Contemplative Question

To my future self,

I am writing today, March 31, 2017, because I am truly wondering what the answer is to this question.  Have we moved so far to the right or left that there is no room for the independent, middle thinking voter/candidate?  I have been contemplating this idea for the past few weeks.  You see, in December I filed paperwork to run for my local school board.  I have always thought myself more democrat than republican.  Saying that, if I look at the larger picture, I am currently staunchly in the middle.  I agree with some aspects and ideas of both sides.  This question stems from my struggles over the past few months to “win” endorsements.  The local conservative group has thrown their support behind 4 other candidates, all of whom have spoken of more conservative ideas.  The local liberal group has thrown their support behind these same 4 people.  Which leaves me befuddled and wondering.  I speak of having an educator’s background (so does 2 of the 4 that have support from these groups).  I speak of owning my own small business and maintaining fiscal responsibility (as does the other 2 of the 4 that have support from these groups).  I do not make knee-jerk reactions, or split second decisions.  Instead I choose to view the world through discussion and experience. I choose to contemplate and listen to both sides of a discussion.  I would think this would make me a stronger candidate.  But when I find myself feeling like an outsider, seeing others endorsed for the same beliefs I hold, and watching “newspapers” print information that I know is completely false, because I am living my life and know what is true and not true, I begin to wonder exactly how this political process works.  If the same 4 people are endorsed by far right and far left groups, has the narrative changed so much that there is no room for someone in the middle who is independent.  Is this what a true “independent” has become?  The election is April 4th.  In the grand scheme of things, whether elected or not, I will still attend board meetings, I will still be active in my child’s school, I will still ask questions and choose discussion over reaction.  I will take all that I have learned and apply it to my daily interactions.  I have joined groups on Facebook to stay more apprised of current thoughts and ideas and I will attend their meetings because I see value in these groups.  I see value in conservative ideas and liberal ideas.  Yet I wonder.   What will happen in the next few years? Does anyone else see value in an opposing viewpoint?  Have we moved so far to the right or left that there is no room for the independent, middle thinking voter/candidate?

Sincerely and Thoughtfully yours,

Your current self

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Still Waiting

A few years back I wrote a post about waiting for my turn to head off to Master’s Camp.  For those who don’t know, I left teaching 2 years ago to work full time in our family business.  We own a Martial Arts studio.  I traded teaching reading, writing, and math for teaching self-advocacy, self-confidence, and character development (along with kicking and punching).  Teaching has never left my life.  I run our after school program and get to see all the marvelous things my fellow educators are doing in the classroom.  I get to engage with students about how wonderful school is, outside of the classroom setting.  I get to encourage them to never give up, to fail forward, to try and try again.  And now I find myself at a crossroads again.  I am 2 people.  I am the martial artist striving to be a better individual.  I am the educator, knowing that I don’t know enough.

Over the years I have seen and trained with many different people.  When I started, I was in the back of the room.  We line up by rank: highest rank goes first, lowest rank is in the back.  Over the course of my 16+ years of training, many people have started, some have stayed and some have left, some even came back after some time.  I have slowly moved up the ranks, moving closer to the front of the line.  Until today.

My husband left this morning for Master’s Camp.  He is testing for his 4th degree master’s rank this weekend.  It is not an easy or quick process.  He will test again next year at this time as well.  The thing that leaves me contemplative and thoughtful this morning is this: he is the person in line ahead of me.  He achieved his rank one year prior to me achieving mine.  Which means that if he went this year, I could be going next year.  This is both frightening and exciting.  He and I share everything.  We work together, raise a family together, support each other, and push each other.  But in this, I have kept quiet.  I want to share my feelings about what it means for me (selfishly) that he is going.  I want to analyze what will happen to me as an individual within our martial arts world.  I want the conversation to be about me, about feeling left out, about when he thinks my time will come, yet I have held back. This is his time.  He gets to go and experience this first. (Admittedly, I am a bit jealous.)   And I am here at home, waiting for my invitation to this camp.  It may come next year, or it may come in three years.  That is the thing, you won’t know when you are tapped to be invited.  Until then, I will teach the classes, run the after school program, take care of our kids, and wait……and wait for my time to join him.

