Last Spring I Became Smitten, and Was Forced into Happiness

Aside

1452562_10152012126498810_283704191_n (1)Did you read the snippet I found on the internet yesterday?

I put it in this post:

Does Change Have to Happen All at Once?

How does change look in your world? This is a topic that my husband and I have always differed on.

Actually. I drive him kind of crazy.

I say no, all at once can be good…but not as a rule.

He says  yes, all at once is the rule…and is good.

Another difference between us is reflected in my unwillingness to talk about this or to have a debate.

I don’t care. Seriously. I have other fish to fry at the moment. If sweeping change is what floats your boat, then keep on truckin’! Bully for you!

Same token, I’ve done some serious thinking of late and have sobered up to the fact that if I don’t grab these last several “working” years that my body will hopefully give me, I will have missed an awesome boat ride indeed.

When we first moved to Iowa I was certain that I was interested in anything that did not include working in a school. My years as a sub, and various teaching jobs of many sizes and colors never left me disappointed in the magic of children or the power of falling in love with an idea or a letter of the alphabet. (Seriously? You’ve not had a conversation or contemplative moment about the bold roundness of the letter “O”? Odd.)

1477677_10152061644043810_1326140848_nI arrived to our new city life sorely let down by the adult world though and it’s bitter, whining approach to what we as educators should feel lucky to be doing each day.

Iowa being a writing mecca, I wrote. Day after day, blog post after blog post. I read, fed the dogs, wrote, deleted, read, fed the kids, and reread my way into being ready to step out the front door and actually talk to people.

And then there was the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, soon after at a religious temple, and shortly after at Sandy Hook.

I went from afraid, to sad, and continue to feel intensely angry about these events.

During that same time period my family was saying: “You seem bored, how about a job?”

No change.

And, “You seem cranky, how about a job?”

No change.

Then, “We can’t take it any more – get a job!”

As luck would have it – a ruby of a job I landed indeed. I’ll spare you the details of how I stumbled into the one I had in the Spring, and the one that I have now – but lucky I am indeed. And, now I know that the computer dying as the spring blossomed was a gift as well.

I had no time or way of processing how happy I was to be working with the hard of hearing Kindergartener for whom I was a communication coach. Being unhappy became a most boring and lonely consideration. Written, or even spoken words not needed.

480201_10151552955388810_1938698632_nI was trapped, smitten, and humbled by his eyelashes, wit, and ornery moves. And, I’m now eagerly re-enrolled in school to help increase the odds that I can keep on working in a series of best jobs ever.

As my cousin said on the phone the other day, “This is my last job, and I plan to make it the one that is the most fun!”

Hand Wave: “Hello! I’m still here!”

River Way path in Davenport Iowa

I’ve not posted much of late because I’m working on a few writing projects.

One is that I’m setting up a new page on my blog, meaning that when you look to the top, but below the picture of the train wheels, there are pages to click on that help explain what this blog is about.

So, keep tuned, as I am working on a page that basically says:

This blog is about Grace.

I’ll make it more interesting than that though. As a matter of fact I want to make it interactive. I’ll be looking for responses to reflection questions and posting replies with permission from those who are game with answers.

In the mean time, may I report that in honor of my sporty family I set out on a walk yesterday morning with the dogs? With no small help from the cool weather, as we ambled

This kind of cracked me up. How efficient to catch it as it falls.

along one of Davenport’s Bike paths, I actually started thinking, okay, they’ve got a point…this isn’t so bad.

After checking on Mapquest last evening, it turns out that the dogs dragged me for more than four miles along the ‘ssipi river! I hope your corner of the planet had some nice weather as well.

Joy Comes With the Morning

Photo by David Roncolato

Psalm 30:5

 

“Weeping may linger for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.”

A few of the things that have never failed to bring me joy are:

~ groups of noisy chirping birds that I can’t find

~ being a back up alto for James Taylor

~ staring at old photos

~ reaching the end of a good novel

~ waking up before anyone else

Writing.

I like to write.

And now, I like to make friends with other writers. Many of them are being nice right back to me.

Your best writing reflects your genuine heart.

