Thirteen again

Our 12 year old started swim team for this summer. Practice is every day at 7:45. Since we are at the Y for over an hour, I thought it would be a great time to spend some time exercising. However, since I have the two little girls, the only form of exercise I can get is swimming laps in the pool (no child watch that early). Let me say that I am NOT a swimmer….well like a “swim for exercise” swimmer. I’m more of a float around and soak up the sun swimmer. But, I really am motivated to get myself in shape, so I decided to use the time to better myself. Yesterday was my first day in the pool. I walked in and was totally intimidated instantly. But, I pushed through and didn’t compare myself (too much) to the people around me. Not even the 70 year old woman who was twice as fast as me. I swam 20 laps (with lots of stopping in between) and felt pretty good about myself.

I woke up this morning with that soreness that lets you know that you actually did something the day before. I was determined to walk into the pool with confidence this morning and push myself a little bit more. When we arrived, there was one lane open in the pool. The middle lane. Right in the middle of the “real” athletes with their caps and goggles and swimsuits. So – did I just jump right in and do my thing? Heck no! I sat on the bleachers and waited until the slow lane opened up. So much for feeling good about myself. Finally, the end lane opened up and I worked up my nerve to get in and start working toward my 20 lap goal. After a couple of laps I had stopped worrying about the world record swimmers around me and was focusing on myself. On lap 9, I noticed that the two male lifeguards (maybe 16 years old) had some secret inside joke that had them both cracking up. Of course, I KNEW they were laughing at me. Maybe it was my granny swimsuit. Maybe it was my inability to make it all the way down the lane in under 2 minutes. Perhaps they were laughing at my attempt at the breast stroke (which probably looked more like a I was drowning, rather than exercising). Why did I automatically assume that they just had to be laughing at ME? I am a strong, successful woman! I run a household of 7 people. I run my own classroom. Why was I letting these boys make me feel so insecure?! I felt like I was thirteen again…when I was so insecure and was certain that people were talking about me and making fun of me. I felt like that awkward little girl with the big, thick glasses who people laughed at and called names. Why was I letting myself believe that they were making fun of me. And IF they were, why did I even care? All I was trying to do was make myself better by working to get in shape. It didn’t matter what these two children were laughing at! I hate that I automatically retreat back to those hurtful, awkward times when I had ZERO self confidence, and preferred to be invisible. I’m not sure what it says about me that I can be reduced to feeling so poorly about myself so easily. But I do know that I need to dig deep and explore the whys behind those feelings.

There is a positive to this tale. When I felt like I was being laughed at and made fun of, I wanted to quit. I wanted to wrap up in my towel and sit in the locker room and cry. But I was only on lap 9 and I had set a goal for myself. I was not going to let the senior citizens who were swimming twice as fast as me, or the adolescent lifeguards who were laughing at me (probably wasn’t even about me) derail the goals I had set for myself this morning. So I did what I have learned to do best. I fought. I battled through. I finished what I started. I only wish that I could be thirteen again, so that the fighter in me could show my 13 year old self how strong I really am.

Joy and Pain

Next month my husband and I will celebrate our first anniversary. Every day that I have been married to him has been amazing. I have done things and gone places that I never would have done without him. Marrying him truly made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world and I feel like I have it all. Including fibromyalgia. I was recently “diagnosed” with it and am really having a hard time learning to manage/live with the pain on a daily basis. It sucks. I’m not good at staying positive when I’m experiencing such pain levels each day. And then when I complain, I feel guilty because I should just be able to be happy with my wonderful life. I AM happy with my life – except the pain. And then I feel like maybe I am dealing with this because I somehow didn’t deserve the husband and home and children. Somehow I’m being punished for having more than I deserve. I don’t like the way that makes me feel either. Sometimes I just get mad. I am pissed that I finally found my happiness and then this is heaped up on me. And then on top of sad and mad and scared and okay I feel hopeless. I am not sure that I will ever be pain free again and that scares me to death. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life in pain and tired like I feel now. How am I even supposed to live like this for the rest of my life? Oh and then there are the conversations I have with people who tell me that I’m not really “sick” and that maybe the pain is “imagined” – those are fun talks.

