Day #15: Change

August 30, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

I’m not the same person I was
Four months ago.
I’m not the same person I was
Three years ago.
I’m not the same person I was
Twelve years ago.
Fifteen years ago.
Twenty years ago.
Twenty-two years ago.
Thirty five years ago.

Each life experience
Chipping away
Whittling
Reshaping
Losses and gifts
Stacking,
Shifting,
Settling.

As I change, I get to know
More of me,
Finding out more about
What I’m about,
Discovering, as I continue to unwrap
That I’m more the same self
Than I had ever realized.

Day #14: Learn

August 30, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

I’m a teacher. I’m all about the learning. I LOVE learning. It gets me excited. It doesn’t matter what subject area or topic. I can find a way to be totally jazzed about it. Here’s some of what I learned this summer:

  1. How to throw baseball pitches. I can throw a 2-seam, a 4-seam, a change-up, a knuckleball, a cutter and a curve. I’m not saying that they’re pretty, but I can throw ’em. Learning how to throw these pitches has taught me other things, too:
    1. I actually know what those pitches ARE.
    2. My sons can be incredibly patient and encouraging, even when there’s little reason to be.
    3. Really. I suck at pitching.
    4. But it’s fun.
    5. No matter how tired, sore or crabby I may feel, it will always, always, ALWAYS be worth my time to throw the ball with them.
    6. Always.
    7. For that matter, I will choose to accept any invitation from my boys, at any time. Frisbee golf? Got it. Open skate? I’m there. Dog walk? Let’s roll. Snuggle time? Can’t stop me.
  2. How to let people go. I had a friend in my former job. She is a great person, and is one of the sweetest, most generous souls I know. But after attempt after attempt after attempt after attempt, it turned out I was the only one who was trying to make any contact. It made me feel more insecure and needy the more I worried about it. So? I let the friendship go. I wouldn’t turn away if reached out to, but I have discovered that, for now, I have better places to spend my attention (see section 1 above).
  3. How to go upside down at the rings at my gym. Not a huge thing, but boy does it make me feel awesome to say I can. Plus it’s good street cred with my kids.
    10930187_10153410851942290_7085349927998260810_n
  4. That my kids will be just FINE. That when I sense myself getting worked up about one of my sons – about his achievement, about his skills, about his placement or play on a sporting team, about any of it – I tell myself the following:
    1. My worries stem from my insecurities.
    2. My worries are not about my kids.
    3. But my kids’ experiences are NOT ABOUT ME.
    4. And I can close my eyes and picture them at thirty, being wonderful people.
    5. And I realize there isn’t a need to worry.
    6. Because they will be JUST FINE.
    7. And I can calm down.

Of course, there’s much, much more to it. And there’s so much more that I want to learn. So much I need to learn. So much I’m going to learn, even if I don’t know I need to learn it yet.

That’s why I’m such a big fan of life.

Day #10: Count

August 25, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

Today’s post is proof of two things:
1. I’m human. Yes, I missed a couple of posts. Don’t worry, I beat myself up over it more than you did. So ha.
2. My blog is truly eclectic. Sometimes I wish I could find a niche and specialize. Is my writing poetry? Educational? Parent-based humor? Spiritually leaning? I am at the mercy of my brain cells. Come along for the ride.

I’m a counter. Always have been.

I can’t help it. It just happens that way. I love numbers.

I look for the palindromes on my car odometer. I sometimes count spoken syllables. Groups of five are best. (Don’t judge.) I might count lights. Or steps. Or chairs. Or panels on the wall. Or anything that’s more than one. One time in geometry class I calculated the number of holes in the acoustical tile. The same class I got in trouble in for counting the rotation of the ceiling fan.

