Posts tagged ‘Growing Up’

Step Away From the Alarm Clock and No One Gets Hurt

 

Morning People

You know who you are.  You’re the ones that in a scant few hours will be bounding happily from bed, a smile on your collective delusional faces, ready to face the new day with unbridled enthusiasm. You actually look forward to what the morning hours will bring.  You delight in the dawning of a new day and in watching the sun rise..of hearing the birds begin to chirp as they herald in the new morn.  You greet everyone you meet, without any regard for some of our suffering, with a cheery hello and say things like “Isn’t it a beautiful morning?”  or “Did you SEE that sunrise this morning?”. NO, we didn’t see it, we were too busy trying to pry our eyelids open so we could go out and play in traffic while still trying to wake up.

You people are the scourge of my existence.

I’m a night owl living in a morning person‘s world.  Trust me, even with the rising popularity of all things vampire themed, it’s still not easy to function in a society that is still selfishly geared to people who spring out of bed, eager to greet the day each new morning.  We all know the ones.  They actually smile when their feet hit the floor.  They grab a cup of coffee and appreciate the sunrise with enthusiasm as they ready themselves to effortlessly slide into the ebb and flow of another day. They even look FORWARD to it!  I have it on good authority, that some of them actually hum their way through the dawn hours and greet a new day with a spring in their step. It’s HORRIFYING!!! I didn’t believe it for years either, but trust me..these people are everywhere!

Then there’s me and my kind.

While the above mentioned anomalies emerge eagerly from their warm beds, I’m still blindly swatting toward the offensively obnoxious sound squawking at me from the direction of my alarm clock, in a desperate effort to hit the snooze alarm button for the first time.  Somewhere in my sleep fogged brain, I delude myself into believing that if I can just go back to dreamland for another 9 minutes, I’ll be more ready to face the coming dawn.  Alas, therein lies the problem.  Whether I’ve had 2 hours of sleep or 10, I am never a happy camper when forced to wake up in the morning.

Try as it might, my brain just refuses to function at full capacity when a new day is dawning.  It’s as if a switch has been thrown and the mind that was so active and productive from midnight to 3 am is now a totally different creature.  To say I drag myself out of bed is probably being generous. It’s not pretty.  I do a slow slide out of bed (or off the couch where I fell asleep around 3am) and then stumble toward the bathroom, usually stepping on a bone my dog has so thoughtfully left for me to find.  As I start to hop on one foot and utter things that would make my Mama wash my mouth out with soap, I manage to stub the toe on my other foot against the door frame.  Now that I’m limping, whimpering, and still bleary eyed, I somehow manage to navigate my way toward yet another morning in paradise to begin my day.

In an ever-increasing politically correct world where it’s considered rude to say or do anything that might offend anyone, I want to know where is the concern and compassion for those of us that hate mornings.  Where is the justice and equality??  Where is the outrage for a good half of the population that is suffering?? Why are we, ones that thrive when the sun goes down, being discriminated against in such a cruel, cruel manner?  I think I have an excellent case if I wanted to make the argument for discrimination against night owls.

Trust me, I know.  All you chipper morning people are shaking your heads and thinking..”Why don’t all the non-morning people just get jobs that require working at night?”  Problem solved! Right??  Wrong!  Since the entire world basically functions on the insane scheduling of daytime hours, that just wouldn’t work.  When we’re up and ready to go, you’re asleep and visa versa.  Chaos would ensue, hell would surely freeze over if all the people who prefer the night and do their best work then tried to adjust their working hours around the time when they are most productive.

I’ve done a lot of thinking when I’m up and lucid in the middle of the night.  I could be persuaded not to raise a ruckus and keep things civil if we all had a little more equity. So, I have a proposal to make.

Let’s split the difference.

Every six months, just like daylight savings time (and we know how well THAT works out), society switches schedules.  Instead of everyone working 9-5, for half the year, everyone will work 9 PM until 5 AM.  It’s only fair.  Actually it’s more than fair.  Think about it.  Not only would the people who thrive at night be able to make up for their lack of sweetness and light when forced to get up early with enhanced productivity, but the morning people would STILL get to see their sunrise, it would just be at the END of the workday rather than at the beginning!! 

I know, I know..I’m brilliant! You’re asking yourself why I didn’t come with this idea sooner. 

