Thursday, October 12, 2017

THE CLUTTER IN MY CLOSETS

I could provide a list of reasons as to why it's been since summer break that I've written last. The excuses would all be hollow albeit creative.

The bottom line is that I've been lazy. The static of my professional life got in the way of my personal life, and I just got lazy.  Pure and simple.

To put a visual in the minds of my readers as to how out of control my laziness had gotten, my home office became a catch all of STUFF that was threatening to overthrow the delicate balance of my domestic power.

It was so bad that I couldn't really see the surface of my desk  -- there was no functional use for the desk other than to hold crap.

It was pretty pitiful.

Fast-forward to Fall Break.

After spending a week in Michigan helping my parents purge items, I came back to Frankfort with a desire to declutter. I needed a clean slate. I need to make sure my surfaces were all free of clutter.

I tackled the biggest CLUTTER ZONE. My office.

Now, lest you think I completely freed myself of the clutter, I need to be honest. My office closet, should you choose to open the door, will likely kill you if you allow the stuff inside there to fall on top of you.  There are those spots in our house like that, no?

Sharing with someone not too long ago, I said, "I think my home is a reflection of my life. I have areas that are solidly together. Other areas?  Not so much."

My closets? That is where I hide the junk I don't want any one to see. It's where it gets shoved so it is out of sight and out of mind.

Isn't that the way it is with our lives?  Well, at least, I can say that about my life.

I hide the spots that I don't want any one to see. I shove my mess in compartments to "deal with it later."  Only, I never deal with it.

I am not sure why I dread dealing with stuff.

Is it too much of a bummer?

Does it feel too much like adulting?

Does it smack too much of being responsible?

It smells too much of discipline?

Gosh!  I HATE discipline.  I mean I really, really loathe discipline. It goes against every fiber of my being.

Yes. I like to have things planned.  I like to know where I am going and when I am going to go there. But discipline?  Buckling down to accomplish a task? Timelines and deadlines? Things that must be done at certain times and places? Ick!  I do not like doing that.

So, I guess, I clutter my closets.




Sunday, July 23, 2017

ROCKING THAT HAIR

My crew .... my peeps ... my church family ... we have a tradition of going out every Sunday after church. We try to keep it cheap, and we try to keep it easy.

Today, we strayed from our normal cheap and went across town to Q'Doba. I was wearing a new dress that I got for school not because I looked particularly awesome in it when I tried it on (it's a swingy dress for curvy girls ... not really body defining or body shaping), but because that first week of school, we all end up DROWNING in our own sweat.  I figured it would be light and airy and slightly cooler than anything else I could possibly choose to wear.

It's been oppressively humid here as of late, and I just figured, with the air in church being what it is these days, I might be well served to wear this dress.  And so I did (broke out a new pair of Spanx as well!).

So, there I am, paying for my meal at Q'Doba, and the clerk at the register looks at me and said, in his best Tim Gunn voice, "Well, don't you look stylish today!"

There was a time in my life where I would have done everything in my power to deflect such a compliment. I had an assortment of comebacks that I felt were humorous in nature, but that really just magnified the fact that my self-esteem was in the gutter.

As I've moved toward my middle 40s, and as I've come to terms with my body as it is right this minute, I've come to realize that most people are not, in fact, blowing hot air up my rear end. In fact, they are genuine, and as such, I need to accept the compliment with a gracious, genuine spirit. After all, if I am demanding authenticity in others, shouldn't I be willing to do the same?

And so I did.

"Mmmm, girl!" he continued. "You are rocking that hair!"

I have worked really hard this summer to stop making others own my thoughts. Do you know what I mean by that?

Let me explain.

We've all been there  ... at least, those of us who call ourselves women, have. We walk into a room and immediately begin to compare ourselves with each other.  It has gotten so brazen and out of control, that you can actually WATCH a woman size another one up. It's pitiful to witness.  Now, the rest of us are not unaware of this sizing up that is taking place.  In fact, we begin an inner dialogue that might go something like this:

          "I knew I shouldn't have worn these pants. They are too tight.  I know they are because Ellia just looked at me with those judgey eyes.  She is probably saying, 'She has really packed on the pounds!' Ugh!  I should have worn the more forgiving pants.  Oh great!  Now she's looking at my hair! Why did I cut it?  Everyone else has long hair!  Did she just scowl at my hair?  What is her problem?  She probably thinks I don't like men!"

