Uncategorized

Fresh Air

The date was booked on the calendar. There was a hiccup. The date was taken off the calendar. Then the weather turned around and the hiccup subsided. The date was back on the calendar with a few twists.

Departure time changed. Locations shifted. Time allotment was reduced. Many variables but the plan was about the fresh air. The ride on the motorcycle. Destination unknown. Path was unscripted. The scenic route. Just the way it should be. Carefree ride to nowhere and back amidst the fresh air and hustle of a Saturday on the roadway. Exit suburbia. Enter the countryside. Off the cruisers go.

Cool crisp breeze. Fresh smell of cut grass. Fall leaves starting to show in the breeze. Wind in the face. Revving of engines. Kids waving at stop lights. Some cruising tunes. Some biker attire. Some good pals along side for the ride. Just a quick escape from the daily grind. Away from the blah of daily to dos. Maybe even a little shadow chasing.

2 Motorcyles

2 passengers

2 drivers

2 cameras (passengers of course)

Just making some memories on a weekend. Took in some interesting sights and smells along the way. The pop up bbq stand at the corner gas station. It smelled amazing. Our tummies were full so no stop but the smell was treat in itself. The cyclists on the roadway. One who wanted to hog the whole road but that’s okay. I could have touched when we passed but I opted not to for safety reasons.

A few giggles. A few eye rolls. Another on road adventure in the books for this foursome. Short but sweet. So many cool things to see along the way. From old run down buildings to seeing animals up close on a fence line. The ride in the fresh air always brings new experiences. Opt outside when you can. Take in the new scenery. Enjoy the less traveled path. Spend times with friends. Exit the ordinary to experience the extraordinary.

 How long will it be until we ride again? Where will we go? What will the weather be like? Will we get lost? So many questions. Until the next ride, peace to all.

Uncategorized

When It Hits the Fan

Life is being extra lifey these days. I wrote about it recently and how I work to manage it.

Although I try to stay calm, lately there’s been a rant brewing. Here it goes.

I get life being lifey at times. But here’s what I don’t get.

You know the phrase “when the shit hits the fan?” When I used to use that phrase, that basically meant life bring lifey. Challenges. Bad things happen. Wrong decisions come home to roost.

In the past few days, this turn of phrase has come to my mind time and time again. But then I really thought about the image of it. Imagine a box fan whirring whirring whirring around. Then, enter shit, hitting it at top speed. What comes to mind?

Splashes? Spatter? Explosions? Spots? Disgustingness spread indiscriminately?

All. Over. The. Room. All over the people nearby. Just ruining so much. Everywhere. The fallout. Nothing is safe. Gagging and vomiting ensue. And yet, if you’re nearby, you’re affected by the mess and need to help clean it up.

Life being lifey is expected sometimes, but damn if people’s personal decisions don’t just spew shit all over the place lately. Innocent bystanders are left to clean up the mess.

Here’s how that’s looked in my world lately…People doing dumb stuff has left us sheltering mothers and children, taking care of extra dogs for weeks on end, doing the jobs of many others (in addition to our own), chasing other’s abandoned or neglected children, filling holes in life left and right. It’s left us scrambling, unsettled, cleaning up those messes others have made, wasting time and precious energy that is frankly already spoken for and needed elsewhere.

I don’t have a solution, just a suggestion for people to seriously consider foresight when making decisions. As much as some of us are trying to stupid-proof our lives, we are all interdependent. When you make an idiotic decision, very rarely do the impacts just stop with you. Think about it. Yes, most people are overwhelmed and on edge. Spewing shit all over the place doesn’t help matters. Think ahead. Try to keep it together. Prevent those preventable accidents or exposures, whatever it may be.

End rant.

Uncategorized

Day in the Life of a Dress

It hung in my closet for months. I bought it on sale last spring, when I was looking for easy throw-it-on-and-you’re-done dresses. I used to have many of these easy-breezy options, back when LuLaRoe was a thing. Now several sizes smaller, I’ve cleared all those out with little to replace them.

So I saw there was a sale at belk and went in. I couldn’t try it on (ahem, COVID), but it seemed worth a try. Once I got home, it fit well enough so I kept it. And there, on the hanger, it has stayed ever since.

Why not wear it? No matter the occasion, it’s always “too” something. Too colorful. Too long. Too flowy. Too dramatic. What can I say? This dress announces itself. It draws attention (to someone who doesn’t usually like attention.) The cut and the neckline looks pretty good on me, but it’s unconventional for my practical work environment. With COVID and everything else in my life, I don’t have reason to dress up often. It was just never the right fit.

Until last week, when a friend invited me to an event celebrating the life of her lively, colorful Mami. It was out in the woods, so wearing something long made sense. I was bringing colorful flowers at my friend’s request, so I packed it and went.

It’s the kind of dress that makes me stand a little straighter. Walk a little taller. I felt sort of regal in it. I loved wearing it to the service and dinner after.

Then, life threw us curveballs, as it has lately, and I ended up wearing the dress to all kinds of unexpected places. It traveled hundreds of miles. The dress took me out into the middle of a pasture in the late evening darkness. The dress stayed the night in a vintage camper. It helped care for horses in a barn. The dress grabbed coffee at the only open place in town. The dress rolled into Walmart early Sunday morning, messy hair and all. A voice said “what a gorgeous dress!” and I thought to myself, if only you knew what it had been through. It’s been pajamas, overalls, and everything else, it seems.