~ Jim Brennan

That hasn’t been my experience with all artists, and I am lucky enough to have friends of each variety: actors, musicians, potters, photographers, dancers…

I’m sure that after some thought I would figure out that one type of artist isn’t more generous than the next. People are just who they are when it really comes down to it all.

But, I’m starting to wonder if part of the reason I am really starting to enjoy writing is that it is like theater. Unless it’s a grocery list, there needs to be an audience for most writing worth the work. So, having the confidence to either ask or give feedback is not that different from having the confidence to hit the stage and find out that the audience either loves or doesn’t love the performance.

With that thought, I’m now remembering how during those theater days of my childhood until early adulthood, experiencing joy was as easy as saying yes to my sons when they ask to play in the rain.

What did I have to lose after all of those hours of rehearsal? Not much. Most things were fun, exactly for the sake of being fun.

Joy doesn’t always come easily.

I guess that is what I’m trying to say. Life is full of complex and tough stuff.

Some days and life stages can seem like a sad night that will never, ever end.

And other times, can be as light as the photo of my friends who found a water fountain amidst the heat wave last week.

These are my thoughts this morning, and guess what? The sun is up, the birds are making a racket outside, and (shh), I have a few more minutes to myself.

Ugly Is As Ugly Starts

Ugly is, as Ugly Starts

Okay.

I can do that.

I am following, admist good bad and not so pretty domestic stress, a writers series that encourages 15 habits. These habits include “must have” routines for those that write for fun and for those that are in it for more than fun.

I’m on day 7. Others, I kid you not, are finished and have started, or even finished, a book in those fifteen days.

Cool, eh?

So, my assignment/suggestion, should I choose to follow is to

start

a project. But start it ugly.

Make something ugly. And leave it ugly (temporarily). Be okay with it. Embrace the splotches and streaks for what they are: evidence that you’ve started. ~ Jeff Goins 

“JesusMaryAndJospeh!” my mother would grouse. ” ‘START’  a project? You tell my daughter to ‘start’ something new, why not coach her on at least getting to the middle of a project and we will all sleep easier at night young fellow!”

“Well”, I am snarking back to my celestial MamaForce, SOME of us are better at casting seeds and forgetting what we planted, and much of the time WE don’t care.

Humph.

(Just pictured mom and some other creative gal pals going to the other side of the galaxy for a quick, won’t kill them now smoke. They are now rolling their eyes at how much work I continue to be, even at my tender age of “old enough to know better.”)

Okay. Busted. Of course I care.

Of course I want, sometimes, often times to be able to even remotely write here what I really mean to say and sometimes   often times I get

SICK

and TIRED

of being too, too…worried, and uptight, and hesitant to just,

just at least pluck away at unfinished projects that I beat myself up about. Unfinished?! Ha! Let alone unexplored!

often sometimes feel like I’ve lost my creatiave young adult “all that” forever, and then blame on the kids, the spouse, the dogs, my illnesses, the weather…

If I could just,

just finish a few, not all, but a few of the unfinished projects that I don’t only believe, but know would make a difference to others. Maybe then I would give myself permission to stop pretending that I don’t care.

I do.

I don’t want to fail, I get tired of being embarrassed and making false starts, I’m concerned about the galaxies of word twisting jerks out there and not quite versed on how to handle them (familiar and strangers)…

but.

“Hell’s bells Katherine!” I just imagined my artist Mom and designer Granny smiling with cigars replacing the smokes in their ashtrays. I’m pretty sure they just shook their heads and are now bowing them for some odd reason. Are they laughing, crying or praying? This reminds me to look at the clock.

Which reminds me to go to yoga.

And makes me wish that I had time to write more on how excited I am to try as hard as hell to remember to photo and blog the ugly clematis flower vine I made a minute ago!

Ugly is, as ugly starts.

Damn. Good words ladies, thanks!

What She Said

Why didn’t anyone tell me that there is such a thing as virtual highlighter pens? I love those things IRL. (IRL= like, “in real life”)

I got  up early this morning to read and highlight some things that I’ve said in this blog.

I hand wrote them in my journal, and learned to highlight quotes.

Yellow for me, pink for what another gal said that rocks the, well, my world anyway.