Anyway, I think you get the point.

At one point or another, we've all been there. We've all been there, and we've allowed our inner voices to put notions in our heads about other people.  We've allowed those inner voices to put words in others' mouths.  We've given the inner voice power ... waaaaay too much power.

I know this was happening, and while, I've done a great job of not letting it rule a lot of my life, there were still portions where that inner voice had power. It weaseled its way in and created chinks in my armor.

I've worked really hard this summer to strip that inner voice of its power. I mean, once you strip the inner voice of its power, it doesn't really have a voice any more, does it?

An older version of myself would have looked at that clerk in Q'Doba today and thought, "You are just hoping I will put something in the tip jar, aren't you?  You don't know what you are talking about, do you?  Oh what? A fat girl can't be stylish?"

Me right now?  I stood a little taller, a little straighter and graciously said, "Well, thank you!"

"You have a fabulous day!" the clerk responded.

"You too!"  And I floated away to the condiment stand, rocking my hair the whole way.

I could be like every one else.  That would be easy, right?  To just be vanilla?  But, as I have told countless fourth grade students when I am teaching them about word choice in their writing, isn't a bowl of ice cream with sprinkles and caramel syrup and whipped cream better than just plain vanilla?


LIFE MOVES ALONG

Today is my unofficial last day of summer break.

It is sad, but all good things must come to an end right?

No!  They don't!  I won't let them! It's not happening!

Long about this point in the blog, faithful reader, you are sitting there shaking your head, because, I am sure, you think I've lost my mind. Am I right?

Stick with me here ...

I know summer break has to end.  That is the way of education. However, not all good things HAVE to end.  Some good things can morph into new good things ... they can be replaced by more good things ... different good things ... things that will all work to make memories and moments in this life.

Life moves along.

There is nothing we can do to stop it. There's no magic potion to slow it down, and there's no fountain of youth to lengthen its span.

It is what it is; a dynamic, living, breathing thing that moves us along. It carries great highs and the lowest of lows. But still it moves along.

And then, just like that, other good things can begin (again) ... like a fresh crop of fourth graders ready to learn ... like watching former fourth graders find their wings and soar ... like hanging with friends that you love like family ... like tackling challenges head on with positive outlooks with the hopes of realizing positive results ... like showing by example that life doesn't have to be all storm clouds and gray; it can be fun amidst the crazy ... like letting life move us along, but while we are, appreciating all that the little moments have to offer.

I watched someone close to my circle of friends laugh and joke and cut up today. Not so significant unless you know the back story -- he lost the love of his life not too long ago. That's a devastating blow. A blow that is hard from which to recover. And yet, life moves on, whether we like it or not. Seeing him laugh ... seeing him tell stories about his wife ... seeing him cut up ... it was a precious thing to witness.

Life moves along ... so do we.

Nope.  I will not be sad for the end of summer break because where there is an end, there is always a new beginning.

I have no clue what this new beginning has in store for me, but I am anticipating it ... welcoming it ... embracing it ... because ...

Life moves along.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

AWARENESS

So, as my summer break winds down, and I anticipate the break-neck speed of another academic year, I feel like I need to go on record as saying that I need something to remind me of the work I've done this summer.

I need something that I can look at ... that jogs my brain when I feel like things begin to careen out of control ... when I run into the negative Nellies, the joy suckers ... when I feel like the light I see at the end of the tunnel is going to run me over and leave me for dead.

Melodramatic much?

Listen, if you know me at all, you already know the answer to that question!

So, what is that reminder, you ask?  

AWARENESS. That is my reminder. Awareness. The word that will ring that internal alarm and make me stop and think: aWaReNeESs

I need to be aware when I am being asked to put myself on the back burner for someone else's needs or wants, and I need to be strong enough to say no.

I need to be aware when I am feeling out of control and be willing to step back to keep things from spinning wildly out of gear.

I need to be aware of my body's need for exercise, for rest, for quiet, for de-cluttering, and I need to act accordingly.

