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Quiet Heart

School will end in seven days; a fast-paced, sweaty, and exhilarating sense of twelve weeks of possibilities.  Time to finish all the paperwork, strip the walls, cover the books, and wave goodbye to all the students who anxiously wait on the front lawn of the school for their last bus ride home.  The teachers watch the last of the yellow busses wind their way up the school’s driveway and silently exhale in relief for they, like the children, are ready for a much needed break.

It’s already been in the 90’s and the air conditioner has brought some respite, although I would rather be outside….toes buried in beach sand, feeling the coolness of the water on my cheeks.  I have much work yet to do before I rest and like a child, I try to rationalize why I need to be doing other “things” besides studying.  I allow my petulant inner child sway me for a day until the volumes of journal articles and my keyboard draw me back, into the world of academics.  

As the long, steamy days of a Maine summer approach, I find myself ready to reinvent myself, shedding baggage from a long winter and school year while making a list, burrs of sorts, that need this time to be laid to rest, acknowledged, and stored away where they no longer hold me in such an agonizing grip.  

I suffer from depression and anxiety; sometimes it feels as though I need a new label like bipolar II and a healthy dose of lithium.  Leanne Rimes writes in this week’s issue of People Magazine how, during her divorce, she suffered the same as I have….the difference being she checked herself into a hospital and underwent intensive therapy.  I thought, ” how lucky she was” for my world collapsed and then turned its back on me.  Little did “they” realize what a horrible feeling it is….laying in a dark room for days, listless, praying to die.  Dragging an unwilling body and mind to move forward…even if it was in the wrong direction.  I have a recurring dream that I am talking, but no-one listens.  Sometimes I dream that I am running, always running, and how glorious it feels.  Then there are the dreams where everyone is happy, laughter is everywhere, and I wake feeling so happy to be loved…until I realize its just another dream.

No one really wants to know about this part of me (except my therapist of course) but I think talking about it takes the sting out of it, the shame in that I’m not perfect or superwoman or as strong as you think.  Here however, on this quiet Sunday morning watching the impatiens arch their backs towards the sun, I remember that every day is a new beginning and just how much that single thought was a focal point to how I created my place in the world.  I am lucky however, or blessed, or even humbled at the strength of love and its bond; my sons kept me alive even though they were unaware of just how dark my heart was behind my eyes. They made me laugh when I didn’t want to, teased and tickled me when I tried to escape them, and reminded me on a constant basis that I was here for a reason, and for that  and so many other moments we have since shared, my glass is half full most days now.

I deactivated my FB account for the summer; it’s too addictive to waste time reading so many posts daily when I could be reading a novel just-for-fun.  I will probably suffer withdrawal symptoms so the book store is at the top of my to do list.  I packed away any credit card that might tempt me to live wildly on a whim…..I do believe if I follow the mantra of want vs. need I have everything I need…(except of course a good book 🙂 ! 

I bought a new beach chair and towel, cleaned every nook of my little home, sorted through research scattered everywhere and bought a new legal pad to take notes.  All that is left is my grade book closing, and updating files.  I think summer is a good time for taking care of oneself and feeling no guilt over simply enjoying each passing day.  

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Mother’s Day

It’s raining out and I am feeling rather decadent, still sitting in bed, the cat purring on my right, and a second cup of coffee on my nightstand as I watch the oak leaves, persimmon green, reach for the raindrops as they begin to unfold in all their splendor.  Nuthatches and chickadees hop from branch to branch, cracking sunflower seed shells while keeping a sharp eye out for nesting material as the cycle of life begins again.
It is Mother’s Day tomorrow and as I glance at the pictures around my bedroom of my own two sons, my mind drifts from one memory to the next of our lives together and the connection, that bond, that lies between us.
It always amazes me at the cavalier way some people bare children, and go about the business of raising them.  A sister-in-law once told me that our purpose in life as mothers is to raise our children to be able to leave us.  It was such a difficult thought to comprehend as my two little boys were the epicenter of my world and an on-going marvel I relished every day.  I didn’t want to think that these moments would end…that they would one day find other pleasures, which made them happy, and I would be assigned a back seat in their lives.  When that day came, as inevitably it does, I floundered about and silently mourned the passing of time.
The years have passed, and I have ached over them leaving the cocoon I provided them with, an empty nest, a refrigerator bare of artwork and pictures.  I have punished myself for the decisions I made that, in retrospect, weren’t the best and I have tried in my own way to be a better person, a better mom, a better role model for which lies a safe haven for them no matter how far apart in miles we now continue our lives.
Being a mom for me doesn’t mean I need a day set aside in which they pay homage to me.  I love the cards, the flowers, the time set aside just to see me but at the end of each day I know, deep inside, that I have been given the greatest gift that I ever wanted.  That gift is in their eyes, their laughter (at me and with me), their phone calls, text messages and bear hugs.  Their patience and thoughtfulness as well as becoming two of my staunchest protectors when anyone dares to harm me or cause me distress assures me of how much I am loved.  I see pieces of myself in them, and that makes me smile and continue to marvel at the wonder of it all.
So being a mom isn’t necessarily cause for a Hallmark holiday as every day is a holiday inside my heart.  Whether they ever realize it or not, they have already given me more gifts and more joy than any brightly wrapped gift could contain.  Happy Mother’s Day everyone – enjoy it all but most importantly, enjoy the miracle(s) you helped create. Image

