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On the Eve of a New Semester

January 11, 2015

I have been on pins and needles my whole “break” because one of my classes…the SIX credit one…has not filled.  My dean tried to cancel it during one of my finals before “break” but the chair of my department interceded in my behalf, and continued to intercede.  On Tuesday, he decided NOT to cancel it even though I only had 4 people enrolled in the course.  (Now it has NINE.)  Whew!  I also found out on Tuesday that I would NOT have to teach a night class that I really didn’t want to teach, but was slotted for because of factors beyond my control.  So win-win-win!  It is a gift to have this schedule.  It is what I wanted and I can’t believe that it worked out.  The first blessing of the New Year!

That being said, because I was in limbo (which is a GREAT excuse, by the way) I haven’t really done much planning for this brand new semester.  As in, I haven’t really revamped anything.  And, I am very uninspired right now.  Mostly I am tired.  I feel like I have been running around non-stop for a month.  I have done some things that were for me.  I have done a lot of running for my kids and Christmas.  I really want some time in my house alone!  To play, to work, to get the house in order.  The best part is I may get to have some of that this semester if I play my cards right!  Woot!  I also may have time to write a little bit!  It would be fun to do some more blogging again.

So, tomorrow I begin again.  I have a list of what I need to do in the morning.  My babysitter is putting Katie and Nicholas on the bus so I can go in early.  My hope is that it is a peaceful and happy day!  Both for me and for YOU!

Ten days in

January 10, 2015

I was listening to the radio while playing taxi-driver this morning, and between all of the analysis about terrorism, somebody said the date in that official reporter voice, “Today is January 10th, 2015.”  And I thought, “Has it been TEN days since New Year’s already?  How can that be?”

It feels like I am in constant motion, like it has been one L-O-N-G day since January first.  So much thinking about a new start to the semester, what classes I will be teaching, what my schedule will be, how to get my house back in order before the students parade into my life.

Not being tethered to grading has felt light and free, I have read some for pleasure, some for work, but I have read very little student work since posting grades on December 23.  I have been working with Katie and Nicholas for their play.  Working lines with them every day due to Influenza A.  The play was originally set for December 19, but so many kids were sick, they postponed it until after winter break.  Therefore, I became a director for two weeks.  Thank goodness, the play was on Thursday night!  It was cute and they did great, but I am so glad that it is OVER.  And a little sad, too.  It was their last play in Elementary School.

I am getting off track, as I seem to do a lot.  I wanted to come here and talk about how Ten days feels so fast and sounds like such a long time.  And, how beginning the year this year with violence sucks.  I feel so many things about this attack at Charlie Hebdo and at the Kosher Deli in Paris.  The overwhelming feeling is sadness.  I am just so sad about it.  Sad for the victims.  Sad for their coworkers.  Sad for their families.  Sad for France.  Sad for the innocent Muslim people that will feel the backlash of racism.  Sad for the human race.

I am listening to how the news and the media are handling this “breaking news” and it is predictable.  Outrage.  Vengeance.  Spin.  It is easy to nod along with some reporters.  I was listening to the TV last night, and I think it was CNN, but I can’t be certain.  They were comparing the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo that made fun of Islam with what has been said to make fun of the Catholic Church.  Their take away was that Catholics don’t storm places of business and shoot people because they make fun of the Pope.

Effective, isn’t it?  To group all Muslims together as crazy fundamentalists because look how normal the Catholic Church is?  They don’t get all bent out of shape at a joke, right?  What is wrong with those people?

It is easy to nod along, until you begin thinking.  Wait a minute.  The Catholic Church has its fair share of scandal.  But we are unwilling to call all Catholics crazy pediphiles.  We are also unwilling to profile kids who gun down their classmates.  Or enter schools in general to kill students…even seven year old students.

We have a problem in the world.  Violence.  The other problem is that violence is seen as a solution.  We, as people, always want to explain why something bad happens, and for some reason this need to explain ends up creating more problems.  It is the fuel to the fire.  It puts us in a catch 22.  The more we blatantly blame groups of innocent people for the crimes of a few, the more those innocent people think that maybe those fundamentalist are right.  Maybe all of this “westernization” is evil.  And then we have more people willing to be recruited into the fundamentalist movement.

