Sunday 3 things…

January 23, 2022 I am grateful for friends who have my back – truthfully, thoughtfully, unabashedly; I am grateful for the new puzzle book I published today under Baby Bird Puzzles; I am grateful to put my head on this soft and cozy pillow after talking to each of my children today. #choosejoy #3things #Gratitude

Early morning 3 things – December 4, 2021

Last night I was distracted from my posting of 3 things but what’s funny is I was racking up the gratitude all day. Not that it was a particularly great day from an outside viewpoint, but I was able to really focus on the good things and not the little annoyances (both people and events) that permeated the day. I am grateful for the massage therapist that brings me relief from my physical pain; I am grateful on any day I get to speak with all 3 of my children and know they are doing well; but on this early morning post I am most most most grateful that I know that my light is very, very bright and that it’s just not for everyone…and that’s okay. I will shine on, my friends, I WILL SHINE ON! I will never allow another soul to ever dim it again. Ever. Seriously- it’s quite bright. Have a wonderful weekend – get some fresh air! #choosejoy #gratitude #3things

Thanksgiving 2021 – 3 things of gratitude

Today started like any other day – coffee and a hot shower (neither of which I take for granted). The difference is, however, that I am at the beach with my children – my grown children. I am grateful to have special time with them as they create their own lives; I am grateful for the delicious food we’ve had today; I am grateful for the giggling granddaughter that runs like the energizer bunny. Still, the difference in the day is a little sad – as I try to fill all of my days with joy and gratitude on this day I feel the loss for some reason – on this day of thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I feel the joy too. But when I look into the faces of these young adults I can’t help but see the small children they once were. It’s not really sadness…nostalgia maybe?? I don’t know who said these words first but I have said them often. The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy every moment that you can. Every. Day. Thank you for taking this journey of gratitude with me over the years. I appreciate having the audience! #choosejoy #gratitude #3things #emptynest

“The Rose”

I used to sing this to my kids at night as I put them to bed.  Every word speaks of love and the ability to overcome even the harshest conditions to find and give love.  No matter how dark the world gets, have faith in love.  Such a beautiful message.

 

The Rose

By Bette Midler

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking, that never takes a chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.

Songwriters: GORDON MILLS
© Universal Music Publishing Group
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Slushie to the face!

Wow – what a way to end a brutal 10 work hour day.  Tonight after a day of teaching, an afternoon of coaching, and an evening of parenting teenagers – my other half seemed to be having some philosophical questions as to the purpose, and perhaps futility, of parenting and vented them my way:  “What does it matter?  They are just going to do whatever they want when they get out on their own.  None of this matters – they are who they are.”  That was the gist.

My insides kind of imploded as I tried to understand the harsh feelings I was having in reaction to his comments.  Don’t get me wrong.  I, too, go to this dark place sometimes – wondering about the futility of it all…trying to train teach teenagers/children how to be responsible, productive citizens.  How to teach them to be kind, generous, honest, and humble (and how to write an outline).  I want them to learn how to take care of themselves without being selfish and I do my my very best to lead by example.   But today I sort of needed  a rock to lean on  when I got home, and instead, I got a slushie in the face.  All day today I stood in the library with high school students telling me that there were no books…that is a post for another day.

Now, I try to raise my students with all the love and patience I give my own children, but, of course, with the added dimension of trying to teach research skills and strategies – and boy do I fall short sometimes.

So – my husband did not say that I am worthless.  Not those words.  He is not responsible for my reaction to and interpretation of his words.  And when I told him what I was hearing…that my whole life has been dedicated to teaching and raising children on the premise that they can be nurtured and molded and he is telling me that it is all for nothing (ie I am worthless)…well… he felt badly and immediately stopped speaking,  gave me a hug, and told me he loved me.  He tried with all his might to fill the love bucket he had just accidentally kicked over.  he started laughing and went downstairs to bed. Ugh! Gracie!*

All people are the products of nature and nurture.  The two are forever entwined.  Some personalities clearly reside in nature and some abound with learned behaviors.  Some bad and some good.  If I did not believe in the effects of nurture I could not teach, nor would I have children.  However – I also believe that most kids people are average – and that is okay.  I do not need to raise the valedictorian, or the sport superstar, or the trophy winning whatever.  You don’t need to be the next President, you don’t need to make a million dollars, and you don’t need to be famous to live. Have aspirations – but be grounded.

I want my kids to know love, family, and hope.  I want them to know joy and have faith.  I want them to experience life and not fear it – even the bad parts.  I want them to find success – however it is defined.  If they do these things then, really, they will be anything but average.  As a parent, as a teacher – I can give them these things – show them how to find these things for themselves.  Maybe along the way I can teach them to read, write, and make an argument.  I have worth.  Indeed, I have worth.

