awareness, challenges

My World Erupted

Shaken to the core.

Abruptly awaken.

All seemed taken.

I blinked. I sighed. I swallowed my pride.

One lonely night a medical emergency hit home. The challenges that go with this situation are taxing to say the least. This wasn’t about me, but it spiraled around me. Time spiraled to the east. Memories spiraled to the west. What if scenarios spiraled to the south. Family spiraled up north. The spirals met and formed a chaos cyclone. A circus show in my brain. Who? What? Where? When? Why? Oh my!

Amidst the chaos another lingering shit show keeps rearing its ugly head. Unfortunately, this one is a one and done meaning the gas tank is empty when it comes to help or support. No mental energy. No funds to spare. No support to give as it all falls to the wayside. The taker in life. The taker in my life. The mental strength it takes to keep the takers at bay is not for the weak. A wall of sorts is built. Carefully crafted to shield all my loved ones from the mayhem. Managing this on top of life and unplanned medical challenges is just wow. No words to really describe today. The now.

When I breathe deeply and let it settle in another blow strikes. This one is hard. Straight to the gut. Straight to the heart. Straight to the mind. All the feels. All at once. The pressure is intense. Every calming mechanism is put into play. Repeatedly.

Bend. Flex. Shift. Rebound. Reset. React. Refresh. Think. Act. Recoup. 

One would think I just played a hard core tennis match, but I didn’t. It was just life. The uncertainty of life. The unplanned chaos that can ensue without notice. Sure there are worse scenarios, but in that moment my life was in disarray. It’s seems unforgiving. Relentless forces striking at once. Repeatedly.

Life is full of wonder. Life is full of surprises. Life is full of happy, sad, ugly, fear and so much more. Life is about living and living means shit happens. When life throws the shit show your way, it’s up to you to see the perspective. Don’t crumble. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Live through the turmoil. Learn from mistakes. Find opportunities in the chaos. Fight for you. Fight for those around you.

Bend. Flex. Shift. Rebound. Reset. React. Refresh. Think. Act. Recoup.

Do it as many times as you need to. Be relentless. Be daring. 

change

Change #3,454

It’s early February and I think I just hit change 3,454 for this year. It might not always be change I contributed to. It could be change that impacts me. Maybe even change that hits somebody close to me.

I’ve written about change a few times over the years. One was a thought post about how much I like change back in 2020. Seems so long ago as it was pre-pandemic which is like 5 million changes ago, but who’s counting?

My desire and love of change is ongoing.  Change still holds true today, but I have decided that the changes I like more are full disclosure changes vs hidden changes. For instance if somebody was to be fired in a workplace, I could cope and adjust to said change but I would prefer to know it’s about to happen vs watching it unfold unexpectedly.

If my favorite coffee shop was closing its doors for business I could adapt and go elsewhere but I might want to wish my favorite barista good luck. This means I wouldn’t appreciate the move-out-in-the-middle-of-the-night option. I prefer the sign on the window that says “last day is Saturday.” Now the world isn’t perfect which means I may expect too much of others and how open they may be about sharing the news of change vs fearing the change itself.

Nowadays I have a beef with Starbucks. One location in particular likes to put a hand written not up on the drive through stating closed catch you tomorrow at odd times on random days. This irks me. An unplanned change. Something I didn’t account for nor that I can control. Without notice. Over the last several months my dislike of changes in this fashion irritate me more and more. I cope with change and my irritation subsides however I wonder how many others are bothered in the same way about change. 

My gym changes ownership not once but twice in a short period of time. Out with the old. In with the new. Change everywhere. The paint on the wall. The people in the four walls. A new fresh outlook, cool. Did I suspect change was on the horizon? Absolutely. Will the environment change? Most likely. Will the rules change? Probably. Will the name change? Yes. The list goes on. None of these pieces of change are directed by me but the impact is front and center. For me. For my sweat mates. For many, including the new and old owners. Time is needed for all to adjust. A period of grace for a transition. 

Out with the old or what was new. I’m with the new which was old. So crazy how change goes back and forth and sometimes back again. This is so my life. Front and center. Reaching for growth within the change. At least that’s what I hope change brings for others as it should me.

You see I learn as change surrounds me. From the whispers of those who don’t like change to the trailblazers who force change. For change is really the only constant in life. The days of the week change. The hours or minutes of a day are ever changing. The weather changes. Moods change. 