The more I think about it, the more sad I become.  I offer no answers.  I just wish that we didn’t have this in the world.  I am sending healing prayers to all the families who have lost loved ones.  I am holding peace in my heart and hope.  I have many Muslim students.  They are just as wonderful as my African American students.  And my White students, and my Asian students.  I am holding them close to my heart after this because their lives just got complicated again….or still.

I hope after another TEN days we can be in a more peaceful place, although it doesn’t look promising.  I guess that is the definition of hope, isn’t it?

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2015

We have had such a lovely day today.

There was:

  • staying in our pajamas much longer than is appropriate
  • a parade, with beautiful floats, and NO commercials
  • knitting
  • watching the U of  M play in the Citrus Bowl (and lose…boo)
  • skating at the park for all but me (our rink is not ready yet…but soon!)
  • (because I was…) cooking… a lot of cooking
  • watching The Winter Classic (hockey, of course!)
  • party mix and other various junk food to consume
  • gnocchi with our favorite sauce and meatballs…all made from scratch
  • a fire in the fire place
  • playing the new Monopoly game:  Monopoly Empire  (SO much better than the original!)
  • And there were s’mores with roasted marshmallows.

There are also other things that are making me worry, but I am doing my best to breathe.  This is all job related, of course.  I am uncertain of my course load at the moment.  I also have a student who wants to meet with me next week, which is troubling.  I think something is up, but I am not sure what.  I hate feeling unprepared when walking into a meeting.  And, I haven’t begun my course planning.  There.  It is all out there now.  (Not to mention taking Christmas down, and LAUNDRY…)

I am choosing to focus on my lovely start to the New Year.  If everyday can feel this productive and fulfilling, I will be living a good life.

Happy New Year, everyone!

The end of the year

December 31, 2014

I received my wordpress email yesterday where they crunch all of the numbers from the stats of this poor, neglected blog.  I learned that I wrote 10 (ten) blog posts in 2014.  Five (5) of which were in one week in June.  I decided to make it eleven (11) today.

As I look out my window at the snow covered roof of my neighbor’s house, the trees all bare skeletons, the sun dappled through the branches, I am searching for words.  This year has had many ups and downs, just like every year.  But all of it is in the details.  The moments that speed by and often go unnoticed, or are forgotten, ignored, pushed aside.  The moment when I watch my father struggling to get into the front seat of my mother’s car on Christmas eve.  The moment when Nicholas skates ahead of all his teammates to rush on the goalie from “coast to coast.”  The moment when Sarah walks up to receive her award for academic excellence.  The moment when Katie sings, by herself, when she thinks nobody is listening and I am shocked by the beauty of her voice.  The moment when Jeff lets his guard down and I can see the boy that I fell in love with so many years ago.

That is what I love about reading blogs.  I love witnessing other people’s moments.  I love to wander around in the perspective of people I admire.  I love seeing the beauty in their lives, whether it be heartbreak, elation, or hum-drum-everyday routine.  I also love writing about the details.  Remembering to be present enough to notice the details.  Showing up at a blank screen and choosing words that will attempt to recreate those moments, for readers, but also for me when I scroll back and look at the moments of my life that are here.

This year.  Well.  This year.  Writing was not a priority, obviously.  But I am okay with that.  I did other things.  I finished my College Reading and Learning Certificate out of Cal State, while teaching full time and parenting three kids.  I helped move my parents into assisted living.  I cleaned out my own basement and main level…decluttered, threw a lot away, rearranged.  I wrote curriculum for a brand-spankin’-new course that I piloted this past semester.  I chauffeured children hither and yon, spending more time in my car than I care to think about.  I read a lot of articles, chapters and books.   I taught 18 credits worth of reading this fall.  I fed my family…reluctantly cooking dinner most nights.  I won an award for excellence in teaching from my colleagues.  (One of three people in my college.)  I did a little laundry every once in a while. I took a fabulous class called “The Magic of Myth” from Elizabeth. I graded thousands of papers.  I took Nicholas to a hockey tournament in Duluth, just he and I made the trip.