We’ll blame it on the mornings.  Just imagine what I could up with when I’m actually awake!!

Easter Ain’t What it Used To Be

easterbaskets

I was raised to respect traditions.  I went through my childhood relishing in the fact that while the world around me was changing at a rapid, sometimes scary pace, some things in life would always stay the same.  Some things were so important, they always took precedent over any other in my life.  You could always depend on their very essence and the spirit of thought behind them.

It was a comforting thought to hold close.   Precious traditions to look forward to were a safe harbor I could count on regardless of circumstance or location.  While the manner or details of their execution might by necessity vary a bit  in form from year to year, the basic tenant of their existence never changed nor wavered.

As a result, I brought up my children with the same value system from my youth.

Even as parents around me found themselves too busy or too “sophisticated” to bother with silly things like building memories, a few of us still insisted on keeping to the things we knew were important.  Traditions like ensuring Santa always had homemade cookies waiting for him on Christmas Eve or throwing a special birthday party at home for our kids complete with games and/or crafts and handmade goodie bags filled with treasures where much thought had been given to their selection, started to become few and far between in modern day families.  It was easier to let Chucky Cheese or the latest mini-golf adventure park handle all the messy “details” of marking the birth of your child rather than being bothered with all that planning yourself.  Family time was quickly being relegated to whatever bits and pieces that could be crammed in around all the REALLY important stuff.  You know the ones, important things like working 80 hours or more a week for that 3rd or 4th car..for the 4 vacations a year or 2nd little getaway home.

Traditions got lost along the way in the rush to acquire more and more “stuff”.  We sacrificed what we thought were non-consequential little bits of our lives along the way so that we could hurry up and wait for all the “good stuff” to get here.  The only problem with that theory was, those “little bits” start to add up to a lot of time and missed opportunities we can never get back with those around us.  Hey, it was all for the greater good though..right?

Wrong.

Just take a long look around at what is happening in our country and in the world today.  Every day on the news there is yet another tragic story of a person or family suffering directly and personally, or indirectly through the actions of a stranger, from the effect that loss of family and tradition has had on society.  People are slipping through the cracks.  We seem to have lost our way in the rush to “improve” or “re-invent” something that didn’t need replacing in the first place.

Traditions matter.  To have something that can be counted on in some form or another from year to year, makes a huge difference in how we handle life’s little (or big) ups and downs.  We all need a support system or something to depend on as being solid…a foundation to quiet our souls when we need to believe in something.

That’s what a tradition is for.  Whether it be something silly that only you or your loved ones count as important or something as vital as a group we identify with and celebrate our mutual beliefs, traditions give us a place in ourselves that can never be erased.  They provide a warm secret spot within our thoughts where we can retreat to anytime the world seems to be collapsing around us. 

Traditions don’t have to be centered on religious beliefs.  It’s not a matter of money.  Special traditions don’t have to cost a penny, they can be from the heart.  They don’t have to be grand gestures.  They do however, have to be consistent..even in times of strife.

So,  even though traditions have to be changed a bit this year at my house, they will be celebrated nonetheless.  I’ll pull out my grandmother’s recipe for a traditional heavy lemon pound cake and make it to celebrate my Dad’s birthday, simply because it’s what he asked for.  I don’t care about the current trend of low-fat, low taste healthy, only eat what’s good for us, that is in vogue.  Tomorrow, as part of an Easter celebration, we’ll enjoy without guilt, a taste from our past and smile.  In that way, my Grandmother (Nana) will be with us as well.  I have no doubt that stories of past Easter dinners at her house will abound for my children to hear yet again and pass along one day to their children.  Tradition will continue.

I’ll put together Easter baskets with special treats or little gifts for my kids to find when they wake tomorrow morning.  I have never bought a pre-made pre-put-together store bought basket in my life.  No matter that they are going to be 23, 20 and 14 this year, they will be almost as excited as when they were little to see whatever has been “left” for them by a Giant Bunny that has hopped by overnight.  Forget the fact that they all stay up most of the night and that Mom in turn, will have to have little if any sleep in order to make sure a surprise is created..it’s worth it.  Their Grandmother (my mom), even though she’s not in good health, will still have her house filled with special decorations and more treats for her grown children and for the grandchildren.  Tradition will live on and be something they carry on with their families one day because they recognize the importance of something to count on, even if it’s silly.