I need to be aware of other people's attitudes and be strong enough to step away from the negative attitudes as well as to embrace and celebrate the positive attitudes.

I need to be aware of moments when I am being sucked into someone else's chaos, and I need to have the strength to walk away.

I need to be aware of the beautiful moments in my life and celebrate them, however little and insignificant they may seem to others.

I need to be aware.

Awareness ...




Friday, July 14, 2017

FEELING THE DIFFERENCE

"Wow!  The difference is amazing!"

"Really," I said, a bit unconvinced. "It's that noticeable?"

"Yes!  You hold yourself differently.  You smile more.  You seem more relaxed."

That was what I was told recently about my, apparently, noticeable difference in countenance during the past few months.

According to this individual, at the end of the year, I was barely making it.

I didn't realize that.  I mean, I knew I was tired.  But barely making it ... I didn't realize it.

As a caveat, she pointed out that I had a rough year.  I mean, I know it was rough, but I powered through it. I guess I didn't realize that it had weighed as heavily upon me as it had ... that it was THAT noticeable.

I just powered through it.

So, yeah, yeah, yeah.  Rough year. Powered through it. Exhaustion. I'm not the only one that has been there and done that.  Plenty of people power through it.

The biggest difference for me is staying physically active.  If I am not physically active, I lose control.

It's that simple.

Endorphins do amazing things for our bodies. but for me, it does AMAZING things for my mind.

That mind-body connection is for realsies, and I've been ignoring one or both for a long time.

For me, being able to deal with stupid people and silly people and insecure people and people who are not looking out for my best interest ... well, the key is to keep myself physically active.

I am feeling the difference. I am feeling what it's like to be of sound mind and body.

Strength isn't wholly physical, and it isn't wholly mental.  Strength is both physical AND mental.

This year, I will need to work really hard to make that connection stick.

Monday, July 03, 2017

BEING PRESENT FOR YOUR PRESENT

I did something huge yesterday.

Life-altering. Newsworthy. Noteworthy.

MONUMENTAL, in fact.

I went swimming with a group of friends.

Quite a bit of build-up for that?  Really?

I know, I know.  But for me. It was huge.

You see, last year, I had the opportunity to go swimming with friends, and I refused.  I sat and watched them have fun.  In fact, I made them feel uncomfortable about it.  I sat and stewed about it and was near tears about it and didn't have a lick of fun.

Why?

Because I was fat, and because I didn't want to show anyone my fat body and because it was just too embarrassing all that I was just SURE everyone would be thinking about me and my fat body.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was fatter yesterday than I was last year. I was in a bathing suit in front of all these people, all of them more fit than I, and I just didn't care.  Because guess what?  I've come to realize that they don't care either.  They just want to hang out with me and have fun and relax and enjoy the afternoon.  All of which we did.

Something I am learning:
         We all spend entirely too much time worrying about what other people think or feel.  We spend an inordinate amount of time putting words into other people's minds.  What I mean by that is this, "Oh, they don't think I am a good teacher because every one else gets all these wonderful teacher appreciation gifts, and I don't."  Nope.  The real reason is that perhaps I just have a group of families that show their appreciation in other ways like service in my room or notes on Facebook or comments to other family members. Or maybe, this is just a rough financial road for many of them.  Their hearts are in the right place, but they just can't swing it.

Here's another one: "He would never be interested in me.  Look at all those skinny women surrounding him. Why would he be interested in me?"

What about this one: "She is talking about me to her.  I can only imagine what she is saying! That I am horrible and mean and not kind and just rude and ..."

We tell ourselves lies all the time. We listen to the voice inside our heads.  That voice comes from a place of insecurities and ugliness and inaccuracies.  That voice doesn't really know what it is talking about.  That voice doesn't really KNOW us.  

Yesterday, I hung out in the pool for almost three hours.  I laughed, I talked, I floated and listened, and I soaked up time with some of my favorite people and enjoyed the present. I watched birds fly overhead and listened to the sounds of the rural habitats that surrounded the pool. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and didn't give two hoots about what other people thought of my body.

It's so cliche, but it's so true.  We only get this one life. It is such a waste watching it all slip away from you when you are an observer and not an active participator in it.