I would like to think that I am a woman of faith. I believe in God and in his plan for my life. I believe that He is in control and that He loves me. I pray everyday. I try my best to live my life the way that shows the world who I belong to. But some days I fail. Some days I let my sadness or bitterness take over and I fall. I can’t just walk around all day spouting sunshinyness and pretending that I’m okay. YES, I have a joy in my heart because of my relationship with God. But I also need to be authentic and transparent and real. Life is hard. Life is painful. Life is running me over right now.

I know that this is just a season in life. I know that it will either get better, or I will learn to better manage my emotions that surround all of it. Either way I will not be stuck right here where I am. In the meantime, I want to be truthful about where that is and what I’m dealing with. Anyone can share all the good stuff. Everyone has a highlight reel that they want the world to see. But I want to share it all. Life is about the ups and the downs. It’s about the pretty and the ugly. The smiles and the tears. Joy and pain (haha…now that song is in your head…sunshine and rain).

So there it is. It will be an interesting journey. I am going to pay attention to all of it and listen to myself as I learn about who I really am in all of it.

I should be grading papers…

Here I sit in my home office. A ridiculous pile of papers is taunting me. I should be grading them, but I’m not. I could be cleaning baseboards – goodness knows that chore is long overdue. I could be working on the 5 assignments I have due in my Master’s class. None of those things are ever really fun – but they all need done. Something always needs to be done. Life has gotten so incredibly busy that I cannot keep up. My soul is weary. I miss doing things that feed my spirit. I miss reading a book just because. I miss writing in my journal. I miss actually sitting down and sipping my coffee….savoring it. I should be doing something a little more “useful” with my time right now, but instead I am here. I am back on my blog. Sadly it had been so long since I last blogged that I had to look up my log in information. But here I am. I know that this is what makes my heart happy. Sharing my feelings. Using words to soothe. Pushing myself to be authentic even when it is scary. Nothing I am typing is earth shattering and to some it may even seem trivial. But jumping back onto the page and find refuge in words and thoughts is already making me feel more balanced and centered. Life can be crazy…sometimes I just have to jump off of that train and be still.

No Place I’d Rather Be

set a fire

Lately I have found myself in a dry season spiritually. I have felt lost at times and very far from God. The close, dependent relationship I used to have with my heavenly Father – the one where we talked daily and where I worried less and relied more – that is not currently where I’m at. I know that life is about ebbs and flows – and in all relationships there are periods of closeness and periods of distance. But I am NOT okay with where I am at in my relationship with God.

I am a teacher…

Teachers have been in the news a lot lately. Some of the press is good and some is bad. Sadly I feel like teachers get a bad rap. The profession seems to carry less respect that it used to – and much less than teachers truly deserve. It makes me sad. Ever since I was a little girl playing school in my room for hours on end – with stuffed animal students and a make shift chalkboard – I dreamed of having a classroom of my own. Now that I am a teacher I can honestly say it is my dream job. I feel so blessed to get to do what I do every single day. Am I tired? Yes. Am I frustrated at times? Yes. Do I feel overworked and under appreciated? At times, yes! But at the end of the day, I know that I carry the responsibility and privilege of making a difference in the lives of children!

Teaching is not just what I do….Teaching is who I am. It is woven into the fabric of my very being. Through the course of my day I do so much more than “teach.” I get to listen to stories of fainting goats and trips to Disney. I get to dry tears shed from missing a dog. I get to love on kids who have worries that kids should not have. I get to share in the excitement of finally “getting it.” This is such an honor and such a blessing in my life. And while not every moment of every day is sunshine and rainbows, and while there is a whole lot of other “stuff” that makes this profession not so glamorous at times,  it is all worth every single bit of energy spent. I get to be a teacher….it is who I am!

Noise

 

noise   I am an elementary teacher. I’m fairly accustomed to the constant hum of noise from a roomful of kids. And that’s nothing to the noise level found in a cafeteria with 100+ kiddos. I am momma to 5 kids. Rarely are all seven of us ever in the house – much less the same room – but when we are, there is noise. (This momma loves that noise, by the way).

When you think about it, there is noise in all aspects of our lives. TV’s are often on several hours a day in our homes. Our noses tend to be buried in some sort of screen several hours a day. We are constantly being bombarded with noise…data, tweets, posts, feeds, videos, and on and on. The other day I stepped out of my car to pump gas and there was a screen blaring commercials and music. Constant noise.