*Gracie is the name that I gave my marriage years ago.  After having kids and realizing how much work motherhood is and what having a solid marriage requires, I decided to treat my marriage like one of my kids.  I try to give it just as much attention as the other kids demand.  It is easy to loose your spouse in the family,  put date nights off, and fail to connect as you push through raising those little cherubs.  By giving it a name – Gracie – it helps me to remember to treat my marriage with patience and love.  Tonight, Gracie is in a time out!

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***Update: My husband totally redeemed himself the next morning.  As I explained to him the day ahead included attending a softball game to watch my students play I followed it up with “I know, I know I could just say no”.  To which he replied as he made the bed, without missing a beat, and with nothing but compassion, love, and understanding in his voice, “no you can’t, that’s why you are a such a great teacher”.  What I heard:  What you do matters.

Please Pull Up To The Cone.

Orange coneEach day on my morning drive I encounter three schools – elementary, middle, and high.  My commute spans four to twelve minutes, depending on the parents in the other cars.  The days of dropping off at the elementary school ended a few years ago.  I will save those days for another post.  Now, my youngest of three attends middle school.  I drive her to school mostly because of her large Baritone Saxophone that she carries back and forth to band and home.  Sometimes, it is so she can get there early to practice in the band room.

In the car circle at the middle school there is a very large, bright orange cone.  The simple, well established rule that we all learn during the first weeks of the sixth grade – pull up to the cone.  This very simple rule allows for the maximum number of cars to safely unload the precious little cherubs and keeps the line flowing at a tolerable pace. In the early part of the school year the administrator remains dutifully in the area, waving his arm, ensuring all parents learn the rule and all cars pull up to the cone.  This complex pull to the orange cone system has been in play for years at the elementary school, as Orange conewell.  So this concept should not be a shocker to anyone.

As the school year progresses the arm waver begins to disappear, leaving parents on their own to follow the rule.  Inevitably, parents fail to pull up to the orange cone in order to drop their own child off at the optimal point.  To be honest – the arm waver never really deterred the determined parents.  He served more as a reminder to those that try to do the right thing.  Clearly, not pulling up to the orange cone slows down the line, backing it up into the street, forcing unsafe traffic maneuvers by those not dropping off, and, quite frankly, takes a little more time off my life.  Rather than five or six cars unloading at once, only one or two let out their cargo before the line moves again.  This is not a new phenomena – parents thinking that their kids are too special to have to walk the ten to fifteen more paces than a less deserving child (see the aforementioned orange cone at the elementary school).

So why do we have rules?  Let’s go back to the basic of common courtesy.  Rules allow a society to function and exist.  At every school I see parents breaking the simple drop off rules for their particular school – and don’t even get me started on the chaos of daily pick up.  These are likely the same parents that get the email or phone call home that their entitled child cheated or cut class or hurt another child or was insubordinate….and they immediately take the side of the child, failing to even consider the ideas of integrity or honesty or true consequence.  Not only do these parents have the “not my child” attitude because they sit with blinders on, they also have the “my child is special and does not have to follow the rules attitude”.  After all, the rules are for the “lessers”.  Why should my child have to follow the rules?  They see me break the rules for them daily.  The rules clearly do not apply to us.

Orange cone

Similarly, why have rules in the house?  So kids know how to function within the parameters of the rules of society.  Life is not a free-for-all.  By not setting reasonable boundaries for kids and leading by good example – parents are setting their kids up for failure (or to be jerks).  True, there are successful liars and cheaters and jerks all over the world.  Everything in life is a trade off and I suppose, once again, it depends on perspective…what it means to be successful.  I want my kids to follow the rules, be considerate, have compassion.  I want my children to show empathy, help others, and be courteous.  I want my family to know love, security, and pride.  I do not want my children to think that the world owes them something.  I do not want my children to be entitled buttholes.

The demise of  our society begins at not pulling up to the orange cone. We teach our children through our actions.   We teach them humility and fairness, or we teach them entitlement. So I choose to pull up to the orange cone – every time – giant instrument and all.  She will survive walking the extra fifteen paces carrying that thing.  I promise.  This is why I pull up to the orange cone, every time – because it is such a simple and courteous rule to follow, to model for my daughter.  How could I expect my kids to follow the hard rules, if I can’t even follow such a simple one?  Pulling up to the cone shows my daughter that she is not the center of the universe; she is not entitled to any special treatment. Choose to pull up to the orange cone  – both literally and metaphorically – and teach children accountability, consideration, and humility.

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