Yet somehow, as a kid, I let myself be talked into the idea that I wasn’t good at math.  It didn’t happen right away. Geometry was amazing. I loved theorems. (Hey. I TOLD you not to judge.) I loved the way that every bit of knowledge connected back to the most basic concepts via mathematical daisy chain. But beyond sine-cosine-tangent, things just became too theoretical. Without a solid grounding in numbers and ideas, I didn’t have anything to hold on to. Maybe it was the friends around me, the math gurus and geniuses who took calculus while I gracefully backed away from the table. I looked at them, figured I didn’t have what it took, and convinced myself I wasn’t a math gal.

Still, my whole life I have been taken with the poetry of numbers, their symmetry, the way different numbers have their own distinct personalities. I love working with numbers, even still. They’re comfortable to me.

It wasn’t until I began teaching math almost exclusively that I realized I was more mathematical than I gave myself credit for. That I carried numbers and patterns and systems in my bones. And that I had the ability to teach my students how to carry it with them as well.

Soon, I started to hear more and more adults tell me how bad they are at math. I wonder how many of those adults are actually just like me. People who have somehow gotten the message that they stink at mathematics. They tell me that they’ve never understood it, and that they are terrible with numbers.

In my heart of hearts? I. Don’t. Buy. It. One. Bit.

So here’s my challenge:

Hey. Grown-ups who hate math. Or who think you do. Or who think you suck at math. Or numbers. Come chat with me. Anyone want to take me up on the offer? Bet I can convince you otherwise.

The numbers are in your favor.

Post-script: And if there is anyone out there who can make calculus make sense to me, who can bring it back to tangible math roots for me, well then. Sign. Me. Up.

Day #8: Be

August 22, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

Taking the time
Breathing in
Out
The crescendo of cicadas
From the loner
To the deafening
Chorus
Building from right to left
And back again

The settling of my body
With a deep inhale
Pulse slowing
Shoulders releasing

Eyes sensing sun
Through closed lids
Skin drinking in,
Refusing to relinquish
Warmth

Holding it safe
For February

Day #6: Know

August 21, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

What do I know? Right now, at this point in time?

That I have good friends who think about me.
That I have an amazing, supportive family.
That I can’t write anything deep with four teenage boys bickering ten feet away.
That it takes a special kind of zen to ignore said boys bickering ten feet away.
I mean special kind of zen.
Really special.
I know that a martini doesn’t make my children behave any better, but it does make me care *that much* less.
That a Shabbat dinner does offer a degree of specialness I don’t always get.
That said Shabbat dinner can still fall to pieces with a glut of male energy.
That a homemade chocolate cookie and a glass of milk deserve their own unique circle in heaven.

And you? What truths come to you, either deep or trivial?

Day #5: Accept

August 20, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

This is a tough one.

Acceptance is more than acknowledgement. It is allowing a presence in our minds, in our hearts, in our lives. It is the weaving of truths into ourselves. I don’t have to like something to accept it, but it does become part of who I am.

I accept that my brother Mike died this April.
I accept that it wasn’t an accident.
I accept that he had been hurting, emotionally, for a really long time.
I accept that I may never know what he was truly feeling and thinking in his last days.
I accept that I can no longer contact him, despite the fact that his messages are still on my phone.
I accept that that the rest of us need each other now, in ways deeper and more different than we can imagine.

These thoughts are who I am, where I am. For better or worse, they have become a part of me.

I’d like to think that acceptance is the best way, and that we need to create room for all things in the universe as part of our selves. That our minds should approach the world with open arms.

Yet.

I also think there are ideas best kept away. There are patterns of belief which seek to destroy us, rather than make us whole. There are ideas which are, quite simply, not true. And those things I turn away at the door.

I do not accept that Mike made a decision in clarity, of sound mind.
I do not accept that he wanted to be without his wife and children.
I do not accept that anyone is to blame.

Acceptance any of these things would require me to believe they are true. And, knowing my brother, I simply don’t. Mike was a great guy who was a good dad. Who told his family every day he loved them. Who would sometimes text me lines from the movie Airplane because, well, c’mon. Airplane.

