I’m Still Here.

If you think I have been avoiding you…you’d be right. I’m sorry. I have been avoiding you. It’s not that I haven’t been trying to write. I have! There are any number of drafts sitting here, I promise you, but it has honestly been a real struggle this summer. A struggle to put my heart down into words. Now with the beginning of another school year looming, I am feeling way too vulnerable for my own liking. Things are spilling out way too easily, and it makes me feel even more out of control than I am in reality. I am feeling ALL the things right now.

I feel guilty for trying to rest this summer instead of doing the work to find another job. Attached to that is the sense of recklessness of even considering a different job when this one has so many “benefits” (read: life necessities). My guilt also extends into envy of those who have taken the plunge into new chapters outside of teaching. Envy of their faith, courage, attention to and action for their mental/emotional/physical health.

I am anxious as I have now entered into the enmity a small group of individuals who patently disagree with some of my stances as a teacher. I have said that I would be willing to lose my job over ensuring my classroom is an inclusive, welcoming space. Will I be indeed be called upon to do so? We shall see, I guess. So far the support and love have been loudest, but it doesn’t stop the anxiety.

I am tired from a summer that was quite busy with activity and ended with my spouse and I catching COVID and getting hit hard with it. Our vaccinations kept us out of hospital but we still had a rough time of it and are still in physical recovery mode after the fact.

I am nervous as I have new team members and a new principal to learn how to work with this year, as well as a new grade-level curriculum. So much to assimilate and implement. I am trying my best to take it one step at a time, though. Boundaries and work-life congruence have always been a struggle for me, and I have been trying to improve that. Trying not to be overwhelmed can be overwhelming in itself, however.

In some ways, I feel as though I wasted these weeks, the time I could have devoted to writing. I did serve myself by reading a fair bit, though, a good mix of new and familiar books that proved a safe hiding place for my soul. But I do miss the words flowing out of my pen and keyboard. I miss insights and contemplations blooming in my mind and then pouring out in a way that I can understand. That’s a large part of the difficulty lately, I think: understanding my own thoughts. I struggle to explain, struggle to write, struggle to understand me. So here I am, babbling on as honestly as I can even though it may not make a great deal of sense.

I haven’t given up writing, dear readers, but it is hard right now. I will keep trying, keep working to understand my own heart and mind. So much has happened and changed over the last few years that often I feel like a person I do not recognize or know, and it’s been a long time since I felt that way. It’s a struggle, yes, but I shall keep trying. Keep going. Keep stepping. Keep breathing. I’m still here.

A single rose bloom still hanging on after a fierce summer storm that broke apart entire trees.

BloPoMo Day 4: “Choosing Grace in the Hard Places”

Grace is not some beatific blessing borne down to us on angel’s wings. No. Grace is and will always be a choice, just as love is a choice. Every. Single. Day. We have to choose grace over bitterness, and sometimes that is hard. Very hard. Some days, grace, forgiveness, love…these are all hard. Sometimes they really are choices: grit-your-teeth, determination-over-motivation, lace-up-your-gloves-and-punch-above-your-weight choices.

When we are hurting, when something has bumped into our happy (or outright shattered it), that choice can be the hardest to make. We want to feel angry, we want to sit and stew in our hurt and bitterness, but choosing to give grace requires us to act outside of our feelings. As Lysa TerKeurst so wisely put it, “Our feelings are indicators not dictators, child.” We can definitely feel a particular way and do no wrong in the feeling of it but that in no way means that we have to act out of those feelings.

I was once in a situation where it would have been ridiculously easy for me to allow myself to be cold, unkind, and resentful towards some people who (had I allowed my view to skew this far) I could have looked at as “furtherers” of my misery. However, I stopped and thought about them, about the reality of those feelings and ideas. Those poor people would have had no idea as to the cause behind my attitude change towards them. They would have been confused and most likely hurt. The truth was that they had not wronged me in any way; they just happened to stumble into a difficult situation that I was experiencing at the time. These people had never been anything but kind to me and I knew, in my heart’s core, that treating them in any other way would have been wrong. They had not wronged me and so I would not treat them though they had. I would not come unglued and let irrational emotions boss me out of grace. I made a choice. In thinking through and choosing my actions, I then found it a little easier to extend grace to the actual people with whom I was in conflict.

Grace can be hard. Grace can go against every tenet of self-preservation that is built into our cells. That’s why it is a choice. And choices are not made for the easy moments. Choices are made for the challenging times. For the times when we ground ourselves in what we believe and act out of that belief, whatever it may be. Choices are made for those times when situations are difficult, people are stubborn or just downright nasty, and when our hearts are breaking and anger swells. That is when choices are the most important. When we determine to look past what we feel and decide how we will act. When we choose to consider the probability of another’s pain out of which they may have acted. So often, pain is inflicted by those who are in the midst of it rather than it really having anything to do with the person on the receiving end. This is where grace comes in. Grace for the hard times. Grace for the hard people. Grace is ever the better choice than bitterness. We can choose loving grace, even when anger makes us want to lash out in cruelty or when fear makes us want to cower. But it will not be done for us. We must make the choice.

