Dan and I are celebrating five years of marriage. It was the broken road that we had to travel to find one another. The life we are creating together has been above any expectations I held when I dreamed of finding my life partner.
We’ve had our arguments, our disagreements, we even had to seek some counseling. We are determined and will do whatever it takes to make this work. Any healthy relationship takes work. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about learning the kind of communication that enables understanding and compassion. It’s about having fun and keeping the fire a blaze.
It’s strange how we imagine love when we are young- that it’ll be so easy and effortless. To be carried away into the sunset and nothing will stop you and your prince.
The hard truth is that it does take certain skills to make a relationship healthy, thriving and everlasting. Listening skills. Forgiveness skills. Sacrificing skills. Encouragement skills. Boundary skills. Being Vulnerable skills.
It took me a little longer to really understand what true love meant. Dan has helped me understand that.
He stood by me in my worst and fought for me when I wanted to give up. He stood up for me when others criticized me or put me down. He respects me and honors me.
Our family grew up poor. That meant we had to be “creative” in having and buying certain material goods.
When I ran middle school track, our uniforms were old and the shorts were too short. In order for the team to be united and to keep the breeze from going through our rear ends, our coach required that we have black spandex to wear under our shorts.
I told my dad as I jumped into his clunker blue truck, “I need black spandex for track.” He drove me to Wal-Mart, the biggest store in the Northern Hemisphere of our State, and lo and behold, NO BLACK Spandex. Seriously, you can buy a gun, some ammo, a black ski mask, duckt tape, a crowbar and craw fish, but no black spandex! I mentioned that some girls on the team were going to the local sporting store in town, G & G Sports to buy theirs.
We parked the truck in the empty parking lot. We walked in and there was plenty to select from.
I found a pair that would fit and I just knew it would be the pair to set new records. “Twenty-two dollars!” my dad exclaimed in disgust. “Sorry, but I am not paying twenty-two dollars for spandex.” We left the store and I was disappointed.
The next few days, our coach kept reminding us that we needed black spandex as part of the uniform, or we wouldn’t be able to run at our first track meet.
So I had to find something and find it quick. I snuck into my mom’s closet drawer and pulled out a pair of her black stockings.
I put it under my shirt and ran to my room. I cut the bottoms and scrunched them up so they looked like black spandex. From far away you couldn’t tell the difference. No body could tell if they were stockings.
So when it was time to warm up for our relay race, one of my teammates stared at my “spandex” and asked, “Are those stockings?”
To my utter horror my secret was out! I freaked! My eyes popped out of their sockets and I shouted, “YEAH! IS there a problem?”
“NO! I just…”
“Just what?” My voice wasn’t very kind, but I was soooo scared that she would tell everyone else, and everyone would start teasing me.
So I did what anyone else would have done in this situation. I ran my ass off and helped our team win first place.
She said nothing more of my stockings. I was eternally grateful.
The next year I wore my moms’s stockings again, because for some alien reason, Wal-Mart did not provide black spandex and paying Twenty-two dollars was just something my dad was unwilling to pay.
I made Varsity Track that year. I even qualified for State as an 8th Grader, with those stupid black stockings.
When I was old enough to hold a job, I bought my Twenty-two dollar black spandex, along with a new pair of spikes, and deodorant- which is a whole other post at another time.
I am always amazed at how resilient children are, and mostly how when an obstacle presents itself we will do whatever it takes to meet a goal, or to participate in an activity or event. I was so determined to run track, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
It’s true that poverty takes many forms. It often does mean lack of income, certainly, but it can be emotional or spiritual as well.
This particular memory I hold reminds me of the message I received when I was only a child- that I wasn’t worth even Twenty-two dollars. You see, it wasn’t that my dad didn’t have the money- he did. Most of his income went to his hobby in restoring old cars into hot rods.
So my sister and I had to find “creative” ways to fit in, to have certain items, even personal hygiene and health care. Ask my sister why her smile lights up the room today, and why she refused to smile for her Senior Portraits.
A child living in poverty is tragic indeed, but a child who thinks they don’t count is a child needing love. A child who believes they can’t do anything right is a child living in emotional poverty.
The good news is that being born into a poor emotional environment does not mean it is the child’s destiny to remain there. The past was not our choice- the present is.
How wonderful to pass this gift to others- that past wounds don’t have to define who we are!
Sometimes we focus so much on the outcome we forget to see what is right before us. Sometimes we feel so much regret of the past that we can’t focus on what is on our nose. We spend a lot of our thinking in the past, and a lot of our planning for the future. We forget that life lives between the two. We’ve heard it so many times- live in the present moment. Fuck, that’s hard!
So we finally heard from the Natural History Museum, and Dan did not get the job.
Naturally we were disappointed. In some ways, we really, really wanted him to have that job. We planned, we talked and we lived as if he would get this job.
Life is funny that way. It never seems to go the way you want it to. Damn it, why can’t we just control everything- make everything the way we want it?
