Perspective

Educate Life.

I am sitting at a crossroads. To teach again someday or not to? To renew my license or let it go?

This is a decision I’ve been kicking down the road for at least two years. Do I take the Master’s hours to renew my teaching license or just let it expire at the end of 2018? I haven’t been in the classroom other than a long-term sub since I turned down a new contract in 2009.

My quitting was complicated, but in retrospect, the correct choice for my physical and mental health. I was offered a contract for the following year. I was promised more administrative disciplinary support for a small, challenging portion of the population I was serving. He said I could have another prep and it would be ok to back off on the clubs and sports I was sponsoring and coaching.

“If you send them to the office, we won’t send them back during that same class period.”

And yet, I still told them no. I was done at the end of the school year.

I had another opportunity with health insurance, less mileage, more flexibility, and less stress. I took it.

So why is this decision to let my license go so difficult? Why not just cut the cord? Does this mean that all that money and time I spent in college is null and void?

I think this is a decision that many people face when they change careers. Does a change of this proportion negate any type of impact I made previously?

Last Friday, a young man stood at the elementary school with his family. I walked up to him and his wife and started a conversation. In the spring, I visited with another young man at a wedding reception. My son’s kindergarten teacher. The cashier at our local store. The marketing director at a local dealership. The guys who fix tires and do re-alignments.

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These examples speak to me. Successful, intelligent, caring people who I had the privilege to work with. Although I stepped out of the education field after only a few years, I cherish the students I worked with – the successful ones and those who caused me anxiety. Stress not for myself, but that I wasn’t able to reach deep enough in them for their future success as human beings.

What would that look like? Not monetary success as that is fleeting. I wanted them to have contentment, drive, passion, and mercy. To withstand criticism and turn around to use it constructively. To observe life outside the local societal box. To approach people willing to look at the other side of the coin. To forgive and move on.

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You might think “Wow. That’s a lot for a secondary science credit!” My job was to teach physics and freshman science. My mission was to teach life.

To renew or not? I just don’t know. Will I ever go back to education? I guess only time will tell.

Education Quote credits to http://quotesvana.com/quotes-about-education/

 

 

 

Perspective · Uncategorized

August 21

Today is Eclipse Day! We will be a little over 98% totality. I look forward to stepping out of the office and checking it out. The last eclipse I was awake/ alive/ aware enough to witness, I remember doing the pinhole method with some cardboard on the sidewalk following strict instruction NOT to look at the sun. Hopefully I get some good footage or pictures!

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Today is the first day of the first full week of school. The kids were DRAGGY this morning. Cross your fingers for us. This will be a long week. We already had a tearful time-in in the littlest one’s bedroom after a complete meltdown because daddy touched and offered to help put the frosting on a toaster strudel. Eeeek…

Today is the day of the month I schedule all online payments at work. The password book and I get reacquainted. I generally end up frustrated, muttering curses at my computer, and change a few passwords as some sites have started requiring frequent changes. Ugh. Cyber security.

Today I sent a bag of cucumbers with my son to give to a teacher at school. I wish there were about half a dozen more people who wanted cucumbers. I pick every 3-4 days and end up with 15 pounds or so at each picking. Most local gardeners have high production this year, so there aren’t a lot of people willing to take a bag. Last week I literally walked down the street offering them to people. The peppers have also picked up. Today I will find a few more recipes to use with jalapenos and garden salsa varieties and hit my mom up for her pickle recipe.

Today I read an article I didn’t agree with. It was a well-written opinion piece. Although I believe the author had some valid points, I thought it only described one side of the coin. It didn’t color outside the lines of her personal stereotypes. It left very little room for compromise to be found or a constructive path forward unless you agreed with her. Instead of making me indignant of my experiences, it broadened my horizon in that I am now aware of a very different belief set than my own. Isn’t that how constructive dialogue begins?

Today is August 21. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Cartwheels

I woke up early this morning for my run. Achy and sore.

Standing at the sink filling my cup, I remembered that these aches were the result of an afternoon of fun.

Uninhibited fun with my daughter in our yard.