Sit still, look pretty

Every time this song comes on the radio I feel empowered.  I am not the type of person to sit around and do nothing.  Yes, I can spend a Sunday doing nothing except for odd tasks and playing video games with my kids, but for the most part I am a busy person.  I was talking with fellow PTA moms and leaders last Friday and I call us yes-ers, the people who say yes to doing anything and everything.  Some things I have said yes to:

negotiating the teacher’s contract, being president of the union, subbing for after school tutoring, opening our small business, being our accountant, being president of my kids’ school PTA, yearbook chair, running regional tournaments for our karate association, keeping attendance records for our regional workouts, board of education strategic plan committee, running for school board (election is April 4th) and other miscellaneous things like field trips, outings, projects, etc.

I think it is hard-wired into my DNA to just say Yes.  When I was growing up we learned to “Just say No to Drugs.”  I think I needed to learn the lesson of “Just say No to extra stuff.”  All the volunteer activities, committees, and extra fun stuff mixed with the required day-to-day events like work and school make me appreciate lazy Sundays more.  Like yesterday.  Nothing planned.  Kids had a sleepover and friends were going home.  All I had to do was laundry and pick up my daughter’s glasses.  So Paul and I decided to install cabinets and shelves in the laundry room.  Why not, when you have nothing to do?  May as well keep busy, and cross one more project off the list.  Since I always seem to say “yes” to things, we fixed the laundry room.  But on a lazy Sunday, we can do this project at our own pace.  We took time to hang out with the kids, grocery shop, and pick up those glasses.  We didn’t start the project until almost 3pm (which for us is VERY late).  There is no need to rush on a lazy Sunday, but also no need to sit still, and look pretty.

How to Torture your Husband

Yesterday we decided to defrost the mini-fridge.  Our mini-fridge is technically my husband’s domain. It holds all the beer for him because I don’t actually like beer.  He subscribes to the theory that “all beer is good, some beer is better.”  In our mini-fridge he has at least 10 different types of beer to choose from on any given night.  But this is a slice for another day.

Yesterday we decided to defrost the mini-fridge. Paul, my husband, decided to put all the beer in shopping bags next to the space for the fridge. Since it was so nice out last night, we moved the fridge to the deck so the ice in the freezer could melt out there, instead of in our house on our hardwood floors.

Today the fridge was ready to come back in.  He wiped it clean and we plugged it in.  He left to go grocery shopping (something I have proven unable to do time and time again) and I stayed behind to prepare for the day.  I took it upon myself to restock the beer fridge. Bottles, cans, soda and beer all found their rightful place back in the fridge.  Only I neglected to turn it on.

This evening Paul went for a beer out of the now defrosted and cleaned mini-fridge.  Only his beer was warm and the fridge was off.  As he put it: I am “sweet and a torturous witch, all at the same time.”  I guess I won’t have to do this job ever again either.  Now if I could just find a way to get out of doing the laundry. 🙂

Peace of toast

My daughter is sick.  Not just sick, but SICK.  She has pneumonia and it makes her miserable, especially as the day goes on.  She wakes up somewhat refreshed, but as the day goes on her fever goes up, she coughs more, and she naps more.

My daughter also got a phone for christmas.  It was a truly coveted item that she had been asking for for quite sometime and it has come in handy during this illness.

“Mom, can you come switch out my movie?” she texts me.

“Mom, may you get me some spirit in an straw cup?” she texts me which I think meant sprite.

“Mom, can you bring me a blanket?” she texts me while laying in my bed surrounded by blankets.

“Mom, can I have a peace of toast?” she texts me. (I really need to work on this kids spelling.)

When I was a kid, I had to yell hoarsely, or ring a bell for my mom to come and do all these things.  She sends me texts.  Modern times call for modern methods.

“Thank you for taking care of me.” She texts me.  Anytime kiddo, anytime.