The Art of the Deception – My Life Lesson.

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This is not going to be my usual blog, but more of a story for all women.  I like to cryptically call it, “My Handsome Hungarian.”  We never know in our lives where we will find ourselves and what circumstances will eventually find us living a fairly full life, yet without the intimacy of a partner to hear the tale of our day, to curl up with in the evening, and the intoxicating scent of cologne that makes our hearts beat faster.  So this is a lesson for women, young and old alike, should your life path eventually cause you to taking a leap of blind faith back into the world of dating.  It began with my own curiosity; trying one more time (I promised myself) into the world of on line dating.  I say one more time as I seem to be a magnet for men who are trying vainly to relive their sexual prime, arrive at your inbox loaded with baggage, and on occasion, are far more interested in what you have to offer than learning about the person you are.  This  time however, I found myself blind-sided, and quite taken by surprise.  It began with the picture above of the handsome Hungarian who dropped me a note, and asked if I would correspond with him.  I obliged, and so it began.  He was a widow, losing his wife in a car accident eleven years ago.  He had one relationship since then, but found that she had been unfaithful and as a result had given up on all women.  He expounded on his own lessons……like so many, deciding to try perhaps one more time for an intelligent soul mate…hoping for a monogamous relationship which would lead to a lifetime. He owned his home, he studied abroad, he wrote poetry and quoted Caesar.  He was at a good place in his life….career well established, but looking for that missing piece to make his life complete.  Apparently he found it in me.  His emails arrived in my inbox promptly by 10:00 each morning and with each letter, he became more entranced with me.  He asked me for a picture and thought I was beautiful.  I could not believe my luck (first mistake) in stumbling across such an intelligent, handsome man.  He sent me his private email address (second mistake) and expounded on how he was a Christian.  He even called me (yea, third mistake in sharing my number) and his shy accent swept me off my feet.  Of course he was on his way to church that day so he promised he would call again.  He claimed to do consulting work for companies and shortly thereafter, left for Texas to present a proposal for an engineering job.  We continued to communicate daily.  He got the bid, and of course the job had to begin immediately on the Irish Sea (really?) and left for England for three weeks.  In those ensuing three weeks his emails continued and with each one, his affection grew and grew…..I had melted his hardened heart, he adored me, he thought of me all the time and he was anxious to return to the States where he would sweep me into his arms and deliver my first kiss.  Now at this point, my dearest friends and family had more sense than I, and cautioned me…..they worried that he was just too good to be true.  I just wondered if perhaps, just perhaps, it was my time to be happy…..and in all honesty my heart pounded like a school girl every time I saw a letter from him.  In retrospect, I did feel some signs, but they were so insignificant that I passed them off as being jaded….perhaps too cautious.  He now sent me text messages on occasion…asking me if I knew just how much he loved me.  Looking at his picture, who wouldn’t enjoy this?!  He used hungarian words on endearment in his letters and we spoke again on the phone.  He even went so far as to quote scripture to me in a letter, telling me that God had brought us together.  I was, blindly, happy.  There was a fire on the ship he was working on and he lost his wallet (flag).  The British customs wanted $50,000 to release his equipment and he had only budgeted $30,000 (flag).  He wrote that he longed to be back in the States with me.  My friends and family began to be more worried and cautioned me to be careful.  I was, actually and when he called one morning at 6:00 am to “hear my voice” I was beaming…..and then he asked to borrow $5,000.00  I said no, of course that was something I could not do.  Shortly thereafter he apologized and professed his love for me into the next week.  One night, I sent him an email, asking how the project was going, had he solved his problem with the British Customs and when would he be flying home.  His email to me in return was to plead with me, out of our love for each other, to send him $3,000.00  (Big flag).  Once again, I said no and went on to tell him how disappointed I was that he didn’t hear me the first time.  I said I would not loan money to him in as polite a way as I could.  That’s when the handsome Hungarian disappeared.  So this is a life lesson, and a word of caution to anyone who ever finds themselves in a similar situation.  The only thing I lost was a bit of my dignity as not only did I post it on FB (good lord :() but that this person, whomever he really is, knew what to say, how to say it, and hopefully how to profit from his efforts.  The world I still believe, is filled with good people and in my heart I want to believe that if I treat others with kindness, respect, and compassion that surely it will be returned to me.  I am rather naive, but I don’t choose to change as I truly believe that good wins over evil every time.  I am a romantic, and I want to believe that true love exists.  I leave you therefore, with this word of caution not to be jaded by those who wish to rob you (literally and figuratively).  Believe in love, believe in goodness, but be aware.  Have a good week everyone.