To start the day I consider Holy, I’ll also fall back to my upbringing.  Even though I rarely attend church regularly anymore, the convictions and beliefs I grew up with are strong within me and are passed on to my family.  There are years I will attend a sunrise Church service at the mountain, other years I feel the need to be amongst a congregation of those I know and respect, and some years I spend the morning in quiet reflection and remembrance of what I believe.  Whatever form the day takes, it comforts me to know that some things never change, in spite of the turmoil in the world around me.  I don’t know the answers as to why things happen the way they do, many times to those most innocent or undeserving of the chaos, but I have an abiding faith that there is a reason for every event that happens and that I don’t have to know the reason.  Tradition of spirit and of your own soul is perhaps the most precious gift of all to nurture and not neglect.

So, Easter ain’t what it used to be anymore for many of us.  It makes me sad to see so many traditions falling by the wayside in society.  The loss of family time as stores remain open in the name of political correctness or convenience is troubling.  The cost to the family from the increasing isolation and loss of human contact in favor of digital ways of interacting…the loss of our very humanity in a way as a result, is a shame and dangerous for some of those amongst us.  Especially for ones with dangerous violent tendencies, such isolation has shown just in the past month with so many tragic shootings, what happens when people cut themselves off from others or when we don’t want to “interfere” in someone else’s business.

Traditions are important.  So go hide an egg or two, have a meal with your family or a neighbor that is alone, go to church..heck go to a baseball game.  Start your own tradition if you didn’t grow up with one and cherish it from this point forward.  Give yourself and those around you a glimmer of something to look forward to in years to come.

Give the gift of something solid to hold on to, of something to count on, to yourself.  In these uncertain times, it’s vital…whether we realize it or not.

Recognize the value of small things around you.  Small things are the ones that make the most difference to us all.

These Are The Good Ole Days

anticipation

 

Anticipation.

 

Function: noun
1 the act of looking forward; especially : pleasurable expectation
2 visualization of a future event or state

 

These are just a couple of the benign definitions of the word “anticipation”, the clinical version of the word. We learn from an early age to anticipate events in our lives, both good and bad. We start to look forward in life and not backward. Some indications you’re anticipating something special are universal.  That sensation when you feel butterflies in your stomach, the feeling of being on pins and needles..unable to sit still without thought or movement, hoping that time will hurry and pass so that we can get to the “good” stuff, while at the same time praying that time will stand still…we all know the symptoms. I love to enjoy that time and find ways to heighten and savor the curve ahead of a special time.  In doing so, when what I’ve been yearning for so intently is finally happening, it’s not merely good, but spectacular…memorable.

When we are young, we learn to look forward to special treats. Remember the feeling of waking up on a summer’s day and knowing that “sometime” during the course of the afternoon, the ice cream truck might make a trip through your neighborhood? You prepared for it. Made sure that you alerted Mom to the possibility that you’d need money at a moment’s notice. You stayed almost on point, listening for the bell that heralded it’s arrival. You looked forward when you were young to any special treat promised for good behavior. Vacations or trips were planned and before you ever loaded up the car to head out, there had been weeks of preparation and sleepless nights when you absolutely couldn’t wait to leave and get started on your adventure.

If we are really clever, as we get older and travel along life’s paths, we learn how to use anticipation to draw out the time prior to good events we know are upcoming. We use anticipation almost as foreplay in the days leading up to special times we hope to cherish and remember always. We think about what special unexpected things might happen. We ponder the variables that could either enhance or detract from our experience. We dream of what might be, both when we are awake and sleeping. The time seems to crawl, but by the same token…that in itself can be delicious in piquing the senses if done correctly. We anticipate…we feel fully alive. It’s exciting, it’s vital to life itself to look forward to things.

We look forward to our first love, our first kiss. We look forward (hopefully) to our wedding. The birth of our first child is a time of worry, joy and hope.  Those feelings don’t diminish with all the children that follow, they are simply enhanced. We look forward to special vacations, to graduations. We anticipate with excitement and sometimes nervousness our new jobs, new relationships, anniversaries and the promise of a new home .

