Saturday, December 29, 2012

Challenge

Yesterday, I remembered where I've been.

I looked over pictures of myself at nineteen. At twenty. So young. Living alone in Cambodia trying to navigate anorexia and bulimia and God and culture and myself. She looks weary. And tired. And scared. Yet, present. And bold. And alive. And I'm proud of her.

That was the most difficult, most trying time of my life thus far. And five years later, my life seems pretty calm. Which I'm happy for. Excited about. Glad to be healing. Glad to be on this side of that mountain. So grateful.

And yet, I long.

I don't long for the mountain.
I don't long for those trials.
I don't long for separation and loneliness and desperation.
No. 
But I do long for that passion that keeps life interesting.
I miss being challenged.

I miss being in college.
I miss bumping into someone in an unlikely circumstance and having a meaningful discussion.
I miss thoughtful classroom lessons.
I miss teachers who were mentors who were friends.
I miss writing for the school newspaper.
I miss being part of larger community where I felt invigorated.

Today, my life involves being newly married. 
And so happy.
Going to work.
Savoring weekends with dear friends.
Having down time. 

My life is a bit more predictable.
More routine.
Safer.
Calmer.

And I'm all about peace. 
But I'm also all about a challenge.
I fear playing small.
Getting comfortable.

What will my next great challenge be?

Will I push harder at learning guitar?
And become a rockstar diva?
Write another book?
Start something new?
Join a different discussion?
Learn more?
Move to a brand new place?
Try on a new profession? (he hem...a.k.a."find" a profession)
Will I build something?
Who can I help?
Where can I be used?

I'm seeking a challenge.








Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This Is It

What does marriage mean to me?

It means having two people to do the dishes.
It means sometimes feeling like there is only one person doing the dishes.

It means being head-over-heels crazy in-love with this guy.
It means being outrageously irate to the point of tears when we disagree.

It means always having your best friend nearby.
It means being stuck in close quarters whether or not you want company.

It means being surprised when he puts the toothpaste on my toothbrush.
It means getting upset when I use the wrong toothbrush at 6am.

It means having a hand to hold walking down the street.
It means learning to walk the same speed.

It means building a home that is all our own.
It means disagreeing on how a home should look.

It means having a joint bank account.
It means talking about "budgets." Argh.

It means spending our first Christmas together.
And him having to work on Christmas.

It means setting Christmas gift price limits.
And then both blowing them.

It means planning the perfect surprise.
And then him having to work late.

It means deciding that our Christmas will be on Thursday this year.
And being just as excited for the faux-holiday as the real deal.

It means getting the cold. Again.
And him still wanting to hug my snotty-self.

It means taking it one day at a time,
and sometimes both loving and hating the journey on the same day.

It means euphoria and disappointment.
It means adventure and routine.

It means taking small sips of this delightful moment
and regularly acknowledging:
This is it.
We're doing it.
And we're doing really well.




Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Viewer

Sometimes, I look at myself
from another view
from the store-front window
from the security camera
from the three-paneled mirror
from a passer-bys comment
from my own soul

and think that:
she must be, indeed,
a very intense person

with small eyes
and sharp features
a too-large shape
a demanding presence
and noise
too much noise

and I shrink and think
she should be softer
she should be smaller
she should be quieter

but she's--I mean--"I" am not

I am whatever the viewer thinks I am
so, my soul knows
Be kind, girl. 
You'll see differently tomorrow.

Leaning In

by Sue Ellen Thompson

Sometimes, in the middle of a crowded store on a Saturday
afternoon, my husband will rest his hand
on my neck, or on the soft flesh belted at my waist,
and pull me to him. I understand

his question: Why are we so fortunate
when all around us, friends are falling prey
to divorce and illness? It seems intemperate
to celebrate in a more conspicuous way

so we just stand there, leaning in
to one another, until that moment
of sheer blessedness dissolves and our skin,
which has been touching, cools and relents,

settling back into our separate skeletons
as we head toward Housewares to resume our errands.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thirteen

Today, I met a girl.
Thirteen. Bright. Talented. Intelligent. Lovely.

We talked.
We shared.
We drank tea.

I was told we might have a few things in common.
That I could have something to share.
Something worth hearing.
To speak of with wisdom.

She just got out of an intensive eating disorder treatment program.
And indeed, we had a lot to talk about.

I shared my story.
She shared hers.

I hope she was strengthened.
Given hope.
Because I surely was.

Today, roughly seven years removed from my own anorexia diagnosis, I don't think about it that often.
I don't count calories.
I don't fear social gatherings with food.
I don't schedule my life in between my three work-outs per day.
I don't center my life around the hub of an eating disorder any longer.
And it's hard to believe that I once did.
That this was my story.
That I've come this far.

I told her that this is what recovery looks like:
It means settling at a weight I never imagined would feel comfortable, but it does.
It means taking pride in my body for what it can do.
Choosing clothing because it feels good on my body.
Avoiding scales like I avoid snakes.
Choosing to thank people for the compliments they give me.
Often struggling to believe them.
Being disappointed some days at my reflection in the mirror.
Being overjoyed some days at my reflection in the mirror.
Forgetting sometimes that I am more than a body.
Remembering daily that I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman.

Recovery looks like re-engaging with my own life.

And looking in her eyes today, I know that she wants that too.
And it will take time.
And transparency.
And guts.
And all the courage she can muster.

But she'll find herself again.
Stronger.
Wiser.
And more whole than she ever was before.









Saturday, December 15, 2012

Santa

Last week, I sat in a "holiday" concert at our elementary school. The whole school was invited to hear the rehearsal for the performance taking place that evening for the parents. I watched with Drake, a sweet fourth grade student with glasses and a mischievous grin.

Between two songs, Drake leaned over and whispered to me, "Ms. Bo, do you believe in Santa Claus?"

A whirlwind of thoughts and ideas instantly flooded my brain: Oh my gosh, do I answer him honestly, or is this one of those occasions where it's perfectly acceptable to lie? Does he know? Does he not know? Is this a decent opportunity to let him in on the truth?

"No," I decided upon. "I don't."

"What? How can you not believe in Santa Claus?" his little, high-pitched voice raising in volume.

"Well," I told him, "It's just a story."

Drake sat quietly in his seat as we listened to the violins whine a few notes that constituted a song worthy of much applause.

After the song ended, Drake stated, "Ya know, there was a candy cane explosion at the North Pole?"

Without shifting my gaze from the shuffling students in the clarinet ensemble, "Oh really."

