent(s) which ironically creates more anxiety and stress. Despite the illogic, studies show that doing less creates much greater creativity and productivity, clearer thinking, increased intuition and wellbeing. Most truths are illogical to the monkey mind. ❤️G

It was posted on facebook by a person named Genele Edey.  Here is the link to her facebook page where you can find this post.

It made me think.  Candied Jansen has recently said that I am not a person that goes deep or shares my feelings anymore.  That when we first started dating, I was much better at being in the moment than I am now.  I agree with her.  I’ve gotten comfortable with the mundane.  I think it’s because I’m on autopilot.  I don’t slow down when I am at work and when I come home, I stay busy doing stuff around the house.  All of that causes missed connections with my wife.  I hate that!

Candied Jansen had plans for things she wanted us to do over spring break and mentioned them several times over the weeks leading up to the break, but when spring break arrived, we didn’t do anything.  During that week, I never initiated doing them and neither did she.  I honestly don’t remember what we did.  I think we just sat around and did nothing!  A couple of weeks later, I felt bad that the work didn’t get done so I went in the backyard several evenings in a row and weeded the flowerbeds which was a big item on the list.  My goal was to do something on the list, but I did it alone.  Her goal for the week had been for us to work together on things.  I misunderstood that, and we missed connecting and working together.  I hate that!

Now that it is summer, I want to do something about it.  I want to connect.  Stuff will still need to be done around the house, but I want us to do things together.  I get it now.  I need to share myself with my wife.  I need to go deep.  I want to!

A Little Help

I am a teacher.  Every year, I spend money getting my classroom ready for the kids.  Then I spend more money as the year progresses on supplies for projects and activities to enrich their learning.  Every year, I say I am going to limit myself to $500 total, but I always end up going over that amount!  Last year I moved districts which ended up being more expensive than the previous years.  The school I moved to had amazing classrooms and teachers and they had all decorated their rooms!  I had never really decorated my room much.  My previous district had cinderblock walls that we couldn’t really get anything to stick on so we decorated our doors and the one bulletin board we had in our rooms.  These new rooms had walls that you could staple directly on!  Every surface was usable!  I knew that moving to a bigger district would mean that I would have more provided, but they didn’t provide decor!  I purchased things that gave me a head start on cute and figured I’d get a little each year to add to it.  Then I moved schools again.  This time I helped open a brand new school and with that came even more expenses.  I decided I had plenty of cute for the time being and worked on getting things that helped make the classroom more functional.  Book boxes for the kids to have during independent reading, more tubs so the supplies could be organized, command hooks, packing tape, and so much more!

Not long after the school year started, another teacher told me about DonorsChoose, a nonprofit website that helps public school teachers get funding for materials and experiences that will help their students learn.  I submitted a project for books for my library on the levels that my kids needed and within 2 weeks got funding through donations from people who wanted to help!  It was amazing!  Since then, I have submitted and been awarded grants for nonfiction literature for my library and stem building materials as well.  It is so exciting to be able to give the kids access to more than I could actually afford to purchase myself!

This brings me to my latest DonorsChoose project.  I am currently working to get Flexible Seating options for my kids for next year.  I’ve watched two other teachers on my team have flexible seating options for their kids, and I’ve loved how engaged the kids are after being able to choose where to sit to do their work.  It’s amazing to me when I think about how I almost always go sit on my bed to work on my computer or read.  I want the most comfortable place for me.  I want to give the kids the option to sit where they are most comfortable and hopefully that will keep then engaged longer!  There is a catch though!  The project has a July deadline, but if I can get it funded by April 20th,  I can receive the materials this year.  Otherwise I have to wait until after August 22nd to receive the materials.  School starts on August 15th.  I would absolutely love to have my classroom set up with the flexible seating options before the kids arrive.

Can you help?  Do you know of anyone who would like to give to help public schools?  Feel free to link them to this blog post or to my DonorsChoose project post.  (I also have a project on DonorsChoose for iPads, but I would like to fund the flexible seating project as quickly as possible!)

Here’s the link to my project!

DonorsChoose Flexible Seating

Thanks for your help!

 

getting back to it

So Bossy decided to relaunch her blog that had been stagnant for 3 years or so and challenged others to do the same.  I’ve actually posted over 50 times in the last 3 years, but because blogging itself had become somewhat stagnant, I didn’t get many readers.  I honestly didn’t care that much since I was busy falling in love and living life, but now that others have decided to jump on this bandwagon, I’m gonna give it a go as well.

I thought I would start with a few things that have happened in the last 3 years that I haven’t blogged about!

Two of my four kids got married!

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WE got married!  Here we are pictured with our “minister” in the Texans t-shirt!  (I actually did blog about this but wanted to say it again!)official

My three youngest children graduated from high school! I do not feel like searching for graduation pictures…you know what cap and gowns look like!

WE have a granddaughter!  (I don’t mind adding her picture at all!)

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I know this isn’t much of a blogging comeback start, but the NyQuil I took to try to help get rid of this dadgum cold I have is starting to make my screen look fuzzy!

I guess I’m back!

