On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My essay for Grad School



 My application to grad school to get my state certification was denied because my gpa was 1/100 of a point too low.  In order to submit my application for review to the exceptions committee, I had to write an essay and have others write letters of recommendation for me.  (many thank yous to everyone's amazing letters!!!!)  The following is my essay. 

When I adopted my first child, who is now fourteen, I had to make the difficult decision to take a break from education because she suffers from severe mental illness and developmental delay.  At that time, the founder and director of the school I had been teaching at for many years said to me, “You’ll be back.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.”  I smiled sweetly thinking I probably would not return and walked out of the building with a box of the few personal items I had in my classroom.  I remember thinking to myself, am I a teacher? 

Everyone has an educator or two from their time as a student that stands out.  For me, those educators had an indelible impact on my life because they did more than teach a subject, they taught me as a person.  Mrs. Watkins, my AP English teacher, taught me I was a strong writer with excellent thoughts to share.  Mr. Badorf, my Algebra I and II teacher taught me to never surrender to the will of numbers.  Mr. Pillion, my Calculus teacher, taught me that education is fun and exciting and even more so when the educator has fun too.  Mr. Rissinger, my Geometry teacher, taught me I was an astute educator when he let me hold tutoring sessions in the back of the classroom for the students that struggled in his class.  Mrs. Richardson, my second grade teacher, taught me that loving a student is the most profound thing an educator can do.  Mrs. Johansen, my third grade teacher, showed me how to laugh through the trials.  Mrs. Gainer, Physics and AP Physics, taught me that women in science are desirable, strong and vivacious.  As I think upon it now, it is clear that I was learning what it meant to be an educator and that such a career would also be my calling.

When I applied to college, my intentions were to get a degree in pre-medicine and go on to medical school. I had set my sights on being a family practitioner.  It was no small feat for me to be accepted into the program as a seventeen year old freshman at the main campus of Pennsylvania State University.  In 1992, only the top performing students were accepted; the caliber of education provided by the College of Science was equal to the Ivy League schools of the time.  Though I was a chronological year younger than my academic peers because I was accelerated a grade, I was confident I could master the coursework.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the struggles I would have in learning in lecture halls of 800 students from professors that were more interested in their current scientific research than in educating.  Consequently, my core science grades faltered, though I took no personal offense.  An average grade at an Ivy League caliber program was still an amazing achievement!

Late in my college career, I attended a medical ethics course.  The physician that taught the course was very clear in his intent of informing his potential professional colleagues that the future of medicine would change drastically as major insurance companies and politics would eventually control the way medicine would be practiced.  That same semester, I took a Health Education course which plied me with the harsh realities of the then up-and-coming HMO programs.  Coupled with my average grade point average, it became clear that continuing my pursuit of medicine as a career was not in my best interest. 

In my junior year, I began my minor in Community Health Education.  At the same time, I was carrying a course load of 400 level Biology classes.  In a whirlwind of no less than 15 credits a semester, I managed to graduate on schedule with both a major in Biology and a minor in Community Health Education and an internship at University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia.  I intended to pursue a career in health care management as an educator of preventative medicine for the patients and communities at large.  I was excited and anticipated a bright future for myself.  With my minor, my grade point average had risen significantly and I felt prepared for the work force.

As I wrapped up my senior year, anxiously anticipating my graduation, I helped host a final exam block party for my dormitory, my last hurrah as a Resident Assistant.  There I taught the study-weary students how to make tie-dye t-shirts.  One of the other RAs remarked, “Wow.  You are a really good teacher.  I think you missed your calling!”  I remember how her thoughts stopped me dead in my tracks as though it was yesterday.  I stood there, speechless and dumbfounded.  I was about to be awarded my long coveted Bachelor’s of Science and in one lackadaisical comment, she had shifted my entire paradigm. 

I tried hard to land a job in Community Health Education anyway; having moved to the Augusta, Georgia area shortly after my degree was conferred.  I was greeted with only closed doors and no opportunity.  Eight months post graduation, dejected and unemployed, my student loan repayment plan beginning; I had a conversation with the woman that became my long time employer and friend.  She was starting a new private school and needed a science teacher.  I smiled.  Thus began my seventeen years of middle and secondary science and mathematics education.

