author moments, awareness, challenges

It’s Been A Week

This week is one for the record books. 

So much to do in my own day-to-day life. The normal tasks. The one-off tasks. The fitness regimen. The community service. The people time. Travel. Life a-z. Then a boom hits. A real shocker nobody could ever plan for. Indirect connection. Direct connection. Neither matters when the boom is so hard the shock wave spirals for miles and miles. That’s what happen when a child dies that is interwoven in communities near and far due to school, church and sports connections.

My community is mourning the loss of a young girl. The day-to-day life seems insignificant yet life continues for our family. A guilt one should not want to feel. As a coach of young girls, I check in on social media. I text. I watch. I have to keep an eye out. I see so much hurt. I check in with other parents to see how grief is setting in on their home front. I see sadness on faces that normally boast bright smiles. I see prayer groups running non stop. Everyone is trying to get by with a little help from……

God

The community

Family

Friends

Loved ones

Many are holding on to cherished memories. Many are wondering why they didn’t get to say goodbye. Others are thinking why did I not do this or maybe why did I say that. When loss hits without warning so many raw emotions are stirred up. Time has become a thief. Time is no longer an option with that person. The loss of not doing is what is so hard.

Healing has begun for this community in some ways. No one will really ever understand the why behind this incident. None of us will really be exactly the same. Some kids will learn lessons and some will sit in the darkness for many reasons. Life is full of experiences and unfortunately death is one of them. Living through loss is where growth can happen even if it’s extremely hard in the moment. I’m learning how to be a better parent for example. I’m learning how to talk more deeply with other parents on how they are handling this type of grief and/or teaching moments.

I am however not passing judgment on the young girl. I am not passing judgment on the others involved. It’s not my place. It’s also not for me to decide who was in the wrong. My job is to be patient. To learn. To love. To be present. That’s it. Just a support role. A support for whomever needs it. When they need it. Today. Tomorrow. A year from now.

I will think of the color blue a little differently now. The baby blue hue that is a memory of her bright light on the world. A soft color to represent an angel in the distance. May her new journey be one that allows her to soar among the powdery blue skies. 

As one is set to be layed to rest. I pause. I reflect on my choices. My guidance to my kids. This could be me. This could be you. This tragedy can happen in your community. Teens are not invincible despite their beliefs. It’s great to feel invincible but we all know as adults how dangerous feeling invincible can be. For now I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to hug my teen. I get to continue the process of looking at colleges. I get to support my teen during this grief.

My heart goes out to the parents who don’t have that ability any longer. My strength goes out to the families whose children’s lives were spared that night. For they feel a different kind of grief and relief and guilt. My resilience is going out to the family of the one who ultimately has to face the legal system for this unfortunate situation. Another angle of this dilemma many may forget about but one that is equally challenging. Families will hurt for years to come. 

As I close my eyes to drift into a peaceful state I say a quiet prayer for all. Everyone needs something. May peace be granted to all in the ways that each needs for healing. I am also praying for healing of all involved in the other teen incidents that just happened to occur close by in the past few weeks as well.

The teen shot leaving school.

The teen stabbed with a box cutter in the school bathroom.

The football player gunned down at the mall.

Signing off as a lucky mom today. Heartbroken for the kids and families impacted by these tragedies. May this be a reminder that we as parents are not invincible. We can all be faced with that uncertainty one day. Stay humble. Be kind. Do what you can to help others. You may need the support one day.

challenges, dare to be different

Don’t Say Gay

“I am not gay!”

…the cry came from behind the swings. Then the young man came streaking across the playground toward the tall trees. “I am NOT gay! I AM NOT GAY!” Screamed with the terror of trying to outrun the boogie man, a cloud of cooties, a wild black bear and the abominable snowman all at once.

This summer, I am teaching third grade students. They are 9 or 10 years old. This is one interaction I witnessed this week on the playground.

I started the calm walk over to talk with him and the other boys who had been taunting him.

“What is going on?” I asked them. The conversation quietly began. One sheepishly admitted to calling another one gay. The one who used the word hung his head as he fessed up.

I hear over and over again that if we talk about gay families or students in elementary school, we are exposing them to this content way too early. Here’s the thing this playground taunt reminded me: THIS SO-CALLED “MATURE CONTENT” IS ALREADY THERE. It is already in our schools.