11 days

The last 11 days have been something.  I am having trouble finding a good word to describe them.  Bad, heartbreaking, scary, weird, different, emotional…no one word works.  They were just something.  Watching the water rise up out of our pool and flow onto the back patio and then around the house was a relief.  Watching street after street on the news fill up and flood houses, cars, and businesses was almost surreal.  I could see the unending rain, but the water here just flowed away.  Away down to those places that were filling up.  And I didn’t know what to think or feel.  I’m good at not thinking or feeling anything so I think I tried to do that.  Be numb to it all.

The tornado warnings and flood warnings were coming every 15 minutes those first few days.  So much that we didn’t move off the couch after the first few.  We just hoped that we would hear the train like sound they say comes with a tornado, and we relied on Candied Jansen who said it didn’t smell like a tornado yet.  And we complained that the TV was giving us repeated flood warnings when so much was already under water.  It felt like a slap in the face.

Schools closed and offices told their people to stay home so we did.  The first Friday off of school seemed like a vacation.  I got caught up on some school stuff and felt like I’d had a nice day long reprieve from normal.  And then it turned into more days and it didn’t seem like a reprieve anymore.  Where was normal?

But then shelters started opening for people who needed to leave their flooded lives, and it sounded like a good idea to go and volunteer.  But the shelters close to home quickly filled with volunteers and weren’t taking anyone else.  The powers that be on the TV said stay at home and don’t get out into it unless you have to.  So we sat at home and watched and waited and felt and I tried to numb it all.

My daughter who is struggling with life right now was staying with a friend, and I worried she would do something stupid and go out in the flood looking for fun.  She seems to only be concerned with having fun lately.  So I worried, but I didn’t want her with me because I am not her type of fun and that would have caused more stress and different feelings.  So I checked in with her but that was all.

My wasband and his wife were already weathering a different type of storm when the rain and winds and floods of Harvey left them with two and a half feet of water in their house.  They couldn’t do much about it because her health was very precarious and she was in the hospital fighting a serious infection.  Their friends rallied around them to help with their house.  He messaged that some keepsakes from when the kids were little were beyond salvageable, and my response was for him to not tell me what was lost so I didn’t have to grieve it.

Day after day and night after night, we saw and heard of the destruction on the news.  Every station showed us what was happening.  They didn’t even have to replay the stories. Every day and hour and minute was filled with tornados, street flooding,  mandatory evacuations, cars, lives, people…all experiencing it in that moment.  I got tired of seeing it and not being able to process it so we changed to channel to movies and recorded shows.

Sleep was fitful at best.  It was scary to stay asleep for very long at first.  We might be need to evacuate.  We might need to hunker down.  We might need to prepare for the worst.  Then when exhaustion finally hit, the sleep that came wasn’t restful.  Dreams/nightmares of things not remembered made for tossing and turning and dark circles in the daylight.

When we were finally cleared to leave, Candied Jansen and I went to help some friends who had several feet of water in their house.  I don’t know how much actual help we were, because there was so much to do.  We carried boxes and cleaned out a closet, but in the grand scheme of things, it was such a tiny portion of their loss.  I felt overwhelmed at the enormity of all they had to do.

At first Candied Jansen and I weathered the storm fairly well.  But then we didn’t.  Tempers were shorter and all of my bottled up feelings came out as arguing and frustration and hurt.  Dealing with my fun daughter caused more arguing and frustration and hurt.  Candied Jansen is a feeler.  She is quite intuitive but because I wasn’t allowing myself to actually feel any of my feelings all she got from me was the arguing, frustration, and hurt.

Yesterday, we watched Collateral Beauty together and I sobbed.  All of the feelings that I had bottled up came out and spilled over again and again and again.  We watched Selena and I sobbed some more.  Words didn’t come…just feelings and tears.  So many tears.

Today was the first day back at school for teachers.  The school psychologist shared with us about how we can help the kids deal with the trauma that we as a community have faced over the last 11 days and counting.  He did so by dealing with us in the same way.  Tears silently rolled down my face as person after person shared how they felt during the floods.  Of the 25 or so who shared, only two were actually displaced because their house flooded.  The survivor’s guilt and the helpless/hopeless feelings everyone described helped me to understand that this was a traumatic event even for me.  As I sat in my dry house with electricity and a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, I experienced trauma, and I hadn’t handled it well.

These are the first words I’ve shared about all that I’ve felt.  It’s the first time I’ve really been able to put words to it.  I know there will be more feelings to process and the idea of that exhausts me.  I already feel depleted of strength.  Harvey hit at a time when I was already emotional over my fun daughter’s life choices.  I was in a weak and vulnerable place.  But I know I can’t bottle it up.  It wasn’t pretty and caused some damage to my relationship with Candied Jansen.

Candied Jansen and I still aren’t doing well.  The hurt is still there.  It is one of my biggest fears and regrets.  She is one of the best things to ever happen to me.  She is fun and crazy, loving and sweet, and is the best at giving of herself.  She makes me want to do better and have more fun and get to know people.  She makes me think beyond myself and my situations.  I love her more than I have words to express.