Be Thankful in ALL Circumstances

What makes the Holidays so hard and painful is the reality that your family is not whole. A reminder that distance, whether physical or emotional is keeping loved ones away.

With all the humdrum of Thanksgiving and giving thanks for all that is good in our lives, I wonder if giving thanks for “the not so good” would be just as acceptable.

What if we sat around the table and said, “I’m thankful that our family is not together this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful they are happy and blessed. I wish them all the best in life.” “I’m thankful for the pain and hurt that is in my life. Thankful that the pain will teach me to be kinder and the hurt to help me be more compassionate.” Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Or does it?

Every Holiday in my life has always seemed to be faced with this dilemma.

When families grow, there seems to be a crisis of which household do we attend the festivities? How do we decide without hurting the other household? When families break a part, how do we split the time with the children? When families move far away, how do we deal with the empty seat at the table? When families become estranged, how do we reach out and when will forgiveness finally be given to move on? And of course how do we celebrate if we are mourning a loss?

Life is conundrum when it comes to relationships and this ideal that the Holidays are suppose to be a time of family sitting around the table actually enjoying each other’s company. What we need to remember is this idea is FAKE! I think the reason we hurt more during the Holidays is the lie we tell ourselves that EVERY body and their Grandmother is having a Norman Rockwell, picture perfect Holiday, while our time with our families is dysfunctional to say the least.

If we are hurting, we probably wish we could skip the Holidays or keep them from coming at all, but we know we can’t. We learned that lesson from “The Grinch.” The Holidays have no mercy!

Whatever your situation, try and be thankful anyway. I know…I know…it’s bullshit! We have every right to be angry and resentful. We have every right to feel sorry for ourselves. We have every right to wish and hope that one day the Holidays will manifest our desire to have one big happy family. You’re right of course, but is it worth it? Is it worth holding on to something that we have no control over?

Give it a try- Be thankful in ALL circumstances, even if your feelings don’t match what you are saying. Even if it feels weird and awkward. You will be amazed the difference it will make in your life, your heart and your soul.

Here is mine–I’m thankful for all you- the ones who read my blog and have given me positive feedback. I’m thankful for the friendships I have developed in the last few years, they have been such a blessing in our year of challenges. I am thankful for my family- even the ones who have chosen to leave us out of their life. I’m thankful for my career and the opportunity to work with kids even though it can be one of the most difficult careers on the planet, and my co-workers who care so much. I’m thankful for the job loss Dan had this year- it brought us closer together and taught us the value of what really matters- a welcoming home full of love, laughter, joy, tears, hugs, arguments that gave us perspective, and of course beer and wine. I’m thankful for my children. They are healthy, happy, and pursuing their dreams. I’m thankful for the hard times we went through because it gave us a bond that is unbreakable.

Just writing that one paragraph filled my heart with so much joy- I really think you should try it.

Love Always!

Tight Rope Walking Professional Development in Education

I was able to attend the National Association of Gifted Children Conference these past two days and I am overwhelmed with the amount of information and classes they offered. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. The last couple of years I have felt a little tired and somewhat irritable with my teaching, mostly because I feel rushed, inadequate, and thrown in so many different directions I tend to lose my sense of direction.

Professional Development in the Education world is nothing more than a tight rope with ideology on one end and reality on the other. When we return to our classrooms it our job to walk on that tight rope. Somehow, we are asked, to not only walk without falling, but to juggle machetes with their handles on fire and do backflips so that we can keep our hyper active kids entertained and make sure they pass standardized tests with flying colors!

It amazes me how much research and development goes on about best practices for certain types of children. Yet, we still fall so short of achieving the bar that is set for us, or perhaps, it could be that the research is nothing more than hot smoke on a cold night. Granted, the presenters were excellent, informative, and very convincing, not to mention that they do offer HUGE discounts on their latest book and curriculum at the end of the ride.

As I sit and listen to these experts preach about all that is wrong with education, (God knows we have NO idea what’s wrong- wink-) and then proceed to tell me how to fix it, or at least how to accommodate and differentiate so that I can meet the needs of my students, I kept asking how do I close this gap that is ideal and real.

This is exactly why I became a Teacher. It is also why I fell in love with teaching Gifted Children. The tension between ideal and real is the reality of every great teacher. It is knowing and accepting that the tension will always be there and there will never be, or ever be, a perfect classroom, with a perfect teacher, with a perfect curriculum. I love that everyday is a challenge (okay, some days not so much, but that is why we have wine, right). I love that I can help my students discover more about their strengths and teach them skills they can use everyday- to love reading, to love learning, to love AND appreciate diversity. Mostly, I just want to hand the balance bar to them, (because handing them the machetes on fire is frowned upon) and have them walk the tight rope that is THEIR education. I’ll step off the tight rope and walk along side them- encouraging them, guiding them, teaching them.

