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.

adventure

It’s in the Details

A surprise picnic. The weather wasn’t great. We didn’t even really know the area. The option to hike it in would have been too much to carry.

A friend scouted a park with a pavilion. We wandered in tandem with the vague directions we had, then finally stumbled on the spot.

The coolers, tucked in the back of the jeep for hours, and boxes and bags were ported out. Then the spoiling began.

A white tablecloth was the foundation. Topped by a fall-themed tablecloth with muted hues. Draped with care over the metal picnic table. Then, fancy bamboo plates and utensils. Yellow napkins folded at each place. Then, the finishing touches…jewel-colored velvet pumpkins that later doubled as party favors / remembrances for each of the women there. A fall candle bought brand new for the occasion, glowing and sharing a hint of apple scent. A table worthy of special guests. Even out in the middle of the soccer fields and playgrounds. Then, a build-your-own lunch spread courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Nothing too fussy. Just nibbles to try.

In recent years, I have grown to love surprising people…not in the sense of surprise parties, but more about delighting people with over-the-top unique details. Whether it be decorations, unexpected custom cookies that match their party theme, party favors that make people giggle, artist-created invitations, or a meal fit for a queen, it feeds my soul to make people feel special and make occasions memorable. People are worth celebrating.

This also extends to presents I may drop on porches on a random Tuesday. Life is a challenge for many. Why not make people smile?

I hope when they pull out that pumpkin each fall they smile and remember a great day, and someone who cared about them enough to plan something special. Spoil people a little sometimes. They are worth it.

challenges, perspective

Sleepless Shit List

Do you ever have a sleepless night? I do. Sometimes I’m worrying about a kid. Sometimes I’m thinking about a deadline. Sometimes I’m mad. I could even be excited for an upcoming trip. Anxious for a doctor appointment. Any number of reasons.

Today’s reason was just the normal bullshit that built up over the week. Anger would be the feeling or distraction. Wrestling with my kids to find solutions. Planing ahead.

Thinking about rainy day scenarios. Covid blah. Sort of like playing a game of chess with yourself inside your brain. Sounds fun right? Not exactly.

If I don’t sleep good my workout sucks in the morning. If my workout doesn’t flow my morning usually blows. From there the day goes down hill. Add in the crazy of a normal day and everything magnifies.

I am sure there are people in worse situations and that’s why I hit the reset rainbow button in the morning. Training my mind to see the rainbows and sunshine in the day vs focusing on life’s blunders.

Some days this works better than others. Today I decided to make a shit list in my head. Hopefully to tire myself out. Ironically I fueled it. Like gasoline on a fire. Poof. The shit list went from in my head to paper to the white board.

Who is on it? What did they do? How does one get off it? Is it even possible to get off the shit list? So many questions. The point is I have a shit list currently. Funny how my sleepless night turned into a shit list.

I tried to soothe my mind as the weekend approached. I put the AirPods in for a cardio session at the gym. I eased the anger a bit it not enough. I spent time with a loved one. It took the edge off but not enough. I mowed acres of grass. The fresh cut smell of grass was soothing. I found an escape even if temporary.

I circled back to my environment and the shit list was still there. Each of the top three independently made selfish decisions yet again confirming their status on the shit list. How funny to be awake and realizing what I dreamed in my sleep was factual.

So crazy. The shit list remains. Those on it know. Now it’s up to them to get off it. But will they?

author moments

Fear or Courage

When you fear something. It’s easy to turn away. Walk away. Do nothing. When you fear something you don’t forge ahead. You fear the outcome. The fear of the outcome halts progress of any kind. An example may be I fear the dentist so I don’t really like to go go, let alone go back for say a filling.

When you have courage you turn towards something. You don’t walk away. You lean into something.  You don’t let an obstacle like fear get in your way. You courageously move forward. No matter where the path takes you. Back to the dentist example going to get my filling takes a lot of courage despite me not knowing the outcome.

