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Being a writer

I used to be a writer. I haven’t felt much like a writer the last several years even though I have written a few things. I heard a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert this week saying that she called herself a writer long before anyone else ever did. I can relate to that in a way but it’s weird to think of myself as a writer now. I feel like over the last several years I’ve been stuck in the mud as far as writing goes. In my last blog post, I talked about being a fish out of water, and I think that I was. As I floundered on the shore, I got stuck in the mud there for a long time and even though I was evolving, I didn’t know what to do with those legs and lungs. Lately, I have felt the purpose. Candy Jansen has always wanted me to be a writer. She fell in love with the part of me that was a writer wayback when. She encouraged me to take time and write, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to say anymore. Now I feel like there’s 1 million things in my head, and I don’t know how to say them all or in what order I should say them. Maybe I’ve already said them and what I say now might end up being an echo of what I said back in those writing days. But I guess that’s OK. Looking back at my midlife discovery while I’m curious about who I’ll become is surely not a bad thing.

Midlife Curiosity

It’s time.  Time to tell my stories, my truth, my way.  I’ve been listening to podcasts of some of the great storytellers of my generation – women who, like me, had something inside of them that they had to get out.  I haven’t read all of their books, but I want to.  Now that I know who they are and what they are about, I need to read their stories.  I need to know what they know.

In August of 2008, I was a 39 year old blogger.  I was married to my college sweetheart and living in another country away from the bubble I had been raised in.  I blogged about my family and life overseas. It wasn’t the beginning of my journey exactly, but it was when I started writing it all down.  Here’s how I started.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about mid-life. I am 39. Of course I have no idea what part of my life I am currently living. I could be in the latter years of my life. I could be in the middle. I might live to be 100 which would give me a few more years before the actual middle of my life. I guess I’ve been thinking mostly about the crazy things people do when they are in mid-life. The things others label crises. In recent months I’ve done some of those things that people might tag with the crisis label. I got a tattoo. I have a new hobby. I am questioning those things I’ve always believed. I must be having a mid-life crisis. But I wonder. How come crisis is a bad word? When I looked it up I actually liked the definition. The first definition said, “a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger.” I wasn’t so crazy about that definition. There were others though. “A time when a difficult or important decision must be made. The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death. The point in a play or story when a crucial conflict takes place, determining the outcome of the plot.” I am happy with all of those definitions. I feel that I am in that exact spot. It is time to make an important decision. One that will determine the outcome of my life story. And I don’t feel like I am in crisis mode. I am quite calm actually. I think that there are many reasons that people experience mid-life crises. I don’t think that most of them are because they are falling apart, or scared to get old, or wishing they were young again. I think for most of us mid-life gives us cause for reflection. When we were young we lived our lives differently than we are living them now. We were invincible. Naive. Crowd followers. People pleasers. Or maybe I am just describing myself. I lived the life I thought I was supposed to live. A life I chose to live. One I was perfectly happy living. I followed in my parents footsteps. I did what was expected of me and was content. I was practical and reasonable. Now I look back on those choices and wonder. Oh, there is no way I would change them now. And I’ve mentioned my regret in a previous post, but that is not what I am referring to here. I got married one month after I finished college. I had a 4 babies in the next 9 years.  I chose to do all of those things. I’m glad I did. I do think I was lost for awhile during that time. I was willing to sacrifice myself for the sake of those kids. I still am. But now I wonder why I did not do anything for me. I’ve always wanted to take a dance class. I did in high school. I did some in college. Once I got married I guess I forgot to take care of me. I couldn’t take a dance class. I was married and had babies. When was there time to dance? And paint. I’ve always been interested in taking a painting class. But I couldn’t just go off and take a painting class. Now that I am 39 and my kids are all in school I can do those things. I didn’t when they first went to school, because I felt like it was too late. But now I am rethinking my stance on that. It is never to late to learn something new. I want to take a dance class. I want to learn how to paint. I got a tattoo. I might even do something else that people would consider crazy. But it is not because I am having a crisis. It is because I have discovered something. It is never too late to change your mind. It is never too late to start a new hobby. I am not in crisis mode. I am in discovery mode. I am having a mid-life discovery. And why the hell not!

Some of you may have read that post way back when, and now it’s been almost 12 years.  How did that happen? I am 50 years old, and so much has changed since that midlife discovery post.  Things that have caused me great grief, lots of anxiety, but also big hope! Twelve years ago, I was a fish out of water, flapping around on the beach unable to breathe right. I was uncomfortable and scared and changing. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve slowly evolved and grown lungs and legs and am still learning how to use them. So I dub this new part of my life as a time of midlife curiosity! I can’t wait to see where I will go from here!

Good Stuff

In my last post, I talked about committing to work on myself.  One way I’ve done that is that I have changed up what I’m listening to on my walks.  Most days I walk for an hour so I decided ditch the music and listen to podcasts and work on mind and body at the same time!

One of my favorites so far is For the Love with Jen Hatmaker.  She did an interview with Glennon Doyle that was so good!  I already loved Glennon and had heard great things about Jen, and because they both come from conservative christian backgrounds, it was something I knew I would be able to connect with.  And I did!  So good!  I am looking forward to listening to more of Jen’s podcasts!