Instead of anticipating all the depressing parts of  that "UGH, I HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL SOON," thoughts, I want to make sure that I am enjoying the NOW.  The sounds of birds in the air, the gentle breeze on my face, even the oppressive humidity for which this area is known.

I want to make sure that I am soaking up all that this day offers and the next day and the next day after that.  So, that when I go back to school, I can say that I truly made every single moment count.  Every. single. one.

We all need to start being present in the present.

Friday, June 30, 2017

SUMMER BREAK GROOVE

Since getting back from Michigan, I've run head-long into some of my more "major" projects here at the house.  Cleaning and laundry were my top priorities, and those seem to be relatively under control.

I wanted to get that cabinet done, which I did.  It is moved in, and now, it just needs to be filled.  Folks, no worries there.  I WILL be able to fill it.

I've done some much needed weeding (that is an ALL THE TIME project, am I right!?), and, as an added bonus, I've run into TWO poison oak plants.  I sprayed the snot out of them and am now waiting for them to die an ugly, horrendous and well-deserved death.

I still need to score my ugly wallpaper in the hallway and get that down.

I still need to clean out the garage.

I still need to clean out the basement.

I still need to figure out how to clean the mildew off of my lawn furniture.

I still need to clean out my office (that place becomes the dumping ground of all STUFF I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH, I swear!).

But those things will come.  I know they will. A project a day ...

Today, I wanted to start the new tradition of getting out on the deck each morning and writing ... something, anything.

I've needed to get into some sort of groove for a while now.  My life runs better when I am in some sort of groove. It just does.

Helter skelter doesn't work for me.  It never has.

I feel like I am starting to get into a groove.  A summertime groove.  The sad part of it is, once I finally get the groove going, it will be time to go back to school.  SAD!

Yet, still, I will attempt to enjoy it while I can. Soak it in.  Appreciate it all for what it is, a well-needed, well-deserved break.

Off to continue my morning time, summer time groove.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

START PRAYING NOW!

Apparently, when I was out of town, vacationing in Michigan, work was being started on the house formerly owned by Hairy Man.

Let me back up.

It's been three and a half years since Hairy Man and his weirdo family moved, rather unceremoniously, out of the house behind me.

They lost the house, which I would never wish on anyone. But it happened.  And they moved out just a weekend before Christmas. Sad, really.

I know this because my neighbor told me.  Her lawn man told her. Her lawn man is now my lawn man. He gives me all kinds of scoop. But I digress.

In that three and a half years time, it's been put up for sale, sold, torn apart, resold, torn apart again, semi-put-back-together, Work Stopped Due to No Permits, torn ALLLLLLL the way apart, had a man die in it, and then worked on some more.

In that time period, with all those things going on, there have been great amounts of time ... HUGE amounts of time where NOTHING at all is going on in that home.  NOTHING.

Grass has grown really long and then cut rather haphazardly.  Bushes have been ignored. Scrub brush has grown up. Countless sketchy characters have come and poked around looking for a good bargain.

I didn't notice it Saturday, but on Sunday, I realized that A.) the car port had been completely cleaned out. All the garbage that didn't fit in the industrial dumpster they had sitting in the driveway forever, got left in the car port. B.) The rose bush I always scammed the roses from was gone.  Torn out.  So sad. C). The old, dead tree that the woodpeckers made nests in and raised babies had been taken down (I'm praying the babies flew the coop before their home's untimely demise.

Then, on Monday, a group of Hispanic men came with painting materials and spent the next three days painting every surface in that house, one would assume.  They also brought their own microwave to make their midday meal, which tickled me greatly!  Their mamma's didn't raise no dummies!

Now, today, we had power tools and dry wall and more people in and out.

We need to start praying now, y'all.  Praying for that good-looking single man who is going to move in when they FINALLY get it all finished.  Preferably, this good-looking single man should have the ability and willingness to do stuff around the house of the single girl that lives just to the south of his newly renovated house.

If I can't get the good-looking single guy, I would settle for a cute elderly couple. A couple who don't like loud parties or stupid crap in their yard or who have grandchildren.  Children are loud ... and they do stupid stuff like fly down the steep hill in front of your house on scooters without wearing helmets, or walk across your yard.

Yeah, I'm one of THOSE neighbors.

Y'all better pray hard!