In the private sector, a certificate is not required provided the instructor has a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in the field in which she is teaching.  Though I took time off as I became a mother and raised my small children and then when my daughter’s care required that I take an emergency family medical leave, I have taught with glee, pride and excitement.  I am a teacher, I was born to teach, it is my calling, it is my passion and it never feels like work.  I get giddy talking about my time in the classroom with my students.  My students will attest, I might get a little bit crazy when I get really involved demonstrating a science experiment or dissecting with students that have never seen the internal structure of an organism before.  The best Christmas presents you can gift this science teacher are supplies to restock my chemistry cabinet! 

In my career, I have worked with many challenged students.  I have taught students on probation, students that were remanded to alternative school, students recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.  Pregnant students, physically handicapped students, students with learning disabilities, developmental delay and mental health challenges have all sat in my room.  I have taught them all in the same manner that I teach an able-bodied, intellectually capable student.  It makes no difference to me.  I differentiate instruction according to each student’s needs even if that means she needs to sit on the floor at the white board with a clip board in her lap instead of at the desk.  I modify tests for dyslexic students that need colored paper and I orally read tests to students that have reading challenges but know the science content.  I go out of my way to make sure that every student in my classroom has the same opportunity to absorb the material I am presenting.  I consider it a personal challenge to be certain that every student passes on his own merit.
There are no losers in my classroom.  There are no negative statements.  If a student is down in the mouth about his performance, I tell him a minimum of six positive things about him.  If a student tells me she hates science, I reply, “you haven’t had my class yet!”  If a parent tells me his child has always struggled, I ask “what is her education history?  When did you first notice her grades faltering?”  If a student is disruptive and needs discipline, I talk to him privately and we set up a plan between the two of us.  If my colleagues can’t handle a student, they know to send her to my classroom with her work and I will be sure it is completed.  My students have always remarked that the favorite part of being in my room is the light bulb.  When a student says something that is particularly astute, clever, asks a good question or solves a difficult problem, they get the light bulb.  Then, I make sure that by the end of a school year, every one of my students has gotten the light bulb at least once. We have fun, we laugh, we tell jokes, we become family all while learning.  It makes for a dynamic classroom that students love to return to, even if they are not fond of the subject matter.

Until recently, it was never a concern that I was not certified and teaching part time at a small private school.  However, life changes and I have now found myself in the difficult situation of single parenting three children, two of which suffer from severe developmental delay and mental health issues.  At this time, it has become necessary that I become certified so I can continue my career in the public schools, increase my income, receive benefits and hopefully advance my career to teaching future educators at the university level.  There are many programs available to educators in situations like mine.  I have chosen GRU for the MAT program because of the flexibility and location.

As you read through my recommendation letters from my colleagues, my former students and parents of my students, you will learn as I have, that some teachers are born to teach.  You will discover that a certificate is just a piece to the puzzle for me.  I am passionate about my content area but compassionate about all of my students.  I am that rare educator that lives and breathes the essence of learning every day, in every way.  At the beginning and end of every school year I affirm to my students that the day I die is the day I will stop learning.  I tell them it is my hope, if I teach them nothing else that they learn to ask why because that is the true key to learning.  I encourage them to be curious and skeptical, to think outside the box, to research and explore, to never stop learning.  Then I let them teach me in return.  I am Ms. J. S. I am 40 years old and have seventeen years of education experience.  I am an educator with or without a certificate from the state of Georgia and the MAT program offered at this university. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Believe

Clearly the start to the new school year has kept me busy.  It's been over a month since my last post.

WG broke her arm when she fell off a horse at riding.  We already had to stop cross country because although it was intramural, it wasn't for general students.  The team was for homeschool only.  In addition, managing AB and Sissy during practices was overwhelming me.

I've kept running though.  I put in 15 miles this week.  My goal is 20.  I finally broke the 60 pound plateau and am cruising toward continued weight loss.  Fat?  No more.  Today I stand strong and confident.  I am one amazing woman.

