Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ON SEEING THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL AND PREPARING FOR IMPENDING DOOM

Last week had been one of those weeks that I just knew would occur when I wrote this piece. You know the week ... the one long about, oh, three weeks after Christmas ... the one that after the glow of the Christmas lights dulls, is a full-on bucket of suck!

I love that phrase ... bucket of suck.  I stole that, er ratherborrowed it, off of something I just read recently, and man!  Does it ever  aptly describe last week.  A gigantic bucket of suck.

When I pulled the door shut on my classroom last Friday, I knew that I wanted the long weekend to entail a lot of ME TIME and not a lot of SCHOOL TIME.  I know, I know.  That sounds counterproductive, doesn't it?

The problem is that more SCHOOL TIME creates even more SCHOOL TIME, and before it's all said and done, the pile has gotten bigger, not smaller, and I feel even less like I can tackle the world of teaching than I did before I started on the pile to begin with.

Two things occurred in the midst of the bucket of suck last week that caused me to realize that ME TIME was waaaay overdue.  The first thing was a chance run-in with a fellow writer, and while I listened, a tad bit jealous, of his tails of writing full-time, I realized, even after he reminded me of this, that the only way my novel (yes, I am writing a novel) will EVER be published is if I take time out of my day, turn off my television, cell, home phone, social media outlets, and just let my writer's mind become immersed in the story.  He suggested an hour, one night per week.  It seems do-able.  Hey!  It's going to have to be.

The second thing that occurred was a meeting with another group of writer's, a group (with the minor exception of one individual) that as a collective had never heard or seen my writing.  I unveiled four pages, and I was pleased with the response.

Two things.  Two little things that have confirmed what I need to be working toward.

There is a light at the end of this twisting, turning tunnel. Rather than wait for the impending doom that I foresee happening, I should be attempting to hitch a ride.  That adventure would be so much more fun and certainly more worth it than waiting to be spread across the dark walls of the tunnel, right?

Yesterday, while driving to the post office to post bills, I was hit by an overwhelming sense of GRATITUDE.  Now, I know that going off to pay bills doesn't necessarily put a person into a grateful spirit, but as I came down the hill, saw part of my new little town spread before me (why do I still call it NEW?), I couldn't help but think how far I've come in the last seven years, who I have met in the last seven years, the experiences I have been a part of in the last seven years, and how grateful for all of it I truly am.

For now, I am choosing to see the beauty in the simplicity ... I am choosing to hop a ride on that train and not get hit by it.  I might even attempt a bath in that bucket of suck!




Saturday, January 11, 2014

THE 'WO'MAN IN THE MIRROR

Well, it's official.  I am the same weight I was when I started Weight Watchers two years ago.

Here's what's different:

  • This fact hasn't sent me into a spiral of self-loathing.
  • I didn't run out and eat tons of not-so-good-for-me crap (I sorta already did that ... for a few months ... but then again, this is no surprise considering where I've been, weight-wise).
  • There were no tears involved with revelation.
  • I recognize that, while not healthy, I am NOT a number. 
Two years ago, I struck out on Weight Watchers thinking that this was the only way I could and would lose weight.  I discovered two things:
  • While a wonderful program (DO NOT read into this that I think WW is bad or no good), I ALREADY knew what to do.  I just plain wasn't doing it.  Clearly, I haven't been doing it for a while.
  • I was using WW as a crutch for far too long.  I falsely assumed that I couldn't do this under my own power, which is NEVER the way to approach any sort of life change.  Truth be told, it will take a lot of my OWN power, in the form of discipline, to make this work. 
Last night, while coming home from some errands, which if I must be truthful, included a trip to McDonald's (I had budgeted the calories for it!!  I swear!), I heard a Michael Jackson song, that while I've always liked, struck a very strong chord with me at that particular moment.  While screeching along with Michael, I decided right then and there, this song was going to be one of my themes for the year!

I am, of course, changing the lyrics slightly to fit my particular place in time -- I mean, I am a WOMAN and not a man.  In case you were questioning that ... 

I am, ladies and gentlemen, starting with the woman in the mirror today ... and tomorrow ... and the next day ... and the next day after that.  I am the only one that can make that change ... no program ... no fancy shake ... no special, magic wand.  Only me. 