"Well, yeah," he persisted. "That's the truth."

"Oh."

The clarinets belted out a song about a dreidel and a trumpet played out of turn. We clapped.

"Ms. Bo, if Santa isn't real, who brings you presents on Christmas Eve?"

There was no turning back. This was it: "My parents."

Drake sank a little deeper into his chair: "Oh."

Another song began. Another song ended. We clapped. At the end of the concert, I stood up and Drake looked at me smiling: "Ms. Bo, I believe in Santa Claus."

I smiled at him. "Cool. That's perfectly fine."


I came home and told Jeremy about my humorous conversation with Drake about Santa Claus.

"You did what?" he said. "You demolished a little boy's Christmas dreams!"

"Nooo!" I argued. "He had to find out at one time or another. And obviously he knew there was some speculation since he asked if I "believed" in Santa instead of assuming everyone did."

Tsk, tsk, tsk.


I've spent most of my life avoiding little children. They've never been super cute. I've never been the one called to babysit. I've never oohed and ahhed and begged to hold babies. And now, I find myself spending 7 hours a day with six year-olds: tying shoes, resolving childish conflicts. and giving hugs. We share germs and we share cookies. We cheer for masterpieces made of construction paper and we cheer for the alphabet.

The last two months have taught me quite a lot about kids. More than I ever cared to know. And I think they're getting to me. Because I like them. I've stopped setting the kiddos up to adult expectations. I've ceased getting frustrated when they have illogical crying fits and have instead mastered the art of commiseration and conflict-resolution catered to developing brains. It's awfully hard to get upset--after all--with kids like Eli who have big, brown eyes, Vans tennis shoes, and a sweet drawing they made "just for you."

I'm unsure as to what was the "correct" response to Drake's wonderings about Santa Claus. This week, he asked his teacher, "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" And she masterfully responded, "I don't know. What do you think?"

I looked at her with playful frustration, thinking: you would.

I still have much to learn in the realm of appropriate kid responses, but I'm well on my way to greater compassion and tenderness toward these little germ-carrying, emotionally-loaded, energetic, ever-forgiving, and joy-giving kids.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seven Month Anniversary

It's that time of the month. The thirteenth. Which means that exactly seven months ago, Jeremy and I were married. On a beautifully clear spring day in May, dear friends and loving family watched as we vowed our lives together forever and always. And much has happened since that day.
-we slept in the same bed for the first time
-we went on a cruise to the Bahamas for our honeymoon
-Grandpa died and we said our "goodbyes" in Colorado
-we packed up and moved to Idaho to work at a summer camp
-we made new friends
-we took an extended road trip through Moab, Utah
-we watched a friend get married
-we spent a month with my parents in Colorado
-we trekked back to Nebraska to friends with open arms
-we moved into our teeny apartment
-we got jobs
-we made a home

That's a lot to do in seven months. I don't think I've had that many life changes in several years. And while it seems daunting on paper, it's been doable with my best friend holding my hand. This whole adulthood thing is ridiculous. Quite a steep learning curve, but we're doing all right and we're figuring it out one day at a time. Heck, we've even educated ourselves about paying bills and Roth IRA's. Whew.

And now, as we head into another calendar year, I know we're yet again plotting our next move. And seven months from today, we may be in another state, at different jobs, at yet another phase of this unpredictable path of marriage.And we'll be okay.


Peanut Butter

What I know for sure is that there is healing in baking a good batch of cinnamon rolls,
in smelling,
and tasting,
and melting butter.

What I know for sure is that I may never care for my skin tone next to the color gray.
Or yellow, for that matter.

What I know for sure is that Jeremy loves me.
Even when I feel frumpy.
Even when my bangs do this flippy, floppy thing.
Even when I think he shouldn't.
He does anyway.

I know for sure that if denied all foods but one, I'd pick peanut butter.
Every time.

I know for sure that I can change a flat tire.
And maneuver my way through a snowstorm.
And cut my own hair.
And dance like a crazy person.
With soul.

I know for sure that wool socks are the way to go.
That I wish pajama chic was the new business casual.
That I can totally own too many bags.
And flossing will never come naturally to me.

What I know for sure today, is not necessarily what I knew for sure yesterday.
And that feels good.
To be moving.
And growing.
And making progress.
Even if only in the cinnamon roll making arena.
That counts.

I know this for sure.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Want To Take My Time

We all tend to be narcissistic about our own time.

We remember our childhood as unique.
We tell stories of our "one-in-a-million" Senior year of high school.
We talk about our generation.

We live as though this cycle of birth and living and dying doesn't just keep repeating over and over again as it has for thousands of years. We are somehow different. Our generation matters more. Or something. As if the next won't think the exact same thing.

I remember as a kid trying to fathom the beginning of time. Trying to imagine the moment before the first moment that ever was. And where I fit. And how I came to be. And getting confused and scared and dizzy.

I had a similar moment just this last Thanksgiving.

I sat with my family and watched a video-interview of my Grandpa talking about his life and his experiences in World War II. He got married. He was drafted. He served in Japan. He sent money home. He started a life. He had two sons. He outlived three wives. He had grand kids. He farmed. And now he's gone.

And as we watched Grandpa's face on the TV screen, my Dad began to cry. And I realized--for unfortunately the first time since he died--that Grandpa was a real and whole person to my Dad in the exact same way my Dad is a real and whole person to me: full of memories and experiences and life lessons and emotion. We are not merely a catalog of life events, we are whole.

Later, during the weekend, we watched scratchy home videos of us kids playing, taking baths, going on family vacations, and celebrating birthdays. Again, I saw Grandpa, as if I'd never really seen him there before, but I also saw my parents: young, thirty-somethings figuring out marriage and adulthood and careers and parenthood and family and balance and the future.

And that's when I realized two things:
#1. The grown-ups in my life were once young like me. 

They worried.
They struggled.
They took pictures.
They made bad choices.
They chose careers and partners.
They lived.

#2. And I will one day be older like them.

I will soon enough be thirty.
Forty.
Sixty-five.
I may have children.
I will get gray hair.
I will grow older.


I am humbled to grasp that I am small.
That many have lived before and many will live after.
That my story--while valuable--is one of many.

I believe it to be significant that I have never met a person--who in the wisdom of their elder years--said, "Wow, life went by so slowly!" No. Everyone seems to wake up absolutely perplexed that they're forty-seven and cannot account for where the years have gone.

I so badly don't want that to be me.