I want to stop asking my students to perform and to start learning. I want to stop asking them what they want to be when they grow up and ask what problems they want to solve. The world is so big, so scary, so beautiful, so evil and so good. To really understand the responsibility we have has Educators, that we are preparing these future adults to live in THAT world, is scarier than walking on a tight rope juggling machetes with their handles on fire doing back flips.

I know it has been said so many times, in so many ways, but education should be student centered, not teacher centered, not parent centered, (as much as we are able), I know, I know, this blame game we play… it’s the teacher’s fault… no, it’s the parents fault…, all the while the student sits there sucking their thumb playing Fort Night as we bicker and complain about one another. I wonder what would happen if teachers and parents co-educate the student, and held the student responsible for their own learning, instead of acting like immature divorced couples using the kid as collateral damage? Oh, right, that would be too ideal. Back to the tight rope I go.

With all that said, I do love my job and I am grateful for the research and development that goes into the best practices, and at the end of the day, good things ARE happening in education. I know the pendulum can swing from one end to the other, but with that comes some great models, strategies, and ideas. The very fact that teaching is fluid, elusive, and always changing is what motivates me to keep trying, to keep going, and to enjoy the journey- because it is one crazy ride!

Love Always

Copyright roxyjaecks.com 2019

Monsters, Zombies, Witches, and The Great Pumpkin

Halloween is HERE! That means trick-or-treating, dressing up as something scary, or something pretty, parties and spooky stories and spooky movies.

We seem to be a little obsessed with this Holiday and it’s pretty obvious why–who doesn’t enjoy the gruesome bloody zombies, evil witches, crafty wizards (thank you Harry Potter) ghost stories, ghost movies, and monsters that eat you up, and then of course there is the “Great Pumpkin.”

I am a HUGE Peanuts fan, and when I read a piece of Charles Schulz Biography I was surprised to discover that, “It is often recounted that Charles Schulz was a Christian. This is true but incomplete. After his baptism Schulz was for many years an active and zealous member of the Church of God. But as the years passed Schulz’s faith began to cool as be became increasingly disillusioned with religion.” It surprised me, but then again, those comic strips and movies I adored suddenly made a lot of sense.

I have struggled myself with religion and I although I consider myself a “believer” I watched the “Great Pumpkin” and realized just how much I relate to Linus. No matter how crazy, how many times I have been disappointed, no matter how many times people in my life laugh at me for what I believe, I keep sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting… For what? Could it be happiness? Could it be peace? Could it be belonging? Could it be our perception of a perfect life without any problems? Could it be our true selves? Or God?

Maybe Halloween is such a fascinating Holiday because we can relate in some way to the monster, the zombie, the evil witch or wizard because we know we are not perfect- in some ways we sometimes feel like we are outcasts of society because of our beliefs or our weird taste in clothes or music. Or maybe we are just “different” than the people around us- and so society labels us as “monsters.” The God I believe in, is the God of monsters. A God who not only loves monsters, but became one and rescued us from our ugly-selves.

So I stand with Linus! The “Great Pumpkin” does exist! I’ll keep sitting at the pumpkin patch waiting for it to appear and hand me all the gifts that my heart desires. Not gifts of material possessions that fade away, but gifts of love, peace, harmony and joy. A gift that gives others permission to sit in their own pumpkin patch and know that they are not alone.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Also, don’t listen to me either, I have no idea what I am talking about!

Love Always!

Five Years Later (A birth story)

Every mom has a birth story. A story that is filled with awe, wonder, and lots of love. The truth is, that some birth stories are not always movie worthy or worth repeating. Having been on both ends, the laborer and the supporter when my first nephew was born, I have many stories of birth.

Avery’s birth was a difficult one. She was already past her due date, and we were already cautious with the her heart rate with every contraction I had. For reasons we did not know at the time, her heart rate would drop after every contraction.

After a few hours in the hospital I decided to try the cheating way and get an epidural. The other two babies before I had natural. I was in my early twenties so I was naive and didn’t know better. After watching my sister deliver her first born with her epidural, can you believe that little brat was talking on the phone and saying, “Oh look… I’m having a contraction right now,” with the biggest smirk on her face. How stupid was I to go through all that pain?