A little inspiration as I begin once again ... 




Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I'VE HAD MY SHOWER; NOW WHAT?

Yesterday was a very bizarre start to the new school semester.  It was my Monday ... I kept referring to it as Monday.  But it was Tuesday.  It was a Tuesday, because we had a snow day on Monday.  For ice.  We never got any ice.

Yesterday, I walked into my room at 6:20 a.m., and I was immediately met with a blast of cold air.  Naturally, I thought, "Well, the boiler just fired up.  It will warm up soon."

Only it didn't.  Not until close to 11:30 a.m. Give or take.

And I had only a thin pair of trouser socks on my feet.

And the WHOLE. ENTIRE. DAY. my feet were cold.  Ice cold.  Achingly cold (Okay, I had other clothes as well, but my feet were super cold.).

I'm miserable when I am cold.

I am not the most positive person when I am cold.

Come to think of it, I am miserable in the heat.

I am not a positive person when I am hot.

I have a lot to learn about being joyful in the trials.

So, this morning, I popped out of bed, ready to get at it, at 4:32 a.m.

Yeah, not sure what is up with the early wake up calls, once again, but here I am.  Up at 4:30 a.m.  Is the universe trying to tell me something?

Is God trying to tell me something?

Some one or something is trying to tell me something.  Thing is.  I haven't had my coffee at that point, and I am usually a bit fuzzy on the details.  So, they might want to tell me by carrier pigeon ... or smoke signal ... or something.

I hopped into the shower, and as I popped out, I could hear my text message alert go off.  The thought occurred to me that someone must be sick because no one I know is up at 5 a.m.

Correction. My friend Liz is up.  She's the only other person I know in town that is up at the same time I am. (insert smiley here).  And she was kind enough to inform me that school had been closed.

WHAT!?  CLOSED!? WHY!?

I shamefully admit that I didn't believe her.

There was no snow.

There was no ice.

The heat was working *finally* by the end of the day.  What could possibly force the closing of school?

Turns out, burst pipes can force the shut down of a school.

Turns out, burst pipes forced the shutdown of four or five schools in our area.  You-know-what happens, and in this case, might have burst forth from the aforementioned burst pipes.

So, I am showered.  Now what?

Well, I've polished off my allotted REALLY A LOT ounces of coffee.  I've boiled six eggs for egg salad sandwiches.  I've killed countless brain cells on the drivel The Today Show has offered up, and I've taken really stupid photos and posted them to Instagram.

Productive morning, no?

It's not sexy, and it's certainly not fun, but I do have an honest-to-goodness TO DO LIST that I am toying with the idea of tackling.

We'll see ....

There is that belly button lint crisis I've been worrying about ....


Sunday, January 05, 2014

JUST A TYPICAL DAY IN MY WORLD

After church, a friend and I went to lunch at Panera.

I will admit it.  While I have been trying valiantly not to worry so much, I have, on a occasion over the last few days, fretted ever so slightly about two things:

  1. My pipes freezing in these soon to come sub-zero temperatures we are getting ready to endure.  
  2. The vacuum hose on my truck that has been making a funny noise for three months now.  
Granted, I should be fretting over the fact that I lifted my spending freeze to go to lunch.  That would be something to fret about, and yet, no fretting on that front.  

Nope.  I fret about nebulous stuff ... or somewhat nebulous stuff.

So, there was I was, in my truck, heading home to LESSON PLANAPALOOZA, singing at the top of my lungs to the radio cranked waaaaaay too far up the volume scale when ALL. OF. A. SUDDEN. out of nowhere, I hear this thumping, no thudding, no crazy wild thwacking noise.  

I freaked out for about a half a second ... until I glanced out the window and looked up.

Hospital's helicopter was flying low overhead.  

Yeah, just a typical day in my life, folks.  My head.  Scary place. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR 'ROUND

I never feel like Christmas is completely gone until my family leaves to head back to the Great White Frozen Tundra, these days known as Michigan. For whatever reason, I always feel a sadness after Christmas, and try as I might, I can't seem to shake it.