I want to be aware of my place in this big story.
I want to acknowledge where I came from and where I've been.
I want to observe and take notice.
I want to take my time and learn to slow down.
I want to feel each day. Even the crummy ones.
I want to learn to be excited at "long" weeks.
And awakened by weeks that just fly by.
Because while I may be living them.
I'm not fully in them.

Life is a gift.
Not granted to everyone.

And I want to take my time.









Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Compassion

I woke up this morning lacking compassion.

My reflection reeked insufficiency.
My mental state was destitute of alertness.
My mood felt a deficit of optimism.
My stomach was insufficient of nourishment.
Then, I went to work and shared this with everyone I came in contact with today.
Joy.

So I raised my voice to Devon.
I rolled my eyes at Adam.
I grabbed Trenton hastily and scared him.
I impatiently gave directions to Joseph.
And scowled at him when he disobeyed.

I woke up this morning lacking compassion.

I can blame it on circumstance.
I can blame it on the weather.
I can blame it on the kiddos.
I mean, come on, anyone would struggle with these kids!
I can blame it on my administration.
Or, I can be truthful, and put the responsibility squarely on my own shoulders where it belongs.

I woke up this morning lacking compassion...because I chose to.

When I repeatedly deny myself the same love and acceptance and care that I regularly dish out to others, we all suffer. Because if I'm not fed, no one is fed. If I'm empty, everyone's empty.

Compassion takes work.
It doesn't happen simply because we want it to.
It happens because we will it to.

And being as though "compassion" hasn't made the list ahead of cooking dinner, paying bills, and checking Facebook, I've been short, judgmental, and impatient.

"Compassion" needs a new place.
Nearer to the top.
If not #1.




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Today, I Thought of Death

Today, I thought of death.
And life.
And what it all means.

How we live and breathe.
We work and procreate.
We earn money and spend money.
And then we die.
Sometimes, not in that order.
But backwards.
Or too soon.
Or too late.
But in the end we die.

And others die.
And death is hard.
And confusing.
And uncomfortable.
And unresolved.
Especially for those left behind.
We never said enough.
Or we said too much.
We never appreciated what was there until it was gone.
And then it was gone.

And what do we do?
We live and breathe.
We work and procreate.
(You get the idea).
Essentially, we move on.

I'm not sure what to feel about this.
About the moving on.
About how best to honor.
About how best to remember.
Without forgetting.

So, I'll just think about him.
I'll remember what I learned.
And how I was changed.
And how his presence made me better.

And I'll think about others.
I'll look around at what I'm learning.
And how I am changing.
And how their presence makes me better.

Because if we only mourn death
without celebrating life,
than what's the point in living at all?

If we only appreciate what was once it's gone,
If we only dwell in the good once it's past,
If we only learn to feel in the end,
Than we're missing out on this moment right now.

And this moment brings breath.
And this moment brings warmth.
And in this moment my parents are healthy
My husband is wonderful
My friends surround me
And I have much good to be dwelling in.

Today, I thought of death.
And life.
And I have no idea what it all means.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hugs

I regularly get the question: "How's your new job going?"

And my usual answer is: "It's challenging and frustrating, but I'm learning a lot and I love my kiddos."

I don't always understand them. Each student has his or her own unique set of needs and wants and abilities and expectations and personalities. I don't always enjoy every moment we spend together, but I still think that our time matters. The impact in elementary school isn't as obvious as it is in a high school student who says, "Ms. Bo, you are a really good teacher." It is unlikely that I will ever know if Trenton graduated from high school or learned to speak. It is unlikely that many of the kids I work with will actually be able to remember my name, my face, or my presence in their lives at all. But my hope is that, in one way or another, our time together helps them to feel loved. So years later, maybe they'll take that love they received from me and it will turn into self-acceptance or confidence or hope.

What I'm learning and loving outweighs the challenges and frustrations. Here are a few reasons:

-Devon eats breakfast in the classroom the first 15 minutes of school. Trenton, who eats breakfast at home, decided he really wanted Devon's orange juice. So when neither Devon, nor myself, were watching, in one swift movement, Trenton sprinted across the room, grabbed Devon's juice box, squeezing it before it got to his mouth and the the whole thing squirted out all over his shirt. He seemed confused. Flabbergasted. As if he couldn't put together what squeezing the box and this wet feeling on his shirt had in common. It hadn't been fifteen minutes and Trenton needed a new shirt. He instinctively shrugged his shoulders up to his ears and rounded his back as if to say: "I have no idea what just happened, but for some reason I am all wet!"

-A first grader tells me, "Ms. Bo, you smell like Disneyworld."

-Trenton, who is learning a lot of words right now--including his own name--wants a cookie. So he shows me the card with the cookie on it and says, "Aye wanht Trenton."

-This morning, I saw Trenton, got on one knee and said, "Can I have my morning hug?" He smiled, stretched out his arms, and held on tight for a good ten seconds. Then bolted away and dumped a full bin of Playdoh supplies onto the ground. Three times. Some kids with autism avoid all human touch and affection. I'm blessed that Trenton wants it because sometimes I do too.

-Walking Natalie out of the classroom, we step into the hallway, she slips away from my hand and lays face down in a perfect plank position on the tile floor. No explanation. No warning. Just down. So I watched. And after a few moments, as I watched curiously, she got up and walked away.

-Yesterday, while Trenton was jumping up and down and having a grand ol' time, his diaper fell out of his pant leg. Yes, his pant leg, people! He was unfazed and was probably enjoying this temporary freedom.

-Today, while working on a puzzle, Trenton began whining and screeching and crying loudly. I thought maybe he'd bumped his head or had an itch or needed something. The tears were flowing down his cheeks, his eyes and forehead were crinkled and whatever was happening in this guys little world could not be easily soothed. I kept asking and pointing to his picture book helplessly, "What do you want? Trenton, please tell me what you want." I held out Cheeze-Its. I gave him the Barrel of Monkeys. We walked to the rocking chair. Nothing. He just sat, head lifted toward the sky, petitioning all that is unjust in the world. Eventually, I sat down on the floor with him and put my arms out: "Hug?" He nearly toppled me over, he came in so quickly. His head on my shoulder, eventually the crying ceased, and he stayed there a long while. As if that's all he really needed.




Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Feet


I'm twenty-five years-old.
I've graduated from college.
I'm one of those people who are married. Oy.
I work at a school.
I am an authority figure.
I have a job that has no ties to the religion I came from.
I live away from the town and state I grew up in.
I am an employee.
I am a professional.

