Sunday, January 1, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It's what?

Well, it appears we made it to 2017! I'm sure I'm not the only one who was ready to tell 2016 to kiss their derriere. Right? It isn't that last year was so bad. It really wasn't. I just like fresh starts. Even if I haven't totally screwed up a year, I like the thought of new beginnings. How is my 2017 beginning? I won't lie, it's pretty wild... I'm hunkered down in the corner of a local Panera with my laptop, lunch, listening to some groovy music, and wondering what in the world I'm going to write about today. But write I will! Because I have decided that if I've learned anything, to abandon my passions is self-cruelty, and mind, to hand, to blog, to reader, whether it's one, or one hundred, or one thousand, there is connection. And I need connection. I know I don't look like I need a cookie but the precious lady at Panera just came around with samples and offered me one. Or "Try all of them!" she said. She really did. I'm not making this up. I never want to disappoint. I took the Kitchen Sink sample. Just one. Try it. I'm not getting paid for this, by the way. It just occurred to me.... Kitchen Sink??? It's delicious though. Really!

I've said it before but I write in my head all the time. It's like a living blog in there, or maybe my blog is like a "Becky's head" in writing, I don't know. I've never been good at shutting off the mind. I don't know why anyone would want to. I take that back, I actually envy people who can sometimes, but this is too much fun. Like now I'm making up the conversation in my head that may be going on with the older gentleman who JUST sat down and his little buzzer went off alerting him that their food was ready and waiting. He didn't look thrilled, he look perturbed. 'If that gets his goat, I bet he's a lot of fun at parties', I'm thinking as he and his wife sit there in silence and eat. But honestly, judgment withholding, who knows what others are going through at any given time, right? The snapshots. We only see those snapshots of people and we form opinions or stories around them. It's totally unfair, no matter how entertaining it may be on a rainy Sunday New Year's. This lovely older couple did start talking by the way. Maybe he was just hungry. I wonder what cookie sample he got?

I wish I could sit here and write some earth shattering and enlightening things today. I really can't. Partly because I keep pausing to take bites of my sandwich or soup before it gets cold and partly because I'm just not feeling that deep today. We all know that could change in a keystroke.

Maybe I'll just write a few things I learned over the past year. Well, I guess I actually knew most of these things, but it seems at times we may learn something, but place it on the back burner. Like we've learned it, but not really learned it, learned it. Using double words makes it more effective, notice that? Like not just effective, but effective effective. I have a cousin who hates it when I double emphasize many times in one conversation, by the way. He doesn't just hate it. He hates it, hates it.

So within the last year I've learned a few things. With my oldest going to college this past fall, I learned we all had to change and I don't always like change. Often people ask me how he's doing. He's great. Of course he's great! He's 18 years old, away at college with most of his best friends, five hours from home! He's awesome! Granted I think he learned he had to grow up a little bit, however, he did really well, and no mom could be prouder. He made the grades, made it to class, and did everything he was supposed to. At least that's the story I get. But that's what he was raised to do. I've raised them both to be self-sufficient. It's never cute when someone is decidedly helpless. Not for long anyway.

But how am I doing with my oldest being gone? I had to grow up a little, too. I think the first big thing I did was text him that I'd changed the light bulbs in the garage. All. By. My. Self. If you saw the ceilings in the garage you would be impressed. You see, I'm the shortest in the family. It was probably not the smartest move, climbing on the ladder, to climb on another ladder, but I was determined. Emotionally, it was different when he left. I fell into a little sadness for a while. My daughter was amazing. She immediately started planning our nights; what we would watch, eat, do, etc. Girl nights! We would occasionally have a girl night before, but now we have them all the time. The house has a perpetual smell of nail polish remover. It's fabulous!
I learned that finding new normals within our family is an ever-changing process. It hurts a little. That's ok.

I learned that sometimes the very things we swear we will never do are the very things God has planned for us. In fact when we fight against something so badly, we may need to wonder why we feel a need to fight against it so badly. I'm talking about the many times I wondered and prayed about my next step in life. I love what I do as a counselor, but I knew there would be something else for me. I wanted to grow more, do more, learn know, with all the free time I have. That's a joke. What I never wanted to do was administration. Until this past year. It was like a light switch was flipped and the answer was clear as a bell that I needed to enroll in Samford's Educational Leadership program. I can't explain how, or why, or what.... I just knew. So saying never, well, I should say that anymore. Will I ever use the license for admin? I can't say. I won't say never.

I learned that God doesn't give us more than we can handle but sometimes it feels like life does. It doesn't have to be one big event, it can be many events and we don't even have to define what's going on. Sometimes things just feel big. Overwhelming. We feel lonely, scared, frustrated. We may feel unloved, unsure, unseen. In little bits we may not even think much about these small bites from life, but it seems that on occasion many of these attack at once. I know that if we can keep our head above water and breath, we will be ok. Life may not always be ok, but we will be.

I learned that if we feel we have to prove ourselves to someone, that someone has power over us. I don't mean that we shouldn't want to do well and that it's not ok to have approval. For heaven's sake I still appreciate approval from my kids, my mom, my administrators. But if we have to prove something in order to feel important, successful, or loved, then someone has power over us. God approved us before He created us. That is the ultimate approval. I have to remind myself of that sometimes, but it really does make everything else pale in comparison.

I've learned not to be too uptight about being grammatically correct when I write, even though in my head it's driving me crazy. People simply don't write the way I was taught, and if we all did, it would sound a trifle strange. I also learned that apparently I did something wonderful while being uptight with my children's grammar as is evidenced by the sweet note my daughter left me for school one day.

Thank heavens she corrected herself and I didn't have to do it! ha
And apparently I was on the way to kicking Monday's booty!!!! Go me!

I learned that I really really love learning. Seriously. I'm a total learning nerd. I can't wait to study school law in this Samford cohort. My mom used to tell me that I should have been a lawyer because I would argue with a stump, and the other side would just get frustrated and pack up and go home. Those are her words. Seriously. There may be some truth to that. Not sure. I would always argue back and say, "Nuh,uh!" But she wouldn't engage in the argument. Sigh. Anyway, I love learning things and if I were to do life over again, I, well, probably wouldn't change anything.... but I may have been a lawyer. Or tried to anyway. Who knows. There's still time. I've learned that "smart" looks an awful lot like hard work and perseverance.

I've learned my job is seed planting, I don't always see the results, and it's very frustrating. I've also learned that's life. We're all seed planters. When at last we see one of the fruits of our labors, it sticks and it reminds us of why we do what we do. This gem was sent to me from a kid I taught in reading years ago. He borrowed my daughter's phone and sent me this text....
I didn't say I taught grammar, but hey! This kid thanked me for being hard on him because I saw potential!
And I did! And I do! THIS is why I do what I do!

I learned that while this is not the life I had pictured I would have, it's much better than the one I had planned. How's that? I had my life planned out a long time ago (I'm pausing so you can laugh.... God is, so you can too). It looked like so many picture perfect lives you see on Facebook and Instagram. It was going. To. Work! It didn't. Not even close. But here's the thing, becoming an independent, strong, hard-working mom who has raised kids who are compassionate, loving, empathetic, also hard-working and independent isn't something I could have done in my planned out life. I would have WANTED to do that in my planned out life, but I just don't think it would have worked. I wouldn't have become who I am. I like who I am; not in a vain way, but in a content way. I know it's because of the trials, everything we've gone through.... that wasn't planned. I'm better. We're better. Plans? Laughable, I know.

I learned that while I used to love the social life, I now have a huge appreciation for quiet. My favorite time of day (or night) is when I take the dogs for a walk and it's just past dusk. It's quiet. It's peaceful. I'm not on social media during our walk and there is no tv that follows me. I blame myself for the amount of static in my life. I just need to leave it alone now and then. Once I was engaged in a conversation with someone who was talking about social media. She said she wasn't on any social media for the time being because, "I hate seeing everyone else's 'happy'". We both laughed, but it was poignant. People, myself included, put out there every good and beautiful thing they can. How can we really compare with other's perfect lives? Exactly. They aren't perfect. But when we feel low, have just gone through a break-up, or are having some other crisis whether it be large or small, we open the gateway to everyone's perfection and what? Do we really expect to feel better about ourselves? Unplug. At least for a while. Talk face to face to friends. See a goofy movie. Go for a walk. People watch.

Oh, speaking of people watching! I learned that when you people watch... and I do not mean stalk, I really don't, you can hear some serious crazy crap! Arguments, yelling, fights! Sheesh! That happened not long ago. I was out shopping and I swear I really was minding my own business, but a couple was being so brutal to each other! Made me happy to go home to Max and Emmie. Their love is unconditional. And they don't talk.
Max is my homeboy

Emmie just says she didn't do it. Whatever it was.

I've learned, well, always known, that family and friends are the backbone, not to success, I mean, yes, to success, but to life. I couldn't function without them. Any of them... all of them. I didn't ask permission before posting these, but here's my wonderful, crazy family :)

         and my best friend (also crazy)...

Anyway, another year of learning under the belt. It never really stops though, does it? And we always say if we'd just known then what we know now, but in a lot of ways, we do know... it takes something hitting home at times for us to really, REALLY get our lessons down. It takes really reaching our threshold of pain for us to set the boundaries, make the call, rip the band aid off... It takes us saying to ourselves, "I don't want to be this anymore" to enroll in school again, to dare things could be different. They can. Fresh year. Fresh "plans". New learning to be done.

I would love to hear what you all have learned this past year! Happy New Year to you! A year of love, laughter, and learning!

January 1, 2017

The Heaviness of My Heart

All, I've had writers block for a long time. I've had several posts started and some still hang in mid-air on my computer just wai...