Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Love is our Calling (2)

My post last May was one of the most viewed. People want to read about Love. There is so much hate in this world.

Love is messy.

It is many things, but it is not always clear. That's why there are so many questions and so many books out there on the topic. It is never ending and fathomless. There are many ways to present a branch of the topic of Love. I will do so.

It has long been my intention to write a book about Love. I hesitate because there are so many books on Love already that do a great job of saying what I want to say. However, I know that no one can say it the way I can. I have a lot of research. I do. It's not all referenced the way I want it, and it's not yet organized the way I want it..

Enough excuses! I must begin to work in earnest upon this great book!

Here are a few thoughts:

Love is something we have to experience, and we have to give it away, both to others and to ourselves. Love can be shared, passed to another, but only in the sense that they mimic our emotion. They can't have our brains with our specific hormones. But a child born into a lack of love still has the capacity to learn about love, to feel it, to express it later in life. As with other emotions, love is a choice. You can feel it, or you can suppress it.

Love is not an emotion but action. All emotions are temporary and fleeting. The feeling of love and the actions of love are connected. Just like you feel like doing something to please the person whom you love, you can also develop feelings of love by doing the things that please your partner. If you only feel love and don’t perform the corresponding actions, the feelings wouldn’t sustain for long.
You can fall out of love, too. Something else takes priority in your life above that person and you move from sacrificing yourself to care for them to liking and appreciating them, but leaving them mostly alone. Without the action, you no longer love it.

2016 in Review

2016 was the year of Health.
Not for many superstars, oof, I mean, wow, 2016, did you have to take so many?? I mean, my health.
My Health - I talked to my gynecologist and had a procedure called an ablation done this summer. This was a good thing for me. Not for my pocketbook. I recovered much quicker than my accounts.

Husband's health - He also had a procedure done, plus he gets an annual blood screening from his employer, the results of which keep him motivated to be healthy. Thing is, we cook and eat the same dinner, so it is imperative that we keep each other accountable for healthy living.

Dog and Cat health - This year a cat joined our family. He adopted us. He needed to be fixed, so I took care of that. The dog has had a tumor on his leg growing for 2 and a half years and I had that removed. I feel like a good pet owner again.

Eye health of boys - While both my sons are pretty healthy, this year they both needed new glasses. My youngest has had glasses since he was 2, so this was old hat for him, but the oldest just got glasses this year. Clearly, they have my genes.

2017 needs to be a year of Exercise and Well-Being

Vacations -  I am planning small. I still have medical bills to pay! There is not much extra to save, but I am saving up. I want to head South this year. Maybe I'll see some big water. I hear there's this place called a 'beach'..

Hobbies - I have to write more. This is what I love, this is what grounds me. I get lost if I don't write and share what I write with a community. I have a profile on Ficlatté.com and I'm gonna use it!

Keep up on the health - I'm starting out right. I've been using my elliptical and am about to add more to my workouts. With the precariousness of life staring you right in the face, all those big names we lost, it is never a better time than now to start living happier and healthier.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Veteran's Day 2016

We had a Veteran's Day assembly at my school. Students filed into bleachers and waited to bear witness to this event that got them out of class.

Our keynote speaker was a former principal, dean, and teacher. He's now on the school board. He gave a speech that had to tread carefully among the still-raw nerves of the public after having heard how the vote or new President turned out. In the audience were also our Mayor, school Superintendent, and a couple of State Representatives, as well as many decorated veterans, police, fire, and EMT first responders.

The speech encouraged the students to serve each other. It gave specific ways to be a friend, help those who need it, and to respect the school by cleaning up the halls. There is a sense of entitlement in society. The Students have it. They see it every day at home. It is evident in the way the parents park along the yellow bus lanes because they feel they are important enough to bypass the rules. It is evident in how few students say thank you when you hold the door for them. It is evident in how many blatantly wear shorts too short, have open drinks in their lockers that spill on the carpet, or gum, or snacks, and generally make a mess that they feel they do not have to pick up.

