mental health

Peaceful

In my recent travels I ended up in middle America as I call it from my eyes. Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Away from the rioting and looting in the big cities. Away from the stress of work.

I walked for miles and miles on a flat roadway taking in the tranquil scenery. No cars honking no smog in the air. It was peaceful silence and fresh air. The simple quality of breathing fresh air can leave you breathless. What an irony.

This road isn’t a fancy road to anywhere just a beautiful part of our country. Flat lands allowing you to see for miles and miles. No smoke or smog on the horizon. What a sight to take in when our country is in so much turmoil.

All the fields were recently planted or prepped by the local farmers. Some fields have corn while others had wheat. Some were just covered in wild flowers. Either way it seemed the birth of new life was in abundance.

I choose my happy each day. I tend to stay away from the negative news blasts and social media rants. I try to focus on what’s front and center. What can I impact? How can I make a difference?

In a world of so many uncertainties find your balance. Find your peace and beauty around you. Find your wildflowers or embody the spirit of wild flower within you.

May this post find you some peace and comfort today. If you can, visit the ocean and dip your toes in the sand. Take a hike in the mountains. Get away from it all to embrace peaceful when the world around us is constantly showing us all struggle.

I hope some of my photo reel once again let your mind drift if you aren’t able to travel for whatever reason. I share my stories with the world to make a difference. Enjoy.

family

Buddy’s Sign

Today was a rough day.

I lost my dad in his battle with dementia. It was never fun to watch the final days but it was part of the aging process.

Weeks turned into days. Days turned into hours. The third of three arrived this week. The universe whispered to me earlier in the week when I wrote another post about the heartache and loss of the week. My set of three.

I was remaining optimistic but had a inkling fate was on the horizon. Today as I was on my way to pay my final respects when I stopped at a red light and saw the building in the photo below.

What an irony. It’s a sign on a broken down building bearing the name Buddy. Never in my travels on this road have I seen this sign, although from the looks of it it has been there for a long time. And I’ve passed it many times without noticing.

To me is was a special sign. A sign from my dad whose nickname was Buddy. The building was old, boarded up and seemed to be past its prime. I will stick to my gut and think that was my dad waving to me letting me know he is on his way to bigger and better things. Moving on his way in peace.

No more stress of corona for my dad. He got his wings and is soaring high wherever his travels take him. It may be bye for now, but I have plenty of memories to hold on to.

I’ve posted in the past about my photo reel. It’s real for sure. It has not only still pictures but videos to hold on to as memories. The sounds you can’t replace are embedded in videos. The smiles you don’t want to miss are captured in the still shots. For those who hesitate to take the picture, just do it. You will have online catalog of memories better than any photo album sitting on a shelf or in a box.

My dad was strong. He lived a great life. He may be gone but he is not forgotten.

It is now June 3rd. A few days after the loss of my dad. As I finalize this post it was important to post this today. June 3, 1935 was the day my dad was born. He would have been 85 today. He didn’t quite make it to his milestone birthday but that doesn’t mean I can’t give him a birthday nod today.

fitness and nutrition

Sore vs. Soar

Oh how I love a twist on words or one word vs. another. A simple competition for me to challenge myself to think. Is it word wizardry?

Who knows! For me I used this word wizardry to unmask my current challenge relating to fitness.

In order to soar in my personal fitness goals I must first be willing to be sore. That’s easier said than done on most days.

I went back to the gym after a long 69 days away from the box. Yes I counted to be sure. It’s been about 5 years since I missed even 5 days in a year. That makes this a big break. I worked out during isolation however I never pushed myself to new limits. I never held myself to the same standard I would in a competition or even a metcon.

No real reason other than I just didn’t do it. I had other priorities at the time. I had background noise pulling at me and a bit of stubbornness. Not really excuses just choices. So here I am in the now. What’s happening now.

I’m recommitting to my fitness at a high achiever level. A competition level. I have more time. The pandemic regulations are diminishing in my area. It’s a good time to shift priorities and mindset.

First obstacle to overcome or being generally accepting about is soreness. The kind of soreness that makes it hard to walk/sit on some days while it’s hard to just giggle on others due to ab tightness. No matter what the pain, it’s progress.

After the soreness becomes tolerable then the frequency adjusts. The number of days I can endure the constantly varied workouts.

Once both of these areas are buttoned up, a routine is established. A healthy manageable routine of fitness. That’s where the beauty lies. The beautification process to some or the achievement gratification to others. Either way transformation is visible.

As I wrote this fitness update I was outside or more like near a window. As I wrote in flew a butterfly. Not the most attractive butterfly but one that sat patiently with me as I wrote. Flapping the wing span like it winking at me. Just hanging around like my faithful dog Teddie does.

A sign for me to soar. To spread my wings and soar to new heights. Let go of the achy sore in search of the ability to soar as an individual. A healthy fit individual.

Recently I’ve used photos to aid in my story telling. This may appeal to some while annoy others. Whichever category you fall into let it be known that I am ever so in tune with my surroundings and environment. I choose to listen, feel, smell and touch the world with my uniqueness.

May the coincidence of this butterfly cause you to take in your surrounding a bit more and see if any signs give you clarity for obstacles you are facing in your life.

Perspective is a valuable tool to use in life. Words are also equally valuable. Words can hurt or words can make you smile.  That is just the case with the two words I selected today.