The world is festooned in cozy lights and decorations (well, with the minor exception of THAT neighbor that puts out every blow-up decoration known to man). Rich comfort foods surround you for a full month, and for a brief moment in time, people greet you with a smile and wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a MERRY CHRISTMAS.  They have goodwill and glad tidings in their heart that they are more than willing to share.

Then, New Years comes, and perhaps it's the fact that their resolutions to lose weight make them crabby, but everyone is back to their grumpy selves.  At least that's how I feel...


I love Linus' monologue.  It brings me to tears every time I see or hear it.  And it's true.  That is, truly, what Christmas is all about.  A Christ child that came to Earth, assumed human flesh, to save me from sin.  This should provide me with such comfort and fill me with such joy at this time of the year.

And it does ... but perhaps it's the dull ache of silence in the house after a season filled with laughter, food, fun, and merriment.  Or maybe it's the promise of some ugly wind chills/temperatures in the coming days (grumble, grumble).  It could be that the over-spending in December has given way to the "too much month at the end of the check" feelings of January.  And, quite possibly, it's the realization that the magical moments of Christmas get hidden in the stark reality of life.  It could be all of these things, but they weigh heavily upon me.

I remember going to bed on Christmas Eve and thinking, "I need to carry Christmas in my heart throughout the 2014 year.  I love the way it feels!"  In essence, for me, what I was saying was that I needed to share my love of Christ ... let it exude through/from me.

It was a good thought, in theory.  And for just a bit, it worked. Until I went to Starbucks, two days after Christmas, and they wouldn't redeem my 50% off coupon, and we had to pay full price for all of our drinks.  I didn't have Christmas in my heart then.  Nope. Nothing being exuded except meanness.

The good thing about this whole Christ-walk is that He doesn't hold grudges, and He doesn't create a checklist that we must tick off in order to gain entry into heaven.  He gives a clean slate called grace.

I said I wasn't letting the little things of 2013 get to me, but what I was doing was settling into apathy.  That place is just as dangerous as letting the little things get to me.

This year, this brand new 2014 year, I am going to work on not worrying about the little things and just being present in life.  Worrying does me little good ... it tears me down physically, and it blocks that "Christmas in My Heart" that I am looking to embrace.  Now, you might need to remind me of this in a month or two ... or like last night, when I dreamed of all my pipe freezing in my house.  However, I think it's a much better goal than, say, worrying about the things I am physically unable to change.

I wish you, my dear readers, Christmas in your hearts as well!  Here's to a brand new year spread out before us.  Let none of us waste a moment of it.







Friday, January 03, 2014

ANOTHER BOOK CHALLENGE

I used to LOVE to read.  I really did.

Then, graduate school happened.   And, shamefully, I must admit, cable TV happened.  And I just don't do it anymore.

I have friends and family that read like it's their job.  I used to read like that.  I just don't anymore.

I used to have a 50 BOOKS IN A YEAR Challenge.  I didn't even attempt it last year.  How pitiful am I?

So, this year, I am thinking I need to stop killing my brain cells with drivel on TV.  I mean, if I am going to kill my brains cells, isn't it better to do it with drivel on the page?

I am going to attempt a new challenge; something I am hoping I can make happen.  It will be called READ SOME BOOKS IN 2014 Challenge.

No numbers.  I won't set myself up for that kind of disaster.  However, if I can manage 12 books in the year, I think that would be pretty impressive, considering the poor showing I had in the year 2013.

I have probably 5 or 6 considerable STACKS of books all over this house that I need to read first.  So, perhaps I will try to get through those before I storm my public library and check out tons of titles there.  However, if there are good reads out there that you think I must tackle, let me know.

READ SOME BOOKS IN 2014 begins .... NOW!

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS, GROWING MY HAIR OUT, AND OTHER THINGS ON MY MIND


  • CHRISTMAS

I LOVE Christmas!!  I love hauling out the decorations (okay, I don't love that part) and creating a cozy space filled with Christmas cheer.  I just love it.  Normally, I wait until Twelfth Night before I tear it all down, but for some, inexplicable reason, I want to tear it all down.  Now. I will be sad once it's all down.  I really will.  But I have this unexplained desire to have a clean, organized house, and have that clean slate.

I am weird. Yes.  I admit it. Perhaps it is the fact that I've been listening to Christmas music since November 1st?  Or that I've been watching Christmas movies since November 1st?  I don't know.  But today or tomorrow, Christmas is coming down ... sniff, sniff.