The best part about the Veteran's Day program is that soldiers, police, fire, EMTs, and other first responders are given honor. They are seen as heroes, not killers. I know that is a perspective, but in light of all the negativity, we need some positive perspective.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Excuses Aside, Count Your Blessings

Blogger has been acting up for a while, but now I can't log in on my preferred browser at all. I feel so.. unsecure. I'm using a different browser to create this post.

Excuses aside, it is high time I blogged an update. As you may know, I teach. School started August 9th around here. We'll be in session until June 2nd. I started decorating my classroom with a Alice in Wonderland theme, but I overdid the cards a bit since I had plenty of them. I've since added to this more movie stuff.

After I went back to work, I had to get back into routine. It took a good month to really begin waking up early and sleeping at night. I struggled with that over the summer when I could sleep in until my back hurt or my bladder made me get up and my sense of duty reminded me of chores to do. I wasn't sleeping well and I wasn't tired when I should have been.

Now it is at the end of a second month of work. It has been an interesting year so far, but I can say it's been more fun, less stressful, and we are making it work. Every year is different. Every mix of students is different. Their challenges are different. My team changes. I'm working with more adults on consultive basis than ever before. 

I don't want to go on and on about work, though. Life is made up of all kinds of moments. It's easy to talk about the ones that stress us out. We often forget in the mess made of broken down vehicles, money woes, kids misbehaving, drama for drama's sake, to count our blessings.

1. I am healthy. - I have to be able to lift students from the floor to their wheelchairs. I walk all around the school and help in P.E. with my students. My mental health is tested every day. My brain is asked to make a million decisions, and since I'm the Mistress of Well-Intentioned Indecision, sometimes I hesitate a little too long on them. But I'm learning. I have to be social for 7 hours a day, so I have to make quiet time for myself during the week. My social health is boosted every Monday when I go to Trivia and act like an adult. It gives perspective, too. Others there have other trials.

2. My family is healthy. - Despite life's little trials, we are all okay. We will get up and go back to school or work the next day and the day after and take for granted the daily grind.

3. We are safe in a house that provides adequate shelter. - Many people do not have a house that keeps out the cold and rain or cools them in the heat. I can garden in the spring and summer. I have pets.

4. I have a job. - It may rankle at times, or cause me stress, but it pays the bills and makes me get up every day and puts a smile on my face at least once.

5. I am loved. - I get hugs, kisses, and appreciation and even a listening ear every day. I can come home and relax, unwind, and even rant. My friends may be mostly online, but if I need them, I can send a message and they will respond. My family is nearby and I can visit when I need to. I can help them and they help me.

The list of blessings could go on and on. These are the big ones. Try to think of the good things when life gets you down. Sometimes it's hard, I know. But try.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rejuvenation Break

I haven't blogged in a month, but I'm not sorry.

For one, I had a medical procedure done and took some time to recover from that.

But that is not why I did not write.

I wanted July to be about summer break. I didn't go anywhere, didn't do anything exciting, but I also didn't work too hard on school. I worked on writing projects for myself and for a friend. I read some of the books I have in a huge pile on my bookshelf. I hung out with family. I want to go back to school recharged.

This upcoming week is about preparing to go back to school. The first week of August is about arranging classroom furniture, decorating walls, typing up lessons, having spaces for data collection and organization for smooth operating all year.

July was not about that. I did do some research, some lesson planning, some schedule making. But mostly, I took time for myself that did not involve thinking about school.

We all need breaks like that. I had a rough year. I needed a break.

Also, a cat adopted us. Petting a cat and hearing it purr is a nice way to relax. It is staying outside for the most part. We tried the inside thing, but it wasn't working out.

He is a good cat. We named him Schröedinger. Schrodie for short. You never know if he is gonna be right outside the door or not, but he seems to know where his food comes from and comes to you when you call and you can see him. Taking time to pet him is good therapy.

The dog doesn't agree. He thinks the cat is an intruder. He'll get over it.

My mind is in a thousand places right now in preparation for things to come. I needed July. May it be more than just what I needed.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Life Lesson: Dog and Opossum

I went out this morning to take care of my outside dog. It's summer here and hot and humid. I make a big ice cube for him from a bucket of water I freeze and put it in his water bowl in the late morning.