There are so many things, large and small, in life to look forward to and absolutely savor if we pay attention.  So many events to anticipate if we don’t wish our lives away by hoping that the time we have flies by rather than enjoying the journey to get there.  We need to learn to look at the paths we travel as part of the joy of living, even when times are hard.  Those lessons in anticipating our future and the possibilities it holds are valuable as well.

Some of us remember when Carly Simon brought the word to life in a song. She gave it texture and locked it in our minds, it was a theme song for many teenagers and 20 somethings as to what our lives would hold. (Of course, this was BEFORE the song was forever linked to ketchup slowly oozing it’s way out to give us something thick and tasty to eat…hmmmm, cum to think of it, that IS a great imagery of anticipation! Never mind. *batting my eyes*) Okay, back to my basic point…learn to feel anticipation again.

There are no guarantees in life of how something will turn out, learn to look forward to the possibilities anyway. Keep that childlike magic alive of wanting and yearning for something that is to come so that you don’t grow old and stagnant in your life. Don’t over plan or try to regiment every detail of life as we tend to do as adults.  Instead, try going with the flow and letting your dreams guide you. Take chances and go after the things that are important to you or rare in their occurrence without fear or second guessing.  Even in these difficult times, trust your intuition.

LET yourself feel the butterflies. Be on pins and needles, laugh out loud or share secrets with someone. Beforehand, daydream and “feel” whatever you’re most looking forward to in your most private thoughts. Want it, need it,  and embrace the special time before something special is about to happen, then enjoy the heck out of the actual event. Learn to live in the moment when you can…when the times allow for it, take a few chances. Let go and give yourself permission to reach out and grab what you need or want.

Take time for yourself.  It’s vitally important for both mental and physical health, especially in these trying times.

I know I always will. It’s amazing how time really does fly and the events in life you look forward to, do indeed arrive. Spectacularly.

 

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Anticipation

Carly Simon

 

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting

And I tell you how easy it is to be with you
And how right your arms feel around me.
But I rehearsed those words just late last night
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting

And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know natures way
But I’ll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here
‘Cause these are the good old days.

Come Play With Me

 4e951  

I love to play…

with words. (What did you THINK I was going to say?? I don’t kiss and tell! Well, not the details anyway…but I digress.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. Anyone that really knows me, as well as every student I’ve ever had from kindergarten through high school, has heard me speak often and passionately about the art of using language well. I’ve always had a love affair with words, both in written form and the spoken variety of communication. I firmly believe that if you have a good command of language that the world is yours. I believe it opens doors for you that might otherwise be left closed. I KNOW for sure, the way you present yourself through the way you speak…whether to possible employers, friends or potential lovers, often times makes a huge difference in your life or the paths you end up traveling.

I will admit to being “somewhat” of a grammar snob. I’m not sure if it’s the teacher in me, or if I became a teacher to try to improve my little corner of the world where I can…but I will often look at the way someone communicates before I let them too close to me. The constant misuse of words or misspelling of things like “there” and “their” or “your” and “you’re” drives me absolutely nuts. I realize that no one has perfect grammar, even me (stop laughing!! I’m perfect in other areas!)…but if someone obviously takes no care in how they express themselves, I know myself and know that either consciously or unconsciously, I’ll end up distancing myself from them so I don’t start correcting them. (which I still do on occasion when I just can’t stand it anymore)

Beyond that, if you have an interesting vocabulary, it’s just plain sexy. The “art” of flirting is slowly dying. No one takes the time anymore to practice verbal seduction or to use double entrendres that are meant to convey more than one meaning in conversations, either casually or with a more intense intent. Everything seems to be rapidly moving to the obvious, in-your-face type of communication, that frankly tends to leave me cold. Now granted, there ARE times when graphic, raw words are hot…times when they can and are used to enhance situations or to heighten the senses. I too, like to employ those words and phrases. They are not however, over-used in my world. When I utter something in this manner, it’s because I mean business…because they drive the point (so to speak) home with great gusto.

Word play. Some words have texture.  They convey depth just from their mere use. I have so many favorite words. I love to write. I compose everything from love letters, to short stories, to erotic tales. I find great pleasure in putting words together in a way that paints a picture in another person’s imagination when they read them. There are some words that are innocent enough on their surface, but when used can bring to mind images of much more.