Sissy is escalating quickly, par for the course for a new school year.  I am actively pursuing getting her a placement at this point.  She is extremely difficult to manage at home and at school.  She won't toilet appropriately so she is wetting herself and therefore required to wear pull ups.  Her tantrums are louder, longer and more frequent.  She is stealing, manipulating and lying more frequently.  Hygiene sends her for a tail spin.  It's time.  No more.  Today I stand strong and confident that she will get her mental health needs met, even in this broken state.  I am one amazing woman.

AB has had some med adjustments as a preemptive move to keep him from evaluation.  He has had significant difficulty staying present and in reality.  I am trying very hard to do the same.  There is a very real possibility that schizophrenia will be an eventual diagnosis for him.  I used to be so anxious and worried about these things.  No more.  Today I stand strong and confident.  I am one amazing woman.

I have had many job interviews, I have another one tomorrow, in fact, but no job offers.  I am still tutoring and even picked up a new student.  Of course, I still provide respite for special needs adults.  However, those opportunities provide the petty cash for the unexpected and aren't beneficial in paying down debts or big bills.  Still, I am grateful for those financial opportunities.  Always grateful.  I may not have a job but I am strong and confident. I am one amazing woman.

I expect to get a letter from the local university with my acceptance to grad school for spring 2015.  I spoke with them early last week and was assured letters would be mailed out by the end of the week.  I had to chase the staff at the university. Two hours, four buildings and ten people later, someone finally found my application, a month after I mailed it.  Three weeks after that, I still haven't gotten my final acceptance letter.  I am weary of chasing tails.  If people could just do their jobs...  No more.  Today I get what I want because I am strong and confident.  I am one amazing woman.

I passed my content exam with flying colors - professional standard level to be exact.  I was really nervous about it, doubting my ability. No more.  Today I stand strong and confident.  I am one amazing woman.

The house hasn't sold.  I lowered the price significantly to offset the cost of repairs required to maintain the exterior of the home.  It generated more interest, we even had two interested buyers return for second showings but no offers.

I filed a contempt of court order against my ex.  He was served yesterday. I'm done with his shenanigans.  He has been out of this house since January 2012, the divorce finalized Mar 2013, it's time he is done and out of my hair and complying.  I can't take it any more.  I've been more than patient.  No more.  Today I stand strong and confident.  I am one amazing woman.

The last nine and a half months have been the hardest of my life.  I have not enjoyed it but it has made me strong and confident.  It has helped me see what an amazing woman I am.  It has given me the power to believe in the impossible.  To dare to dream.  To hope.  To see what is true and real about myself and others.  There is still SO MUCH that is not done, accomplished, finished.  There is SO MUCH I want and need from this life that hasn't happened and shows no signs of happening anytime soon.  There is SO MUCH.

I choose to believe.  I am strong.  I am confident.  I am one amazing woman.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Sky Full of Stars

Well, the summer is over.  The kids go back to school on Wednesday.  Sissy was awake before 6 a.m.  Getting ready to get back into the school routine?  Um...no.  More like getting ready to drive us all insane with her jacked up back-to-school jitters.  Wow.  Does this game of hers ever end?  She will disobey EVERY instruction.  Steal, sneak, lie, it never ends.  Every day is a new day, right?  Yep.  New opportunities to test the limits at every turn.  EVERY TURN.  Every day if I'm not on my A-game with her she gains the upper hand and usually that means I'm flying into a Rajani Patel induced stream of expletives.  [1]

Am I glad they are headed back to school?  Yes.  No.  It's been an interesting summer.  It has been one of the hardest, transformational summers of my life, second only to the final summer my father was alive; watching his body slowly deteriorate from the leukemia until he was gone on the first day of fall.  Yes. THAT kind of summer.  Only what is slowly deteriorating is the dross and lingering vestiges of a lifetime of abuse and heartache.  I have watched the pain and despair slowly float away like the ashes from a bonfire - float, floating, gently disappearing into the cool night sky, one ashy flake at a time until they are all snuffed out and carried away on the wind.

It has hurt.  It has been amazing.  I even dare say, the BEST damn summer of my life, though I have gone no where, no vacation save but a wonderful, blissful four days spent on the lake with family and friends - laughing, crying, hugging, longing, learning, teaching, being.  Like the Grinch, I think my heart grew four sizes in those four days.