Here is what I found:

It’s because I’m reminded that prayer is so real,

and so doable.  ~ Kate Cooper

(from Forgiveness Friday:Compassionate Prayer Relies on Self-Care)

Pardon my French again, but without the occasional fifteen seconds of feeling overwhelmed with trust that my children are safe, will be safe, and that they are being safe, parenting would only be scary shit. ~ Kate Cooper

(from Forgiveness Friday: Parents need help feeling safe)

 I tried not to snarl, but I don’t think I did a swell job at hiding my disdain.

 

By sharing joy, strangers and friends alike get a window seat view to the truth which is that God wants us to experience life, no matter how dark, bright, soft or prickly. ~ Kate Cooper

(from Surviving Desolation)

I’ll bet parenting isn’t the only thing that creates a sudden surge of, “oh yeah…I remember that.” ~ Kate Cooper

(from Moment of Teen Gush)

Declare

I find this

Celibacy and Gay Priests

article to be very interesting. I’ve not time to watch the video right now, but am a fan of Jesuit priest and writer Fr. James Martin.

I came across him and his perspective, actually, about things relating to mental health and humor in videos with psychology and spirituality writer Therese J. Borchard.

This article is not about, nor I’m certain, meant to spur humorous conversation.

I could go on, but baseball practice is in two shakes of a lambs tail, so for now, I’ll say that if wishes were beggars I’d ride on a nice long email exchange with Fr. Martin about an imaginary battle, debate, conversation with Pope Benedict XIV.

The writing challenge by Jeff Goins I’ve entered suggests on day one to write a “manifesto” that I am a writer, and to either have a real conversation or send it to someone that would make me nervous.

His one word advise is to DECLARE, not justify, that I am a writer.

So, because of time limitations, I am messaging this post to Fr. Martin on FB, bringing my knitting to baseball, and continuing my imaginary discourse with the Holy Father on why I refuse, thus far, to say “grievous” in Church for the time being. (The vatican under Pope Benedict has made some word changes in our Mass which seem to be a great blessing to some, and great frustration to others).

This guy (Fr. Martin) is, like, pretty famous among famous Catholic writers. So, yeah, even sending the guy a tweet makes me a little bit nervous.

I do declare tho, what the heck, yes?

 

Great Quote for Scaredy Cats

The girl does love her Ant Kate, and moi back at 'er.

Odd.

I almost paid $4 for a broken framed print of a little girl with a cool saying that would work well in my office.

I’ve been struggling more than usual with this plan that I have to be a writer. It got far worse when I started on a book a few weeks ago.

Plus, then some life happened.

So, then tonight, I was awake because a neighbor was taken by ambulance, so I was awake thinking about her, and turned to Jay Leno for some solace…and it worked quickly in the form of Jay Leno and Steve Martin.

But it woke me up. And here I am two hours later.

Odd though, because some other comedian after Leno used the quote again for a little thingy, so I wrote it down.

It’s this:

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

~ George Elliot

Nice.

Lazy Monday in Iowa

Yesterday I didn’t write anything. I did reply via Twitter a few times.

I also sent a few thanks to people who commented or “liked” a blog post, and left comments on a few blogs.

But that isn’t writing…that’s just water cooler chat, right?

What did I do all day?

I actively didn’t write. Oops.

I sat at my desk all day: from 7:30 when I shooed the last boy out the door, until 2:00 when it was after school pick up time.

Today it’s hard for me to conceive that I indulged almost all of that time playing games on Google+.

The

whole

day

long.

I started a farm, I started a city, and I spent most of those hours on an imaginary island clicking grass lumps, that became bushes, which then became trees. The more exciting moves were when I clicked bears, who became cemetary markers, which with some extra effort on my part, became churches.

Do you want me to continue to explain that there was a way to combine churches to create cathedrals? No? Thank God. I’m embarrassed and amazed enough as it is.

I will say that I read quite a bit early on and I listened to NPR the whole time that was capturing virtual bears, so you can now wipe the sneer off your face.