You can write that you are  “eating a strawberry”…or instead, you can be about to “savor a succulent, ruby red, ripe strawberry dripping with juice”. (I love the word “succulent”) Some words are so rich and full of potential. They can bring more than one thing to mind when used. You can be “interested” in someone, or “immersed” in them. You can “think” about someone all the time, or instead, you’re “consumed” by the mere thought of them. The difference in what comes to mind is amazing depending on the word or phrases used. The meaning can still be totally innocent, but the possibility of more is there. It makes the mind wander or wonder. It engages the soul and captures the attention of whomever it’s directed at.

Learn to play with your words (ummmm…extra hint here…playing with your food can make for some pretty lively communication too, especially when naked, but that is a subject for another day). Make your conversations interesting. Practice the lost skills of seduction and flirting. If nothing else…try to learn a new word every few days that you can work into a conversation. Use these new skills not only with lovers or partners, but with friends or people at work. You’ll find that people start to look at you differently. Stretch your language skills. Take a few chances…pay attention to your grammar or the way you express yourself.

You might just be surprised at the changes that come your way or in the people that start to pay attention to you that might not have before. If nothing else, you might just have some fun along the way. Employ the flirting in the bedroom or over a romantic dinner.

In the new age of online interactions, don’t be so ridiculously obvious. Don’t come (cum) up to a total stranger online or on a dating site flashing all your goodies (or in the case of many of you, your shortcomings or goods WAY past their expiration date) with an accompanyingoh, so attractive offer of…Wanna F*CK?? Trust me, anyone that takes you up on that right off the bat, is either desperate or challenged in some way. Take a little time, “try” to act as if you might be interested in more than seeing their tits or penis…you never know, you just may find something special. Everything doesn’t have to be serious, but you don’t have to treat potential “conquests” as trivial, disposable objects either. By all means, do NOT lie, but at the same time…don’t be a goober or an insensitive bore either. Learn to use your WORDS!

So boys and girls, go ahead and play amongst yourselves. Whisper something sweet and suggestive either figuratively in prose or by way of the spoken word. Lean in close and take a chance with a well placed clever hint or amusing play on words. Be a rebel. Dare to be intriguing and beguiling. Practice your skill, hone your talent…tantalize and tease…tempt and be tempestuous. Learn how to leave something up for interpretation, leave them guessing as to the possibilities of what could be. Paint vivid, full pictures in the imaginations of those you meet and interact with. At the very least, don’t be predictable, dare to stand out from a very large crowd.

 Put at least the same effort into the manner of your contact with others that you would in choosing your next car or place to live.  In these times where we are depending more and more on electronic modes of socializing with others rather than engagaing in face-to-face interactions that are more vibrant and alive, albeit more work, language skills are even more important.  Don’t be left in the dust. Have the courage to be remarkable and don’t settle for being a pale verision of what you could be.  One more in a herd of those being left behind and losing their basic language skills.

Trust me, we’ll ALL thank you for it.

 

Reality, The Final Frontier

 live-love-laugh

Common Sense has been dying a slow death in our society for years.  However, with growing pressures attacking us from all sides in recent times and economic woes escalating, the slide for those not able to face simple reality in many areas of their lives appears to be on the rise at an alarming rate.

The time has come to try and let a little common sense start to creep back into our lives, even if it’s bit by bit.  It’s time to learn to cope with the new realities in all our lives and with the changes that are here to stay in the world around us all.  It’s a matter of survival and is vital to any sense of happiness and well being we can hope to have. 

Progress toward finding contentment has to begin by paying attention to the ways in which we look at and handle our relationships with others.  Many basic life skills and truths are being abandoned or sacrificed in modern times in favor of wearing blinders to avoid large areas of real life.  That avoidance only serves to ensure we don’t actually have to deal with the emotions or reality present in our lives.  Real change can only begin when you come to the realization that no one can make you happy, but YOU.  To depend on someone else for your sense of self or put the responsibility on others to make yourself happy, is a recipe for disaster.  Happiness by default is an ultimately unattainable goal to reach for.

 

In your life, there will come a time when you have to admit a few things to yourself…if you dare.