I’m still picking up the pieces. I’m still trying to figure out exactly the size and shape of the hole he left behind. And perhaps, as time moves on, as I learn more, I will come to different understandings and different acceptances.

Until then, I have come to acceptance of where I am.

Of where he his.

Day #4: Understand

August 19, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

I can’t think of anything better to sum it up than to quote my nerd crush, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson:

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”

Sigh.

True.

Difficult.

True.

Day #3: Search

August 18, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

Perhaps you know the feeling.

Standing in the kitchen, hungering.
There has to be something.
I open up the refrigerator and register its contents.
What would fulfill?
Over to the pantry.
My arms open the doors wide,
My eyes take in the bounty.
Nothing.
There is hunger for sure, yet
I don’t know what I’m looking for.
I don’t know what I want.

It’s the same thing when I sit down to write, sometimes.
I hunger for
Right words,
Right thoughts.

Instead, I find myself gazing up and down shelves,
Nibbling on one thing,
Then another,
Satisfied
Then dissatisfied
Wondering what I’m really
Searching for.

Day #2: Act

August 17, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

This blog post marks the second in a series of writings and posts for the Hebrew month of Elul. Each day, I will reflect on a variety of themes. Thanks,Rabbi Phyllis Sommer for the inspiration!

Today’s theme, I realize, can be interpreted multiple ways. I could be reflecting on action, on being a person who DOES rather than INTENDS. Boy, I could write a lot on that one.

But the interpretation that nags at me more today is this idea of how often I feel the piece of ourselves we present to the world is so often an act. It’s a poem I actually began and didn’t finish a long while ago. Below is what I wrote.

Just like the kosher lady
Who sneaks pancakes with bacon
I awake into action
Cheerfully rouse the troops
Serve a nutritionally-balanced breakfast
Drop the kids off with a smile
Hi! How are you doing today?
Great! And you?
Just fine.
I greet my colleagues in the same fashion as we
Gather
In important meetings
And sit rapt.
I stop at the store, exchanging
Currency and small talk
Great! And you?
Just fine.

Just fine.
Well, not fine.
But fine.

How I wonder
The feeling of
Shrugging off appearance
Sloughing away
Thick skin
Broad shoulders
Heavy heart
The thousand daily transgressions

A shedding of pretense
Releasing me
At the intersection
Of identity and intent
At the corner
Of my true self.

Day #1: Prepare

August 16, 2015

2015-08-13-20.14.35-300x300

This blog post marks the first in a series of writings and posts for the Hebrew month of Elul. Each day, I will reflect on a variety of themes. Thanks, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer for the inspiration!

Preparation.

Best friend, worst enemy.

I’m a planner at heart.
I write this just as I’ve finished up preparation for a teacher workshop I’m giving next week on differentiating for gifted kids. It’s taken me over six hours to develop my handout.

Why on earth do I do that to myself? I just love the idea of having things all squared away and organized. I like having the big picture in my head, crystallized to a point where I can communicate with clarity. That, and I have suffered through too many disorganized workshops to expect less of myself.

At the same time, I’m more than well aware that the presentation can go in a completely different direction from what I’ve planned.

Just like in my classroom.
Just like life.

Because let’s face it. We THINK we can prepare ourselves for mentally for life, but we’re kidding ourselves.

Case in point: I ran two marathons before I had kids, and it took an incredible amount of mental toughness. It became a process of telling the negative voice in my head to sit down and shut up. I naturally assumed I could summon that mental toughness when it came time for childbirth.

Ask my husband how quickly THAT went out the hospital window when I was in labor.

So, yes. I know that I can’t prepare for everything in life. And I know the things I can’t prepare for comprise life’s most amazing and heartbreaking things.

Still.

If there’s something I can control?
Something I might be able to prepare for?
Something I really can think out ahead of time?

You bet I’ll be all over it.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers