When You Are Old Enough That Your Spheres of Knowledge Collide

When You Are Old Enough That Your Spheres of Knowledge Collide

You know you have a lot of life experience when your worlds start to collide. This morning while scrolling through my social media feed, my eyes were drawn to an article on butterflies and how they survive rainstorms. Actually, it was the title and the graphic of the article that attracted me. It was on the New York Times webpages and titled: Butterflies: Riders on the Storm. 

Being a monarch conservationist of almost two decades, flush with knowledge that both illuminates and disappoints, the article was soon read. However,  the title of the article itself, took me down a different path. “Riders on the Storm” – wasn’t that the title of a song by the iconic rock band, The Doors in the early 70’s? Immediately, a verse was sung. My husband shot me one of those, where did that come from looks!  An explanation followed.

As a lover of all kinds of music, this was an easy connection for me to make. Butterflies, and Rock Bands, in my world – it all fits. And, it fits together! But, some explaining of the song led to looking it up on YouTube, a listening session, and brief rock music history lesson of the legendary Door’s lead singer, Jim Morrison, too.  Soon enough, both my husband and I had Riders on the Storm stuck in our heads and were contemplating the meaning of Morrison’s undoubtably drug infused, yet inspired lyrics. We are old enough, but a little too young to have been listening to this song as it hit the airwaves in the early 70’s. Soon after which time, Morrison died.

The article on butterflies proved to tell me little more than what I already knew, but then again, my intense interest in the subject could not let me skip over it and just be satisfied with the creative title. Monarchs use adaptive mechanisms and behaviors to cope with the storms they encounter whether in transit or at the over wintering grounds. Many times, those coping strategies are enough to enable their survival. They are truly Riders on the Storm, not unlike any of us who need to adapt to the storms, literally or figuratively, that we encounter in our daily lives. Oft times the adaptations we employ are enough to ensure survival, occasionally they are not.

But, it amazed me that before 8 a.m. this morning, we explored the challenges of  a beloved insect, revisited some famous rock music, and had a history lesson life science, music, and sociology all rolled into one. It occurred to me that this was only possible because of my age – not old – but old enough to have my spheres of knowledge collide and connect over a very unlikely titled article in a popular online newspaper about  butterflies.

Butterfly or Human, We are all Riders on the Storm!



The Dead of Winter Is When You Notice What You Are Missing….

The Dead of Winter Is When You Notice What You Are Missing….

It is mid-February and typically not a great time of year for me. We have had a lot of sun this year, which makes an appearance of Seasonal Affective Disorder unlikely. I do not mind the cold, but prolonged periods of oppressive clouds and a grayish color to the sky can affect my moods. It is helpful to get outside and walk and I have been trying to do just that. Yesterday, I walked with a friend as I do once a week. It was in the upper 40’s here, which is far from the sub-zero temps we can experience here in the mid-west. Today, my husband and I decided to walk right after our boys left for school and it was around 35 degrees, which was still very pleasant. It was a nice hour long walk in the crisp air.

Despite this I feel blah. It is the mid-winter blahs, I know. But, given my mood I find myself  missing some people and some things that are not present in my life any longer.

I miss my friend Peggy. She and I connected well on a number of different topics. She moved away several years ago, but I still miss her. We’d have lunch about once a month and laugh about silly things or share our frustrations about more serious issues.  We still connect through blogging. Of course, FaceBook helped us to stay in touch, too. But, last week I made the decision to get off social media for a while. I find myself re-thinking that decision. But, first I have to consider how I can respond differently to the annoyances one encounters on that platform.

I miss music.  This is no one’s fault but my own. We have a piano. I bought a book specifically for adults learning to play. I have a ukulele, a book, and a website to go with the tiny stringed instrument. There it sits in the corner. My oldest son is an accomplished musician. I miss hearing him play complicated concertos on the piano or practice his saxophone, clarinet, or even the bassoon, as he used to do for school.  Yes, the CD player is used. Yes, I have a Spotify account and a Pandora account. It’s just not the same.  I miss the sounds of real music being played in my house. I miss band concerts and being part of a band parent family. Hell, if truth be told, there are days I miss being in a band!

I miss my writer’s circle students. We were usually deep into our poetry unit by this time of year. Somehow writing poetry with eight year olds brought sunshine into the winter days for me. I miss their enthusiasm and their smiles.  This is my first year in seven without the writing group.  I think I will write some poetry of my own this month.

I miss my Evergreen Garden Club students. This is true despite the fact that  I have a started a new group at a different school. My group at Evergreen was large and energetic. I was as familiar to them and the school as they and the school were to me. Although, my new group has some enthusiastic students, it is small. I am struggling to fit in with a staff and building that does not know me, my history, my passion for teaching students,  or my boys.  I have come to realize that what existed at Evergreen was very special and might not ever be replicated again. I wish that fact had not been lost along the way.

I miss having my boys need me the way they used to when they were little.  I know, I know. We’ve done a good job in that they are independent and becoming self-sufficient. But, I find myself clinging to those rare moments when help is needed – a speech needs proof reading, or their valentine gifts are so appreciated they are put on immediately or eaten straight away.

I miss open spaces and quiet. A new housing development is changing the landscape next to us. Instead of a starry night sky, I see a glaring street light when insomnia visits me as it did the night before last.

Forward is where I am looking. There will be changes and they’ll be good changes, I know.  Another high school graduation, another drop off at a new college, a few more years at the high school for our youngest. A few more years of soccer matches, track meets and maybe even some basketball. The end of  graduate course work. A new degree with the possibility of a new job for more than one of us.  Exciting but scary all the same.

But, I suppose that’s what happens when you are missing something or someone. Other things come along to fill the hole.  It’s just that the gap seems wide and deep on these long winter days. Soon, it will start to fill in. The sun is out.

Not An Ultimatum, Just Another Way to Contact Me. ( A.K.A. Good-bye, Facebook!)

Not An Ultimatum, Just Another Way to Contact Me. ( A.K.A. Good-bye, Facebook!)

Today, I am going to do it. I am getting “off” FaceBook for a while, or maybe, forever. This is something I have been toying with for quite a while. It has been just a week over seven years that I have been a member of the FaceBook crowd. I joined it when my eldest son wanted to join. Neither of us knew what we were doing but together we found out what it was all about.  He was a sophomore in high school, about to participate in his first musical theater performance. I think we both figured it was a way to share photos and stay connected with friends. It also coincided with his decision to apply through open enrollment to complete high school virtually. Perhaps, it was a good way to stay in touch with his “brick and mortar” friends.

So, seven years. Seven years of navigating the fickle, finicky, sometimes fabulous and oft-times, frustrating world of social media. Seven years of sharing, commenting, friending, liking, following, unfollowing, and also, learning to keep one’s mouth shut. Seven years of being exposed to neo-liberalism, far-right taunts, fake media, and dealing with people ~ friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers ~ who think they can say anything they want, but quash others who express a view different from their own.

Seven years, FaceBook, seven years. And, I have finally had enough.  My son was smarter than I, although I have always known this to be the case. He got off FaceBook last fall. His reasons – the negativity, the nastiness, the anonymous-ness of saying what you want whenever you want to say it, to whomever you want.  In essence, as he told me in his esteemed 23-year-old wisdom, “FaceBook does not make the world a better place.”

I tried to hang on. I like how I can contact an old friend or see what they are up to. I like the ease of messaging. I like sharing my photographs and my blog. I like reading the ideas of others – some of which I agree and some of which I do not. I like learning what others think and knowing how they think differently than I. But, there is much that I do not like. I found that some posts and some people in particular bothered me. So, this past fall, after a great deal of internal debate, I unfollowed. In general, it was better. But, still, I am bothered by the judging, the assuming, the criticisms, the questioning, and the general negativity. Do we not want to stay away from doing all these things?  I know I do. And, that is why I am saying good-bye.  Every. Single. Word. Is. Judged. It is just not necessary. Truly, it is a game. And, I have never been a good game player.

I posted a note on my FaceBook page yesterday, telling my “friends” what I was going to do and how they could contact me otherwise. It was not an ultimatum, just a notification that I will not be manning my page, reading theirs, or any others for a while. I am sure I will find other things to occupy my time. I hope I will be less angry, less judgmental, less assuming, less negative, and less critical after some time away. I know I will not be fed any longer by these same traits others are actively employing.  I know not everyone on FaceBook is bad. On the contrary, I love my friends! I know I will miss being in contact with quite a few of them. I enjoyed much of my time on FaceBook. But, it is time for me to take a well-intended and much-needed break.

And, that is exactly what I am going to do today.  Good-bye, FaceBook.  Hello, Life!

Written to share on Slice of Life Tuesday sponsored by Two Writing Teachers blog.

The House of Insomnia

The House of Insomnia

Late last night I was playing Words with Friends. It was 2:30 a.m. I was on the couch, in my own house of insomnia. Insomnia makes a visit to me frequently. I feel great when I can string several days to a week together without a visit from this affliction. Usually, it visits when I am vulnerable. I am most susceptible at times of transition, travel, anxiety, or self-imposed deadlines. It is then that I find I am in my house of insomnia. ‘

Over the years, I have found ways to deal with being awake in the middle of the night. If something is worrying me, I get up and write it down. This seems to stop the flow of concerns that rattle through my brain in the deepest of the dark.  If I just find myself awake at an odd hour, as I did last night, I wait a short time – maybe thirty minutes or so to see if a state of slumber returns. If not, I get up and make a mug of decaffeinated tea. Herbal tea might work for some but generally, I do not care for the flowery taste or pungent aromas that are associated with teas that are something other than black or orange pekoe. Holding the warm mug in my hands, I curl up in the dark with a fleece blanket tucked in around me to ward off  the coolness of a quiet house.  Somehow, the heat of the mug on my hands is comforting.  Occasionally, this will be enough to induce a head nod and remind me to put my tea down on the nearest surface, returning me to bed.

If none of that works, I turn to playing Words with Friends or reading a book – if I happen to be in the middle of one. I am well versed in the rules of sleep hygiene and know that the glow of the screen can increase episodes of insomnia. But, I also find that occupying my mind with the activity of finding words from the random set of letters I am given works to pull my mind away from midnight worries.

So, what do I think my problem was last night? I am sure it was multi-faceted. We are entering a transitional period – my husband is changing jobs this week. I think he is slightly nervous, at least he shows signs of feeling some stress from embarking on a new phase in his already long career. Both my high schoolers had the flu this week. This necessitated a flurry of emails to teachers because their illness happened to fall the days final exams were scheduled. Although I know they have time to make up their exams, I still worry about them starting a new term when the old one is not quite wrapped up. I was looking forward to a relaxed weekend of cleaning out backpacks and  aniticpating fresh starts. Unfortunately, with their absences, this is not the weekend we will experience. Monday is a scheduled day off from school and by then, I’ll have had at least one son home for a week during times when I usually have time to myself.  I like the time I have to myself. Monday also starts a new semester of graduate courses for me. I need the intellectual challenge, so I am happy to anticipate the return of something  I am doing solely for myself.  Christmas has come and gone. I was late decorating and hence, I am late taking decorations down. I still have one room full of nutcrackers and Christmas village pieces that need putting away. In addition, we’ve decided to re-make one of our bedrooms into a writing room/office space for me. The idea is great but looking for new furniture is daunting. We’ve already been to three major stores to look for filing cabinets, desks, and a daybed and came up empty. Our last excursion to look for these pieces was after dinner last night. I know I returned home feeling disappointed and frustrated. I think this was what left the door open for a visit from insomnia last night.

Last week, I applied for a new job which necessitated revising my resume from four pages to two, writing a descriptive cover letter, and contacting references. All of this took time, which of course took time away from some other things I feel self-imposed pressure to do (keeping up with laundry, caring for my teens who have the flu, and putting decorations away). I have not heard anything as of yet. I know it is early. Still, it makes me anxious. Was my time in preparing the application a waste, yet again?

It seems that everyone is moving forward and I am standing still. Unable to make progress on the things I want to accomplish, such as finding office furniture, has really frustrated me.  For me, frustration and anxiety lead to my house of insomnia. It is a place I do not want to be. It is a place I wish to avoid. For when insomnia visits I am irritable and angry during the day.

My hope is that we will have a “normal” week soon. What normal is; I am not quite sure. But, I know this past week has been far from normal. And, with the new job transition, the start new term at the high school, my sons making up their finals, my graduate semester starting, and trying to find furniture for my new office space, I am hoping February will bring a new normal. Yes,  I am looking forward to a “new” normal that includes fewer visits to my house of insomnia.

Currently, I’m……..sol#18

Currently, I’m……..sol#18

Last week, a fellow educator-blogger wrote a currently post with a twist. Since it was enjoyable to read, I thought I would give my own currently list post a try.

Currently, I’m…….

Eating……Raspberry Yogurt

Drinking…..Hot Black Tea

Sitting ….. in my Den off my Kitchen

Watching…. the cursor blink on my computer screen

Reading ……T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

Listening to ……the snow plow clear the new road next to our yard

Sensing …… the quietness of the house after the boys leave for school

Thinking about …… my research study & the now closed data collection window

Anticipating …… getting out of the house today

Celebrating …… my husband’s last day of shift work after 30 years

Thanking ….. the gracious people who will serve as a reference for me

Feeling ….. the coziness of my pumpkin colored fleece blanket on my legs

Considering ….. getting my day started

Creating …… some new jewelry

Storing …… holiday decorations

Waiting ….. to start new courses for this term

Feeling ….. content, happy, and grateful

Besides being inspired by wahooliteracyteacher’s blog last week, I wanted to keep my writing short today. Yesterday, I wrote quite a lengthy post on some Advice on Choosing an Elementary School, which was partially in response to a question I received recently.  And, last Wednesday, I wrote about writing shorter blog posts, which was something I thought I would set as a goal for the upcoming Slice of Life Challenge.  If you have time, you can check out those posts too!

Thanks to TwoWrtingTeachers.org  and the Slice of Life: Tuesday posting opportunity to connect with other educator-bloggers. I am approaching a year of blogging and have found much support and openness in this community.





Resolutions: Every Day Offers a Chance

Resolutions: Every Day Offers a Chance

It is that time of year when many among us make resolutions. We resolve, or decide, to do something to improve ourselves or accomplish something that has been put off or proved elusive.  Are you in the habit of making resolutions? If so, how has that gone for you?

If we strive, on a daily basis, to improve ourselves in whatever area we desire improvement, then why is it necessary to make a New Year’s Resolution?  January 1st is an arbitrary date that has been designated the “start” to a new year.  After all, there are other dates that are designated “starts’ to a year. The beginning of the school year is an example. Your birthday is another example. The beginning of the fiscal year for a business could serve as an example of a new start.

My point is this – any day could be the start of a new year.  At any point, one can decide to make a fresh start.  You decide when to start a diet, when to drink less, when to exercise more, when to get better grades, how to live more sustainably, when to work less, when to spend more time with family, when to be a kinder, gentler person, when to be more tolerant, when to give without expecting anything in return, when to participate in community activities, and when to improve yourself, your life, or the lives around you. YOU decide – not the calendar.

So, on this day when the world celebrates the passage of time and designates a chance for a fresh start, remember that there are also 364 other fresh starts you can make. Each day is a chance to improve ourselves or our community. You did not have to wait until last night or this morning to declare your resolution. You can make a resolution ANY or EVERY day of the calendar year!

Since this is the case, if you do make a resolution and it does not work out, do not give in to guilt or shame.  We all know there are any number of reasons New Year’s resolutions do not get accomplished.  Just pick another day and resolve to start again. Making ourselves “better” or doing “better” is a process. Processes are filled with ups and downs, successes and failures. But, as long as we are trying, REALLY trying, to be better people, we will get there, both as individuals and as a species.

Each day should be a chance to start a resolution, not just January 1st, and certainly, not just once a year.  Happy 2018 – 365 chances for resolutions and starting anew.