The sprinkler was on. My mini- me and I were in ruffled swimsuits. She’d run thru the water, jumping or twirling over the height of the water, and land in dramatic fashion. Hands on hips or arms outstretched. A variation of open mouth, smile or pursed lips. Then it was my job to copy it.

After every combination imaginable and a considerable amount of rural traffic, we shifted to handstands and synchronized cartwheels.

A blissful hour and worth all the aches this morning.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Foster Care

Yesterday was the first day of school. It was met with enthusiasm, an incredibly early wake-up time (before their alarms even sounded!!!), and anticipation of seeing friends again.

My son’s class has about 60 children. When we visited the elementary school earlier this week for Kindergarten Open House, we also ventured down the hall to 2nd grade to peek at his classroom. Because they ride the bus to school this year, I wanted to allay any fears I could since I wasn’t walking them to their classrooms on the first day.

As we perused the Charlie Brown themed room, we found his desk. I showed him that he would have actual textbooks this year for each subject. There was a chat about how to raise his hand instead of asking a neighbor. We talked about who we knew in his classroom.

At this point, he noticed a new little boy’s name on a desk adjacent to his. “Zach” He was pretty sure he didn’t know Zach. I had noticed Zach’s name at enrollment a few weeks ago on the class list. His teacher stated that Zach was new this year. Maybe T was willing to be a friend and help him meet people? My little guy said “sure.”

After his first day, he hopped in the car and began telling me how great it was. He had sloppy joes. Everybody is friends. He played kickball at both recesses. He raised his hand and didn’t get in trouble for talking too much.

I asked him if he met Zach. He said yes and then proceeded to tell me a whole pile of details about this new friend:

“Mom, Zach told me he is in foster care. He has a foster mom and a foster dad. He likes them. He’s originally from G******y. I think he has a little sister. I’ll ask him that tomorrow. Mom, I asked him to sit with me in the gym while we watched “Kid President.” He did. He’s nice. He played with me at recess. I don’t think he really knows anybody else yet. He sat with somebody else at lunch. I asked him if he knew A___ and C_____. He didn’t.”

Bud, do you know why some kids are in foster care?
(A and C are family friends who fostered kids prior to moving here.)

“Yes, it’s because their parents don’t want them anymore.”

No. That isn’t it. – I sadly and carefully chose my words. Foster care is something that has been heavy on my heart for the past few years. I’m not sure where my place is in foster care, but I’m praying for clarity.

“Foster care happens when Zach’s mom or dad aren’t able to take care of him well enough right now. He goes to stay with another mom or dad or both until his mom or dad can take good care of him.”

So he might not stay here?

“If or when his mom or dad are able to take care of him again, he will probably go back to their house. We want Zach to be taken care of well and loved. Sometimes it takes moms or dads time to figure out how to do that. Until then, you should help Zach to meet the other guys and be his friend.”

Ok Mom. I like Zach. Hey mom, did you know tomorrow is the carnival? …..

That was a heavy conversation for the first day of school.

Foster care.

Perspective · Uncategorized

The Finger Wag

Does it ever feel like people everywhere around you are wagging their fingers in disapproval?

You talked to who?giphy

You were blatantly, yet gently honest about what?

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You fed your kids that?

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You didn’t post anything about this online?

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You get the picture. Everybody has an opinion about what, this, that, who, when, where, and why.  And bless them, thanks to an online presence, they feel the need to share it. Unfortunately, a lot of people are of the reactively, firm feeling that we must all agree on it on every unique detail as well.

Here is where things get sticky. As in all families – and in this nation we are technically one big family – it is incredibly rare for details to be agreed upon. For pete’s sake, have you ever tried to set a time for a holiday with 40 relatives???

What I am pleading for people to ponder is that we don’t have to do everything loudly and as an instantaneous reaction. Consider this Heineken beer ad titled “Worlds Apart.” It suggests actually sitting down for a civil conversation instead of instant judgement and finger wagging.

I offer this and the survey below as a thought process in approaching almost ALL differences of opinion – even the simple ones like if I caved and bought generic Lucky Charms instead of granola for their yogurt.