Some of our students have same-sex parents. They have siblings who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not to mention aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Then there are relationships they see in the media. Some of our elementary students even know they are in one of these groups, even if they don’t have the words for it yet. The vast majority of kids in our schools already know about this through observation and experience, just as they know about heterosexual relationships from a huge variety of sources.

Here’s what I know: if adult professionals in schools avoid talking about this topic at all, it is allowed to run rampant with misconceptions and ignorance. When I told these young men (really, they are boys) that being gay is not an awful thing, it’s just how some people are, their eyes popped and their jaws dropped. I could tell they had not heard that before.

I can’t allow students to run around on playgrounds and call people gay as if that is the worst thing they could be. How would a gay classmate feel, or a classmate with same sex parents?

Is it any wonder the rate of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts is higher among LGBTQ young people if their identity is used as an insult? And adults just stand by and watch it happen?

I get it…It’s not always easy to talk about for people of many ages. One of my daughter’s friends who came out in the past couple of years saw me at a party recently. She said “Miss Beth, you forgot to wish me a Happy Pride Month!” I hugged her and wished her Happy Pride Month with a smile. I love seeing her come into her own and embrace her truth.

Then I showed her my watch face, which made her eyes light up. I have my Apple Watch set on one of the new Pride faces. It may seem little, but even small signals to young people that they are seen, accepted, and embraced for who they are matter. And I will continue to say it and show it in whatever ways I can.

challenges

The Real Struggle

The struggle is real in life sometimes. I confidently state this based on experience and nothing less. Maybe I should say the struggle is real for many in life, daily. Different obstacles. Different battles. Different consequences. Different choices. Just a different set of variables that create the real struggle.

Anxiety is real.

Depression is real.

Fear is real.

Anger is real.

The list could go on and on. Sometimes it’s one struggle. Sometimes the struggles are intertwined like a tangled web. When multiple challenges hit at once the struggle compounds and many feel helpless. It may take a special person in their life to help them find the hope they need to see or feel to push through the barriers of tangled web. This person could be you. Always be ready to help others.

Today I had a struggle. I was angry. I couldn’t let my anger go. My anger hand many prongs.

I knew better than to let anger steal my joy. My time. My energy. My productivity. Despite knowing I held onto it for longer than needed. I knew my anger spilled over to others around me. This poor choice didn’t define me, rather it consumed me. It took a few unexpected wrinkles in my day to realize I could just let it go. Bye Felicia. It was like my day started over at that moment. A fresh start of sorts at almost 4:00 pm after I was no longer consumed by anger. 

Then a shift to an in-person encounter a few hours later. There was a need. I could aid in the solution. I was called to duty. A young life needed my support. My time. My me energy. My positivity. I was on it. I knew what needed to be done and I plowed through the action items. This struggle was different in content or context but in reality the let shit go aspect was a common denominator. The struggle was addressed despite the curve balls of the day. If I didn’t let go of my anger I might not have had enough mental clarity to help this young person. A good reminder to just let shit go that is weighing you down.

As I winded down for bed a close friend hit the “phone a friend” line. I was there on the other end. I listened with curiosity. We set boundaries. We discussed the value in seeing beyond 5 feet ahead. The what’s on the horizon visual. Hope was offered. Hope is free. Hoping for a better day tomorrow. Hoping for a new opportunity. Hoping to see what is ahead vs. focusing on what’s in the past. The past can’t be changed, but in the future you get to write your own story. A new chapter begins each day. It could be a happy chapter, a sad chapter, a progress chapter, a new beginning chapter or other fun stuff.

All three of these scenarios are real. The people are real. The problems are real. The pain is real. The struggle is real. Each chose the next chapter despite their burdens or struggles. Life’s path is never easy. Never uncomplicated. The adversity of life is part of the journey. Without struggles we could never learn about ourselves or others.

It’s easy to walk away from those who struggle. Many fear helping those who are struggling because it means sharing in their pain. Opt in. Offer to help others through the struggles. It doesn’t mean you need to give people money. It means you can help them see the sunshine in whatever is holding them back or weighing them down.

Do your part. Offer hope in any form.