Yet, just today, I told an acquaintance that I "just recently" graduated from college. In December. A year ago.

Much of my new world feels foreign from my old world.
I'm not a student anymore. The world I knew so well.
I'm the teacher. Which feels wrong.

Many days I walk into school forgetting this. I feel like this is just a side gig. A place I go. A thing I do.

It's like I'm waiting to be accepted simply because I'm there. I'm just a kid, after all.
It's like I'm expecting someone to "call my foul" and plop me on the other side of the desk where I belong.
It's like I'm hoping my superiors will see me for the child I am and just tell me what to do.

But no. This is my job. I'm an adult now.

When did this happen, anyway?
When did my similarly immature and irresponsible friends become physical therapists and nurses and writers and teachers? 
When did the "grown-ups" hand over the reigns and trust us with the future?

Was it a choice?
Or is it just a natural process?

It doesn't feel right.
I don't feel ready.

And as I looked at old photographs of my great-grandfather, my grandparents, and my parents, I realized, they probably didn't feel ready either, but it's just this thing we do: we grow up. We don't know what it will feel like until we're right here. No one ever has this all figured out like we think they do when we're looking up to them. Even our parents. We take on new responsibilities. We figure out the minute details of how to pay bills and feed children. Because no one ever feels prepared for this and I am no different. 

Now it's my turn to be the teacher.
To not dwell on the child I used to be.  
It's my turn to speak with authority.
To be sure of what I know.
To be confident in where I've been, what I've seen, and how I've come to stand where I do today.

On my own two feet.





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fine

Last night, my family--happily full of turkey and apple pie--watched family videos: Easter egg hunts and birthdays, bathtubs and back yards, learning to walk and learning to stand. These memories reminded me of something I don't think about very often: where I've come from.

I have a pretty accurate recollection of the last five or six years of my life, progress and change, but how often do we usually think about being babies, having our bossy older sisters correct our behavior, our parents as young adults? It's good to remember where I've beeen.
That baby was loved.
That toddler was celebrated.
That kiddo was fiesty.
That adolescent was silly.
That bouncy, blond, curly-top had not a thought or a care in the world about food, calories, or size. That person has lived well.
And as I look around this table, I feel good.


Just last week, Jeremy asked me, "How's Helga?"

I was surprised by my own answer: fine.

Thanksgiving hasn't always been a reflective compilation of warm fuzzies and happy memories. No, Thanksgiving used to send pricklies up my neck. I dreaded it. I hated it. It was six years ago when anorexia and bulimia stole my joy for the holiday (among other things). But now, it feels so good to have that joy back.

Helga doesn't have much to stand on these days. She's not silent, but she's quieter. She's recently been drowned out by the newness of marriage and the challenges of adulthood and time with wonderfully supportive people.

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful to where I came from, to healing, and to getting my favorite holiday back.












Monday, November 19, 2012

Chico Gospel

How recently did you think to yourself: "I just can't see the light at the end of this tunnel"?

If you are anything like me, this might happen in varying degrees of intensity about twice a day. For some reason, I seem to be more gifted in this area than some. I am just so good at losing perspective and viewing my situation in a negative light.

So, it's at times like this that I must give thanks. Assess my situation. Observe the good. Recognize the positives. Take stock of how ridiculously wonderful my life really is.

I'm not sick.
I have no diseases.
No cancer.
No allergic reaction to sunshine. Some do.
My stomach works well and allows me to digest food.
My eye lids open and closed. Imagine how painful it would be if they never closed!
My bones are strong.
I can see and hear and taste and feel and smell.
I have a job.
And money.
And family.
And friends.
I have a car.
A computer.
Books.
A college education.
A well-lived life.

Yes, here's to moments when all feels well.
When it's so good we risk the threat of missing it entirely.

Not today.




Chico Gospel 
by Mamuse

"There was a time I believed
Life was over for me
There was time I believed
My life was over
I feel strong today
Thanks to your help
I'll find my way and
I too will lend you a hand
When you need one

Chorus:
Sometimes I get so down
I feel like
This the end
Like there's no way in hell
I can get over this mountain
The sun has come out
Beyond the shadow of my doubt
I am walking on this earth
Stronger than ever

There was a time I believed
There'd be no love for me
There was time I believed
I'd get no lovin'
I feel love today
Thanks to your help
I'll find my way and
I too will lend you a hand
When you need one

(Chorus)

There was a time I believed
There'd be no money for me
There was a time I believed
There'd be no money
I feel rich today
Thanks to your help
I'll find my way and
I too will lend you a hand
When you need one

(Chorus) 

There was a time I believed
There'd be no peace for me
There was a time I believed
There'd be no peace
I feel peace today
Thanks to your help
I'll find my way and
I too will lend you a hand
When you need one

(Chorus)
I am walkin' on this earth stronger than ever
I am walkin' on this earth stronger than ever"

Friday, November 16, 2012

Safe Seat

Today, I put myself in the Safe Seat.

It's like a traditional time-out that is part of the district-wide behavior management program at our school called BIST. When a student is misbehaving or refusing to do work, they are asked to sit at the designated chair and desk called the Safe Seat. It is here that they take time to rate their feelings, pinpoint what they were doing wrong, and problem-solve through what they could do better next time.

Today, I needed it.
A time-out.
A cool-down.
A moment.

Because today, Trenton ran away from me giggling then wouldn't stop crying when I offered him every possible snack he could want, Devon had a meltdown in the hallway, Bradley stubbornly sat under his desk, and Nathan threw two chairs at me. So that was it. If I didn't take a moment, I was going to yell at someone.

I found a deserted Safe Seat in the library. The poster on the wall reads:

"How are you feeling?
1-Excellent
2-Fine
3-Okay
4-Unhappy
5-Angry

I can be productive and follow directions even if I am mad.
I can be productive and follow directions even if others are not.
I can be productive and follow directions even if I don't want to."

Using the strategies before me, I designated that I was at about a four and-a-half on the feelings scale, I was taking Nathan's chair throwing personally, and I felt unsupported at my job.

So, I decided that...

I can do my job even if I am frustrated.
I can do my job even if I feel unsupported.
I can do my job even if I don't feel confident.
I can do my job even if I feel disliked.
I can do my job even if I struggle at adjusting to change.
I can do my job even if I feel uninformed and not included.
I can do my job even if I feel undervalued.

