Blogtober 19th: For reasons not to blog

October 19, 2014

I’ve skipped two days of blogging, and I’m really happy and fine about it.  Today I find myself grateful for reasons not to blog.

What do I mean?

Well, Friday night I didn’t blog because I went out to dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen or even talked to in over a year.  When I ran into her at a district-wide training event on Monday, we had a massive hug and promised to schedule a get-together before October ended.  We did better than that–we scheduled it and saw it through before the week even ended.

We had dinner, drinks, talk, and uproarious laughter…for seven hours.  And it only felt like two or three.  It was amazing and fun.  And we’re shooting to do it again in November.

I didn’t blog on Friday, and I am grateful for the reason why.

Saturday night I didn’t blog either.  This occurred because I started working on a piece about my late grandmother, and I found my second wind, was blessed with a burst of energy and words.  I wrote over 2400 words, and I’m not going to look that gift horse in the mouth.

I didn’t blog last night, and I’m grateful for the reason why.

Gratitude practice is truly one of the best ways I know of to keep my perspective right-sized and well-aimed.  In the past, I might have beaten myself up for not blogging one or two nights of my self-imposed challenge.  What a waste of energy that would have been.  I am so grateful for the ability to enjoy what moments and experiences and gifts Providence puts in my pathway.

And this blog post is being generated in a small slice of available time, and I am off to meet another writer friend for catch-up and conversation.  Ciao.  I hope you are able to spot and enjoy the gifts in your own pathway this week.

Blogtober 16th: The Balancing Continues

October 16, 2014

The universe-corrections continue.  The balance continues to strive for its own restoration.

Today I stressed out literally the whole day over finishing my prep work for a live discussion I needed to facilitate for my online class.  It’s only the third one I’ve done.  My stomach was in knots all day.  Add to that the news that a dearly beloved colleague of mine–the one I finally get to collaborate with for my AP class, after almost a decade of soloing it–is going to take a special administrative assignment for the entirety of second quarter, and now I get to “collaborate with” a long-term sub.  (It’s a good opportunity for him, but oh my God….) (That last was a prayer, by the way.)  I’m drowning in grading backlog, and the quarter ends next Friday.  (No pressure…)

But then it was cooler today–in the upper mid-70s rather than the 80s or worse, and that was respite.  The clouds this morning were beautiful, with sunny God-rays piercing the cloud cracks.  I got my powerpoint finished, and the discussion went off without any real glitches.  I overplanned for it, which means I already have a starting point for next week.  Good lunchtime conversations with colleagues were decompressing (nothing like discussing the merits of cloth vs. disposable diapers, or potty training your kids to pee on trees, or how to make your lawn flourish by trying to kill it…using clear plastic rather than black plastic–LOL!). A friend is coaching me through my grading backlog, and she seems to always find the right balance for check-in frequency and intensity.  And a good friend tonight decided, quite out of the blue, to tell me ten things she liked about me–what an uplift!  (And yes, I got to reciprocate.)

And then there was this:

buechner justice grammar mercy poetry

“Justice is the grammar of things. Mercy is the poetry of things.”
— Frederick Buechner, originally from Whistling in the Dark, and later in Beyond Words

Amen.  I believe in the God who created grammar but who loves the art of poetry.

Blogtober 15th: The Balancing

October 15, 2014

Today I am grateful for the balancing.  “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” right?  (Newton’s Third Law of Physics)  I think that applies to more than just the physical world.  I think it extends to the spiritual and emotional realm, too.

seesaw

  • A crappy, bitter email from a former colleague hits the inbox, but then another colleague comes by for a visit and an uplifting conversation filled with laughter and humanity.
  • The too-hot and somewhat windy day is followed by a cooler night and a temperature-tempering overcast morning the next day.
  • An annoying interruption in scheduled work time butts up against an impromptu meeting that yields an actual result.
  • A too-late night is followed by the gift of a nap and a relatively early bedtime.  (Of course the next night was way too late…but tonight will be earlier and saner.)
  • Strain and tension with a friend turn into goodwill and conversation.

See how this goes?  I am grateful for the balancing, especially when I blend it with my focus on positive self-talk and looking for things great and small to be grateful for.

♠♣♥♦

calvin-on-scientific-lawShh.  I know this one says the First Law, but it works for the Third Law, too.

 

Blogtober 14th: Bullets of Grateful

October 14, 2014

Yesterday was a timely and useful professional development session.  That is something to give thanks for.

Attitudes at said PD session were majority positive.  That, too, is something to be (hugely) grateful for.