Enjoy today.

family, perspective

I Sat Alone

Something I normally don’t do is sit alone. However once the pandemic hit I found myself sitting alone more and more. Not always by choice but by circumstance. In the 60 plus days of restrictions, I think I learned to master the art of sitting alone and how to use it as fuel for my mind and spirit. A rejuvenation method.

When I think about it, it’s funny how the universe can whisper to you in the darkest hours and let you see light that is really shining in on you, your surroundings and your inner circles.

Today I decided to sit alone by choice. I was going to wait in the car while my travel buddy took care of an extended pit stop. Instead I ventured off a beaten path. The unknown path led to a cement picnic table on the Tennessee River. Covered in moss, cobwebs and bugs. I was drawn to it like flies on shit.

Definitely not a spot I had ever been to. Not a spot I ever planned to visit but to my surprise I enjoyed it. I had a book to read. I had AirPods to listen to a few podcasts. My keys to set off an alarm if any creepers came near and of course a pair of fancy shades. The essentials so to speak.

To my surprise I was more drawn to the sounds of the land than my packed items. I listened to birds of all sorts chirp and sing. I listened to the sounds of a jet ski and pontoon boat passing in the distance of the river. I stared at interesting cobwebs. I watched ants crawl. My mind was at ease.

I’m on a trip to see family and mourn the loss of a loved one. Some alone time is good for the soul. It lets you reflect. It lets you be at peace with what is and will be the new normal. Life less one or in my case less two people.

Life isn’t easy. Life is messy on most days just like people. Not physically messy just complicated messy. As I jot down this post in comes a text from a former athlete I coached. A sweet, sweet text of condolences. When a young person you impacted takes the time to reach out to you, how can you not be moved?

As I enter this next line, this post shifts from mourning and solitude to appreciation and foresight. We all have a chance to brighten another’s day at any given time, but do we? We all have the ability to look ahead and see tomorrow but do we?

Life is never about regrets or mistakes it’s always about new beginnings and sunshine for me. Today I worked on my photo reel. Photos of nature and beauty. Simple as it sounds but as complex as I make it when I visualize the purpose.

The purpose of today’s photo reel was to honor the people I lost while seeing the beauty in what they were about. I used nature to symbolize the beauty. Speaking of beauty nature takes another turn. Not one but two red cardinals are whipping by me and my picnic table. I didn’t grab a picture but I knew my two loved ones were letting me know all is good.

Simple. Sweet. Memorable. This post is dedicated to my dad and Irene. You may be gone but not forgotten. You both lived amazing lives.

I chose to close this post with a black and white photo as I’m closing the door on darkness and looking ahead to the bright sunshine of tomorrow and all that is visible on the horizon. A new day. A new beginning. A new set of goals and adventures that await.

Forging a path ahead is what those lost would want you to do. I may be a carrier of the message today but for anyone who reads this, the lesson can easy apply to you as well. Think about my post as a whisper from me to you. My universe to yours.

perspective

Empty Shelves

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The end of the school year was very, very strange for this teacher librarian. We left school on a Thursday night.  I had just started a book fair.  We had a Family Bingo Night event going on.  In between the four corners and the blackout round, the school system announced we would be moving to digital learning. Tons of phones going off with the texted news.  Thankfully, we had been practicing for something like this…a snow day here and there.  No problem.

Never would I have imagined that we would go through 42 digital learning days before finally calling the school year over. Endless Zoom meetings, Google Meets, video lessons, double checking teacher pages, responding to student discussion posts. It was exhausting.  It was annoying. It was boring. It seemed it would never end. As of last week, we are finally done.

The school year is over, but I didn’t get the sweet satisfaction of celebrating with the kids.  No “high fives” with the little ones who had finally learned to read.  No “Thank you, Miss Dr. Friese” from the kiddos who loved finding their favorite book series.  No cheering kids on at field day.  No smiles and waves as the 5th graders walked their triumphant parade through the hallways on their last day, Pomp and Circumstance piped on loop through the intercom system. No final send off of the buses, waves and tears as we jump into summer.

Instead, we donned our masks and gloves and handed out their belongings and all the end of year “stuff” in large white plastic bags.  Pop the minivan trunk so we don’t risk touching.  Wave through the windows at the little ones we haven’t seen in months.  Many kids didn’t even come to pick their items up.

It is a dull, aching sadness I can’t really describe. An emptiness.  The main reason I came to work each day stopped coming to school. The kids.  The energy from their smiles, the goofy misbehavior, watching the kids grow, it all stopped. I loved seeing their videos in lessons and missed their personalities, but it wasn’t the same.  I wondered (and still do): are they ok? are they reading? do they have enough to eat? are they safe?

In a strange twist, my library was also scheduled for renovation this summer.  So in the middle of this slow-motion mess, I had to take the entire collection off the shelves and pack it away.  In some ways it was good, since I had more time to take care of it than if I were teaching up to the last day.  But the sight of the shelves, bare and dusty, just added to the sadness of it all.  Someone said it looked lonely in there.  Yes, more lonely than you know.

A school building without the kids is just a shell.  It has no soul, no life.

Summer break is ready to begin.  I will spend part of it putting the media center back together after the renovation is done.  I am hoping we go back to school on time, and I want to be sure the library is all ready for students from day one.  Budget cuts will bring new challenges for me.  But as long as the students come back, we will figure it out.  Sure, we made it through digital learning.  But a school without kids is lonely.  For teachers like me, there is just no substitute.

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