Needless to say, the epidural did not work. It worked for maybe an hour. Then there was something called a “hot spot” on my lower left abdomen. It was a perfect circle. With each contraction the hot spot grew. They pumped my I.V. with more medicine to numb the area, and with just my luck, nothing happened except that my legs were numb and I was feeling every contraction. Oh, I forgot to mention, that Avery was not dropping either. That means even though I was dilating, her head was still not in position for delivery. So after artificially breaking my water, they decided to pump me with more water to encourage her to drop.

All that I could do was listen to this classical music Dan was playing for me and breathe through the pain. Then after a very strong ass contraction, and I was finally dilated to 10 cm., Avery’s heart rate dropped to an uncomfortable rate. I could see in Dan’s face something wasn’t right.

The Doctor looked at me and said, “We are going to have to perform a c-section.” So they gave me more drugs to stop the contractions, and gave me a bunch of paper work to sign. They placed that funny looking cap on me and made me drink some god awful syrup to make sure I don’t vomit while I am under. Since my epidural failed, I would have to go through the c-section completely under and without Dan by side.

They made him pack up our stuff and lead him to another room and they wheeled me in the O.R. and I waited. Then when it was time, they gave me the anesthesia and everything went black.

With all the details above, this is not where the birth story ends. I believe that every mom dreams about her birth story. In fact, now a days, we create birth plans. Plans that will help mothers have safe, healthy and memorable birth stories. Dan and I definitely had one, however, it did not prepare us for what happened.

See, while I was still under, Avery was taken from my womb and wrapped up to give to Daddy. I missed her first cry. I missed Dan’s face when he first met her. While carrying this child for nine months, and not only did I carry her, I was incredibly HUGE! All I could dream about was that day, the day she met her mommy and daddy together.

When I came to, I was shaking uncontrollably. I saw Dan holding Avery. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t control the shaking.

Even with all that said, it still does not end there. No. What followed after that day, was nothing but hurt and pain. I was already disappointed with the c-section and then discovered that her Grandma was able to meet her while I was still under. This event caused a huge rift between us. I am not going to put blame on anyone, it just happened, and it hurt me.

It took two hard years to work through it. Mostly because communicating honestly and openly was something I couldn’t do at the time. Turns out I was going through Post-Partum Depression so I was a huge ball of fucked up.

So we are celebrating Avery’s fifth birthday tomorrow, and although we have come along way, and I am so happy that Avery and her Grandma have a wonderful relationship now, one that warms my heart and brings us all joy. Unfortunately, it is also the reason why her Uncle, Dan’s brother, continues to alienate us. It has been five years since we all talked. Five years and Avery does not know her uncle. It pains us all, but we cannot control anyone and we cannot change the past.

So tonight I write this little blog to finally accept what is. To let go of the hope that a perfect family exists. So tomorrow we will light the candles on her unicorn cake and she will make her little wish and we will smile, laugh and enjoy the moment even though there will be an empty chair at the table.

Life goes on my friends and even though our stories don’t go as plan, and sometimes our story just fucking sucks, but it is so important to let go of what cannot be changed and embrace the life that is.

Happy Birthday my little princess!

Love Always

Happy 40 Years Sister

Jo aka Fina,

Can you believe that I have known you your entire life? 40 years of hanging out and experiencing life’s biggest milestones- we sure did have a good time when we were little! Even though I tried to stuff bread down your throat because I wasn’t sure why you wouldn’t leave! The forts at the back of the house, the dancing in the garage, smoking toilet paper in our Grandparent’s bathroom. And don’t forget that I always knew how you lost your two front teeth, perhaps that was Karma’s way of getting back at you for destroying two perfectly good twinkies on our Grandma’s living room floor!

Then we started to grow up. How the hell did we survive sharing a room AND a bathroom without killing each other!?! Remember the masking tape we placed in the middle of room? Actually, you used masking tape for every, fucking, thing!  What’s so cool about growing up with you is the secrets I have about you. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone how you use to save the SAME piece of gum on your headboard for at least a week straight. No, I won’t mention to a soul how you cut your own bangs because, well why not? Your secrets are safe with me!

Then we started celebrating more grown up milestones- When you graduated from high school, and soon after experienced your first heart break. When you walked down the aisle (the first time) only to have your heart break into pieces with two little angels that you will meet one day. I remember the day you trusted me with the news that you knew, deep down inside that you wanted something different for yourself. Then a few years later, I got to witness you become a Mom for the first time. I’m not sure who cried more, you or me. It was definitely a moment that I will cherish.  Then one sunny day, at a soccer game, you introduced me to your soulmate as your “friend” and we all knew better! The day you married him, I saw the smile on your face, and I knew that your heart was slowly and surely becoming whole again. Now you have four crazy kids and house that you have made into home.  You may not know this, but your strength gave me strength to go after my dreams.

