Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget

Only one story of millions. One perspective of 9/11.

Sixteen years ago today, I married my ex-husband. Two years later, I had the day off and we were planning an excursion to Chattanooga to celebrate our anniversary. I emerged from the shower and my then-husband said, "A plane crashed into the Twin Towers."

At the time, I was young and uneducated. All I pretty much did in those days was work, come home, repeat. I didn't generally watch or listen to the news. So when my then-husband told me about the crash, I didn't even know what the Twin Towers were. My brain went somewhere that told me it was a horrible accident and nothing more.

On our drive, we listened to the radio. The news was talking about the crash and had indicated that another plane had crashed. And another at the Pentagon. I was trying to force myself to believe anything other than a terrorist attack. That stuff didn't happen in the United States. However, I knew that three planes crashing into structures within such a small time-frame couldn't be coincidence. But I couldn't, or maybe I was trying to refuse, to make sense of it.

As we muddled through an oddly sparse Chattanooga, I still couldn't bring myself to believe in that type of malice. The memory is hazy and maybe that's how I walked around that day: in a haze, listening to the scared whispers and murmurs of those around me. A older woman at the aquarium caught my eye after saying something about the attack (which I still couldn't process) and I remember the look of anxiousness upon her face as she searched around her for normalcy and comfort. I'm sure when she looked at me, instead of kind eyes and shared panic, she saw a confused young woman.

I began to accept that the United States had been the target of a horrendous attack. The death toll began to sink in and I flipped on the television that night to learn more about what had happened, to try and grasp the concept of what forever would be a changed world for myself and everyone in this nation. I saw footage of people in a country of which I can't remember the name. They were celebrating in their streets: whooping, smiling, laughing, cheering, dancing. The image of an old woman in a black dress and black scarf over her head pumped her fists in the air, and with a huge grin across her dark, wrinkled face, chanted enthusiastically in a language I didn't know. My heart fell and I sobbed as my world shifted. I didn't understand how she or those in that crowd--or anyone anywhere in the world--could be so happy over so many lost lives. I still don't understand.

When my students or children ask me hard questions about why some people do the horrible things they do, I can only shake my head and tell them I don't know. That's the answer I learned that day. I just don't know. I understand that people will exhibit behaviors that I don't understand. We can reason with ourselves and say, oh, it's the way they were raised, or they were betrayed and hurt by their parents or family, or they have a physiological or behavioral disorder, but it doesn't do anything to quell the sadness and loss, especially when so many people out there are bent on hurting others with a wave of people behind them ready to cheer them on.

But the flip-side to this is that I saw so many more people stepping up and binding together to rebuild, to comfort, and to give of themselves. What others do is beyond our control. What we can control is our reaction to what those others do. What I can do as an individual is try to maintain positivity in all aspects of my life. I can do for others. I can retain my empathy for those around me. I can love. I can help when I see a need.

That is the rest of the response I have when those hard questions come: I don't know what makes some people do the terrible things they do, but I can react in a positive way.

Peace, love, and never forget,


Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's all about perspective

I get so irritated when I see politicians bring up a decision or stance that someone made 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or even longer. "We should all hate Candidate Doe because he was for legalizing wild bobcats as pets 20 years ago!" Think about it. We see these claims ALL THE TIME now, especially since the presidential election is coming up. Is it not plausible or acceptable for people to regret decisions they've once made or change their minds on issues or situations after having a little perspective? Can you say that you would make the same decisions now that you did when you were younger? Changing one's mind, changing one's stance, changing one's perception... it's all part of human growth.

I think about this concept more now as I creep closer to graduation. As I read some of the things I wrote even as close as two years ago, I'm amazed at some of my decisions and stances then. Education has truly changed me. I am not the same person I was and it's hard to look at some of my old posts and not consider deleting them; I fear that someone might see those posts and think that what I posted then aligns with my thought process now. But I resist that urge only because I want to remember where I was then and how much I've grown.

One such post came across my TimeHop app recently. Apparently, I'd just been told that I was about to have to pay $100 for my childrens' "free" educations. Understandably, I was upset. Not unlike many families, we struggle financially. I questioned the purpose of us paying $50 a piece for supply fees for our kids when I could have gotten all the supplies both children needed for school for less than $50. I was certain that what I was paying for was not only supplies for my child, but supplies for the children whose parents weren't able (or willing) to pay. Why was it my responsibility to provide for those children?

In response to the post, I can now tell Former Me some things about education and schools that she didn't know or didn't really think about then.

"Hey, I get that you're upset. I understand your point, but I think that you should first take into account those workbooks. Do you remember when you were a kid and had to wait in line at a local store to buy workbooks and how expensive they were? Now consider that these materials are going through the school. Yay! No more waiting in line and hoping you got the right workbook! Considering this, $50 doesn't seem like a whole heckuva lot now, does it?

"Also consider how fantastic it is not to have to wedge your way into the back-to-school section at Wal-Mart and hope that you can get every exact specification on the list. You'll like that plan when Zachary goes into the 4th grade and you have a list of precise supplies to buy. Oh, so you don't understand why a kid would specifically need a green folder and a yellow folder? Why can't it be just any color, you ask? Well, it's easier for a teacher to say to 30 young students, 'Get out your yellow folders.' This allows for smoother transitions between subjects and allows more time for teaching. You'll come to realize that in teaching, every second counts!