Basically, I showed up for my life.  I just didn’t write it down.  In retrospect, I wish I had the time to sit and reflect on all the moments.  They deserve to be preserved.  However, I refuse to let guilt creep in here.  I did all I could.  And sometimes watching Scandal is more cathartic than writing a blog post.  It is what I needed to do at the time.  Maybe in 2015 things will fall into place so I can write more.  There is a possibility of that, but I won’t know until the new semester begins.  My tummy is tumbling because of the uncertainty right now, but I am trying to accept any outcome, while hoping for the one I want!

Tomorrow we have the privilege of getting a whole new year.  We get to begin again.  Start over.  Keep on, keeping on.  My wish for you…if I even have any readers left out there…is to see the opportunities and choose to be happy.  Choose things that bring you joy, and choose the tribulations that are worth traveling through in order to find that joy again.  Sending love out there as we say good bye to 2014 and begin anew with 2015.  xo

Storm

June 7, 2014

Rain

Dark day

Water pelting

the roof, the umbrella, my head

 

Lightning

Blinding in the dark

Zig-Zagging

across the horizon, across black skies, across the insides of my eyelids

 

Thunder

Rumbling, growling

Building the crescendo

until CRACK it makes you jump

 

Soggy

clammy

Drenched

Better to stay in bed.

Losing Focus

June 6, 2014

My motivation is not great to begin with, but it is always worse during the days right after I get done teaching, and before the kids get done with school.  I have gone into work a few times, and I have done a few little things here and there…the laundry most notably, but I have started cleaning out little places.  Nothing that has made a noticeable difference, but I know that a few things are done.

It feels so much like wasting valuable time, no kids, no schedule, I dream about that when I am running hither and yon the rest of the year.  But something holds me back.  I think I just need to recuperate.  I need to rest, and play a little.  And completely veg-out.  I am still feeling exhausted by the time I start dinner.  I am still so tired.  I do have a good list going, and I have crossed a few things off!  Woot!  But not anywhere near the amount that I had planned before finals week.

It really bothers me.  A lot.

This is the time that I cherish, yet I feel guilty about it, and feel like I am squandering such a great opportunity.  I am mostly disappointed in myself.

Here is what I am proud of:  I have walked every ding-dang day this week.  Yay me!

Here is what I am grateful for:

  • Nicholas having his best friend over tonight for a sleep over.
  • Sarah’s ambition
  • Katie being willing to take a risk and join a traveling softball team in addition to her city league.
  • Having a long, leisurely lunch with my best friend today.  It doesn’t happen often enough.
  • Crossing several things off my list, and keeping up with putting things on my list as I think about them.

Everyday Magic

June 5, 2014

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It looks a little bit like snow, doesn’t it?  The first time my kids saw the cotton seed drifting in the breeze on a warm spring day, they thought it was snowing.  They were confused, because it was warm out, but how can your eyes be wrong?  I had to let them out of the car to go and touch it.  To feel the soft downy, cottony seeds.  I also had to show them the cottonwood trees where the seeds were born before they took flight.  That day was full of wonder.  I remember it every spring when I see little drifts in the corners of the curbs.  My friend at work loves cottonwood seed.  She calls it “magical” because she grew up down south, where there are no cottonwood trees.  She was lucky enough to be on a photo shoot with her kids when the cotton was flying.  The way she said those pictures turned out, made me remember my own kid’s wonder….magical.

I believe there is magic all around us, should we choose to look.

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I have been playing around with writing my very own myth this week.  I am not far at all.  The story isn’t even there yet.  Only a character and a tree house, and the weather. I have a whole bunch of writing exercises that I plan on completing the next time I sit down with my laptop intent on writing an original myth.  I am SO not a writer.  I am eternally stuck.  I know I need to PLAY with this, but I don’t really know where to start.  The starting is always my weakness.  My fatal flaw.  Elizabeth is amazing though.  I can’t really even put into words how much magic she is radiating through the computer screen at me.

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I will stick with it, and hopefully I will have something to show you at the end of it all.

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I still have a long way to go, however!

 

The wild raspberry plants are flowering!

The wild raspberry plants are flowering!

I hope I can find that specific magic sometime soon.

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