Time is a thief in the night for while we sleep, the clock ticks and our bodies age, memories like postcards of all the places and people filed away in our dreams.  She looked at me the other evening…her hazel eyes watering and as she looked up from her glass she wondered out loud what would happen if she died too soon?  She would never get to celebrate all of my achievements, my joys.  She concluded that she just must not die just yet, and I assured her that I was pretty positive her spirit would follow me long after her physical being was gone.  Time is a thief in the night and try as hard as we do, there is no barring the door, no slowing of the clock, no remnants of youth to hold onto for long.  The passage of time does, however, prepare us for the evolutionary stages of our lives. Where once she ran back and forth to dressings rooms for me, I now do the same for her and every other “mother” who peeks cautiously out of the door, asking if this color is right, is it too long or tight……it makes me happy when they smile and off I go into the maze of designers to find the right piece which will make them smile as well and feel beautiful. I order lunch for us both as she can’t hear well above the diners, and guide her through the menu as she once did for me.  Like a thief in the night, time plucks ever so tiny pieces from us until one day, we look in the mirror and realize we have been robbed.  Perhaps time understands far more we do; like the Carrousel we watched this afternoon.  Around and around we dance on painted horses moving in perfect rhythm to the sound of the music. We laugh and wave, smiling at the brightly colored lights until, ever so softly, the carrousel slows to a stop and it is time for us to leave.  I file away the moments as I know she does now, trying to hold tight to the very essence of love before she is not there to remind me, and give me cause to laugh.  I love you Mum.

Title Optional…..

Title Optional…...

The silence surprised me when he left; it echoed in the rooms and but for an occasional bird singing praise for early spring weather, I felt somewhat empty.  How quickly we settle into forgotten routines, bantering after dinner, arguing over which channel to watch…joking about how much of our news comes from social media.  The Easter basket’s empty, the tulips he left slowly lean towards the light and their lavender heads reveal blossoms that slowly emerge as the sun crosses the sky. There’s leftover salmon in the fridge to eat, he’s turned into a far better cook than I and yet my appetite is for the sound of his voice, his earnest look as he discussed the state of the world with me, the gentleness and kindness he has with me now…my boy turned man.  Oh, how I wish childhood lasted longer, or perhaps the best of childhood I remember.  I am like the tree who has given her branches, her fruit, and desires nothing more than to give to the boy who once climbed on her lap, who listened to her stories, shade and comfort and love.  The bond that spans the miles is stronger than any superhero could imagine.  It exists in the tightly woven story of our lives sewn with tears and laughter…puppies and campfires.  When I look at him, I see me and I wonder at the marvel of it all; how we continue to live on through the eyes of the ones we carried so carefully.  I know its time for me to come to grips with it all, this singleness I never imagined I would experience again but I can’t help but look back over my shoulder for in its memory, it still brings me joy. 

Digital Native….Not.