Do a little mental survey before typing that comment:
1) Is this worth my energy to disagree and debate?
2) Am I coming at this from a place of seeing the big picture or just my own microcosm?
3) Is my response bitter, hateful, and laced with expletives or factual, respectful, and willing to discuss?
4) Is it possible to seek a compromise? Why or why not?
5) Have I prayed about it?

Monday morning, I was praying about a situation. Specifically, I was asking for peace in my heart over it. As I was praying, it occurred to me clear as day, that maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel peace in this moment? Maybe I was feeling the unease so I could address and work to resolve it. Goodness, that isn’t the easy, comfortable road I was hoping for…

Sometimes thoughtful silence isn’t a blissful moment of ignoring or condoning tough events. Rather, it is part of the process of seeking the best path forward to resolution. An explosive reaction or opinion rarely does anyone well in the long run. So please, stop wagging your finger at me for not joining in the fray.

 

 

**Due to the timing of my post, I’m aware that some may read into this blog entry as being specifically about Charlottesville and/or the state of race relations in the USA. It isn’t. That is feeding into my thoughts, but this is not a direct reflection of that. I am absolutely not condoning or approving in any fashion the behaviors, beliefs or hateful mindset that went into that situation. It was/ is a tragedy. With rare exception, I am not a reactive person. I am processing and trying to understand, other than feeling extreme sadness, nausea, and frustration, how and where to direct my efforts to improve and contribute to our nation healing as a family.**

 

 

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Positive – Leftovers, Strep, & Pancake Syrup

IMG_1973This is me. I just finished the most amazing taco salad for lunch at my desk.

As I was chewing the spicy, dairy-free concoction, I realized how thankful I was that my kids weren’t interested in tacos last night.

It kind of irked me as I was standing across the kitchen island with the fixings laid out, corn on the cob boiled and ready, food all hot. Nobody wanted to eat. Even my husband only had one small taco and called it done. My 5yr old only wanted 1 ear of corn and no taco. My 7 year old couldn’t eat the corn due to his jankity mouth of missing baby teeth and asked if he could have the taco later. What the what????

But in a new light today, I’m thankful. I just devoured a delicious leftover lunch.

Always seeking the positive!

My two best girl friends pointed this out on Tuesday in a string of text messages that occurred when my 5yr old puked all over herself in the car (read: hair, pillow, blanket, dress, car seat, etc) on the way down the switchback mountain roads about 9 hours from our home on Monday. 9 vomit scent-wafted hours.

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Later, my friend sent me this.

IMG_1962This is how I try to roll. I used to be a pretty serious Debbie Downer sometimes. That was what my sisters actually called me. Then, if it was Christmas, they’d make me wear a Santa hat until I pulled out of it.

I’m not completely sure when my outlook changed, but I know I’ve thrown my life into a more positive direction post-birth of babies, upon going dairy-free, taking up running and regular exercise, my MS diagnosis, and upon learning how to say “NO” to things that aren’t my best yes.

Whew… we are talking about the last 5 years here… not an overnight mental shift.

I don’t have it all mastered. Frankly, I never will. That’s ok. It isn’t my job to do it all perfectly or have everything go according to my plan. That job belongs to God.

But let’s be real. Do I want to re-live the puking and pancakes mountain pass situation? That’s a solid NO. Do I appreciate cooking and nobody eating it? Nada. Am I happy when my child gets strep throat? Of course not. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

In the scheme of things, those are all small potatoes, or shall I say a small packet of syrup?

Much love,
Jen

Family · Perspective · Uncategorized

Escaping the heat

Escaping the heat- also known as a vacation to the Rocky mountains!

Hiking, camping, enjoying nature, and more hiking!

The kids did very well! We were caught in a thunderstorm with lightning and hail while out on the trail at one point. They put on rain ponchos and we made a fantastic memory together!

The heat at home has been stifling. Daytime highs 107 to 111 F. The temperatures in the mountains ranged from 48 to 86. Gorgeous weather. Breathtaking views.