Funny I talk about change as I wrote about the subject about 13 months ago again. I learned how I like change but my daughter fears change in some instances. As she has spread her wings and sprouted this past year she has been more open to some changes but not all. And funny this week she was insistent on change but she had no power or control to garner the outcome of change she wished to see in her world.

In her athletic journey she hoped for change. She saw the need. She jockeyed for change but fell short. Such a life lesson. You see sometimes we want change but we don’t get the change we want or need. instead we are stuck with changes that others decided for us. Do we sit by and wallow in self pity or do we move ahead and bend, flex or pivot to see the change as an opportunity?

After 3,000 changes I learn to go with the flow. It might not be my change or vision but it was somebody’s. I need to embrace the change however it is thrust upon me. Suddenly or with notice. It’s a practice I’m working on mastering since I stated above I don’t necessarily like surprise changes.

Just another thought post to take out of the vault for others to ponder as they undoubtedly face change in their life. A passing of a loved one brings many changes. A new school or teacher brings change of a different kind. A new city bring a changes of many kinds.

Remember change brings opportunities. You must look beyond the change itself to see how change can truly benefit you.

challenges

The Off Season

I am a teacher. I work from 8:00 am (or earlier) until 4:00 pm 190 days a year. During those hours I am a role model for little kids, a good colleague to my co-workers, and so on. What happens when I head out to stores to do errands after school?

As an elementary school teacher, I honestly still watch myself a lot of the time. I know I could look up at a store or restaurant and see little eyes looking up at me with an incredulous squeal: Mom, it’s Dr. Friese!! This has happened many times. For that reason, I can’t be cursing or loading up on margaritas when I am out and about, especially within a certain radius of my school.

This self-censorship of sorts extends to social media. I rarely post anything except for very “innocent” family or fitness updates. I stay out of photos where drinking or other grown-up activities are involved. I don’t post political content as much as I can avoid it. I have just a handful of select parents who can see what I post. Otherwise, I just refuse most of those requests, but I am still aware than many people could be looking. I sit through legal presentations each year that share examples of teachers losing their jobs because they post themselves doing legal, adult things online that a parent used against them. Better safe than sued or jobless is my mindset, I guess.

Some comments lately had me wondering if this is fair…as a teacher, I feel expected to hold up some sort of rated-G moral standard no matter where I am. The other roughly 14 hours a day and 175 days a year I am not at school, I often mentally steer away from situations where I can be captured doing “inappropriate” things. But is it fair to expect that I’ll just be basically angelic most of the time? Is being a teacher what I do or who I am? Who gets to decide?

Others close to me have been in this situation lately as well. A friend who is a nurse had a family member go through a medical crisis. She wasn’t completely happy with the way all the care was going and let the staff know it. She wasn’t ugly or unreasonable as much as firm and inquisitive. She was told she wasn’t being professional. But her role in this situation was that of a family member advocating for her parents’ health. Does she have to be a professional even in her personal life?

What other jobs seem to carry the expectation of acting a certain way 24/7/365… am I always a mother? A father? How about the captain of an athletic team? Do I have to behave “as a captain” even in the off season? What does that mean? If I am a forklift operator or a chef, I don’t have the weight of those jobs following me around all the time. How about an athletic coach to young people? A politician? A priest? A police officer? Why do some jobs or roles become identities and others allow you to clock out and just be who you are?

I don’t have solutions for this. It just troubles me how some jobs or roles are seen as 24/7 while others can be left behind when work is over. It’s not even the highest paid people who can just shed their professions at will. Some onlookers use these roles as a weapon when they don’t like what you are doing. (Heaven forbid you’re a teacher and post something with spelling errors!)

In the end, we are all just human, with likes and dislikes, flaws and foibles and lives outside of our work. Just a few early morning thoughts.

perspective

The Middle Seat

I was on a flight squished in the middle of two strangers. Like sardine in a can. It was an evening flight making the cabin dark. The exception to the darkness was the glow of phones instead of reading lights. This kind of made me a giggle a bit.

I closed my eyes briefly and reflected on my day. My week. My past few months. It’s been a whirlwind but I didn’t expect anything less as I’m on the road to the big 5-0! Today I woke up to the chilly fall air. I had a tennis match with a new partner: I had no expectation other than don’t freeze to death. 