He whimpers at me and I know this whimper... it means, "Look Mom". It's kind of similar to his worried whimper. He was telling me he did a "thing" and he was wondering if that "thing" was a Good "thing" or a Bad "thing". He hopped under the clubhouse part of the swing set and sniffed at an object on the ground.

Yeah, that's a young opossum. It's dead. He didn't want me to take it from him, and I really didn't want to. I'm not sure what the next step will be. I'm not sure he'll eat it.

The circle of life, right in my backyard.

While wondering what will come of this surprise, I find myself sitting back and doing nothing. Again. Time has always sorted some things out for me. It's why I'm such a terrible decision maker. Watching how things play out is how I roll. Sometimes you don't need to jump in and "fix" things.

Sometimes you do. Don't play opossum on all your problems, laying back, pretending you have nothing to with them. You might get caught up in your own trap.

Lies by omission are still lies.

Inaction is still taking a side.

Letting things happen is no way to live life.

I'm taking note of this poor opossum's demise to remind myself that I have to be more like the dog; going out and getting what I want. I just won't have to kill my prey...

Weekend Fun

My nephew came over to spend the weekend with us. We decided we couldn't just stay home, so we spontaneously decided on a road trip to Nashville, IN, Bloomington, IN and the places in between, like the Spencer Walmart where we stop to restroom on the way.

This time, however, we decided we wanted to add a little hike and we went to Brown County State Park. You drive up and up through the trees to tops of the hills and suddenly there will be a lookout over the rolling foothills of Indiana created long ago by glaciers in the Ice Age which melted and eroded the land into gullies and streams.

We enjoyed the Nature Center with the taxidermied animals and the live snakes and glass-walled beehive. Then we took our little hike.

We were very exhausted after all the walking, but we next spent time in College Mall and after dinner, found out there was a Half Price Books Outlet. Score!

Now we couldn't feel our bodies and wanted nothing but sleep. Then on Sunday I had church, we went to a birthday pool party where we swam even though we were tired. I called my Dad to wish him a Happy Father's Day, and then I had VBS!
We danced, sang, and played games where we hopped on one foot back and forth. I was so tired when I got home.. I think I am STILL tired. My dreams were weird and filled with school and anxiety and that is just not right for summer!!

I'm looking forward to another week of writing, transcripting, maybe video, webinar-ing, and lesson planning for school. After that, there might be another weekend of hiking fun...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Love Is Our Calling

We don't know how long we have on Earth.

That's why I believe that our calling is to Love Each Other.

Let that sink in.

Love. Each other.

Not just love the lovable: Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad, babies, puppies, the sweet neighbor lady who bakes you cookies for Christmas because you shovel her driveway.

Love those that are UN-lovable. Make a difference in someone's life; someone who is a different race, social status, religion, or personality than you. You know that guy, the one who makes you cringe, or that lady, the one whom you wish you could forget? Them, too.


Because people need people like you to show them that kindness, forgiveness, trust, and cooperation despite our differences is worth living for and living out. Be generous, be kind, pay it forward, share.

No one has to PROVE that they DESERVE your kindness. Don't be prideful. Even if people hurt you in the past and you have trust issues, you can't learn to forgive yourself or get over your past hurts if you close yourself off to people.

You can't always tell by looking what would make someone's day. If you're not a good talker, making small talk with every person you sit next to in the waiting room, at the gym, or in line at the supermarket, then make a little compliment, smile, and sit quietly. Sometimes all a person needs is a good listener. They won't know you are ready to listen until you seem open to it.

Be open to Love. Love isn't always the head-over-heels kind, or the best friends kind. Love is happiness, caring, and contentment, too.
The Earth deserves your Love.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

In My Dreams This Week (2)

It's been fun to share my dreams here. I haven't gotten a huge response, but people are reading them.

This week I dreamed I was on a school bus. Not any bus, but the special needs bus we take for CBI, or outings into the community. The bus driver was there. She was stopped, though, and I exited the bus with my class. The boys were to line up and wait for everyone to get off. 

While we were standing there I saw two kittens on the side of the road. I went to them and crouched down. One was white and tan and the other was white and gray. One was skinny and the other was fatter and healthier. I picked up the fatter one. I considered whether the bus driver would let me take them on the bus, but knew she wouldn't. Besides, we would normally return to school, where kittens would not be allowed, and I live in a cat-free home due to allergies. I had no choice but to leave the kittens there. I guess that was traumatic and insane enough to wake me, because the kittens and the bus vanished as I woke.

This dream was about the frustration of trying to show compassion. 

I teach in a special needs classroom for middle schoolers with severe and moderate special needs. I have a great group of kids, don't get me wrong. I have one who is frustrating. I have struggled with this student all year. I have been bitten, hit, pinched, and spit on while trying to teach this one a routine and how to work in school. I have wonderful assistants who jump in and help as well as teach for me when and where I need them to. I struggle to show compassion towards them when I need to say thank you and that I appreciate them. I struggle to think the student will ever learn compassion and fear that I am not doing what I need to to make a difference for all of my students.

Perhaps the bus part is because I feel I don't control this situation. I pause, I ponder over those kittens. In real life, I ponder over the situations with the student, the classroom dynamic, and the adults and how we handle situations as well as work together. I'm most often a passenger on the bus of life.

I am not in control.

That's okay.

I have cried over this student and the situations I found myself in. I have felt useless, defeated, and underappreciated. Others' opinions have made me see myself as a terrible teacher, terrible friend, and terrible coworker. 

As time went on, I learned that I am better for having experienced these feelings, dealt with them, found that all humans make mistakes, and to simply say thank you. It's okay to teach others to give up some control as well. You can't make students behave the way you want all the time. You can't make adults feel bad about themselves all the time to make yourself feel better about your decisions. Don't push me to fit into your mold. I will not fit. 

Planning for Summer Break

Whew, it is May and boy am I busy! Ending the school year is exciting and I've been counting down the days. Things are getting packed up, shuffled around, pictures taken down, books stored in boxes, and plans made for next year.

Yes, you heard me. I've already been planning for next year. Why, you ask? Because Nothing is the same year to year in a Functional classroom. The entire classroom dynamic changes.

You know how people can use stereotypes to generalize a classroom; the class clown, the know-it-all, the shy flower, etc.? Well, I can't. The dynamic in my classroom is based on how the students interact with each other. The amount of talkers, hand-flappers, flee-ers, artists, fighters, dreamers, and their quirks determine how the year will go. It's more than planning levels and types of learner. It's more than diversifying lessons. Not only do my lessons change, but my schedules and even classroom furniture.

But enough about work..

I also have been planing my summer break. So far, the fun stuff has made it to my calendar. That doesn't mean it will happen, but it does mean I'd like it to happen.

There are a lot of movies coming out that look good. Summer is prime movie season

Then there are also fun things to do like: hike, swim, play croquet, and whatever other things I make my kids go outside and do. I've been thinking of destinations, things to do, and other fun stuff.

I've thought of going to the Dunes on Lake Michigan because it is as close to a beach as we can get. 

I've thought of fishing, camping, and hiking in our parks.

I think we should visit the Feline Rescue Center sometime soon. 

I've thought about small things like putting flowers on my Grandparents' grave because that is something children need to experience. 

And I've thought of summer school type activities for my children. I'm mean like that. 
But I haven't gotten all my ideas down yet.
That's okay! 

Some days I just don't feel like doing anything. I live in a part of the world with 4 seasons. Weather is weird. Some days are for staying home.

I have a HUGE stack of books to read.

I have a TON of lesson plans to write.

I have a mostly empty sketchbook and a board on Pinterest full of ideas.

Then there is the writing of the books floating around above my head just out of reach.

I have PLENTY of things to do and most likely not enough summer days to get them done! School is back in session on August 9th...

Thanks for joining in on my little planning session. What plans do you make for the summer? Maybe I can add some to my calendar..

Sunday, April 24, 2016

In My Dreams This Week

I've had some really insane dreams lately.