Because at the end of the day, I'm earning a paycheck.
And getting holidays off.
And sometimes the kiddos make me laugh.
And it's all very temporary.

I can do this even when it's hard.





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cheeze-Its

Trenton is my kindergarten friend with autism. We communicate through pictures and sounds and visual cues. And Cheeze-Its.

Words are difficult for Trenton to understand, but he can be easily motivated to do nearly anything for the sake of a Cheeze-It. Without a Cheeze-It, he's mush. He sits quietly and peers out the corner of his eye. He stares at the wall. He won't budge. But low and behold, the presence of a tiny, cheesy, snack, and he will do nearly anything: go to the bathroom, put things away, pick things up, sit down, stand up, walk, do puzzles, count to five, play matching games, and completely cease a crying tantrum. Trenton also favors M&Ms ("emmmm..."), tiny cookies ("cooooookah"), Goldfish crackers ("fuh"), and animal crackers ("cruckah"). Point being: we all need rewards. Otherwise many of us wouldn't feel that what we do is worthwhile.

We all need a high five.
A pat on the back.
A "Way to go!".
A pay check.
An ice cream sundae.
A good grade in school.
A reason to keep doing whatever we're doing.

Without rewards, we wouldn't be nearly as motivated.
To give the assist instead of taking the shot.
To clean our rooms.
To run our best race.
To go to work.
To be nice.
To try our best in school.

Working with Trenton got me thinking: How am I being rewarded? What keeps me doing this job that often feels tiring and redundant? 

Part of why I often don't feel like my job is particularly "rewarding" is because I base my perception of "success" on my students' behaviors which are unpredictable and finicky. I can't expect people to change simply because I want them to. I will always be let down. Because...
Nathan will throw chairs at me.
Devon will miss the toilet.
Lily will refuse to work.
Adam will tattle on everyone.
My superior will make me feel small.

So, how will I feel rewarded and useful and valuable anyway?

If I can laugh at Trenton and Devon as they run amok as little kindergarteners trying to figure out the world around them.

If I can give respect and dignity to students and staff without judgement.

If I can observe Nathan without taking his words and behaviors personally.

If I can smile and be open to my superior, even when I feel talked down to.

If I can learn these skills, then I can have good reasons to walk out the door each day and feel light, open, balanced, and confident.

I control how I feel and no one else.
This will be my reward.







Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Six Month Anniversary (oh, and five month, too!)

Today, Jeremy and I have been married for six months. And as I look back at the other few anniversary posts of marriage thus far, I see that I can almost always find something to be worried about. Stressed about. Concerned with. Overwhelmed by.

On our one month anniversary, I was reeling from adjusting to life at camp.
At two months, I was concerned with helping Jeremy feel loved.
At three months, I was stressed that we didn't get much time together.
At four months, I was unsure about the future and where we'd go next.
On our five month anniversary, I apparently forgot to write a blog.

This day is no different from the past six months.

Today, in this season of our lives, I'm working days and Jeremy's working nights. It's rough. We're struggling to find time together. To see each other more than just in passing. Our latest argument involved Thanksgiving plans. Our latest fears involve--surprise!--the future.

Taken by Cody McCabe
But, if I've learned anything at all--from writing, from reflection, or from a good memory--every heartache is a season. They always pass. Like our mothers told us they would. And I know for a fact that Thanksgiving will come and Thanksgiving will go, and when it's all over, we'll find something new to disagree on. And then that will be the world's greatest problem. Ever. Until the next one.

Last night, Jeremy and I reminisced about the favorite moments of our wedding day. The best picture that was captured (FYI: we both agreed on the one above). The moment we saw each other. The second that it clicked that we were actually married. All the memories. We talked about our favorite moments of the past six months. What surprised us. What was expected. What was hard. What was fabulous.

And we decided that six months feels really good. We have jobs. We have an apartment full of love and wedding gifts bestowed on us by supportive families and friends. We have money in the bank and health in our bodies. We've learned a lot and we're growing a lot. But six months feels good.

And thirty days from now, at month seven of married life, I hope we'll be stronger and wiser and calmer and even more deeply satisfied at all the good around us.














Thursday, November 8, 2012

Someone Stronger

She was still afraid of the dark. And other fears reserved for kids.

She was still a bit uneasy at shadows and creaky sounds and empty rooms and ticking clocks. She didn't watch certain films. Too close. Too much. Sometimes in the bleakness of an empty apartment and too-familiar calm, she'd imagine that one movie or that one news report a few weeks back or that awful reality that the world is unsafe and unpredictable and unfair and downright terrifying sometimes.

Alone at night, she'd remember. She'd think back to another dark time in another dark place far from home where safety was compromised and fear ruled. Where she felt isolated and alone and vulnerable (but only the awful kind of vulnerable). It was that thing that she wished had never happened. But it happened. And she'd remember. And the thickness would linger over her body like an itchy, weighted blanket that she didn't want to wear, but didn't know how to escape. She felt completely smothered in the dark.

So she sat. And thought. And washed dishes. And talked herself out of ridiculous fears and questioning the sounds above and around and beside. She distracted herself with upbeat music and cleaning and the task at hand. Anything to avoid feeling anxious. Feeling twenty years-old again. Feeling scared.

Her soul knew better (but wisdom won't shout. It's the sages and the old spirits who often whisper, until we're quiet enough to hear). And once she was calm and quiet enough to hear her own breathing, this is what she heard:



And again.
And again.
And a third time still: "Don't believe everything you think."

She found an odd amount of solace in knowing that--while her mind was her own--she'd experienced enough to know that her own thoughts and actions surprised her sometimes. That even she could never completely control her inner world. Could anyone? And it did make sense that maybe, just maybe, she could be safe even when her mind told her to cower under the blanket of fear and never come out again.

She decided that--if only for tonight--she'd be someone else. Someone fearless. Someone unscathed. Someone confident. Someone stronger. Simpler. And free.

For tonight.












Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear Twenty-Five,

It's great to see you. It's good to be gifted this day that I am still breathing, still experiencing, still learning, still alive. Thank you.



The gift of regular writing is a well-documented past: the opportunity to look back and say, "Oh my," or "Oh wow," or "Holy cow!" That's what I do on my birthdays. I look back to past birthday posts from 2007 through this day and see growth and change and progress. It's good for my soul.

In 2007, I wrote from a dark and lonely place in Cambodia.
In 2008, I wrote about the sad side of birthdays and half-hearted well-wishes.
In 2009, I wrote of my expectations for what I thought twenty-two would look like.
In 2010, I wrote of progress and change and the fragility of life.
In 2011, I wrote of optimism about the future, perspective, and gratefulness.