Jennifer Rothschild, whom I met in England this summer, posted this nugget on her Facebook timeline this week:  “Gratitude helps you desire what you already have rather than always needing to have what you think you desire.”  I appreciate this always timely reminder, and that, too, is something to be grateful for.

This has been a long and busy day, and I am about to go fall into bed, and that, too, is something to be grateful for.  G’night, y’all.

[Edit note:  Oops, I forgot to make these bullets.  Meh.  Oh, well.]

Blogtober 13th: Self-Care, Synchronicities, and Synthesis

October 13, 2014

Today I am hugely grateful for an early release from school (student-free day, professional development meetings).

I am grateful for the nap that ensued shortly thereafter.  What an unusual gift a nap is for a high school teacher and a night owl.  I had just been talking with a friend about the need for more sleep, and the health values of it.  And then tonight I was talking with someone else about radical self-care.

These kinds of synchronicities keep arising, as they often do for me, and they often make me happy.  Today I came across a blog post that reminded, “God’s not religious, but people are. God’s not out to control you. God’s love is out to free you and to transform you.”

And then another friend reposted Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote:  “It’s your life — but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”  (as seen on Brain Pickings)

These two quotes connect in my mind.  Those connections may not be entirely clear to others, at least initially, so let me synthesize them.  I grew up with the impression of a controlling God, and my circles of acquaintance seemed to support that notion.  I have learned much in the past year.  I have learned that I do not believe in a controlling God any longer.  I believe God is in control; I just don’t believe God is controlling.  That’s a vital difference.

Furthermore, I’ve learned that much of what I thought I believed…I don’t actually believe.  They were someone else’s beliefs and (possibly mistaken) impressions.  This process of figuring out what I believe has been nothing if not scary and interesting, interesting but scary.  But I am grateful for the freedom and ability to do this process anyway.

 

cat nap 2   cat nap 1

 

(Incidentally, further to naps:  I had the occasion, when I was traveling back East last week, to meet again a student I sat near in 1st grade.  It had been years, possibly decades, since I’d seen him.  He was a tall boy then and is a tall man now.  I had occasion, upon this meeting, to recall that, during naptime in first grade, when we lay down on blankets or towels beside our little desks, shoes off, I would rub my stocking feet in his soft blond hair.  I continued this practice until he told on me and I was ordered to desist.  Fortunately, by now, I think he’s forgotten about it, and I didn’t take the occasion to remind him.  To this day, however, I love rubbing my stocking feet on soft and silky things.  These days only dogs and maybe one of the more patient kitties seem to stand for it any longer.)

Blogtober 12th, second installment (make-up for Blogtober 11th)

I hadn’t intended to try to make up missed posts, but this one presented itself this evening.

How could I have forgotten?  Well, I didn’t–not really.  But tonight’s Office of evening prayer featured both Psalms 36 and 130, the themes of which are mercy and…mercy.  This repetition of the notion of mercy always puts me in mind of Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now.”

However, I know Psalm 130 best through John Rutter’s musical setting of it in his exquisite, painful, and yet reassuring Requiem.  After my beloved and prized great-grandmother, Grandma Gracie, died in 1983, and we could not go to see her or even attend her funeral, it took me many years to process her loss, and one of the key factors in that processing was Rutter’s Requiem the first time I heard it, on the late KFAC 92.3 FM, in the wee small hours of the night.

The lyrics of this piece are Psalm 130 verbatim, in my favorite version–old-school Shakespeare-style poetry, and you can listen here, if you’re so inclined (turn up the volume):

Out Of The Deep (Psalm 130)

Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord:
Lord, hear my voice.
O let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint.
If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss:
O Lord, who may abide it?
For there is mercy with thee: therefore shalt thou be feared.
I look to the Lord; my soul doth wait for him,
and in his word is my trust.
My soul fleeth unto the Lord: before the morning watch, I say,
before the morning watch.
O Israel trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy:
and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins.

Blogtober 12th: Autumnal Gratitude

Despite the fact that it was 83 degrees and too warm here in SoCal today, I am so grateful for fall. For:

pumpkins in giant bins outside of the grocery;

the smell of apples pervading the produce section;

cooler nights, despite the warm daytime temps;

talk of football (though I’ve actually watched none this season so far);

thin blankets of fog near the beach;

pumpkin spice coffee;

laundering the dust out of the long sleeves and moving them closer to the front of the closet for eventual use;

the incredible harvest moon;

the impulse to cook;

the craving to create.