Dad Machine

This past weekend we had another karate tournament to attend.  My children have grown up around them.  They know the rules.  Keep your stuff together, don’t enter the ring, play with your friends, and follow all directions because if you don’t everyone in that gym knows who you are.

During these tournaments, my children roam free.  They can find me at the head table at any time.  And I know that one call over the microphone will bring them running to me.  Most likely they are in a corner playing with friends, or watching others compete.  But this weekend we have graduated to getting our own snacks.

I was walking the gym, making sure things were running smoothly and I found my son.  My wonderful, friendly, comedic son was sitting with a friend eating twizzlers (at 10 am).  I asked him where he got the twizzlers, hoping to return the favor of shared snacks to another family.

“from the vending machine.”  (This cannot be good).  Now I wonder which mom or dad I owe money to for allowing my son to purchase said snack.

“Where did you get the money for the twizzlers?”

“From the dad machine.”  And he breaks out in giggles and runs to tell his father what he said.

The rest of the day was kind of like that, moments of hilarity, definite camaraderie.

And my son was the happiest because he got money from the “dad machine.”

Differences

This past weekend was mother’s day.  I am a mother of 2.  I love my children.  I love my mother.  I even love my mother-in-law.  But I find myself growing more unhappy with the expectations placed on holidays.  Mother’s day, Father’s day, Valentine’s day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Sweetest day, etc.  I don’t need a holiday to spend time with my family.  I don’t need breakfast in bed, or presents under the tree.  I just need a happy family, food on the table, laughs and love around.  My mom, however, needs something else, something more.

My Mom is an interesting person.  My kids are beginning to pick up on this fact.  I try to shield them as much as possible, but they know.  They know she has VERY different view points.  They know she talks all about the other grandkids more than them.  They know she loves them, but they also know that there is something missing in their relationship with her.  She doesn’t understand them and they pick up on this fact.  My daughter is creative.  She loves tap dance and musicals and drawing and singing.  My mom and dad attend all her plays but will talk about how my niece was playing dress up the other day before or after the play.  This is my daughter’s moment, not my nieces.  My son is a typical 2nd grade boy.  He loves to run, play soccer, and shoot at things with make-believe weapons.  He is a comedian, and a sensitive soul all in one.  My mom and dad went to his soccer game this past weekend and spent the first 10 minutes or so talking about my nephew’s soccer season and how his team was comprised of all different ages.  They have never seen my kids compete in a karate tournament, even when they dropped them off one time after spending the night.  I was competing at the time and they could have stayed to see that, but I got the stand-by excuse of yard work, or laundry that needed to be done.

I, myself, have always been different.  I am more likely to do things myself, to not ask for help, to not take opinions, than I am to reach out.  I have always aligned myself more with my father than my mother.  And this is where the crux of the problem lies.  I do not have a “best friend” in my mother.  Instead I view her as opinionated and negative.  She has said that she supports decisions I have made, yet her actions show that she doesn’t.  She tells me she is proud of me, yet has not stopped by my business to see how it has grown.  I ran downtown this weekend with a friend.  She asked me what the race supported.  When I told her breast cancer, her response was that all the money I paid in race fees went to the corporation and not to actual research.  Way to put a positive spin on it.  She has never asked me if she could join.  To be fair I have never asked her to join.  I haven’t because I don’t want to hear the complaints of how far she has to walk, or how bad the weather is, or how she doesn’t want to drive in the city.  So I don’t ask.

When I was  growing up she was a stay at home mom.  She was always there to get us off the bus, to make a snack, to be the girl scout leader and PTA president.  For someone like me, as I got older, it became stifling instead of friendly.  She had to know where I was at all times, who I was with, what I was doing.  I craved freedom.  I craved carving my own path.  So I began rebelling.  I did not rebel in a drugs and alcohol way.  I rebelled by staying out 10 minutes past curfew.   I rebelled by choosing a college far from home so she couldn’t stop by.  I rebelled by sticking to my choices no matter how difficult the road was because I was not going to hear “I told you so.”