I have actually worked all summer, tutoring three young men all with a difficult life story leading them to a place of wanting to just be done with education and ready to move on to adulthood.  It is the greatest privilege to be an educator, to have the opportunity to influence young lives and to learn from them in like kind.  Oh, I have learned!  One student, in particular, has absolutely captured my heart.  What a smart young man!  Possibly one of the fastest learners I've ever had.  He can snatch up a math concept in a heart beat all while he sings "math, math, I hate math"  Love him.  SO much.  Maybe too much because I find myself wanting to rescue him from the minor blunders and pitfalls young men find themselves in as they learn how to become adults, stretch their wings and fly.  This one can go places, achieve amazing heights, but he lacks the confidence in himself.  I hope I have begun to teach him that as well - that he CAN.  Oh my, can he!!!

See?  My heart stolen dead away by students, once again.  When they become more than students to me, it is a magical dynamic.  This is why I know I'm an educator, why I can't give it up.  This is why the summer has been so hard in equal measure for how beautiful it has been.  I wanted to teach, I wanted to be away from this present reality, I wanted more for Sissy and AB than what appears to be available for them here both in their present need and in their future need as adults themselves.  I wanted friends and family and hope.  I wanted to start over, clean slate, new house, new life, freedom.  At the beginning of the summer I was convinced I had to move on to find what I needed.  Now I'm not so sure.

On the 15th I take the content exam.  I know I will pass.  With a passing score, I can apply to openings for Biology teacher positions and a school can request a provisional certificate while I work on my Master's in Education.  Yes, I will go the distance and get my Doctorate too.  My application is at the local university, I wait only for them to send my acceptance. I know I will get into the program.  I have sent more than 22 applications for employment and I wait for a job, preferably as a paraprofessional while I work on my degree so I don't have to juggle both the tasks of lesson plans and prep while I study.  I wait but it is just a matter of time and door knocking before I find a job.  I hope it is soon though, money is running out.

At the end of the month, my sister will be here.  We are joining forces.  No more will the loneliness overtake me, there will be another adult body in my life, helping when and how she can and if nothing more, just being present.  The loneliness of single parenting is stifling.  AB and Sissy aren't typical teenagers that talk and share their ideas, create their own social lives with friends coming and going, giggling and video game playing.  I don't dwell on the reality that my teenagers are atypical teens but it is hard to ignore the obvious disparity when I have teen students in my home being typical and my children suddenly appear very...different.  When everyone goes home at the end of a day, I find myself sitting in my Adirondak chairs breathing and pushing away the sorrow that AB and Sissy will always be different and that their differences can be isolating for ALL of us. 

I've discovered that there are indeed, some very wonderful, blessed friends that have willingly jumped into this life with me.  Breath of fresh air to the point of tears.  So thankful.  My heart is bursting.  Sure, every morning and every night I am alone with the kids but during the daytime, I have friends that go the distance with me, if even through text and FB, knowing that those lifelines carry me through.  It is an old habit carried over from the residue of abuse, for me to assume that my neediness is annoying. These friends know I'm not needy, I just carry an enormous burden that overwhelms me and instead of berating me, they encourage me.  You can't possibly know how amazing that truth is unless you have walked the miles I have walked.  Now, I look up and see a sky full of stars smiling at me instead of miles of darkness weighing down on my heart and soul.  For these friends, my children are joys, even in the difficult moments.  And that brings me tears of happiness too, that despite the struggle, a handful people of can see the prevailing goodness in Sissy and AB that I see.

The house isn't sold.  I don't think it will sell until I can do some significant repairs to the exterior.  I can't do significant repairs until I have more solvency so that is the current goal, make money, fix the house, try again.  I want to be out of here for the simple fact that it currently financially connects me to my ex.  I need this divorce to be done, it has been two and a half years of misery AFTER the fact!  With strong encouragement, I finally got the strength to dismiss my ex from my house with the exception of the overnight weekends the divorce decree orders him in my home every other month.  That is another goal, to save money for a lawyer so I can go back to court and change that as well.  If in two and a half years,  a grown man can't get on his feet and establish himself in such a way that his children can come visit him in HIS home or to pay his child support in a timely fashion, then he isn't going to.  He never will.  I'm done.  Running away to a state 750 miles from here isn't going to change him and it isn't going to give me the strength to grow some cahones and deal with his shit head on.  So I stand firm.  I take back my power.  Just as I want my student to see that he can, I am learning that I can.  I CAN!  I am.