Blogtober 10th: Brought you by…Friends

October 10, 2014

In the face of many meetings and much grading today, my friends have kept me sane.  In the face of much negativity and many slings and arrow this week, my friends have talked me off the ledge and back to the green valley floor.

With hugs, with iced chai latte, with an In-n-Out burger (well-done, animal style), with a listening ear, with a sympathetic shoulder, with laughter, with loving reassurances, with insightful reading, with cogent advice, with cards, with phone calls lengthy, with texts and private messages, with encouragement, with prayer…they have kept me from shedding my clothes and lying down in the snow to die of hypothermia.

I only wield the gentlest of hyperbole.  This isn’t as exaggerated as you probably think it is.

However, even on the darkest days and nights, I have a constellation of beautiful, steady, bright, and twinkling friends.  I consider each star a gift, a blessing.

constellation-map-stars-nightsky

Blogtober 9th: Is it—wait—It’s almost Friday.

Some days…

Some weeks…

Sometimes chocolate in the office dish is the best comforter.

Sometimes a colleague is the best encourager.

Sometimes a supervisor is the best support.

Sometimes ditching a meeting is the best choice.

Sometimes ditching two meetings is the best self-preservation.

Sometimes making the short walk from the office to the classroom a second time because you forgot to lock the classroom door, delivering an extra dose of healthful fresh air and sunlight and movement, is the best pick-me-up.

Sometimes talking on the phone with your BFF is the best oxygen—talking novels read and novels written, talking shop and learning, talking strategy and law, talking love and rejection, talking interpersonal psychology and human politics, talking combating vitriol and practicing self-care…much wonderful talking.

Sometimes the little goodnesses add to up be the blessings that keep the ugly at bay.

Sometimes magic

…and the little gifts are the magic.

Blogtober 8th: Blahs, Blues, and Blessings

October 8, 2014

OK, the title that just emerged from my fingers is so cutesy and sweet that I almost just made myself a little sick.  But I love alliteration, and it is accurate in describing the day, and so therefore I shall keep it.

Today sucked.  Wait a minute–let me make that more accurate:  Today suuuuuuuuuucked.  I ran all over hill and dale, half-assed everything because I was spread too thin (a theme of this year), got a crappy email from a former coworker (and former friend) who was trying to make my job difficult and put her sh*t into my space, and then I had detention duty.  I’m still fighting illness, and it’s now manifesting as aches in my neck and shoulders.  Rant, rant, rant, bitch, bitch, bitch.

But that ranting bitching part is necessary.  It is needful to acknowledge the realities and crap of the day.  I can’t pretend them away.  I need to speak their names.

But I can’t stop there.  I need to turn the negative over on its ear, or at least put it off-kilter with an acknowledgement and name-speaking of the positives of the day, as well.

The full-length video recording of my grandmother’s funeral was posted today.  We weren’t entirely sure that it would be, as the promised live-stream never happened.  But it, in fact, was successfully recorded, and I am happy to be able to watch it again, and to let those who couldn’t attend the funeral watch it as well.  It was an honorable and beautiful send-off and memorialization of a beautiful and godly and beloved woman.  This is a blessing.

While my father returned today from his home state now that the funeral is done, my grandfather will be cared for 24/7 by our family, completely in-house and in-home.  This is a relief.  This, too, is a blessing.

I got to talk to some good friends today and cry and vent and tell them about my woes.  And I received comfort and support and righteous indignation and wise advice…oh, and a hug or two.  One friend even called me on the way home from her own wildly exhausting day because I was “on her heart: and she wanted to check in with me.  This, too, is a blessing.

In particular, my friend Tonia talked with me a lot today, talking me down off the ledge, talking me through, getting me to laugh, sharing her own triumphs and trials (ironically very back-to-back events for her today), and giving me good counsel.  (Oh, and she’s the source of that awesome phrase I used earlier about someone “putting their sh*t in my space.”)  She, too, is a blessing.

My dog was so wiggly wriggly giddy happy to see me when I finally got home today.  And she enthusiastically ate all of her dinner.  And she will sleep with me tonight and be adorable.  This, too, is a blessing.

I didn’t have much energy for cooking dinner, and I’m trying not to eat out (for both health and monetary reasons), and the good folks in my household all plied me with foodstuffs that sufficed for dinner and then some.  This, too, is a blessing.

The weather is a little cooler, the days a little shorter, the nights a little earlier.  The changing of the seasons brings me joy, stokes my creative cycles, turns me inward just a little.  We are in a good stretch of the year, and I think I can see the corner of Thanksgiving off in the distance.  And this, too, is a blessing.

positive negative