 

The sheer force of your will is not enough to cause life around you to always be as you think it should be or in your comfort zone. You can only do what YOU can do in situations, both in your life or in events that concern you.  Ultimately you cannot make anyone else do the things you think they should or the things you need for them to do for your peace of mind. You cannot control everything around you all the time. There will be situations in which you have to trust enough and go with your gut feeling and/or let someone else take the lead, even if you believe it’s not the shortest path to where you need to go or you can’t see the outcome from the beginning. You WILL fail from time to time.  Deal with it and learn to do it gracefully when needed. If you don’t fail, at least now and then, it stands to reason you’re not playing fair somewhere along the line. 

Even someone that loves you or that you love with all your heart, will at times disappoint or hurt you. It’s up to you to decide what you do about it and whether the hurt is a temporary and sometimes necessary curve in the journey, or whether it’s a detour that won’t ever lead to where you want to be. If the person is truly important to you and your life, weigh these choices carefully before you act. Some bridges can never be recrossed once they are traveled over. There will be times though, when enough is enough. Learn to tell the difference.

Not every day will be a good one. Some days will swing from the highest highs to the lowest lows with remarkable speed simply because of an unexpected phrase or thoughtless comment expressed from someone you trust, love or depend on. These comments are probably not thought twice about, much less ever meant to upset you. Try to remember that hurt feelings are not fatal.

Remember when someone acts in ways that confound or confuse you out of the blue, that they might in fact be coming from a place of fear in themselves and their behavior is a protective measure on their part. Don’t always make it about yourself. Stop to consider what else may be going on beneath the surface and why. Also stop to remember why they are in your life in the first place and that you want them there for a reason.

Tell or show people how important they are to you often, just because, and don’t expect the same in return or be hurt if the people around you don’t bestow on you the same courtesy and thoughtfulness. Love and respect can’t be mandated or scheduled for others by you. Love is, at times, only a silent player much like the wind…some days it’s a gale, some days a mere breeze. You can still feel it in every fiber of your being without repeated flashy demonstrations of it’s existence. Learn to appreciate all the subtle nuances of it’s presence as well.  Those nuances are just as precious, sometimes even more memorable.

People love and express love in their own unique, individual ways. None of these ways are perfect, nor can they be judged as right or wrong. Just because someone doesn’t love you exactly the way YOU want them to, it doesn’t mean they aren’t giving you all they are capable of giving. If it’s not enough for YOU, it is then your problem, not theirs. Only you can decide to walk away or not at that point. Don’t get involved with someone expecting to change them or for them to change for you.  Females, as a group, are notorious for this belief.  They then wonder why they are always searching for more.

Whether you consider yourself religious, spiritual or a freak of nature that is on this Earth by mere coincidence of atoms colliding…the Good Book still has some common sense rules of humanity to live by. Treat others as you’d like to be treated, don’t always envy what someone else has and don’t take for granted the good things in your own life..are three of the most important ones to hold close and put into practice.  Karma, fate or destiny (whatever you choose to call it) will indeed come full circle if you choose to tempt it too many times. Don’t cry over spilt milk and never make the mistake of assuming that getting said milk without ever any commitment to the cow will be without consequences.

Bottom line, growing up is not for the faint of heart, neither is maturity. Courage, responsibility and honor are not givens in your character, but are instead developed in the way you choose to live your life and how you treat others.

Try not to be trivial or sleaze your way through life.  Decide to make a difference where you can, while you can. Make your mark on this world instead of being like gum on the bottom of someones shoe.

If these simple common sense concepts are too much for your meager brain to handle or for your corrupt soul to fathom, then trust me…you won’t care for much I have to say if you press me or act like a stupid juvenile when you’re supposed to be all grown up (in years anyway). Playing dumb or trying to be “cute” all the time without ever being real, wears thin very quickly. Have some substance, purpose and backbone in all that you do, even during play.

~Kath

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~The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed the change. Happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.~

Through The Eyes Of A Child

eyesofachild 

One of my careers is that of being a school teacher. While I no longer teach full time with a single class for the entire year, I get to interact now instead with many more children each and every school year. Instead of teaching a single class the entire year with only 25-30 children, I now get to know 1200+, most of them by name. I see them grow from fresh faced kindergartners to 5th graders that think they are on top of the world and full of attitude when headed for middle school. In doing this, I receive a benefit that is more precious than any other that could be offered…I get to see the world through their eyes that aren’t clouded yet with all the weight of the world. Those eyes have seen things at young ages and have worries these days that children just shouldn’t have to cope with or even know about, yet they are still full of hope.