Now here we are! 40 years later- another milestone- and you are still kicking ass and I can’t think of a better “twinkie” to have spent my life with.  Just so everyone knows… that on September 23, 1979, the world gained a beautiful soul!

Welcome to your Forties bitch, it’s going to be a wild ride!!

Love Always and Your Sister Always,

Roxanne

Somedays Are Like This

Today sucked! For those of you who have had children, do you remember the strong feeling of love and protection you felt when you held your little one for the first time? Did you ever feel like you were going to knock the shit out of the doctor when they poked your little one with a needle because it caused them pain?

Today was one of those days. Stacy had her biopsy this morning and I hated that she had to lay on that sterile flat table while they poked her. She was already nervous, and when the doctor confirmed that a biopsy was necessary I could see the tears well up in her eyes. They begin to blurt out information to her and having her sign paper work, and all I can see is that my baby girl was upset. All I could do was hold her and plant seeds of courage. I wanted desperately to trade places with her.

We should get results by Tuesday. Until then we wait and hope for the best case. A benign mass that doesn’t need to be removed with surgery.

Worst case– well we can’t think about that can we?

What’s totally serendipitous is that I have been doing this book study Thursday night, in a small group called “Living Free” at Sagebrush Church. They’re small support groups for fucked up people like myself. This study is about fear. How to handle fear in our lives, because we can’t completely get rid of it that shit. (I’m cussing more than usual because I am PMSing, emotional, and had my own medical stuff thrown at me today as well, so I feel like cussing!) Anyway, the author, Steven Furtick, wrote this book, “Crashing the Chatterbox,” and how we can deal with the fears in our life. He suggests that we should think about our fears when they start to creep up on us. In other words, when the “what ifs” start playing roller coaster with your mind, you should face it and face it with a counter of faith. Here is an example. What if the tumor is not benign? That would be devastating. She would have to get treatment. She may need surgery. She’s been down that road before. She’s tough! She can do it! This girl will overcome this and I will support her and damn it–I’ll shave my own head in solidarity! No matter what happens, I know she will get through this. I know she will. She is a fighter, and she is strong!

I don’t understand friends. So much bad shit all around us. It’s easy to give in to the fears and then let them control us down the rabbit hole of darkness and despair. It takes faith to face the fear and know that somehow, in someway, everything works out. Somehow we come out of it stronger and wiser.

As her mommy I wish I could give her a life that is free of suffering and pain, a life that is smooth sailing. No troubles. Just like Nemo’s dad! Keep her in her room and never let anything bad happen to her, which means nothing will happen to her…

Meanwhile, I have been having issues with my bladder and after a consultation and exam with my doctor, she has ordered me to quit caffeine, alcohol, and chili. There may be a body in my backyard that has been fed to my chickens… just sayin. I think I need a new doctor! CHILI?!?! NO! I don’t think so bitch! Maybe I should move to Colorado!

Love Always

And Life Goes On

It is 10:00 and I should be sleeping.  And while I get to lay my head on my pillow in blissful sleep my husband will be out delivering pizzas so that our family can afford the lifestyle that we have created.  In reality, to pay all the bills and debtors and maybe we can have a little extra for some summer fun camping.  Funny story! I happen to find some cash in an envelope that was able to pay for our week in Red River. That envelope was found in a sewing machine that was purchased for me as a gift. It was bought in an estate sale. I highly recommend you try them out, but I can’t promise you that you too will find money in an envelope.

Funny thing is, every time there was a need there was some way it was provided.  The last few months have been trying, but they have also been miraculous. It’s crazy a thought, but sometimes I think it is better to have trying times, times that don’t make any sense because you truly come out of it a little stronger, a little more faith in God or the Universe, and sometimes in humanity.

When my husband comes home tonight, he will come home to a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, laundry that has been folded but not put in their rightful place, knocking pipes (because why not), and dusty shelves and dirty floors. He will also come home to beds that are warm with little children who are loved and safe, and on his pillow a note of encouragement, and canned beans on the kitchen counter, which explains the dirty kitchen, to help with the grocery bill. When he puts on his freshly pressed shirt, for his NEW JOB (we are still praying), the button that went missing will have been sewed backed on.

We are still waiting for that new job to come around. We are still waiting to have and get the results of my daughter’s lump. We are still waiting for the fucking pipes to stop knocking, and to have a good night’s sleep because at the end of the day, whether you are delivering pizzas or studying a broad, or writing that final paper, or teaching a class full of squirming children, life goes on, and sometimes you find cash in an envelope and sometimes you realize that no matter what, everything is going to be okay- and if it isn’t there is always wine… and maybe a life of crime!

Love Always