Archive for January, 2013

Finding My Way

To back up my claim that I am getting messages that point in equally opposite directions (see post “Halfway” ) or maybe to simply confirm that I am not completely crazy I have been paying attention which is the lesson I learned from my first six months doing this blog.  Let me share a few events.  Last Friday was the first day since the end of November that I had time to write.  I had the day off and three hours before I was to meet a friend for lunch.  Although I didn’t actually write, I did work on the the basic outline for the juvenile novel I am working on.  As I researched and worked with little cards to try and figure out the long term storyline I came to the realization that this book is actually going to be 6 or 7 books.  The theme is wonderful and all the pieces came together so well I actually got goosebumps.  It felt so incredible to be creating again.  Writing Right!

I picked up my friend for lunch and we had a lovely afternoon together.  After lunch we went to the Paper Store.  We were searching through clearance jewelry and as I was searching I found a charm bracelet for nurses.  My friends a nurse so naturally I handed it to her.  It was five bucks and we joked it was meant to be.  After more searching, I came across a teacher one.  My friend laughed and told me I should get it, and honestly if I had not had the wonderful writing moment just hours before I might have.  Teaching Right!

This week (despite Martin Luther King Day and a teacher professional day) I worked a full week.  On Monday I babysat, tutored an adult student and had about six teenagers over the house.  Tuesday I had 18 girl scouts plus 3 to 4 boys and a teenager.  We made baking soda bombs, a salad dressing emulsion and a silly putty colloid.  We made a huge salad bar and then I did the whole thing all over again.  Wednesday thru Friday I was a math teacher.  The kids were good and by the end of the week I was getting my groove back.    Teaching Right!

But!  They asked about my book.  They asked really good questions.  Yes I know they are attempting to distract me so they don’t have to actually do math (gasp),  believe me, they spend an awful lot of energy trying to do everything but math.  But wait!  They had to be quiet for ten minutes while working on a worksheet and if they did then I told them I would read a chapter from my book.  Anyone who even made a sound was promptly shushed by the rest of the class and when it was time to go and I hadn’t finished reading, they wanted to stay.  A few weeks ago I gave a class of eighth graders fifteen minutes of free time because they had written in silence for an hour straight.  They asked me to read them a chapter.  I argued with them.  “Guys, this is your free time.  You can do whatever you want.”  “Yeah, but we want to hear a chapter of your book.”  When I was done they wanted more and I had to say no and told them to talk to each other.  It was a very odd moment.  Writing Right!

I’m not so sure anymore.  While the messages seem to be pointing in two different directions that would depend if writing and teaching were placed opposite each other.   Is it possible they are on the same side?  Don’t get me wrong I would love to stay home and write.  I would also love to have my own classroom with my own students and my own rules instead of trying to fit myself into someone else’s.  I can’t see myself ever being able to do both at the same time, but maybe someone else can.  Maybe someone up there is watching all of this and can see so much more than I can.  Maybe, even though I can’t envision it, these two things fit together.  Then again maybe they don’t and this will all lead me in another direction (please no), but in the meantime I’m creating and I’m teaching.  I am working hard at trying to fit writing into a normal work week.  I am trying to do both because I think if I finally started publishing on line and subbed three days a week I would be content with that.

The other day I impacted at least one kid’s life.  I think I made someone feel good about who they are and who they are capable of becoming, maybe I made someone want to be a little better than the day before and isn’t that the goal of any spiritual journey, isn’t that the goal of living this life, to be just a little better than the day before?  My new story is calling me, bringing me down a path I have yet to see and I hope with every new day and every new step I’m just a little better me than I was yesterday.  I’m paying attention.  I’m listening for the messages and I’m trying to be where I am.  Let’s see what today has to teach me.


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Oh My Stars

In church a few weeks ago we were encouraged to choose a paper star from a basket.  I love these little exercises our church does.  On this particular Sunday my husband was home entertaining my father and I was alone with my 9 and 10 year old.  Somewhere between the greeting and the opening song my children discovered a reusable activity I had created for my preschool Sunday School class and both decided they had to do it.  I did mention they were nine and ten right?  Yes, well, as these two are engrossed with a coloring activity meant for 3&4 year olds the basket went around and as the kindergartener to our left was trying to pass it to my daughter and the people behind me were waiting for their turn to pick a star I was trying to get my children to look up in order to pick their own and then pass the basket to me.  Finally I gave up, grabbed the basket, three stars and passed the thing behind me.  So much for the spirituality of the moment.  While the rest of the church picked their stars I managed to take away the coloring and give the kids their stars.  Oh. My.  Stars! Such things shouldn’t be so difficult.

Each star has a word on the back and we are supposed to pray (meditate) on the word over the next few weeks, year?  I don’t really know because I had to teach Sunday School and missed the rest of the instructions.  I looked at the words, joy, balance, and strength.  Oh look, my life is staring up at me from little pointy pieces of paper.  I gave “joy” to my daughter.  She is my joy.  Hers was not a planned pregnancy.  I’ve heard some people refer to such surprises as “oops babies” I call them unexpected blessings, because every one of my children has been a blessing, but she is so much more.  She is a gift.  She had been a joy to all of us since her birth and if someone said to me what comes to mind when you hear the word “Joy” I would say her name clear and proud without hesitation.  She is proof that God gives us what we need not what we want or ask for.