And now, as we've acquired twenty-five years on planet earth, I see a theme in the last year or so:
learning and believing that I am stronger than I thought. 

I survived child hood. And let's be honest, middle school's a doozy.
I survived high school and will gratefully never return ever again.
I battled an eating disorder. And won.
I journeyed to Cambodia, lived, learned, and moved forward.
I wrote a book.
I earned a college degree.
I got married.
I'm rockin' this thing called "adulthood."

Yes, twenty-five, that's quite a lot for a quarter century.
I'm stronger than I thought.

And moving forward, growing up, and moving on seems less scary, less tumultuous, and less depressing than twenty-one, twenty-two, or twenty-three could've ever known.

So I'm grateful for you, twenty-five:
for the recognition that I'm stronger than I thought
for the knowledge that it's going to be all right
for the perpetual journey toward self-acceptance
for the realization that I need not be perfect, only whole.

Thank you, twenty-five.

Much love and gratitude,
Heather










Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jolly

Today, for the first time since I started my new job, I came home happy.

Here are some thoughts that helped me through the day:
#1. The rules with Nathan are different than they are with other kids.
#2. Therefore my expectations for him must be different.
#3. He is unable to process accountability and reflection, so we must simply move on.
#4. Holding a grudge against him is useless.
#5. He will never give me an apology.
#6. I will not be perfect, I will do my best.
#7. I am the authority, not a negotiating buddy.

This made the day lighter. And when I have greater perspective, I am better able to see all the good at school, all the small, jolly moments that make working with kids fun. Here are a few highlights from the past two weeks:

Nathan, sitting in his cool down area, looks at the bulletin board on the wall in front of him. Letters are missing from phrases like "You are special" and "You are unique" because he has torn the letters down during his previous tirades.  He rolls his eyes and exclaims with disgust: "Well, someone has terrible spelling!"

Another day in a fit of anger, Nathan yells, "That teacher is a big, fat, liar: L...I....um....uh....L.....whatever, she's a liar and I don't have to spell it!"

During recess, I ask Nathan what's wrong. He huffs and puffs: "Do you see that girl over there? She called my second-best friend a red head?" And I say, "Doesn't your...uh...second-best friend have red hair?" He looks at me, "Well, yeah, but the way she said it was offensive!"

The teacher informed Nathan's class that they could only sharpen their pencils once during the class period because they needed to get to work. He was quick to yell, "What? NOT FAIR! That's ridiculous!" To which the teacher gently said, "Nathan, you do all of your work on a laptop. You don't use a pencil." He pouted sheepishly: "Well, I just meant it was unfair to everyone else."

Nathan in talking about Pokemon: "Yeah, Chickurita and I go way back..."







Monday, October 29, 2012

Nathan

So, I have this new job. I am working at an elementary school as a SPED (special education) para. It's been new. It's been different. And mostly, it's been quite a challenge. I work with fourteen different students in kindergarten, first, and fourth grade. Their needs range from struggling to learn their numbers to non-verbal autism. Much of my day is spent with one student in particular, a fourth grader with aspergers. We'll call him Nathan.

Nathan is unlike any student I've ever met. Elementary school is already way out of my comfort zone (as my degree is in secondary ed), but understanding Nathan is in another realm beyond where I thought my comfort zone ended.

Nathan loves Pokemon, his grandmother's fried chicken, and drawing. He has a Mario backpack and will be a Koopa turtle for Halloween. He laughs at simple things. He likes chocolate milk and people who are agreeable. He thrives in consistency and a highly-structured environment. Like many boys his age, he likes things that burn and crash and explode. He is also unpredictable and easily set off. He reacts strongly to things he dislikes and is royally talented at avoiding tasks. He throws books and chairs. He hits himself in the head and requires manual restraint. He screams and yells and doesn't like change or being challenged.

What I've found to be the most difficult part of my job is arriving at school, getting through the day, and not letting Nathan get to me. So often, I am nervous to be around him, not knowing what will set him off this day, I get frustrated when he refuses to do his school work, and I watch his anxious temper tantrums and can't help but feel...well...exhausted. I don't have to let Nathan control how I feel.

Is it that easy?
Do I just smile as he hucks a chair in my direction?
Do I forget about it as quickly as he does?
Is there any possible way to get through the day and still feel optimistic and whole?

I think part of my problem is that I thought that maybe...just maybe...I could be the star of my own Hollywood movie. The one where I step in as the young, fresh face in a "troubled boys" life and our relationship eliminates his problems and his tantrums dissolve into thin air.

Yes. I do this to myself.
My expectations were harshly unrealistic.

I cannot expect that Nathan will feel remorse for that day he made me cry.
I cannot expect that at the end of the school year he will miss me or remember me a year later.
I cannot expect much of anything with Nathan.
The rules with him are different.
My goals should be different too.

A successful day may be one in which Nathan has only two meltdowns, however, he is safe and he learn a few things.

Maybe a successful day means that we find something we can both giggle about.

Maybe a successful day is one in which I am useful. Even if only for documenting his behaviors all day long.

I am a professional.
I am important.
I am good at working with students.
I am capable of doing this job.
I am trusted and cared for beyond the walls of that school.

I can learn.
I can be challenged.
I can make decisions that are good for me.
I can teach myself to be happy. Even when it feels hard.

And as the poster on Nathan's wall in his cool down area says:
"I can be okay even when others are not."

The goal for both of us is the same.




























Sunday, October 28, 2012

Despereaux

Recently, I read The Tale of Despereaux (Kate DiCamillo). A short read about a little mouse named Despereaux who is on a great quest. And on his quest, we meet the Princess Pea and Miggery Sow. At one point, Miggery holds the Princess at knife-point and marches her to the dungeon so that she can become the new princess (pg. 198):

"And what of the princess's heart? Reader, I am pleased to tell you that the Pea was a kind person, and perhaps more important, she was empathetic. Do you know what it means to be empathetic?

"I will tell you: It means that when you are being forcibly taken to a dungeon, when you have a large knife pointed at your back, when you are trying to be brave, you are able, still, to think for a moment of the person who is holding the knife.

"You are able to think: 'Oh poor Mig, she wants to be a princess so badly and she things that this is the way. Poor, poor Mig. What must it be like to want something that desperately?

"That, reader, is empathy."