I also listened to one called Something You Should Know hosted by Mike Carruthers.  The first sentence in the info says this.  “Sometimes all it takes is one little fact or one little piece of wisdom to change your life forever.”  Mike interviews people who are experts in their field and covers all kinds of topics.  The podcast I listened to covered the power of validating a person’s feelings and how to develop mental toughness.  Very good!  I think the next one I’m going to listen to is how you got your personality and why you click with some people.  He has so many good ones!!

Another podcast I want to check out is Happier by Gretchen Rubin.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but I heard her being interviewed about her book, The Happiness Project, on another podcast.  She seems to have really great, simple ideas on the idea of happiness as well as several other topics and I want to hear more!

My only complaint about listening to podcasts on my walk is that sometimes what they say is so good that I wish I could write down what I’m learning!  I know I’ve already forgotten some of the great stuff that was shared!  I did stop one the other day and open the notes on my phone to jot down a link that was shared.  I guess I could do that with great ideas!

I’ve also started the book The Intimacy Factor by Pia Mellody.  I’ve only read two chapters, and I’ve enjoyed it, but I don’t have any take aways to share just yet.

And finally I’ve watched a few TED talks on different subjects.  This one was so good!  I was sitting on my back porch in a rocking chair while I watched it on my phone and wished later that I had written a few things down.  I plan to watch it again and take some notes.

So there you have it.  I haven’t really shared what I’ve learned from these podcasts, but I plan to add some of that in a later post.  Just wanted to update my progress and give some recommendations for some great content!

Becoming

Goals met!  I met my walking and workout goals for April fairly easily which really surprised me.  I felt like my goals were pretty lofty considering I’ve never worked out 5-6 days a week of any month ever!  I ended up walking 3 plus miles 25 days and between 1 and 3 miles 4 of the other days which means there was only 1 day in the month of April that I didn’t walk at all.  I’ve been so motivated to do this which is pretty unusual actually. Candied Jansen has been a huge motivation for me.  She started in January and has done a great job at eating well, exercising, and making some other changes to her daily habits that inspired me to try to take care of myself better.  I only lost 3 pounds in the month of April, but I know that I was also building some muscle and any downward trend is good as far as I’m concerned!

For May, I’ve decided that my goal for 3 plus miles will stay the same…25 days during the month.  I also plan to do some of the 7 minute workouts.  I haven’t decided exactly how many I plan to do, but it will be at least one a day.  I’ve also added a 30 day yoga workout plan.  I’m using Yoga by Adrienne which I’m actually loving!  She has a calm voice and spirit, and started off slow which I needed!  I’ve never done yoga before so the slow movements, reminders to adjust my posture, and tips to make the harder poses a little easier at first are all appreciated!

I’m also going to work on learning about myself.  Candied Jansen and I were talking, and we both feel the need to work on knowing ourselves in hopes that as we understand ourselves better, it will give us insight into each other and our relationship.  We’ve had some suggestions as far as books and podcasts go, but we would love some other suggestions.

And for the last goal, I think I want to blog about what I’m learning here.  Kinda like an online journal.  I don’t have a goal for how many times I will blog, but I’m thinking it will be once a week.  I guess if I have some extra special insight, I’ll blog more.

Again, maybe not the greatest of blog posts, but for now I’m using this space as an online journal to hold myself accountable as I’m becoming me.

 

Better Me

Lately, I’ve been working on exercising and paying attention to what and how much I’m eating.  I started March 1st after an on-again/off-again start in February.  I was doing really well and then everything shut down.  I looked at the shut down/stay home order as a challenge.  How much weight can I lose during my time off?  I have decided to do this slowly instead of incorporating a specific diet plan into my life.  I’ve tried almost all of them and as soon as I go off the plan, I gain most of the weight back.  This time I’m just counting calories and making sure I’m in a calorie deficit at the end of the day.  By doing it this way, I can still have carbs, fruit, and some sweets.  I’m using the My Fitness Pal app for calorie counting and it’s super easy.  I’m also weighing almost everything I eat which isn’t a big deal for me at all.  We were already using our scale regularly when we divided up meat that we buy in bulk from Sam’s so it’s handy to use.  I am also trying to make sure to eat protein and healthy fats along with the carbs.  My goal is to try to lose about a pound a week but as long as I’m seeing a downward trend, I’m not going to worry if it’s a little slower than that.  So far I’ve lost 6.8 pounds since the middle of February.

I’m also doing some exercising.  My original plan was walking on my treadmill or doing about a 30 minute walk outside.  Now that I’m working from home, I’ve upped my daily walk to a 3.25 miles which takes me about an hour.  The weather has been mostly great, and I’ve loved getting outside daily!  I joined a weight loss motivation group on Facebook, and it’s been pretty helpful for the most part.  Someone in the group mentioned an app called 7 minute workout.  It has different workouts for different areas of your body as well as a general workouts for weight loss.  I added the app to my phone, and it’s been really nice.  I started doing one workout a day for 5 days a week.  It wasn’t much, but it was a good kickstart into using my muscles!

My goals for the month of April are to continue with the same eating plan for the most part.  I might change it up the 2nd half of the month after I weigh and measure on the 15th.  So far I haven’t lost any weight the first week of April so I want to wait and see what my weight and measurements say at the end of two weeks.  My exercise goal is to walk my 3.25 miles 25 times and to do 50 of the 7 minute workouts.

I know this was somewhat of a boring post, but I wanted to write it all down for myself.  By putting it out there, I am challenging myself to meet my goals.

 

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 had 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!