For me, the constant noise – the ever-present distractions become almost comforting. When I’m listening to a tv show, or scrolling mindlessly through the same feed I’ve read through already three times I don’t have to think about “the other stuff.” And sometimes its just easier to drown out the hard stuff. But easy isn’t always best.

I’ve recently tried to start eliminating some of the daily distractions so that I can consciously seek after these deeper things. I’m going after peace. When I’m not busy worrying about social media, or Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy, my mind is forced to really ponder on bigger thoughts. Sometimes I end up praying…talking with God. Other times I’ve ended up worshipping – just me on my own. I’ve also found myself thinking about all of the many things I am so grateful for.

I’m certainly not trying to say that social media is bad or that we shouldn’t ever turn on Netflix…not at all. I think what I’m discovering is that distractions can very easily take up all the space in our heads and not allow any time for us to reflect on what’s really important. These breaks from the noise have been so refreshing for my mind and my spirit. I encourage you tofind your quiet!

My new season

I’m pretty hard on myself. Know anyone like that…? I have high expectations for the way I should be doing things each day and when I don’t live up to those expectations I am disappointed in me.

I recently got remarried. We are now a family of 7. My oldest child is 20 and is away in college. My daughter is 17 and a junior in high school. My husband has three girls…11, 9, and 5. I moved into the home he already lived in with his girls. Oh….and did I mention that we got ourselves a puppy to complete our new family!?! Eight is Enough.

I am also a 5th grade teacher. I am passionate about teaching children and love watching them grow and learn. But struggle with the facets of their lives that I cannot change or fix or handle.

I strive to give my all to all of the areas of my life all the time…my husband, children, students, and yes – my puppy. I often feel like I fail miserably (and by often I mean always). I feel overwhelmed most of the time and constantly find myself asking God to help me. Give me strength. Give me patience. Give me wisdom. Give me sleep! Give me a housekeeper! I look around at other women and am so envious at how they seemingly balance it all, while I feel like an elephant on roller skates with my hair on fire. And then to make it even worse, I look to the Bible and see this picture of a Godly woman – in Proverbs 31 – and I feel my shortcomings are glaring. This woman had a family and a home, ran a successful business, cooked (healthy), cleaned, made clothes, was up before the sun and after everyone else had gone to bed. Seriously?!?

After many tears, many prayers, and many rants, I have decided to not beat myself up over all of these things that I am NOT. I recently read a commentary on this passage from the Bible that suggested that while the Proverbs 31 woman is a great example to us, is it possible that she was not ALL of these things ALL at once? Perhaps she fulfilled all of these roles during different seasons of her life…and not all at once all the time. This was a totally new way of thinking about who I am and who I strive to be as a woman. Maybe I can’t be everything to everyone everyday. And that is okay.

I’m in a new season of my life where maybe I’m going to have to focus more on certain aspects of my world than others. Imagine what a relief it is to embrace this truth! I love learning new insights to things I had always had the same perspective on. So what if my kitchen is not Pinterest worthy…and it’s okay if we ate cereal for dinner last night…and who cares if I’m in bed by 8 pm most nights. I get up each day (with God0 and do my best to be the best wife, momma, and teacher I can be. “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” And I will enjoy this season!

Total Surrender

Here we go. Another new year. Another fresh start. Another blank slate with endless possibilities. Another (insert your own cliche here). I actually do love a new year and the thought that it’s time to start over. But then I also get aggravated with myself that I NEED to start over. Why can’t I just “keep going” rather than always needing a restart!? It’s like the diet I begin EVERY Monday morning!! So I sat down to “restart” another blog with a New Year post about resolutions and inspiration and all that nonsense. But as I ponder on the idea of resolutions it sort of hit me! Resolutions – for me – just don’t work. And here is why…When I make resolutions for myself it really becomes all about me and MY ability (or lack thereof) to follow through and accomplish. I become fixated on my goal and my strength and my willpower and my ability. I rely on ME to make things the way I want them. So this year I’m NOT making resolutions for things that I want to do. Instead I’m going to turn it ALL over to God, because I KNOW that HE CAN work all things out for me. He will be my strength and my will. If and when I become more reliant on Him and completely surrender my will to Him I am certain that He will work through me and in me. My desires and wants and needs become less important when I allow God to work His will in my life. So no resolutions for this girl…this year, its about total surrender!