And that, friends, is not a trait that comes easily to most of us. But one I'm continually seeking to understand: how can I stand so firmly on these issues (on this belief, on this opinion) and still hear and learn and want to better understand the other side? I've found no easy answer.

But I do believe that part of this process comes from continually vowing to listen. Even if it sounds funny. Even if I think I know the answer. Listen anyway. This is why I'll often hop over to the "other" sides political website or read a blog about an issue that is exactly counter to my own. I don't always come away thinking, "Oh, now I get it," but I do often come away remembering that they believe equally, if not more adamantly, that what they believe is right and true and absolute and the best belief for them.

I come away being a little more like Princess Pea and her ability to consider the thoughts and feelings of another, even when it feels wrong, even when it's hard. We're all driven to believe the way we do and each of our willingness to explore another perspective, takes us one step closer to true empathy and understanding.




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Our Government Should Not Be Christian

Growing up, I thought that all Christians voted Republican. That we were the "right" ones. That we had God on our side. That Democrats were non-religious and therefore lost.

Growing up, I thought that we, as voters, needed to make good "Christian" decisions in order to create the world that God wanted in America. 

Growing up, I thought that I needed to call out other's "faults" and let them know when I believed strongly that the Bible was condemning them.

Growing up, I had a lot of things wrong. And it was upon meeting my first-ever (ha ha) Christian who voted Democrat that I began to see the many versatile sides to politics that I'd been missing in my black-and-white view of the world. 

For as long as I can remember, I've heard that "America is a Christian nation." However, realistically, America is not a Christian nation. We are made up some very diverse cultures and religions that make it impossible to cookie-cut all of us as white, male, heterosexual, and Christian. Why then should our politics be that way?

Imagine how frustrating it would be if somehow a Jewish person were elected president and they decided that because their view was supreme and they were elected into office, that all of our laws and decisions should be made through that lens? There would be an outcry. People would be angry. And rightfully so. You simply cannot make an entire country's decisions from your one, limited point-of-view.

And I believe this is the climate we find ourselves in now. This political race has turned into some sort of distorted argument about what each candidates religious stance says about his politics. That if he believes this way, then he can't possibly be "one of us."

My friends in Canada laugh hysterically at America. We claim this whole "separation of church and state" bit that literally makes them chuckle. Our religion and our politics are completely intertwined and everyone seems to see it but us. 


So, I've been considering how my own personal characteristics may effect my vote and I've been learning to see more of the whole picture outside my own, comfortable lens.

For example, being that I am a heterosexual, female, white, Christian, it may be so incredibly clear to some how I would vote on gay rights. But I don't think that just because I am not gay, doesn't mean I get to act like this decision doesn't exist. My friends who are gay fear that--depending on this election--they may or may not be able to marry the person they love in their lifetime. I can't even fathom what that would feel like, to have the government deciding who I could love. Why should anyone get to make that decision based on their particular interpretation of the Bible? When exactly did we decide that we, in a somehow superior realm, should make decisions that have nothing to do with us? Can't everyone just have freedom and rights regardless of how some interpret that they do or do not align with the Bible?

Another example: there is a good chance that I will never need the services of an abortion clinic. However, whether or not abortion clinics exist will not decrease the need/desire/necessity for women to seek them out anyway. If abortion is made illegal, women will only have to put themselves at higher risk of infection and fatality because they'll have fewer options. You cannot change a person's mind just because the laws on the issues are changed. Not every woman uses abortion as birth control. Not every woman has an easily deciphered reason for seeking out an abortion, but really, it's none of my business. Who am I to decide whether or not she should carry that baby inside her? So, regardless of my own personal need, I will be voting that women everywhere--Christian or non-Christian, rich or poor--will have access to the medical services they need.  

We all care about different issues. These are mine. I admit, I don't know the ins and outs on every issue, however, I will never vote for a candidate that wants to take away freedom and rights from people who don't align with his white, rich, heterosexual, Christian view of the world. I care about the end of war, a cleaner environment, and a smaller government that doesn't have it's fingers in people's sex lives and vaginas. So, I'm going to vote for a presidential candidate that creates the most safety and freedom to as many people as possible.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Axe

I'm ready for this presidential election to be over. I'm tired of political advertisements, people name-calling irrational slurs, and everyone focusing on where we differ instead of how we relate. And you know what else I'm tired of? Uninformed voters. Not one political party has more or less of them. When it comes down to it, a lot of us vote what our parents do. A lot of us don't study which candidate makes more sense on different issues, we let popularity or culture or familiarity make our decisions for us. 

Like this YouTube video (obviously from a more conservative side) calling out uninformed Obama voters from the 2008 election. People who--when asked questions about the candidate they just voted for--didn't know what they were talking about. 


You don't have to watch the whole ten minutes to know that most of these people don't know the answers. But we must also recognize that for the purpose of this video, the creators weren't going to show too many of the voters who perhaps answered the questions correctly. And, let's not pretend that if both sides were interviewed, both sides would fare about the same. We're all guilty.

Take, also, this woman who recently made the news for her blatant and outlandish (yet, so ridiculously viral) opinion that Obama is a communist. It wouldn't surprise me if she also believed that he is not a U.S. citizen, his birth certificate is non-existant, and he's a Muslim. Oy.

 

Her flat-out untruth bothers me, but not as much as the fact that the woman who had nice, less controversial, less crazy things to say (the woman first being interviewed) was quickly ignored and overlooked at the potential to hear from this voter with an axe to grind, but no actual information or knowledge to back it up. Just "study it out" she says. Yeah. Let's.

You know what I think would guarantee informed voters? If we all had to vote on individual issues and not candidates. We'd have to study what we believed about the environment and war and the budget and women's health, instead of just the comfort of our political parties. I say this, because I know it would really challenge me too. Can you imagine how this would drastically change our voting process and our government? It would be harder to just pick a party and vote accordingly. It would be more difficult to go around bashing other political parties, if you had learned that, actually, you agreed with a few points from both sides. Each "issue" would be voted on, and a point for each issue would go toward the candidate who believed similarly. Now that would be interesting.


I'll be happy when the election is over and we can stop looking at the world only through the lens of our political parties. Oh wait, we never had to do that to begin with...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Until the Straw Sputters



One of the first questions acquaintances ask is: "What do you do for work?"
One of my least favorite questions the last six months is: "What do you do for work?"

