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

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.

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.

M & M’S

I love M & M’s.  The plain, chocolatey goodness as they crunch in my mouth.  But I am one of those strange people.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The person who can’t just pop a handful in their mouth and start enjoying the taste.  Nope.  Not I.  I eat them by color.  I recognize that they all taste the same, but I still color code my M & M’s.  Blue, Brown, Red, Yellow, Orange, Green.

I start with Blue because I don’t like it as an M & M.  I still remember when they had tan ones and how angry I was that the color changed (even though I didn’t like the tan color).  I love the color blue, but it is just wrong to have blue M & M’s.

I end with Green because of the commercials.  You know the ones where the kid would ace his spelling test, or hit a home run because he ate a green M & M.  The color has no bearing on my successes or failures, yet I always end in green just to have a little luck.

Yes I am strange, however, I have come to realize that there are more of me out there.  The people who separate out candy or fruit snacks.  The people who have to sit in the same spot at the dinner table.  I have other specific dietary needs that must be met, fruit snacks eaten in a particular order, food on my plate not touching, etc.  M & M’s are just what I am enjoying right now.

Last Year, This Year

Last Year:  I went to school to teach all day.

This Year:  I get to take my kids to school every day.

Last Year:  I hung out with teachers and students, smiling and laughing, learning and growing.

This Year:  I hang out with my husband, laughing and smiling, working and growing.

Last Year: I went from teaching reading, writing, and math to teaching martial arts and self-control.

This Year: I teach my kids how to be better people and still teach martial arts and self-control.

Last Year:  I lived in a different house, filled with memories, familiar creaks, and known issues.

This Year:  I live in a rental, furiously finishing the “House of Horrors” that we purchased last October.

Last Year: Things were certain.  I knew my place in the world.  I understood what was happening around me.

This Year:  Family is certain.  Rentals are temporary.  I am in control of what is happening around me.

This Year has brought many changes to my life.  I took a much needed leave of absence to take control of my home life.  I am back to actively working on my relationship with my husband, rather than short, “let’s catch up” conversations.  I am planning rather than reacting, thinking rather than doing, seizing moments rather than watching them through someone else’s eyes.  I am more centered, more thoughtful, more the person I am suppose to be instead of the person I have been.  I look forward to each day, instead of just trying to get through each day.  I sit here and realize just how deep I was drowning, how heavy the weight on my shoulders was.  Now the weight is lifted (not gone), I am treading water, and the shore is in sight.  Projects are getting finished, time is mine again, and I can make each day my own.  I haven’t written reflectively since last March, but plan to continue.  I have all these plans that, last year, I would never have even verbalized.  This year, I can put pen to paper, and turn plans into actions.  I can breathe in the fresh air, walk my dogs, laugh with my kids, and finally find peace in my awesomely busy life (at least in this moment anyway).

#awesome

My daughter ran her first 5K this past mother’s day.  She knows that a friend and I have run this race every year for the past 5 years and this year she wanted to join us.  It was a horrible weather day–rainy, cold, windy.  It was not a run downtown type of day at all and if it hadn’t have been for her, I may have just skipped this run entirely.  But downtown we went.

As we were walking from the car to the park, in the rain, my darling daughter is bouncing and laughing.  She is gushing about how great this is going to be, and how much fun she will have.  “#awesome!!!” was her phrase for this day.  She is loving this.  She can’t wait to run with her mom.  She doesn’t mind the rain, the cold, the wind—but she does mind that I am moving to slow.  “Hurry up mom!! We are going to miss it!!

She lines up with me and wants to hold my hand as we run.  Not happening my dearest because mom can’t run with one hand.  So she runs beside me, laughing and giggling as more rain falls in our faces.  She doesn’t leave my side until mile 1, at which point she loudly proclaims–“I’m hungry, when’s breakfast?”

After mile 1 she has begun to loosen up.  The crowd of runners has thinned and she feels safe jogging a few paces ahead and then waiting for us to “catch up.”  This has become her game, run ahead, wait, laugh, run ahead, wait, laugh.  At one point during the run ahead, she has turned around and is running backwards, looking at me, taunting me.  “Pick up the pace mom!!”

And then we reach the finish.  Only in this race, you have to pass the finish on the left, go up the street, around the block, and back to the finish.  Weird I know, but definitely motivates you because you are so close to being done.  It is at this point that she starts talking about breakfast again.  What food she will order, whether they have a kids menu, how long it will take to get the food, how it will be dry in the restaurant because it has been raining the whole run.  And through it all she giggles and laughs and races ahead. “First one across the finish line orders breakfast first!!”

She won.  She ran the entire 5K in the rain and cold, laughing and giggling, hanging out with me and my friend.  #awesome

I wish, I dream, I change

I wish I had a million dollars.

I dream of financial freedom, bills paid, houses owned, retirement in the bank.

I CHANGE the number of times I head to Starbucks, buy a new pair of shoes, or go to the movies.

 

I wish I had an extra hour or two in the day

I dream of more time to do the things I want to do.

I CHANGE my day, my to-do list, my priorities to get the most out of the time I have.

 

I wish I was thinner, fitter, stronger.

I dream of fitting into the smaller clothes hanging in my closet.

I CHANGE what I eat, when I eat, and how I exercise to get there.

 

I wish to be better than I am–a better writer, a better listener, a better friend, a better mom, a better wife.

I dream of happiness and no stress, projects done, a life moving at an easy pace.

I CHANGE my direction, my goals, my ideas and embrace gratitude, guidance, and love.

 

Dreams are fluid, change is difficult, and wishes won’t get you anywhere.  Knowing what you dream and embracing the change it takes to get there is half the battle to achieving your dreams.

Unexpected Gift

Those who know me, truly know me, know how absolutely hectic and crazy my life is.  Burned out house waiting on permit (we may have one this week, FINALLY!!), co-teaching students with special needs in inclusive classroom settings, followed by teaching karate two or three classes a night and Saturday mornings.  Get up at 5:30, leave the house at 7:00, work, karate, home by 8:00 at night, kids to bed, finally sitting on my couch by 9:15, only to fight sleep because couch sleeping is not the best sleeping.  Intersperse this with random extra things like play practice for my oldest, play dates for the youngest, extra workouts or belt testing for karate and I basically have guaranteed that I will develop attention deficit-hyper activity disorder.  But then blessings come in unexpected places.

The kids are on spring break this week (mine is next week).  Yet my husband still got up with me and made my breakfast like he always does.  He went grocery shopping with the kids and bought my lunch for tomorrow and he sent me a text.  Simply put it said “I expect classes tonight to be small what with spring break and all.  Go home after school and enjoy the quiet house.  I have the kids at the studio.”  And enjoy it I did.  I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.  I ran a load of laundry.  I walked on my treadmill for an hour and watch home improvement shows (my newest addiction even though I am living a real life one).  I read my book and talked with my mom.  I paid some bills.  I accomplished a lot, but it was at my pace, not the frantic, everyday pace I am living.  And now it is late and usually I would be tired right now, but instead I am grateful.  I am grateful for the unexpected gift I was granted just because I got to go home early.

Things to never lose

Today’s slice was inspired by my daughter.  After celebrating her birthday with family today, she realized that she lost a gift card that we gave her last week.  This got me thinking of all the things you shouldn’t lose. If I missed one, or you can think of another, please add to the list.

Things you should never lose:

Money, Credit Cards, Wallet, Gift Cards, Paycheck, Christmas Money, Checkbook, Homework, Permission Slips, Progress Reports, Doctor’s Notes, Passport, Your Kids, Yourself, Sanity, Free time, Happiness, Love.