I layered up my clothes before heading out into the tundra. I mean it was 40 degrees which is cold for me. My new partner was nervous. I was cold. It took us a few volleys to get in unison. The gelling is what I like to master. I’ve been told I need to lead on the court but normally I don’t. For me tennis has been about relaxing. Changing up my routine. Meeting new people. Having fun. What I didn’t realize is others were expecting me to lead. Somehow I missed all the cues.

I scratched my head until my team coach chimed in with, you are strong and lead in every other aspect of your life and the partners you are paired with expect nothing else than the same on the court. I scratch my head again. Can I still do all the things I mentioned above and lead? Why yes I can. Once I modified my attitude we began to play better. Communicate more clearly. Win or in some cases or battle to deuce, deuce, deuce and so on. We hung in there for hours. Ultimately losing in the end but that’s okay because we get mimosas at the end. It’s always a happy ending if you look at it that way!

This little tennis match got me thinking when I sat in the middle seat. How much have I led this week? This month. This year. What is still left for me to conquer before 12/31. I love when I get a chance to shake things up and sit in a middle seat. A chance to be idle and drift into that creative space of thought.

I opted to take out my phone and glow. I figured I already had a night light to my left from a laptop and decided a little glow from my iPhone would be a fine accent. Off I went to type away on my teeny tiny keyboard.

It’s a million dollar year for me. It’s been a bunch of firsts. It’s many many new adventures and beginnings. It’s milestones. It’s new friends mixed with old. It’s another year winding down. Just like that. In the blink of eye, 2021 rolled in and began to fade. 
as I pause my writing in my middle seat, I closed my eyes and focused on some deep breathing. Something I enjoy at the gym but find ways to mix it into my days as well. During those calm moments a weightlessness feeling appears. It allows my mind to relax.

Signing off from my middle seat. The squishy uncomfortable spot that nobody wants to pick. The fear of who you are stuck with as neighbors. Today I had the courage to greet others. A new perspective of flying that you may never experience. Eew! Yuck! Nasty! Who in the world thought that was okay?

I am also thankful for my mask on this flight as it’s somewhat masking the stink of the putrid lingering fart. A nearby passenger just fully unloaded something and they might have left a skid mark in their pants. I am so very thankful I was finishing this note instead of doing deep breathing when he/she chose to glow or blow in their own special way way up high in the sky where fresh air space is so limited. No manners!

3Splitz Farm, author moments

Moments of Vacation

We’ve talked about life being lifey lately. In addition it’s just been a busy, hectic time. Sports leagues, long days at work, volunteer commitments, owning businesses and all that goes with it…it’s just kinda out of control these days.

My county had a true fall break this year for the first time. A glorious five-day weekend in the middle of my favorite time of year, the fall. When I saw this coming on the calendar, I imagined a quick trip to the coast for some salt and sand therapy. Or maybe a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the leaves change. A long hike in the great outdoors or laughs at Dollywood. I dreamed of a getaway.

Life being what it is, enough little commitments popped up that a getaway wasn’t in the cards this year. Just too much going on and the lure of catching up mixed in with a few poorly-timed “have tos” would keep me at home.

As I scrolled through the posts of colleagues and local friends who had hightailed it out of town to Disney or even Napa Valley, I had to reframe my mindset. Instead of being stuck at home pouting, how could I find those moments of vacation in my days?

Coffee Break: I love my coffee in the morning, but it’s generally on a timer. I have my two cups then I’m out the door. I decided to reframe my mind to think of an extra cup of coffee at a leisurely pace as a morning getaway. Even just a slower pace can be a helpful break.

Day trip: I went to a town I had never been to for a few hours to hang out / support / cheer on friends. I ate at a local bagel shop. I saw some new places and things to wonder about. It was less than two hours from home, but just taking that little trip made me feel refreshed from my day-to-day.

Appreciate nature: I had some things to take care of at the farm this weekend. Although I had work to do, I tried to remind myself to stop and appreciate the beauty of the dahlias and fresh fall air. I ate lunch outside on the porch. I took a few extra moments to breathe it all in and notice it.

Maybe noticing is the secret to finding those moments of vacation in daily life. Slower coffee, looking around a new place, taking a moment to observe and appreciate the nature that I often speed by on my way from task to task.

I do still feel that pull to take a trip, but for now these little vacation moments will tide me over. They are always there if I take the time to slow down for a minute and notice them. Yet another instance of how we can choose daily.