All that remains then, is what becomes of Sissy and AB as they rapidly approach that golden number, 18.  Once they are 18, the game changes for disabled persons and no matter how I shuffle the cards, all of the other factors, needs and wants seem to be met in my current place EXCEPT what becomes of those two as they transition to adulthood.  I love them, I do, but I can't parent them for the rest of my life.  I want them to have autonomy in whatever degree is possible for them and frankly, I want freedom from this burden.  No mother is meant to parent functional 5 and 8 year old children endlessly.  That isn't my calling.  So, with 3.5 and 4.5 years respectively for these two, I have a little time to sort it out.  Thus, I breathe.

The pivotal moment for me this summer was two days after our lake weekend when my student sat at my table, having heard that we had to conclude tutoring a little early because a realtor was showing the house directly afterward and we all had to clear out.  Still on the heart warming wave of joy from the time away, he asked me who would help him if my house sold and I moved away.  That's when I realized he stole my heart, ran off with it like a wild banshee shouting ollie-ollie-oxen-free! and that I couldn't possibly leave now.  I'm all in.  Reduced me to tears, that one did.  Or maybe I'm just a weepy, blubbering mess?  Longest I've made it since last November without tears is seven days.

Nah.  I'm all in.  Damnit.

WG has started cross country so I signed up to be a volunteer parent. Tonight is timed trials and her first meet is on the 23rd.  So, I am running now too which makes me laugh.  Guess what?  I LIKE it.  *shaking head at self*  Between swimming and running, in one week I logged 11 miles.  And I'm now at 57 pounds lost and counting.  New me?  Oh yeah.  What a life.

Time to write that book some of you have been begging me to write.

There is one more "want" on my list.  I wait patiently for that one too.  The winds of change are blowing gently, bringing warmth, life and hope.  Soon.  It will come.


[1] rajani patel is an alter ego I created several years ago so I don't go batshit crazy when I'm mad.  Rajani comes out and I keep my cool...mostly. :D

Monday, July 28, 2014

Honk out a Victory Call

I keep trying to write a blog post then I delete it when I get half way through.  I'm not sure what is happening in my life right now.  I'm so very confused.  What I thought was the right plan has been turned upside down and dumped out.

Other things have replaced my days and my thoughts.  Now I'm wondering if I made the right choices to pursue those paths?  Those doors just opened and I walked through.  I thought that was the plan, the direction I was supposed to pursue.  Maybe not?  I'm questioning myself again.

Questioning because there are still so few answers.  Still no clear direction.  I am flying blind when perhaps my feet should be on the ground?  Did I take to the clouds in error?  I don't think so.  If I listen to my heart, my intuition: if I dwell on the things that I've learned this summer, I can trust.  But if I look up and beyond, I get dizzy and overwhelmed.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow.  I don't know what job will hire me.  I don't know if my house will sell.  I don't know if I will find resources for AB and Sissy.  I don't know what their adult future will be like.  I don't know and it is making me crazy.

I am registered to take the content exam in Biology so I can demonstrate that I have the knowledge to teach the subject of my Bachelor's degree.  I am hand delivering my application to grad school tomorrow for the MAT program (master's of arts in teaching for non majors) and I am contemplating a doctorate in education after that.  I have mailed 10 applications locally and had one interview but was already rejected. 

What am I hoping for?  I'm hoping for a big break through. I'm hoping that this well I'm digging will eventually hit a natural spring that will fill it endlessly.  I'm hoping for my happy day to find me finally.  I'm hoping that the many years of pain and anguish and struggle and suffering will finally be over.  I'm hoping to wake up and this journey will be over and I will be happily living in my new reality.  I'm hoping for peace and love, for companionship and joy.  I'm hoping that my fingertips don't break as I cling to this wobbly branch dangling over a cliff. 

I keep marching, I keep smiling, I keep going.  I just keep on.  What else do I do?