  • HAIR

My hair ... it's driving me crazy!  CRAZY!  CRAZY! I am keeping it short because, honestly, I don't have the patience for long hair, and my face looks better with shorter hair ... fat or otherwise.  I found a style that would keep my pixie cut, but, gulp, needed to be grown out a bit.  I had foolishly talked myself into the fact that it wouldn't take that long.  BIG mistake.  It is taking FOREVER, FOREVER, and in the meantime, I feel like I look maternally and frumpy.  My desire is to look hip and edgy.  Perhaps why I am not pulling it off is because I am neither hip nor edgy.  I'm a fourth grade teacher.  By our very nature, we're the antithesis of hip and edgy ...


  • JAMMIES UNTIL NOON
I have never spent two entire weeks in my pajamas until noon.  Never.  Work out clothes?  Yes.  Jammies?  No.   I have the past two weeks though, and Monday?  Monday is going to be cruel and unusual punishment.  Monday's 5 a.m. wake up call is NOT going to be pretty.  It just isn't.  Not one bit.  And this is the longest quarter of the school year ... no breaks ... no way to bolster one's need for rest and relaxation.  Oh, cruel and unusual punishment!

  • BATTLE OF THE BULGE
It's back on ... the battle and the bulge.  I have no excuses.  I am what I have been eating.  It's a sad state of affairs, but I refuse to allow my self-esteem to be attached to a number.  So, I will get back on the wagon and ride it, more than likely, slowly, over bumpy terrain, until I see some progress ... or not.  We'll just have to wait and see.  

  • PRESENTLY PRESENT
The doldrums of winter can get to a girl.  I refuse to let it this year.  I am going to rest on the positive.  I am going to seek more activity.  I am going to look for more ways to find relationships outside of my phone and computer and iPad and iPod.  I am going to be PRESENT.  Ugh!  I hate to even use that term, it's such a trendy word.  However, the truth intertwined in it is so important and so palpable.  It is so easy, in this time of our lives, to disconnect completely.  My goal this year is to really be present for each and every moment.  It goes by so quickly.  


Thursday, January 02, 2014

A HANGER CHALLENGE

A hanger what?  

Am I challenging my good readers to a duel with some unruly hangers?

Huh?

A while back, I read an article on the blog Living Well, Spending Less. The author had a closet stuffed full of clothes, and she felt like she never had anything to wear.  Immediately I was hooked, because, currently, that is the state of affairs in my closet.  Granted, part of my problem currently is that fact that I have, misguidedly, allowed myself permission to eat whatever and have, as a result, gained weight.  Something I plan to remedy, but more about that later.

This woman did a very radical thing.  She took a look at every piece of clothing in her closet, and if it didn't fit, was ill-fitting, old, torn/ripped/"holy," out of style, or something she no longer really wore but still hung on to, she took it out of her closet.

She purchased some really nice, nice hangers,fancy covered jobs, 40 of them to be exact, and she chose to put all of her most favorite, most used pieces in her closet.  Her rule:  40 hangers in the closet, that's it.

Now, I have to admit to you all, that after reading the full blog (you can find it here 40 Hanger Challenge), my response was, "Oh heck no!"

Actually, my response was a bit stronger than that, but my mom reads this, and she will shake her head and say, "I raised her better than this," so I will stick with Oh heck no!

I just couldn't imagine parting with any of the stuff in my closet, especially since I'd already gone through a closet purge and felt like I'd done a good job with it already.

But as I have come to realize, while pawing through my tired clothing options each morning, I have hung onto a lot of stuff because I might wear it or I might find something that will coordinate with it beautifully or I might like it again.

In the meantime, I am gathering new option ideas, filing them away in my mind's eye, as I continue to build-up my cardigan collection! So, why am I hanging on to all those clothes?

I opened my closet last night, and looked in.  I am there, folks.  I am on the precipice of radical change in the clothing department.  I am not sure I will pare it down to 40 hangers, but I am close to hauling it all out, putting things together to see what looks good, and pitching the rest.

More to come, but trust me when I tell you, a HANGER CHALLENGE is in the offing.

Let the New Year, Clean Slate begin!