It is now 10:05, and I’m already running circles around my Monday vacation. I’ve cleared away bunches of things on the desk, read and cleared a bunch of email, worked a bit on learning to tweet more effectively, read both the Methodist and Catholic Gospels for next Sunday, and am showered, dressed and fluffed for the day.

So – off I go to do a bit of recycling, a stop at the library, a stop at the Art Museum, and a stop for a bite of something and a few minutes to jot notes about the letter that is in my head that I’d like to send to Maurice Sendak.

Oh. And I had an idea for a poem last night that came from watching a fellow in the pew ahead of me on Sunday. He had prayer cards in his hand and I was interested in how and when he grabbed them – he seemed to hold them tight during most of the mass except for the homily. I noticed that the most tattered one was of our Bishop. What a lucky guy (Bishop Amos) to have someone with such intense loyalty.

So, I’ve now fessed up on my inaction, what have you avoided or blown off lately? Or, even more interesting, how have you spent your time doing exactly the opposite of what you know you “should” be doing?

Outta here. Latah.

Worried Wednesday: Have I Created a Sham?

How interesting. When I typed in the word “sham” the spelling auto correct quickly changed it to “shame.”

Actually, shame is at the core of the little ditty I was planning on writing on this fine morning.

Now, originally, my plan was to write about how excited I was yesterday to have spent an awesome thirty minutes in Steak N’ Shake writing with a, (dramatic pause) pen!

Yes, treating myself to a pack of eight yellow mini legal pads has completely rocked my week.

Rocked my socks,

and,

if I can stick with what is beginning to be a fine new plan,

will rock my world.

Search as I might, I can’t find the source of a wonderful essay on a writers forum that described mindsets that many, if not all of us have. The author said that all, not some, but all writers spend time fighting the urge to believe that what they are doing is a sham.

sham  (shm) n.

1. Something false or empty that is purported to be genuine; a spurious imitation.

2. The quality of deceitfulness; empty pretense.

3. One who assumes a false character; an impostor: “He a man! Hell! He was a hollow sham!” (Joseph Conrad).

4. A decorative cover made to simulate an article of household linen and used over or in place of it: a pillow sham.

When I was a teacher we didn’t feel like that – our job was clear: teach kids. And even though it is true that teachers don’t get the credit and appreciation that is deserved of our profession, we don’t spend much time at the chalkboard looking around the room at scruffy heads and scribbly papers and thinking, “Oh my, I’m not even sure if this day is real.”

Okay. Actually, when the pressure is on, such as, say, a typical teaching day that includes a fire drill, a nosebleed, a few forgotten lunches and an unannounced assembly here an there: these are the days that teachers wonder if they are on some sort of parallel universe.

But, for the most part – one of the nice things about teaching is that when it comes down to it, school is fairly cut and dry: children need to learn, so teachers teach.

And. One of the things that I’ve learned in just these few months of building up more and more intention with my writing is that the flip side of my self created solitude and freedom has been isolation and insecurity.

Ta da! In steps the grungy broken pen I found while waiting on my cheese n’ chile delight. As I dug through my purse for something to write with, most of my thinking was something to the effect of:

“Writer? Pllllspppbbbt. You don’t even have a damn pen,

so,

whad up dog?”

Thankfully, I found the pen and gifted myself with an entire hour of glorious junk food and my very own handwriting. I scribbled furiously and didn’t even feel the need to people watch to be sure they don’t consider me a freak. By using my old pals (aka: pen and paper), I realized that not only did I have an awesome good idea, I have the guts to sail past the necessarily neurotic first few steps of panning out a big new project – just starting. That’s all. Just getting started.

What does all of that have to do with shame? I forget now. Oh well!

10,000 Maniacs

I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday.

I’m working on a Forgiveness Friday post called, umm. I’ve forgotten what it is titled, but it is about my efforts in the new year to plug into my sixth grade powerful writer self.

Sorry, but the post will be belated, as it is Saturday, we got a beautiful dump of snow that has yet to be played in, the house needs to be cleaned, and, and…

Want to see what I found when I was checking to see if I’ve scanned any photos of me during my First District Elementary days?

10,000 college maniacs

A pack of wild college kids…looks like an after the show party. Who knows what we were proud to have performed.