Is anybody on this journey with me?  Is this where you are too?  I can't be the only person that is walking through this hellatious year we are calling 2014 wondering what the f*** is happening.  If you are flying in the clouds with me, then let's fly in formation and make the journey easier.  I'll be the first to take point.  And when I see a safe harbor to nest, swim and eat, I'll honk out a victory call.  OK?





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life Lessons

When I started this blog in November 2009, the puzzles I was trying to find peace with were my children, specifically Sissy and AB with their various mental health and developmental delay issues. At that time, I didn't know that the best way to solve any life puzzle is to start with oneself.  Ha ha, joke's on me then because guess which puzzle I've actually been sorting out?  ME! The question remains, have I found peace?

Hmmm...  well?  yes and no.

I'll start with the YES's.

I have peace about my decision to end my abusive marriage.  In fact, from what I have learned since Dec 2011, it was a marriage in legal form only.  There was nothing marital, communal, intimate, caring, giving, kind, loving, sharing, for better or for worse about it.  By definition, it was most definitely NOT a marriage.

I have peace about my children's disabilities.  When it makes me squirrely, I recite the mantra from AlAnon - I didn't cause it, I can't cure it and I can't control it.  I can't change it either!  Sissy will always be functionally 5, emotionally 2 with a mental capacity just below average which makes her a true puzzle.  Some days she says the most intelligent thoughts which are invariably chased by the most absurd and laughable comments.  I've' learned to look away so she doesn't see my smile or laugh and when I get a chance, I share her nuggets of gold so others can enjoy them too.  I don't do it vindictively, it's more of a coping mechanism, a holy-crap-this-is-the-insanity-i-hear-all-day!

AB paces and paces and eats and paces and whines and paces and gets irritated and paces and swings and paces and eats and swings and paces and did I mention that he paces?  Two weeks ago, after a long, harrowing night with Sissy, AB woke me up at 6:30 to tell me he was awake.  OK then.  Good to know.  Then he went to the backyard and began swinging.  By 7:00 he was back at my bedside to tell me the swing was broken.  Good mom that I am, the first comment...ok.  back up.  NOT SO GOOD MOM that I am, the first comment was "AB!  PLEASE I'M TRYING TO SLEEP!!!"  Then the good mom moment, "did you get hurt?"  AB who is functionally 8 and intellectually two IQ points above Sissy, god save the queen.  How.  HOW!  I ask you, how in blue blazes do I survive a single day?  God only knows.

I have peace about the very real truth that I DO NOT want to be a grandmother, not by this lot, at least.  Now, should a nice gentleman become a part of my life and have children that have children, cool.  I'll be a step grammy.  No problem.  But AB's genetic disorder is sex-linked so the girls are carriers and let's not mention the fact that all of those other developmental delays and mental health issues are often inherited as well. *sigh*  So.  I have peace about that.

I have peace that the opportunity to bare biological children was stolen from me.  Truth be told, should a nice gentleman come into my life now, even though I'll just be turning 40 in October, there is no way in hell I would want to go back to diaper days.  oh my, no.  It is what it is, this is the path my life took for better or for worse.  So, I choose peace.

I have peace that my house hasn't sold and every application I sent was rejected.  I have peace that for what it is worth, I am still here, in Georgia.  Is it what I want?  No, not really.  So I have chosen to find peace in the truth that as I asked for open doors and I have gotten none, I am here.

I have peace in my self.  I am healed, I am whole, I am light, I am love.  I am as I am, right here, right now, in this moment.  It has taken me SO MUCH WORK to get to this point.  The depression, the anxiety, the fight to want life, the struggle to find my inner strength and beauty, the daily work to make my physical body healthy, the hours and hours of tears and weeping to get to emotional health, the determination to find friends here that fill me up and restore my social health, the struggle to juggle my responsibilities and keep my mental health, I have done it.  I am doing it.  It is ongoing.  It easily falls through my fingers as soon as I let more than a day pass by me without self care.  But now I can say that I like the woman I see in the mirror.  She smiles back at me and her eyes sparkle.

Thus we come to the other side of the coin, in what ways does peace evade me?