The next star, balance, I almost took for myself because I am always searching for balance, but honestly I didn’t want my ten year old son to have strength.  A ten year old shouldn’t have to learn about personal strength so soon and I didn’t need him focusing on physical strength since he tends to hyperfocus. Clearly this exercise is meant to facilitate a spiritual mind and I am already trying to teach him about balance.  It is my mantra when it comes to teaching him about making the right decisions.  Like every ten year old boy he likes to play video games, and if left to his own devices he would play every moment of every day to the detriment of school, reading, physical movement, sleeping and even eating.  Trust me on this one.  Seeing how he is one of five children (3 boys) and that I am a teacher, I have done just about every reward, punishment and behavior modification system know to man, and a few unknown ones as well and after 25 years of raising children I am done with all of them.  So in this house, with this child, who is clearly bright enough to manage himself, our only rule is; Balance.  If he wants two hours of computer time then he needs to put in two hours of mind time and two hours of body time.  Now don’t get me wrong if I didn’t monitor him he would “forget” the other two, but all I have to do is say “balance” and he knows it is time to focus on another aspect of himself.  This is a concept I want him to carry into his adult life so I literally felt this star was for him.

So that leaves me with strength.  Really?  Strength?  I thought I did that one already.  Like many divorces mine was not an easy one, I found the strength to get through.  Now, even though I am happily remarried, it still takes an immense amount of strength to deal with my ex, although as the kids get older the whole process is getting easier.  It takes an unbelievable amount of strength not to react when my older children “share.”  While they are talking I am running around inside my head screaming, panicking and breaking things but on the outside? Barely a twitch.  That’s strength right?  And don’t get me started on fighting depression.  That is the biggest strength builder of them all.  If personal strength showed on the outside I would be having difficulty getting through the doors. (because of all the muscles!  come on you got that one right!)

But then the other day I was looking through my past posts and the last few, okay the last six, are negative and as my blog expresses what I am going through at the time it is clear I have been down lately.  Yes depression is a part of my life but it isn’t my whole life and I need to find a little balance.  I need to remember the joy in my life and yes I need to use my inner strength to do this.  So it looks like those three stars are all mine and I have some work to do.  It’s time to start taking care of my mind, soul AND body (yes I need to go back to running).  It’s time I start noticing the wonder all around me, the lessons I am being given and the absolute joy of life, because it’s there, but only if we choose to see it.  It’s time for me to start looking again.

Last Sunday my husband got to pick his make-up star.  Just out of curiosity I took a look.  “Transformation”  Oh My Stars!  Oh, Honey you can keep that one!  I’m good.  

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Half Way

There are days I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Do I want to be a full time teacher? A full time writer? Something else all together? When I am home and in the writing zone I think, “this is all I want to do. This is who I am.” When I’m not in the writing zone I feel miserable that I am not producing and doing nothing to reach my goal of becoming published. When I’m in the classroom and having a too easy day or the students are being difficult, I think, “I am just way too old and grouchy for this.” When I look at the way education is now focused on the memorization of information rather than teaching children how to be better people I think there must be another direction for me to go in. And then I teach a simple boring class on water vapor in my usual crazy style and just for a moment it crosses my mind, “I’m exceptional at this.” Then past interviews come flooding back where I didn’t fit into the administration’s perceived notion of a classroom teacher, those times when I didn’t get the job, and I feel like a classroom like that simply doesn’t exist anymore.

Any student who has been in a class with me could tell them. Any parent who has observed me work with their children or seen the results of a lesson or two could tell any administrator; she is amazing. This woman knows how to reach kids. This woman is a teacher. But no one asks the kids or the parents and for some reason who I am doesn’t mesh with what a school wants and I end up feeling a little lost.

I have spent over 20 years working with children. It is where my life experiences have brought me. It is what I am good at and I know full well my choices have led me to where I am today. By staying home with my children I walked away from a full time teaching job I absolutely loved. If I could go back and make the choice again? I would still choose to stay home. I am well aware my greatest contribution to this world are my children. I don’t regret staying home for them. I just miss my old classroom, my old school, my old career, so much sometimes that I ache for it.

But staying home changed me. I had to walk away from the perception I had of myself as a single mother and teacher and become a married, stay at home mom. It was one great battle with myself and it was ridiculously difficult for me to finally accept that I was an at home, non career mom and once I did accept it, once I found another passion (writing) to sustain me, I looked up from my discovery to realize the kids were in school now and I was supposed to go back to work.

Are you kidding? I finally come to terms with being home and now I’m not supposed to be home? Who invented this concept? It took me five years to find a new passion to fill the void left by the old one and now I was supposed to go back?  Can I go back?  I’m not sure I can.  Writing has changed me somehow and again, I’m feeling a little lost.

I’ve always felt like my life was being guided by some higher power and now suddenly I being offered a choice? I’m not good with choices. I always choose the wrong one. (Thank God my husband was chose for me by the Universe) So now I exist between two passions; writing and teaching, and more often than not I have no idea where I should go or who I should be. The guilt over not bringing in a consistent income consumes me, but the pain of getting all excited over a potential job and then being disappointed, tortures me. I resist walking away completely from my writing because I know it would be like abandoning a part of me and I am not sure if I could survive the loss, but I know if a job came up I would walk away and then be left mourning the piece that had been cut. I hate not knowing where I should be and would love for some sort of angel, soothsayer, tarot card reader, to come to me and tell me where I should put my energies because giving each talent only half of my attention is only getting me half of the way there

I firmly believe the answers we all seek lie within each of us, only right now I’m too tired to go looking. I believe the Universe sends us messages about what we should do with our lives, only my messages seem to equally point in opposite directions. Just when I think it is time to focus on one thing something happens to make me look to the other. I’m 44 years old and I shouldn’t have to be starting over.

Then again, is half way where I’m supposed to be? I’m fighting everything and embracing nothing. Am I so busy trying to figure out where I’m supposed to go that I am missing the lesson of where I am? Hmmm…Isn’t it amazing how new thoughts come from old rants?

Dear Lord, Hear my rant, answer my prayer, let me remember to be who and where I am supposed to be, even if it is only supposed to be…half way.


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