Take it from a courageous woman who ran off with a crotchety Scotsman in a blazing blue police box:



I Choose…

Today has been a bit of a sucky day. It’s rare that I want to admit that in public because, to me, it sounds suspiciously like complaining, whether it actually is or not. But today has been one of those days. I haven’t had the motivation (though I have had the desire) to do any substantial writing (even journaling) over the past few days. I know that, sometimes, you just have to treat things like a job: do it, get it done, get off your desk. But even that couldn’t persuade me to put fingers to keys or pen to paper the past few days or encourage me when what I did try to write fell flat and lifeless. Add into it that I haven’t felt my best the past few days, and it sends the rest of me spiraling down.

I’m weary, unmotivated to do the housework that needs doing. I want to be sleeping but can’t bring myself to climb into bed alone. I want time to myself but, at the same time, I am lonely. I want to be cuddled and comforted, but I cringe to have my daughter right at my hip or using me as a tumbling mat as she did all morning. I want to sit in a quiet, dark room, but I feel like, if I do, I’ll burst into tears.

And yet, in all of this and sundry other things that have gone on this week, I find myself brought back again and again to the idea represented by these quotes:

“Feelings are an indicator of where we might be in a moment but they DO NOT need to dictate our actions.” – Lysa TerKeurst

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

I can choose my next moment. I can choose what I do next, and I can choose the attitude with which I react to the moments that threaten to unglue me. I might feel low to the ground right now, but I do not have to act like it. I might feel sucky and lonely and irritable, but it doesn’t mean that I have to lash out and be vitriolic to those around me. I have been blessed by friends and dear ones who have endeavored to give me smiles and encourage me today, even amidst their own lives and difficult moments, and, for that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, friends.

No, today is not the best day. It’s tiring and hard. I want to do something good for my soul, however, so I am going to go and find what that is and do it. Thank you for reading.

Pretty Unmentionables Day

There are days that just require pretty underthings. I don’t know how much you think on or even agree with this but it is true for me, at least. There are days when I feel so down about my body (even though I am working hard to be happy with it again) that the only thing that makes me feel better about the physical me is wearing pretty underwear. Today, it was a lacy navy bra from Victoria’s Secret and a lovely, cheeky pair of purple panties with navy-blue hearts and trimmed with matching lace. One of those underwear sets that, though you don’t buy them together, end up being just perfect for each other and for you. Today was a necessary Pretty Unmentionables Day, though, of course, now I’ve mentioned them. Oops!

Honestly, I am unhappy with my body right now. I don’t like the way I look from sternum to thigh. And it bothers me greatly because, just one month ago, I thought I looked quite good and I felt all around. I am not sure what in my routine has changed since then but, yeah, not happy right now. So it’s time to step up the working out and going back to watching what I eat more carefully. I want to be healthy and strong, and feel good about myself, but, right now, I don’t. So that needs to change, but change doesn’t happen in 24 hours. So I needed a Pretty Unmentionables Day.

There come times when we all just need a _______ Day. That day where we do what we can to feel better or to give negative feelings and attitudes the middle finger and go on with our day in spite of them. A dear friend of mine has Pretty Lipstick Day when she’s feeling down and I have participated in that a few times. Uniting is good, especially when it is a union in defiance of negativity. I didn’t feel great about myself today as I dressed but, all day, I remembered that underneath my jeans and top, though no one else saw (OK, so I showed the husband when he came home), I was wearing pretty, lacy underthings. Underthings that made me feel alluring and, in my eyes, made me look quite good, which was the entire point.

Don’t be afraid to take your ___________ Day, whatever it might be that you do for yourself and just for yourself. It can be something obvious or something that you hold as just your own little secret. We all need those days every now and again, the days when we pick ourselves up, brush off, and decide that there will be at least one bright spot in our minds and hearts that day. And it can still do us good, even if no one else knows about it.

No Words

A full heart but an empty mouth.

Thoughts swirl and build and fill, but the words necessary to express them just aren’t there.

Maybe they do not exist yet, words with the exact meaning to convey such thought.

Maybe they do exist but in a language I do not know.

Would I understand them if I heard them? Would I take them to heart and make them mine?

The Fallacy of “I Don’t Care”

“I don’t care.”

It’s an expression of apathy, a defense against responsibility, against hurt, against the unknown. We learn it as children, as a layer of armor against something we don’t want to do or say or deal with. “You’ll lose your playing time.” “I don’t care.”

“I don’t care” is a lie. We say it to convince others when the person we are trying to convince is ourselves. It’s a lie, words that need not be said if they are true. I say it because it isn’t true. I say it because I do care. I say it because my heart is breaking. I say it because I don’t want to cry. I say it because I’m angry. I say it because I am trying to be brave. I say it because I think I’m supposed to.  I say it because I don’t know how to feel. I say it because I’m helpless to do anything else but say it.