At this time, I am so uncertain of the next turn to take in my journey.  I have a goal in mind but is that the RIGHT goal?  I don't know.  I am weary of not having hope and dreams and a future.  I'm weary of the uncertainty.  I'm weary of the loneliness.  I really am not good on my own - its' not a codependent thing like it once was, it is simply that I am a people person.  I take so much joy from giving to others just for the sake of giving.  And now that I know what a true, dynamic, healthy partnership should look like, I am excited to incorporate that in my life and for my children's lives. The unknown is so hard.

It feels as though my life has hung in a balance since Feb 2009, when it became painfully clear that my marriage was not going to be salvageable, though I tried.  Oh, how I tried!  Then a trip to Seattle to see my oldest sister put me on a course to find the things that resonated and filled me up.  By November Sissy was hospitalized and my family was launched into the crisis that we are now emerging from.  I am ready for this transformation to be complete.  I am ready for what wants to come, to come, finally.  I am longing for that happiness and fullness of hope that I see others easily abiding in.

My dreams tell the truth, I am forever travelling while I attempt to sleep.  By planes that either break down, can't take off, get delayed or flights get cancelled.  By trains that leave the station without me or that make a big circle and take me back to where I started.  By cars in which I get put on detours through construction zones and I get lost.  By boat in which the motors don't work or I run out of gas or I have to get out because it's sinking or paddles get broken or waterfalls ahead prevent me from continuing.

 funny... i'm just now realizing as I type this that I never try walking away in my dreams.

All of that to say, I don't really have peace about this present moment in my life for the simple fact that I don't know where I'm going, how I'm going to get there or where I will be when I arrive.  I know only that I'm on that road indefinitely and it is pissing me off!

OK, verbal vomit over.  As you were.

besides, i've been sitting outside typing this and despite the bug spray, they are still eating me and now I have to pee.  You're welcome.  ;)


Friday, July 11, 2014

For Steve

Who is Steve?

To be honest, I don't know.  All I know is Steve is a fellow trauma mom/quilter friend's friend of a neighbor.  So technically he is some random man I have never met.  According to my friend's FB post yesterday, Steve has been working hard and has lost more than 80 pounds in the past year.  Of course, that resonated with me because I'm at 50+ and counting.

Apparently, an anonymous person left a nasty letter in Steve's mailbox.

Well now, that just won't do.  It made me mad.  Since last August I have been working my ass off, literally, to get fit and healthy.  I started by walking in the local park.  At first I could only do 1.2 miles and my shorts rubbed my thighs and I sweated like a hog and it wasn't pretty.

Here's me from last October when I had already lost 15 pounds.

I have dropped a total of four clothing sizes in the past year.  I am astounded at my weight loss and how great I feel. Here is the difference from just one month of an ab challenge and swimming 1/4 -1/2 mile daily in the pool.  I lost three inches on my waist and another three on my hips.  Astounding.

 

Today I put on a size 16 skirt for the first time in 15 years.  I am SO happy.  So in honor of Steve and his hard work, and in honor of all the other lard asses like me that have decided to do the hard work it takes to get in shape, I decided to do a tribute for him.  In sharpie.  All over my arms and back and chest.  For Steve.  For Me.  For all Lard Asses.

So here I am in my buxom, buff, flabby-assed swimwear (that is a 16/18), showing my tail to the world.  And the nay-sayers can kiss my ass.





Go ahead.  Link it.  Share it. Post it.  Tweet it.  Spread the word.  Steve and I are shrinking but we aren't shrinking violets and I don't give a damn who thinks my lard ass should be hidden away while I do it.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

In This Moment

I drove down the road in the early morning traffic, headed to get the new windshield for the van.  I turned up Florence and laughed.  It started as a slow warming glow in my heart and then spread outward until I was smiling and then giggling and then laughing outright.  I finally fit in the skin I'm in.  I know who I am, what I want, what I can achieve, how strong I am, what I'm made of and how I indelibly impact people's lives with the simplest touch.  I will let nothing stand in my way.  If it is meant to be, it WILL be.  I laughed until Florence was done singing "The Drumming Song" then smiled all the way to the auto glass repair shop.  A warm glow emanating outwardly the way a slow-burning lavender incense will permeate a room. I held onto that peace for nearly the entire day.