So on this past Mother’s Day I find myself not enjoying myself as much as I could.  I was ill, yes, but that is not where this stems from.  This stems from trying to have a woman who should be my biggest supporter understand my perspective on things.  If you support me, come and see what you support.  If you are proud of me, then come over and be proud of me.  Don’t leave early or make excuses as to why you can’t stay.  Moms are suppose to be our best friends, but what do you do when your mom drives you crazy and doesn’t like anything you stand for?  What do you do when your mom judges how you mother your kids because you allow more freedom than she would?  How do you share that with her without hurting her feelings?  I choose to just smile and nod when talking with her and encourage my own kids individuality and decision making.  Hoping that I do something right so that my daughter, and son, will have a “best friend” in me.

Waiting

Have you ever wanted something, and yet the idea of having that something is terrifying?  Today this idea was at the forefront of my thoughts.  I want to be there, yet am terrified of what that means.  I feel ready yet know that no matter how much I prepare I will never be ready.  I am not worthy of the honor yet want someone to say that I am.

As I struggle with my own self-confidence I continually watch Facebook.  Many of my friends are there enjoying themselves, learning, training, being part of the “family.”  I am here living through pics and status updates….waiting….waiting…waiting….

For that day that someone else says I am worthy to attend.

For that letter to arrive in the mail saying I need to be there too.

For that moment when I finally feel that my skills are good enough to join them.

But then the waiting is just part of the journey as well.

Until then I will be here, sharpening my skills, teaching my students, growing my studio, and working on myself both inside and out.  So that when the day comes that I get my invitation to Master’s Camp, I will feel worthy or ready or honored or scared out of my mind or a combination of all of these and much more.

But until then I will be waiting….and learning….and sharpening…..and growing….and waiting…..

Boom!! Crash!!

Greeting a friend at the door.  Welcoming their son for a sleepover.  Boys run off to play.  Adults make idle chit chat.  Everyone know the way of parent drop off.  Today we add something different.

We begin by discussing the new patio.  “Did you put in locking sand yet?”

“Why no.  Because it is raining, it would have not worked properly. Would you like to see the new patio?”

Very mundane conversation.  We walk out of the house discussing village requirements and where we will put the fire pit.  And then…..

BOOM!! CRASH!! SHATTER!! BANG!!!

We both have the same look.  “What the H3!! was that?”  It came from the garage.  I already knew it would be difficult to figure out what the sound was because our garage is filled with stuff….stuff from the move….stuff from construction….tool stuff….garden stuff…..you name I probably have it stuff.  I wasn’t sure what stuff had fallen over. Wheelbarrow? 2×4’s? Old windows? Table saw?  What could have possibly have created such a ruckus?

Imagine my surprise when I got in the garage and saw the entire wall of hung cabinets laying on the floor.  They were full of screws and nuts and bolts and nails and small tools and lightbulbs and paint supplies and oil and sealer and Paul only knows what else.  He and I had hung those cabinets making sure to attach them to the studs.  Apparently I need better studs.  I’ll have to ask him to find me some when he gets home.

No Stranger

He is no stranger to hard work.  And because of him, neither am I.  As I sit here and listen to the whirl of the chop saw, I feel just a little guilty.  Guilty that I stayed in bed for a while longer to read.  Guilty that I took the time to sort through the stack of mail at my desk.  Guilty that I stopped to eat breakfast.  But I also helped the last 3 days, moving gravel, setting stone, sweating, and building muscles.  Maybe I have earned an extra hour (or 2).

He is no stranger to hard work.  Because of that our walkway is almost done.  As I sit here typing up this thought, I wonder if I can time it out just right to walk out as the last brick is laid.  And then i remember that we still have all the gravel to move for the patio next.  And then those bricks to lay.  And then the packing sand to push in-between.  And then the pots to plant and place out to make the warm, red brick paver stones feel even more welcoming.

He is no stranger to hard work.  And neither am I.  The whirl of the saw is calling me to go out and help before he feels he has done it all.