Slice of Life Tuesday: My Last 24 Hours

Slice of Life Tuesday: My Last 24 Hours

List style posts are not really my thing but today, I thought I would share my last 24 hours in such a style. I have written more substantial posts in the last week and if you need more  “meat” for a slice of life post, you can check out my post on Nutcrackers from yesterday, 12/4/2017, and Favorite Christmas Music from November 29th. I wrote a lengthy post on why I cannot run for school board but have not posted that yet and it is too long for a Slice of Life Tuesday post at over 1,000 words. So, I am saving that for a future date.

Thus, I arrived at posting a true slice of life from yesterday’s events, in a list style recounting my last 24 hours.

Yesterday, 10 a.m. – Receive a call from the dentist office about the appointment request I submitted to their office on Friday morning. Who knew dentists keep “bankers hours” with Fridays off?  Was told I could be seen at 1:40pm for my chief complaint of pain under one of my back molars.  Take an Aleve.

11 a.m.- Working on finishing up some pre-holiday wrapping. Most of our family are out-of-town and gifts need to be purchased wrapped and sent early. I am progressing on this, but it is contributing to the many  “piles” I have around the house. Piles irritate me.

12 noon – Start making lunch. Still have tooth pain. Take some Tylenol, since the Aleve does not seem to be working.

1 p.m. – Get absorbed in some reading  – checking on how many of my digital survey’s have been returned and what they say about their memories of Evergreen Garden Club.

1:30 p.m. – Realize I have to be at the dentist in 10 minutes and leave the house in a rush. Luckily, it is just up the road.

2:00 p.m. – Dentist evaluates my tooth/teeth with tests that inflict more pain on an already painful area. One test involves sending a current through the roots of my teeth. Scary! And, yikes; it really hurt!  X-rays taken but dentist cannot determine which tooth is causing the problem. Refers me to an Endodontic Specialist for consultation.

2:30 p.m. – Specialist office calls my house just as I arrive home, cannot get me in until end of the month or early January. I do not answer the phone. My husband listens to what the dental plan is for my tooth pain. He offers to call an Oral Surgeon affiliated with the hospital in which he works.

3:00 p. m.Tooth pain unrelieved by Aleve and Tylenol. Driving to Oral Surgeon’s office for immediate consultation. (Thanks, honey!)  Evaluated by “new” oral surgeon who was incredibly nice. X-rays sent from earlier visit show “pocket” behind wisdom tooth – two teeth further back than the molar I thought was the problem. Appointment made for Friday morning to have wisdom tooth extracted.

4:00 p.m. – Getting prescriptions filled. Continue Advil/Tylenol for pain management. Hot Tea helps too.

5:00 p.m. – Arrive home. Have large glass of wine. Pain feels better. I feel better with a plan in place.

6:00 p.m. – Start working on reviewing my notes for my the Classroom Presentation I have scheduled on Poinsettias today.

7: 00 p.m. Pain is back.

8:00 – 10:00 p.m. Finish note review. Watch movie, Jack Reacher with family. Take Advil since enough time has expired since taking Aleve.

10:00 p.m.. Pain is worse than it has been. Heat up rice bag to hold on face. Go to bed. Text Sister in Law instead of oldest son (at college) by mistake. Oops…..Resend text to son.

11:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. – Slept fairly. Awake by 3 o’clock. Too early to take more Advil. Heat rice bag. Microwaves are loud in the middle of the night!

? time – 6:30 a.m. – Must have fallen back to sleep. Hear husband and boys in the kitchen getting ready for school. Get up.

7:00 a.m. – Have yogurt. Hot Tea. Take Advil. Snooze until 9 a.m. Write a few emails.

9:00 a.m. – Shower. General House pick up. Relatively pain free.

10:00 a.m. – rewrite notes on poinsettias for classroom presentations this afternoon

There you have it! My slice of life for this Tuesday, December 5th, 2017.   Thanks to TwoWritingTeachers.org who offer a wonderful writing community on Tuesdays to allow us to share a slice of our life with others.