Since November, when Sissy was hospitalized for attempting suicide, I haven't gone past six days without tears.  This has been the most trying time of my life, far and away.  I still have no clue where the twists and turns of tomorrow will take me but I'm slowly emerging from this transformational experience as a strong, vibrant, amazing woman that I enjoy greeting in the morning mirror while I brush my teeth.  I finally see myself as the person I was born to be.  I have harnessed the power of my inner tigress Chinese zodiac and tied it to the balance of my Libra sign.  This has been no small feat.  I have often felt at odds with myself.  Now I see the potential of both to catapult me toward what the circumstances and abuses of my life have abated.

For the past several months I have prayed, "let what wants to come, come.  Let what wants to go, go.  If it is mine it will stay, if not, something better will replace it."  Last week I added to my daily prayer, "I call upon your Divine Will to guide me.  Give me a clear sign of the direction I am to go in and if I set my foot to the wrong path, stop me."  These prayers bring so much peace and power.  Am I seeing things coming and going?  Yes and no.  Am I getting clear signs?  Yes and no.  When it's a "no" I breathe.  Long, slow, deep cleansing breaths.  When it is a Yes or some semblance of a yes, I breathe.  Long, slow, deep cleansing breaths.  This is how I am, in this moment, here, now, today.  I am light, I am love, I am healed, I am whole.  I am as I should be.

What should I be, you ask? 

As I am, right here, right now, in this moment.

Yes.  It's incredibly vague.  Yes, it's obnoxiously inefficient as an answer. It is what it is.  If I think past this, I shut down.  So I breathe.  Long, slow, deep cleansing breaths.  Then I accept it.  I am here, right now, in this moment.  What will be, will be.

There is another intense lesson I have learned in my life odyssey, including the years of my abusive marriage and even long before that.  As much as the pain and heartache of life has been unbearable at times and has laid me bare, I can stand firm on the truth that without these passages of time and suffering, I would not be who I am, I would not love as I do.  I would not have the peace and patience I have today.  I would not understand the grace that has been given to me that I can freely give to others.  I would not know how to forgive myself let alone others.  I would not have embraced the need for transformation or the ability to accept that many others do not choose to take this high road toward self-actualization.  This path has made parenting challenging children, easier to emotionally process.  The intensity of the burden is not less, the feelings of it being unfair and overwhelming are not less.  But the acceptance that because of this journey and my willingness to change as I was meant to change, has allowed me to see the good despite the bad.  I have much to give as a result.

The night alarm is back on.  Sissy is back to her old tricks.  AB has had to learn some adolescent lessons himself today.  WG is on restriction until Tuesday for behavior issues.  I had a relaxing weekend despite being away from home and though I cried today, I made it three days without a drop.  I'll get there.  Or not.  Maybe this weeping thing is also part of my transformed self.  So I am as I am, right here, right now, in this moment.  Not knowing if I am moving anytime soon.  Unsure if I will have a job and where exactly this journey will take me.  I know not if I will continue to be alone or if I will cross paths with a future partner in this process.  I know only that if something wants to come, it will.  If it is meant to go, it will.  I release the desire to control it and I breathe while I wait.

Written last Sunday and posted on my FB wall:

Trying trying every day
Try to push the blues away.
Try to make the smile show
To make my lovely face aglow.
Try to be in this moment now
trying trying, I know how!
Feel the warmth upon my face
Know the love of good and grace.
Soon will be the change I seek
so please stop those eyes that leak.
Give yourself a warm embrace
seek today, it's not a race.
You will find the good will come
hear it thrumming, hear it hum.
One more day now, yes you can
tomorrow? Today! that's the plan.

(original poetry copyrights apply. thanks ~Jennie)


This is the tattoo my youngest sister drew for me embracing my tiger Libra zodiacs.  I will one day get it done, when I have the money to spend on frivolities.  Until then, I have gratefully begun using some of the GoFundMe dollars toward the much needed and long overdue expenses I have not been able to attend to.  Thank you SO much.  Please continue to link, share, pin, tweet, etc.  There are still several unmet needs that desperately need attention.  I concentrated on the vehicle repairs and my medical health first.