Over the years, I’ve written about a few of my special students. While I genuinely enjoy the majority of the kids, there are some that manage to get closer to me than others and will sneak right into your heart. I have one child as a student who is the son of a pilot I fly with. Ben is cute as a button and has had a crush on me since he was five. His face literally lights up when he sees me in his classroom or in the hall. He never fails to run up and squeeze me in a bear hug with a huge smile on his face. It always brightens my day. He’s one of many that I have a special relationship with throughout the school.

As I walk down the hall and constantly hear someone telling me hello, giving me a hug or a wave, I never fail to smile. They want to tell me their latest news or ask me a question. They make me laugh and at times my heart breaks for them when they are hurting or sad. It never fails to amaze me when I get to the end of a long day and feel like I have fussed all day at some of the same students, when they still go out of the door hugging me or with a smile on their face.

Children respect consistency. They know who loves them.  They know who wants to be there and who doesn’t, even when you’ve had to give them extra work or time out of recess. They also know they need boundaries. While they don’t always like the rules they must follow, they are glad those rules are there. Most grown-ups could take some lessons from their kids in that regard.

There are the kids in the EIP classes (early intervention), that have varying degrees of challenges in learning. These children have a huge span of personalities and abilities. They are not physically challenged, but have home situations or learning delays that make it trying for them to sit in school and process information as some others do. These kids will worm their way into your heart and while you hope like holy heck they will be successes in life, you know that some have the odds stacked against them. Regardless of that fact, you have to realize that you are affecting this part of their life and hope it has some impact, even if it’s a small one. These kids are usually charmers and sweet and usually precocious. They also are brutally honest and will make you feel like Superwoman when they share their thoughts or emotions with you.

There are also many kids that are physically challenged as well as being learning delayed. These children are generally bright, always have a smile on their faces and try their best to learn and behave. With inclusion becoming more and more the norm, these kids are looked upon by the other students as just one more friend in their class.  Most of the time their disability becomes something that is not even noticed.

Now, FINALLY the reason for writing today. (I can get a bit wordy when it’s about something I’m passionate about…teaching and children are near or at the top of the list) I was in a 1st grade EIP class today, one of my favorite classes. There is a student in this particular class that I have spent a lot of time with over the past 2 years. His name is Ade. He’s a precious little boy that last year came in shy and bewildered and pretty much stayed that way all year. This year has seen him begin to come out of his shell. He smiles much more. He’s finally “getting it” in the classroom, his work has improved more than I can tell you…it’s starting to click for him. He talked my ear off today, something he never would have done last year beyond random words here and there.

Ade is moving to Illinois tomorrow. The move came unexpectedly and for some reason, finding out yesterday that this would be his last day here in our school made me sad. While I was glad to get to teach and spend his last day with him…when his mom and brothers came to pick him up, it hit me harder than most. Children move in and out of the school with increasing frequency in our current fluid society, but this one got through to me and I’m not sure I even realized it until I knew he was leaving. I do have his phone # and address in Illinois to keep in touch with him, and will.

While I was losing one student today, I met a brand new one that transferred into the school last week. Jamal is in the same class. He’s a bright kid and has a huge smile. He whizzed through his work ahead of everyone else and I had to wonder why he had been placed in the EIPclass. I soon found out. Everyone was working. Jamal had finished and had asked to write a story on the back of his paper while everyone else finished. I told him that would be great. I watched as he wrote for about 10 minutes, his face intense with concentration. He came up to me in the back of the room wanting to read his masterpiece to me. He started to read the words expressing how much he missed his mother. The sentences told of the special things mom did for him and how he wishes she were here.

Not yet knowing his history, I thought perhaps mom might travel or that he had a family that had experienced divorce. I wasn’t going to ask Jamal, but when he finished reading, he looked up at me and more words starting spilling out. He was very matter of fact, but you knew those words had been bottled up for a while. He told me of a sibling that had died, I didn’t ask how. He told me that “they” had taken his sister and him out of their home and away from their mom to keep them safe. He paused, waiting for my response. Quite frankly, for someone that is rarely at a loss for words, I had to stop and think. I tried to reassure him that things would work out as they should. I told him how very glad I am that he’s with us now and how glad I am that he and his sister are indeed safe. I felt like I was bumbling through my rambling words, but he was listening. As I finished all I could say, a smile burst out on his face and he hugged me. This child just met me today and already he gave ME a gift.