"Finally, I know that there will always be those parents who honestly can't afford to pay the fees for their children. I also know that there will always be those parents who will refuse to pay the fees, whether they can really afford to or not. In either case, you have enough problems, right? Why should you have to pay for supplies for those other kids, especially if you don't know which kind of kids are getting the waivers? On that point, forgive me, but I have to say, GET OVER YOURSELF.  It isn't the child's fault when parents can't or won't pay their fees. If you have serious money issues, talk to the teacher and work out some sort of payment plan, otherwise, pay it and stop worrying and whining. Do you realize just how much money teachers take out of their own pockets to pay for things so your children can be comfortable and happy and ready to learn? No, you don't know it, yet. You will soon, though. Point is, it is not the teacher's fault and it isn't any of the kids' faults. Don't take out your frustrations on them."

So, yeah. I would have given Former Me a good swift kick and reminded her to remember the importance of giving and doing what we can for the betterment of society. Being on the other side of things has provided me with a perspective I never once considered before.

On that note, I must get back to business. I finished my last exam for the summer semester yesterday and am gearing up for the Praxis exams in less than a month. The kids will go back to school in two weeks. This summer (and the year!) has totally flown by. It's hard to believe that by this time next year, I will be finished with this part of my education. I told you, dear reader, that I wouldn't see much of you in the interim and I apologize for that. When I emerge, I will be ready with new stories and new experiences to share! Until then...

Peace, Love, and Teaching,


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The DIY Kitchen Remodel Weight Loss Plan. It Really Works!

I have discovered a weight loss plan that really works! It is, sadly, a bit expensive, but if you're looking to remodel your kitchen and lose weight, this is the plan for you!

Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. Author assumes no responsibility for stress-related ailments as a result of using this plan.

Step 1: Pack your entire kitchen neatly into totes, vowing that you won't forget where and how it is all packed.

Step 2: Tear down entire kitchen: floors, walls, cabinets, etc. (a.k.a exercise)

Step 3: Get hungry. Forget where everything is packed.

Step 4: Spend hours going through totes. Just when the Universe seems to hate you, find the food you are looking for.

Step 5: Realize that you don't know where the pots and pans are located either.

Step 6: Break down and cry.

Step 7: Get in your car and head to the nearest restaurant for takeout, hoping no one sees you because you are covered from head to toe in paint, dust, and drywall.

Step 8: See everyone you know and explain multiple times that you don't normally go out looking like that.

Step 9: Get home and finally begin eating but realize that you're so exhausted, you can't finish.

Step 10: Find the pots and pans.

Step 11: Begin slowly rebuilding the kitchen. (a.k.a more exercise)

Repeat steps 3 thru 11 for the next 2 to 513 months.

Wa-la! The weight has melted away!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Life Just Is

Three years ago, my husband and I separated. Up until that point, and even some thereafter, I was
sure that he and I as a unit wouldn't last. I've always loved him, yes, but sometimes love isn't enough; I don't have to tell realistic people this, though.

To be honest, I still don't know if we'll make it. I promised forever and I will do my best to hold on to that, but no one knows the future. Life always changes. Life is imperfect. Love and marriage are also imperfect, and that's okay.

It took a long while for this concept to grow and develop for me. We learn starting in childhood that there is a definitive line between black and white, right and wrong, and that if you believe in something, you have to believe in it ALL THE WAY, never leaving any give for that certain imperfection or for indefinite differing situations. We want to believe that there are easy answers to life and that answers to some of the same questions can't change over time. Realistically, life just is though, and we can kill ourselves trying to figure everything out. We can also kill ourselves constantly searching for that unchanging bliss and perfection that we're sure is around the next corner, but it doesn't happen that way.

In a way, I know this sounds clinical and unfeeling. It really isn't. :) Life just is, though. Nothing is certain and nothing is forever. Things and people grow, though, and that is just as important as the realization that happiness is not something you can just grab and hold hostage in your hand forever.

For the most part, life is wonderful. Eddie and I have our spats and disagreements as we probably always will. We haven't always liked each other or ourselves either. However, when I stopped worrying about the intensity of the marriage, mutual feelings, and began to plow forward to try to make the best life for our children, us, and yes, even myself, I began to understand that life just is. This concept has been the best thing that has ever happened to us as a couple.

I am so thankful for him. He is a great husband, father, and friend. I thank God for not only bringing him into my life but also for giving me the ability to see that life just is so I can enjoy my marriage and kids without trying to shove life into some exquisite little box.

Ten years we've been married. I'm not going to bull**** anyone by saying that those years have gone by quickly and we are just as in love as the day we married... blah, blah, blah. I can say that while I may not love him more than I did then, I definitely love him deeper and wider and stronger than I could have ever imagined. And no, some of those years did not go by quickly, LOL. I wouldn't relive them, but I wouldn't trade them either.

Happy Anniversary, honey. I appreciate you and love you more than I can express.

Peace, love, and life,