After our summer at camp, Jeremy and I have spent a good amount of time job hunting, talking to people we know, making phone calls, all in the hopes of getting a job. Ya know, to make money...so we can live. The search has felt dry lately. Unproductive. Hopeless.

I've always kinda, sorta had this strange unquenchable desire to be a barista: to meet people, make them yummy caffeinated beverages, and listen to NPR all day long. I figured this kind of set-up would be ideal, got an interview and felt pretty confident that I'd get hired on Friday (when they said they'd call). But the deadline came and went. Bummer. And then Monday happened.

On Monday morning, I got a call from a medical receptionist clinic asking for me to come in on Tuesday with my resume. Yay. Regular work. Decent pay. Uniform: scrubs (a.k.a. pajamas). What could be better?

On Monday afternoon, I got a call from an elementary school I had interviewed with three weeks before and also hadn't heard back from. Another dead end. Or so I thought. They acquired more hiring "points" over the weekend and wanted to offer me the job.

Long story short, I felt totally overwhelmed by all these good things. Apparently, I'll complain about no job offers and I'll complain about two job offers (aren't we finicky mammals?). I knew I wanted the easier job: the job that involved adults and answering phones (and pajamas). But after much debate, and leaving a message for my counselor to call me back and help me out with this decision NOW, I took the elementary school job. And while I was on the phone accepting the job she called me and left me a voicemail: "I just got your message. What's up?"

Two hours later, I got a call from the barista job. The job I wanted. Saying they'd hire me. Now. Too late.

I'm keeping the elementary school job. Because while I have absolutely nothing theological to say about "God's will", I'm pretty sure that most things work out how they're supposed to. Not like everything's pleasant. Not like it's always pretty. But usually, things just work out. So I took a cue from the presence of some pretty "awful" timing the last few days, resisted the urge to call the school and say, "Yeah, I'd rather be a barista," took a deep breath, and decided this was exactly where I needed to be right now.

So, now I am back in education. I'm a special education para-educator at an elementary school in town (elementary school...wha...what?!). I'm working with k-5th grade students with aspbergers, autism, and physical disabilities. They are a hoot. A handfull. But a hoot. I'm in this moment. Learning what I've been put here to learn. And moving forward.

Where I need to be next month may be different. Each moment is a season. A time when we can learn all that moment has to offer. Drink it dry. Until the straw sputters with nothing left to swallow. And move forward. A little better. Wiser. Stronger.





Friday, October 5, 2012

Politics Need You

I'm not sure what people mean when they say, "I'm just not that into politics."

The sentence just doesn't compute. It lacks meaning in my mind. Because I'm pretty sure, we must be talking about two different things. Because when someone says, "I'm just not that into politics," I imagine they mean, "I'm not into name-calling," or "I don't like arguing," or "I'm not into backstabbing, untruthful rhetoric, and the shenanigans often associated with politics." Yeah, I get that. But, to me, their not talking about politics.

By definition, politics is "the art or science of running governmental or state affairs." It doesn't have to be ugly. It doesn't have to mean throwing rocks or picking sides. The word "politics"--in and of itself--is completely neutral; it's the energy and charge from the rest of us that makes it so messy.

According to Wikipedia:
"Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we "choose government officials and make decisions about public policy". [2]"

Seems a little less, nasty. Right? The political process is how we make decisions about public policy. About how schools, roads, and buildings are built. About where we'll delegate our time and money: foreign affairs, war, environment, public education, social security, and so on. Politics are the venue through which we--as normal, non-Congressional peeps--get a say in what our country stands for. 

And everyone has an opinion. Everyone. But each of us cares more or less about different things. 

Some will live and die over green-house gases, GMOs, pesticides, and landfills. 

Some just want their kid to get the best education possible and recognize that voting for one candidate will give their kid more opportunities than the other candidate.

Some people will yell and scream about the economy and the national debt crisis; about who did and what, and what should be done to that person who did that thing. 

Some just want safe neighborhoods and others want to earn the money they deserve for the work they do. 

We all care about politics. But we all care differently.

Because everyone has something about America that they wish were different. Whether it's that gas were cheaper or the air were cleaner. And the way I see it, around presidential election time, everyone starts yelling louder and louder about the America they want. And we're all allowed to do so, because we live in a democratic society. And those who are passionate about certain issues will find a way to make their voice be heard. And those who know their voice will not be heard among the screamers, end up saying, "I'm just not that into politics."

And this makes me sad. Because I know that deep-down we all have a picture of how we wish America were different and each of those pictures need to be seen and explained and talked about. And even though, I don't agree with everyone's picture, I respect it. And I acknowledge their right to have it. Even when I want to smack them. I don't.

So, if you consider yourself to be someone who "just isn't that into politics," consider what you believe would make America better. Please, please do not vote how you "should" or what your parents would vote. Look at a solid fact-check website or side-by-side comparison of which candidates best align with your views, and then...join the discussion. It doesn't have to be ugly.

We need you.

Familiar


Familiar feels good. And familiar has seemed a long time coming. Much has felt unfamiliar: Student teaching. Engagement. Lack of job. Wedding planning. Speaking trips. Wedding. Marriage. Death. Moving. New people. New places. Moving. Job hunting. Apartment hunting. Purpose hunting. Oy.

But now we're back where we started in a town that encourages change, yet stays recognizably the same. Even if it's been a few months, I can still find my way home. I can still bump into familiar faces. I can still feel safe.

I realize that to self-proclaimed "adventurers" and "thrill-seekers" familiar is the last place a person should want to be. "Life begins," they say, "just beyond your comfort zone." I agree that some of life begins when we're uncomfortable, but thank God, not all of it. Because I've been uncomfortable. I've stretched my limits. I've felt the prickliness of new things and new places. And soon enough, I will again. Life guarantees change and uncertainty. But for now, this is working for me. For now, this is what I need, and I'm okay with that.

Sure, we have no jobs.
Sure, we don't know where we'll be in a year.
And some of this is uncomfortable. Yes.
But we have each other, food in the cabinets, and money in the bank.
This is as sure as it's been for awhile and I am grateful.












Monday, September 24, 2012

Smother

She was afraid.
To stay.
To leave.
To move away from comfort.
Safety.
Familiarity.
Warmth.
So fear
kept her restrained
held
immovable
frozen.

And this could be a
short story
if she compromised
with fear and decided
to not "cause a stir"
to "play her role"
and "not cause problems."
But the fire in her soul
could not be smothered
could not be silenced.

And so
with trembling legs
and a trembling heart
she moved.

Forward.

Anyway.