I love technology.  It enabled me to return to college and still be home with my “babies” and it opened a world to me I never would have dreamed possible.  I remember I actually went to a computer consultant to purchase my first computer and my sons and I sat around the diningroom table watching T-T-Tonka load and we thought it was MAGIC.  The computer was stationed in the kitchen, and many hours were spent on simulated fishing (we thought we could FEEL the boat rock!) and who could forget Sim City, and the Oregon Trail!  Thank you cards were designed for grandparents with beautiful graphics (more than words) and I felt that the world was at our fingertips right there in our little home.  Today I had a revelation.  I am not as savvy as I once thought I was…

Now I have a Mac Book Pro, an ipad, an ipod touch and iphone…all of which keep me synced and up to date with all of my meetings, Siri is my morning friend when I ask her for the weather, and when I am waiting for someone, or something, I can always check my phone for the latest on social media or whatnot.  Today, however, an 8 year old trumped all that I knew.  This little redhead in my classroom picked up my phone, and with lightening speed swiped buttons, told me that I had too many applications open, changed some of my settings to make it easier, gave me a button for multi-tasking, created files of like applications and did more on my darn phone in 5 minutes than I have learned in a year.  I was rather baffled at the speed and accuracy….and intelligence that this third grader had with my technology AND I AM THE ADULT!!!  I gave him a hug and as his chest proudly swelled, he assured me that if I brought my ipad in on Friday, he could make sure I was conserving my battery life, check my overall storage, and show me a trick or too.  I can’t even fathom how this little boy knows so much, but the light in his eyes as he was teaching me……and I honestly wanted to take notes (Nerd that I am) reaffirmed to me yet again that we should integrate more technology in schools.  I am glad that learning is reciprocal in my classroom as I can teach students about long division, fractions, complete sentences and the nuances of being a good writer but this kid….well, he actually put me to shame.  Tomorrow however, I am definitely bringing my ipad in for some more technical assistance and I just bet I will be astounded yet again.  Have a wonderful weekend if you are reading this….enjoy those dyed Easter eggs and family dinner……and definitely take some pictures to  sync on icloud and share with us all!

Reflective

I have reached an age that, believe it or not, has not shown itself to me until the other day. I was walking the track at the gym with my trainer and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. At first I recognized myself, but almost simultaneously my mind was screaming, “Geesh! What has happened!”  Even when I stood full length in the mirror and obediently lifted the medicine ball up, squatted and repeated the motion I was aware that my upper arms have stretched like pizza dough hanging off the side of the pan.  Now I understand why so many people over the years have said that inside, they feel no different and are mortified at the outside.  I’ve had people tell me that they never look in a mirror because they just can’t…all for the same reason.  It’s not that people like me are vain, it’s just that we have been so busy building lives that our bodies have gone from a solid block of cheddar to a fine ripe brie….metaphorically speaking.  When the truth of aging forces us to see it for what it is, we take steps to preserve what is left.  So far, I have learned that I need to put cinnamon on lots of things, eat organic oatmeal for breakfast, add more fruit to my diet, cut back on meat, no carbs after 7:00 pm or, better yet go gluten free.  Drink lots and lots of water, starting with a glass of warm water in the morning to jump the metabolism. Don’t eat potato chips as it will age your face, don’t drink diet soft drinks because they make you fat. Stay away from processed foods as hundreds of toxic chemicals are in the ingredients themselves.  Chicken or eggs are best if they are living naturally and not fed anything to artificially make them grow.  There’s harmful dyes in powdered drink mix, some supplements can give you heart attacks, foods that are labeled low fat really aren’t low fat as the good fats have been removed and icky stuff added.  Fast food is a sin, and let’s not talk about “pink slime” in ground beef, or even worse, horse meat.  I need Vitamin D because I live in Maine and lack enough sunlight, fish oil for joints I think, depression/anxiety medicine to keep me from slowly falling apart like a snowman in the sun.  Spandex is good, wear your Spanx every day, chicken cutlets in your bra keep things elevated, as opposed to drooping.  Salt is a killer, salad dressing too.  After even writing this, no wonder I am weary at the end of the day!  It’s all time consuming, and I am not convinced that remembering all these details will make us any happier.  I realized this as I watched a smiling, happy woman working out this morning with me………she danced and I just knew that she did not care one bit if her socks matched, if she had the most stylish workout gear, or special sneakers.  She was simply loving and living in the moment.  Watching her caused me to think of the six homeless people I saw yesterday; the apartment building that burned to cinders Thursday and left people with nothing…..all reasons why no matter who we are, how young or old we are, it’s important to look for joy around us and spend far more time being grateful for what gifts we have been given, the love that we have shared, and truly see ourselves and the world around us with fresh eyes.  Rather than preserving, or worrying about preserving this human body so much I would much rather radiate something from within that is uniquely wonderful just to me.  What’s that song we sang in kindergarten? “…this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”  What I know for sure is that this is a much better way to walk through life…..or better yet, SKIP  🙂

The Pilgrimage of Bathing Suit Season…..

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