This post is dedicated to my gal Patty. May everyone have the power of Patty as they overcome their next obstacle in life. 

awareness

Action Words

Pooped
Tired
Exhausted 
Fatigued

The action words above describe me after today. After the crazy week. After all the emotional highs and lows I experienced. Too many highs and lows to note. More importantly, my week resembled a roller coaster of life. A real shit show.

Refreshed
Recharged
Rejuvenated 
Rested

The above action words describe me now after some time alone. After some time to gather my thoughts. After an unplanned trip to the coffee shop for a sweet treat. After a day outside In the fresh air. After a trip to chase the mountain air.

I had plenty of things on my to do list. I had a few events I could have gone to. I had some folks I could have visited with. There were many things I could have done but instead I chose me. Just me. Just time away from the noise. The chaos. The crazy. The stupid. All of it.

A plane ride to an island might have been a nice oasis but with the pandemic still lurking my options were a little closer to my normal than a vacation destination. The destination didn’t so much matter as much as the journey. The break in the cycle of chaos.

Many times I talk about a reset button. We all have them. We all need to use them at times. If you don’t reset the crack will deepen. The crack will then turn in sink holes that you can’t find your way out of. A trap of sorts.

Many may never see you need a reset but I’m sure you know. The question is can you just drop the to do it list and fix you? I do. I do it sometimes more than I want to or more than I want to admit. The point is I’m not afraid to say I need a mental health day. A day off the grid. A day doing the unexpected or unplanned. There is only one of me and in order to fire on all cylinders when it’s needed others around me need to know not to let the crack deepen. They need to see a stress fracture and say I can cover for you. Take a break.

How many just want somebody to notice they need a break? Many. Some people don’t ask if you are okay because they are scared of what you will say. Some won’t ask a hard question because of fear. I take the fear away from others. I say what I feel and do what I need to because nobody can fix me but me. 

This rant was about mental health A-Z. I may use myself as an example above but it’s relatable to many. Our teachers need a break from the chaos they see daily. The students need a break from what’s all been thrown their way, too. Let’s not forget about the parents that are juggling work, carpool changes due to Covid changes last minute, who has shots and who doesn’t, mask or no mask….they need a break. A break without punishment. A day off.

How many actually take a day off. How many people say no you can’t have that day off. Plenty! Plenty is one too many. My mom always said never judge a person until you walk a day in their shoes. Many have shoes I wouldn’t want to fill in this day and age and heck many wouldn’t want to be in my shoes most days. For whatever reason we need to have the ability to recharge. Reset. And just play hooky.

10 years ago I’d never tell my kid they could take a day off just because. However today I leave the possibility open. PTO of sorts. Physical time off. Time away. Taking care of self before others. Getting into nature. Moving the body. Stimulating what you want vs. what you have to. That homework can wait. In today’s world it’s okay.

When I revisit this post in a few years I may have a different mindset but today this is my journal post of sorts.

I will leave this post with words of discomfort. Words that require action in one way or another. What’s relevant today but most likely to be avoided.

Covid

Pandemic

Mask required

Vaccinated

Quarantine

Symptoms 

Restrictions 

Zoom

Digital day

Hoping 2022 has something spectacular lurking. 2021 is just as much of blur as 2020. 

perspective

One Stormy Night

A rumbling sound. A light flicker. I was awake. A loud thunder. More light flashes. All seemed to get quiet but I was already startled and stirred.

I lay idle. More flashes. Flickers of lights across the back windows. One side window. The other side window. Then all on the back windows lighting up like a Christmas light show.

Rumbles that shake the house. More thunder. Now I’m wide awake. The sound of rain is constant. Now I hear the clock ticking. I hear sirens in the distance. I wonder what has happened at this wee hour.

The thunder shifts to the distance but the length of rumbling thunder and loud booms within are ever so disturbing. The sound is just blah on many levels. It’s kept me awake far too long.

I try to fall asleep but the distant flickers and thunder are preventing a full restful state. Oh how I need my sleep to rejuvenate. I wonder how many others were bothered by the storm?

As an irony, the storm is not the worst I have endured in life yet it’s doing a good job keeping me awake.

Maybe life is shaking me in other ways and the storm is just how I’m relating to life’s stormy days.
Thoughts in the dark to ponder.