For me I always follow my gut and often overcome fear. I stay true to myself. Nine out of ten times I lean in. I face issues head on without fear.  Then there is always that one time that stretches my comfort zone. That time when the fear monster takes hold and keeps me in fear mode. One out of ten times.

Why? Many times it has to do with others. My actions may impact others. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe the conditions in the air make this and that more challenging. They are all excuses of sorts. Environmental conditions shouldn’t control my mind. Neither should the people who put negative thoughts or thoughts of fear in my mind.

As I age I start to get the bulllshit meter out. I have to call my own bullshit as well as others around me. Sometimes it’s family. Sometimes it’s friends. Sometimes a coworker. All bullshit is the same. Breathe in the bullshit. Exhale the bullshit.

Over the past few days I’ve held on to bullshit of others. Burdens. Biases. Bullshit. Anger. Ignorance. So much blah. All wrapped up in a pretty nuisance bow. Once my mind gets a chance to rest I see the light. I use my courage to push through the bullshit and finish ten for ten instead of nine out of ten. It took some extra time but I didn’t let fear win.

Our minds are powerful. We have to coach and re-coach our minds time and time again. That’s called growth. Today I grew  a little. 

challenges

Going Solo

Sometimes going solo may seem scary but it’s the best way to grow. Stepping away from the comforts of what you know to see what you could be. 

An example could be stepping away from your job of 5 years to take a chance on a new start up company. There are many risks for leaving the security and stability of a long term job but the rewards could be well worth it. On the flip side if the company flopped, you had the experience. There is a value in just the experience! Everyone can easily start over again and again with the right attitude.

Another example could be leaving your friends behind on a sports team to try out a new team. Maybe the team travels to new cities. Maybe the team has better coaches. There are again risks to losing your seniority or spot on your current team but the chance to grow could be far bigger. If on the flip side things didn’t work out at the new team at least one would know they tried and again had a great experience. A fresh start could also happen again and again. Staying fresh is learning and has tremendous value.

Sometimes the path less traveled is scary. Fear is normal. However, if the path less traveled was easy everyone would take it! There is a lesson to learn about taking a risk. There is a lesson to learn about the experience and/or journey as well. There is also a lesson to staying in the status quo life and expecting change.

If I wanted to run a race, I would invite friends to join. I like people so it makes sense to go in a group. If schedules didn’t allow for friends to go, I would take the solo route. Why? I would need to learn to go solo. It might not be my favorite thing or most travelled path but it’s the one worth taking.

I wanted to attempt the race.

I signed up solo.

I had to travel solo.

I completed the race solo.

I rode the ferry home solo.

I conquered my fear solo.

I set a personal best solo.

I enjoyed the adventure solo.

I embraced it all solo.

In the above examples I am showcasing how going solo is an option. An adventure. A risk. A chance. Going solo is not for everyone. Going solo takes guts. Going solo means talking about just me. Party of one.

I’m very capable of being a solo girl but I also enjoy the group adventures. I however have learned many times going solo is a viable option. Many won’t ride solo for multiple reasons. It’s sad for me to see but I get it. My choice to lead solo when I need to is setting an example for others around me.

Maybe it’s one of my kids seeing me face my fears which shows them they can too. Maybe it’s a friend or colleague that will take their chance in life because they saw me go solo.

Going solo isn’t for the faint at heart. Going solo is about my growth. That statement alone may sound selfish but me being enough for me is what matters at the end of the end of each day.

My solo trip really isn’t just about the examples above. It’s really about me and life. I have to make solo decisions daily. Sometimes I’d like consensus but the solo route is best. Sometimes I’d like to blame others for outcomes but really I am solo in life. I make decisions to do or not do. I make my adventure or my journey what it is today, in the future and what it was in the past. 

I go solo each day like many but I take the solo route more than many each day. There is a subtle difference. You may have to reread this closing. Enjoy today solo.