And then, it finally made its way back over the mountain pass and home again.

After all those months hanging, waiting for its moment, the dress made more than its mark on me. It will be making more appearances soon, now that I’ve seen its versatility and I’ve found the confidence to wear it. Do you have a dress that can take you all kinds of places?

perspective, Uncategorized

Losers and Jerks

A little kid, just 7 years old, took a long time choosing his book in the library. By the time he decided to come to the checkout, he was last in line.

He reaches out his arm and pushes the little girl in front of him aside, then behind him.

I see it, and politely tell him he can go back to where he was, waiting his turn and practicing his patience. This little guy, who is usually pretty calm and pleasant, flips a switch and yells, “I CANNOT BE LAST. I AM *NOT* LAST!”

In my super-calm unruffled voice, I tell him to go back to the end of the line and wait his turn. I tell him there’s nothing wrong with being last. Everyone takes a turn being last once in a while. (Unless it’s me at CrossFit, where I am last most of the time!)

He explodes.

“I CANNOT be LAST! My MOM says LAST is for JERKS. LAST IS FOR LOSERS! MY MOM SAID!”

I looked at this 7 year old, consumed with rage and fear, screaming in the line at the library.

I was stunned. Shocked. Where does this come from?

And told him, calmly, to take a spot at the end of the line. He scowled at me over his mask, then he went to the back.

After he checked out his dinosaur book, he left the library. He had joined his class line safely in the middle, in his “line order” spot. His tone totally changed. He twittered out of the media center, chatting with friends. Nothing to be mad about if you’re not last.

I stared at the door. What had I just witnessed?

Then I wondered, what had this kid witnessed to make him act this way? Did his Mom or Dad say that to him? To a brother? To a father? An uncle? Was it in a totally different context? Surely whoever said it hadn’t yelled at people for standing in line…

Maybe that person was yelling at the TV. At a NASCAR race…? Who knows.

Whatever it was, this young man took it to heart and head. When push came to shove (literally), he would NOT be last since he is NOT a loser.

So many lessons we can learn from this, out of the mouths of babes. What does this child teach you?

mental health, Uncategorized

Gift of Words

I’ve mentioned the challenges of working in an elementary school during this time of COVID. Telling the kids to spread out. Masks all the time. So. Much. Sanitizer. Constant changes. One of the reasons I wanted to work in an elementary school is honestly because it seemed playful and fun. That hasn’t always proven true, and this fall has been even less fun than usual.

In typical years, the time between Thanksgiving and Winter break at an elementary school is equal parts festive and frantic. We have 15 days to cram in two month’s worth of learning and celebrating. The schools I’ve been in go all out with decorations, which means trees, menorahs, stockings, and so on. It’s also the wrapup of the first half of the year, so we pile tons of tests in there just to add to the excitement (and panic).

This year was different. Widespread testing is postponed or canceled for the most part in elementary schools where I live. And when I got back from Thanksgiving break there were no trees going up, no stockings… maybe just a handful of stars and tinsel in the hallways. The lights and energy of the holidays are usually palpable when you walk through the front door. This year no one would have known it was December.

My job has changed so I am not telling stories to kids anymore right now, so no Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Christmas tales. Last year I made a tree out of ancient textbooks. I also have a little sliver tree with international ornaments. The kids love these touches. This year I didn’t find time with all my other shifting responsibilities.

Every year has also brought a dress up countdown for teachers, 12 Days of Christmas style. We all wear red one day, silver the next, silly socks on Tuesday, crazy hats Thursday. I wore my tacky Christmas sweater on the right day and I was the only one who did! Most of us are so tired and beat up we are just lucky to be dressed and physically present. December, such a special, silly time of celebration and connection, was just more show-up-and-get-it-done days.

The twelve days also bring treats at times. Hot cocoa after school. Cookies in the mailroom. Pancakes from the local breakfast place. I generally skip all that since too much sugar makes me sleepy. But one morning, when I returned from my morning outdoor duty all dressed up in my tacky garb, a piece of paper caught my eye. It was a paper, to me, thanking me for my gift of flexibility. A quote from Picasso about finding your purpose and sharing it. A short explanation of how I have adapted to every role and challenge this year. An appreciation.

It was a simple thing. A word. An acknowledgement. A recognition that in this crazy time, I have played my role as best I can. And what I do matters. Then I noticed that every teacher’s door in the school had a similar paper.

I made excuses the rest of the day to walk around the building, dropping off items or doing other errands. But what I really wanted to do was see other colleague’s notes – what gifts did our administration identify in them? Kindheartedness. Generosity. Passion. Good humor. Creativity. I nodded my head at each one. Maybe not what I would have said is most important about that person, but each one still rang true. Some of them made me laugh since they were gifts I often struggle with. Efficiency. Patience. Productivity. Focus. Again I nodded, but understood why those weren’t top of mind for me.

This has been a year of challenges. My job has changed at least weekly, sometimes daily. Stress levels have brought patience muscles to their breaking point for many, even me. While the cookies and chocolate are sweet, the gift that meant the most to me was just some words and the knowledge that what I am doing is seen.

Who around you needs to be seen? Who can you lift up with a word or two? Who brings a gift to your life just by being in it? I hope you’ll take a minute to let them know this week. Words are precious gifts.