I’m very aware of the problems with education. In fact, if you crossed my path, you’d hear me regularly giving my opinion of what we’re doing to our kids in the name of “progress” both from a teacher stand point and  as a parent. That isn’t something I can change right now, it requires time and legislation and common sense that I’m not sure some powers that be even have. Regardless of this though, I can make a difference and try to do just that in my little corner of the world with the children I have the privilege of interacting with.

So, I do what I can.

I try to show up each day I’m at school excited to be there. I give the children parts of myself.  I tell them stories about my kids and my life and make myself a little more human. I let them know about teachers I had that changed my life or gave me little tricks to make learning easier that have stayed with me. I smile and outright laugh often and easily. I make a fool of myself in assemblies or at dances…I don’t take myself so seriously and it breaks through to them. I wear funky outfits or jewelry that gives them something to talk about and smile.

I listen when they are excited or upset, knowing that sometimes no one else in their life takes the time. I always hug anyone back that gives me one. My classes are loud and interactive and they LEARN and remember. I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing, I’m good at it and it’s my niche. When you find something that makes you happy, it shows…whether professionally or personally. I’m not the perfect teacher, I have many faults, but one of them will never be that I don’t care and give them my best even when I’m tired. My Connecticut Yankee would tell you that my face absolutely lights up when I talk about “my” kids.

What those kids give to me however, is absolutely priceless…and they do it without even trying..just by being themselves.

Just Another Day in Paradise

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I was born and raised in Georgia.  I’m the proud product of the many varied colorful influences that one can only benefit from if they were immersed in our unique and at times ludicrous way of life here in the South.  As most will say of the place they call home, I will admit that I have always felt very fortunate to have had my personality formed with a mixture of family, friends, God and country..with a dash of bizarre thrown in for good measure.  One thing that Southerners are never accused of, is being boring.  We tend to have an unique way of looking at life.  I will also readily admit that you also have to have a healthy sense of humor and not take yourself too seriously to grow up in the South in order to be able to fully appreciate all it has to offer..from the subtle nuances and tempo of the culture to the in your face eccentricities. 

I’m a true Southern Belle raised with cotillions and crazy relatives that in many cases, had colorful pasts..bless their hearts.  We had dinner on the grounds once a month after Church on Sunday with some of the best cooking on God’s green earth.  We eat supper during the week at night instead of having dinner..BUT the meal in the middle of the day on Sunday was always called dinner.  I know the difference in pitching a fit or having a conniption.  We worship at the altar of our SEC football teams and life stops on Saturday as we follow what is happening to our beloved Alma maters (in my case, UGA..GO DAWGS!).  We eat grits and drink sweet tea. We mind our manners and still say “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir”.  We cannot drive in snow or ice…or are smart enough to pretend not to know how to do it, so that we can have snow days or weeks off now and then.  We can literally talk the ears off a June bug.

This week a National Survey was released and conducted by Gallup in partnership with Healthways and America’s Health Insurance Plans that ranked the top areas of the country in terms of residents overall well-being.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rest of the country will see what I have always known, the county I grew up in and still live in, is ranked second in the nation in the survey.

The survey questioned residents across the country about physical health, life evaluation, emotional health and basic access.  Here in Cobb, we scored first in the physical health category, second in life evaluation, fourth in emotional health, and 10th in basic access. 

Move over Disney World, there’s a new sheriff in town.  Who knew we were already living day to day in the new “Happiest Place on Earth”??  All this time we’ve been spending our vacation money (mortgaging our firstborn in some cases) and risking our sanity to go visit the Big Mouse so that we could immerse ourselves in happiness on the E-ticket rides.  If we had ONLY realized we could have stayed home and avoided the crowds!!

So, the message for today is…don’t worry, be HAPPY!! 

It appears I’m in better shape than I thought given the changes in the world and economic climate and all the accompanying challenges.

Who knew?  (besides us, of course)

There’s no place like home.