The other night I dreamed that my car had broken down and I somehow had gotten a man to help and was riding with the driver in his pickup truck down a back road with plowed fields on either side.

The man was older, gray, balding, and heavy set. Not long after we set off, police cars raced past us. This is unusual in any rural area. Then I look out the window and there is a man running down the field with a big gun. He is wearing all black.

The truck dissipates and we are running from the man as the police run in. He shoots at the driver-man but the big ol' guy keeps running without a scratch. I hardly heard the shot, so I decide the shooter has a silencer on his gun. Somehow this is scarier.

We end up in a sort of diner/bar. The gunman comes in and tries to blend in at the bar. He's really good at evading police, I guess.

The police come searching. I point at the man behind his back. When the officer calmly, but abruptly, approaches him, the gunman whips out his weapon and shoots. People dive to the floor. He escapes, police in hot pursuit. They close in. 

He runs behind a barn and I am scrambling to see if they get him, but also to stay out of range of his fire. The old man is still running with me. He's got some endurance! I assume they got the bad guy because I woke up.

                            *             *               *              *
The following night I tossed and turned and remembered many dreams every time I rolled over. However, by morning, I only remember one long dream sequence. 

I was in my classroom, with all my students and my two aides. (For those who don't know I work in a special needs classroom in a middle school.) We seem to be coming back from a lunch break of some sort. Everyone is at their desks and there is an air of expectation. I'm supposed to DO something, but these boxes of items I haven't seen all year appear before me, on my desk, on the tables.
Suddenly, I have to deal with them. I begin to sort one and my aide says something about going outside. "Yes, yes, go on outside," I agree. The class leaves, all but one. He hovers over my shoulder. "You are supposed to go with them!" Now I have to take him. I check the closest door, but they are not seen through the glass. I go to the next door around the corner. This next hallway transforms from my middle school to the high school I went to. They are all lined up waiting, one of my aides pushing the wheelchair and the other in line between students. "Well, push the light switch!" one of aides tells a student. He seems confused as to what light switch. I walk up and show him a switch that activates the door.(It wasn't a normal looking switch, it was yellow and round. This picture is close enough.)
We exit the building. Instead of seeing the parking lot, we now see rows of one-story brick apartments. As we pass them, two boys of middle school age appear and begin to entice my students to get out of line and play among the saplings. I tell them not to.
Then a white convertible appears, top down, to take us across the parking lot to the grassy area. (As if the wheelchair can get in there!!)

We ride to the yard and Senior class members appear and begin to set up carnival style games. There appears a baseball throwing game, a bowling game, and others.
One student sets up a table with popsicles on it. I go over to help him because the sun suddenly is too hot and the popsicles will melt. We move the table into the shade, but I suddenly realize I am topless. There is a huge crowd of people playing games now. My building principal stands tall in the crowd and I am grateful he doesn't see me. Where is my shirt!? I duck into a sort of wooden shed to look for something to clothe my top half with. I dig and dig in piles of stuff. I never seem to find anything, but the dream presses on.
Next, I am running out the back. I jump a low white picket fence and knock on the back door of a house.
A young couple are watching TV. I say, "I'm not gonna hurt you, but please can I call 911? I've been kidnapped!" Confused, they let me use their house phone (who has one of those anymore?!)
I must have called, because next I am waiting for the police while looking at their laptop. I find a YouTube video of myself speaking to Oprah on her show and I point. "See? I am famous. That's why I was kidnapped!" I am suddenly a black woman with a gorgeous head of fluffy hair.
Then I wake up.

I've never dreamed I changed race before. I've dreamed about school before, and being topless, and fleeing situations, even of gunmen as in the previous night's dream, but never have I changed races. That was very unique. Is it a sign of the times?

Dreams are all about emotions. What I felt more than what was going on is what is most significant. There was a sense of helplessness in each dream. I tried to interact, in many instances, with others in the dream. My role constantly changed as I felt new emotions. In both dreams, I woke up still looking for a hero, that moment when things were solved. I was close to an ending, but not quite.

I guess life feels like that a lot. We can't have a good ending because there is always something next on our agendas. We just hope that our schedules include good things.