But it’s a lie. I do care. Madame Vastra’s statement is probably apropos here: “Truth is singular, lies are words, words, words.”

Ghosts of Talent Past

I saw a vision of myself dancing last night. Granted, a self five or six years younger  with twice the grace and talent. So…a vision of me as I would have wished to be, I guess.

Several years ago, I was at the height of my bellydance fervor – at least five hours of classes/troupe practice per week, daily practice, frequent performances, including at large conventions. And I loved it. I was good at it. I looked good doing it. I loved it. Then life set in, my goals and hobbies changed, and that was not quite so important anymore. Now, after having had a baby and been majorly out of the scene for over a year, I just went to my first hafla as a performer. It was…disappointing. I was nervous about dancing. I tried my best but didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, didn’t feel as sassy, beautiful, or graceful as I used to. As I drove home in silence, I just felt sort of…ill. It was no one’s fault. Everyone was great; from Zhenna, who taught my class so wonderfully, to all the other dancers that I reconnected with, albeit briefly. No, it was no one’s fault.

It was me. I felt disappointed. I felt less. Dancing didn’t make me happy like it used to. I didn’t feel lovely, like I used to. I felt like I had let myself down somehow. Perhaps, as far as dancing, it’s time for me to step away from performance entirely and just concentrate on the fitness aspect of the dance.

In Friendship and Loneliness

Author’s Note: This is…well, I don’t really know how to explain this post. But it is an attempt at honesty on my part. Not shaming, not condemning, nothing like that. It’s just something that I need to purge from my soul. No one is under any obligation to read it.

= = =

The Holiday Season is a time of joy and family and friends and all of that wonderful stuff. But it also one of the easiest seasons in which to feel loneliness pressing in. That feeling of being alone in the crowd. That’s kind of where I am right now.

This is me feeling lonely. A lot of my formerly really close friendships just aren’t that close anymore due to distance, life changes, etc., and I know that’s a part of life and the passage of time. But I also feel that some of my current friendships are just incidental and not as close or meaningful as I’d like them to be, though I feel like I’m trying very hard. That may just be my view, however, and maybe, when viewed from the outside, I could very well be wrong; but I really feel like I’m trying. I don’t want grade school friendships anymore, friendships that have a ceiling that is, when all is said and done, inconsequential and not rooted in understanding, honesty, or something meaningful. It’s just…loneliness. I know that probably sounds selfish and childish but it’s just where my head is right now.

I personally hate it when I’m blindsided by this because then I just can’t shake it, which why I’m here right now. So, that being said, if you’re not interested, you don’t have to stick around and read the rest of this post. But, if you feel like this, I want you to know that you aren’t really alone, at least not in feeling the way you do.

In all honesty, it’s just hard to feel like I reach and reach and reach and then have to just sit and wait. To give people their space, give them the chance to reach back, and all that. But, the longer I wait, the less I’m convinced that people actually care. That may be really mean but that’s what was in my head when I woke up this morning.  You know, when I actually think about it honestly, I know that there are people who care, who love me, and who reach out to me. But, when I get deep into my own head and heart like this, it just feels like the not’s overwhelm everything else.  I try to keep this in mind: that a good number of my friends have a similar temperament to my own and we tend to retreat inward rather than reach out. It might be for fear of rejection or, maybe ever more the worse, of silence. I try to remember that and be understanding/empathetic of it and patient.

I know that, all things considered, my personal situation is, in some ways, much easier than that of some of my friends, at least currently (at least in terms of time,  work, and the like), and I try to keep that in mind, too, when I start to spiral. Sometimes the perspective helps, but sometimes not. Feelings are sometimes not so easily banished by logic. At the same time, however, I don’t want to chance annoying people by being constantly there at their hip, figuratively speaking, and bugging them or something. I know that other people have very busy lives of their own and, even while I do want some attention (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t) and to feel important, I often feel guilty for being just one more thing to deal with at times. I know that probably most of my friends and the people I know would say that I’m not ‘just one more thing’ but tell that to my psyche, which has an awful lot of time on its hands sometimes.

It is honestly hard for me to go out and make friends of my own sometimes. It’s a vulnerability that makes me nervous and, frankly, scared. A goodly portion of my current friend-base I have met through my husband, at least over the past few years. Yes, there are a few exceptions. Because of that, however, I sometimes feel a little peripheral. (I don’t blame him. He is pretty awesome, kind of why I married him, you know.) I know that it’s probably not entirely true but it’s how it feels sometimes.

In short, I think and feel a lot and I don’t always like it or know how to put it into words. (And sometimes I put it into way too many words.) And, even though I may feel so, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way every now and again. So…whoever you are, wherever you are, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone, however you may feel it. Don’t give up. Cry if you need to. Vent, scream, talk, write. But don’t give up. Keep reaching, keep trying, keep being brave and vulnerable. There are people who care for you, people who feel for you, love you, and think you valuable. There are people who will reach back, as I am being reminded today. And thank you.