We thought this delivering pizza gig was going to be a side gig, not the main gig. We planned ahead, recounting our dreams of the future. You, know retiring with a million dollar net worth, traveling the world and making a difference in other peoples lives.
Instead, we find ourselves in the in-between space. The space between our dreams and our reality. The space between our past and our future. The space where waiting is the only faith we can muster.
It is so hard to live in the moment when disappointment hits you. At least it is for me.
This morning I experienced my first real panic attack. I sponsor Student Council for the school I work at and we meet Tuesdays, before school starts, at 7:15 A.M. I had a guest speaker come in to help us do a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Just before dismissal, the whole room went black! I felt dizzy and my chest felt heavy. When I was able to catch my breath, the entire room was fuzzy and spotty. I thought maybe I was going to pass out. I took a few deep breaths and a few seconds later everything became clear again.
Then by lunch time, a migraine attack.
I’m not handling this life thing very good.
I spend a lot of time regretting my past- mostly I keep beating myself up for the rift that we have with my brother-in-law. I blame myself and carry a lot of guilt with that. Have you ever done that? Kept telling yourself that you could have done things differently? Do you ever have conversations in your head and wish you could have said something that you didn’t, or kept your mouth shut when you opened it? Yeah, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.
I also spend a lot of time feeling that I am not a good mom to my son. I feel so detached and uninvolved in his everyday life.
If I’m not thinking about that, I’m thinking about the future. Paying off all the debt we are in, and working hard to do so. Planning, planning and more planning.
On top of that, the pressure of being an exemplary teacher, and crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s that comes with teaching. Which by the way, I am not. According to the evaluation I am only Effective. Not Highly Effective or Exemplary- just meh.
Life is fucking hard when you live in the past or the future. So much time wasted on fantasy- because face it, spending time in the dark past and the unknown future is just that- fantasy!
There is nothing I can do about the past. I cannot control the outcome of the future. All I can do is live in the in-between.
It is in the in-between we see the good.
It is in the in-between where we develop character.
It is in the in-between where we practice the skills we want- kindness, assertiveness, patience, forgiveness.
It is in the in-between where we teach our body to run 26.2 miles or 1 mile.
It is in the in-between where we find joy and laughter.
It is in the in-between where a group of people will share your story and support you emotionally, financially, and spiritually.
It is in the in-between where we discover new talents and gifts- like delivering pizzas and writing about your life.
It is in the in-between where we build our trust in God, whoever you believe her to be.
And the biggest lesson for me, is that God is not a magical genie from an ancient lamp to fulfill my every desire. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers, and sometimes he says no. And then sometimes there is only silence.
It is there in the silence, in the waiting, in the in-between that displays where our trust really lays. I realized that my trust was in the outcome, not in God, otherwise, I would have seen what was right before me– love, hope, forgiveness, and support.
Thank you all for that support! We love you.
And we know God has something bigger and better planned for Dan.
About a week ago, my son came home looking distraught. I asked what was wrong. He had tears in his eyes, bowed his head, and said, “Someone broke into my car and stole my trumpet.”
My heart broke for him.
I was ready to find the person and kill them. I wanted revenge and I wanted desperately to buy him a replacement.
At first he told me that he didn’t want a replacement. That this particular trumpet was the world to him. He played in his first All State Concert with it, after all. He practiced until he made first chair in his school band. This trumpet was not some ordinary trumpet- this trumpet was sentimental, it was his baby.
For the first time in his young life he had found something he loved and something he was really good at.
I knew that we did not have the means to replace it. If we did it wouldn’t be until months, or maybe a year until we could.
He looked at me and said, “What about the Drum Choir?” “What about summer Band Practice?” Then he just cried, and I just held him.
All I could do at the moment was call the police and clean that car! It was disgusting. So disgusting I don’t even feel right posting what the Son of a Bitch did to it!
It took every ounce of humility to start a Go-Fund me account so we could have a new trumpet in his hands by the end of the week. Not to mention that two of my loving co-workers brought in a trumpet to borrow until we could get it replaced.
The amount of support we received was overwhelming, and very heart warming.
I went home on that Monday and I couldn’t wait to show him the trumpets he could borrow, and how we will get him a new trumpet by the end of the week, as a lot of our family and friends donated.
This time, his face was not distraught, and there were no tears in his eyes. All he could do was look at me and say, “I found it.”
“What do you mean you found it.” I was confused.
“I guess my friend had it.”
“I don’t know!” He probably could see the red coming out of my ears.
” You don’t know?” I asked very, very calmly of course.
“I don’t remember putting it in his car, mom.”
“So your friend had it, and you don’t know how, and now you have it back?”
“Yup,” he answered very nonchalant.
A bit of awkward silence.
“As long as you have it back.” I said.
Then I sat down next to him, in that stinky room of his, and I said, “You know son, there are a lot of people who love you and support you.” He nodded.
My son is not one with a lot of words, but I could tell he was touched.
Since then, he has been here with me.
You guys! After all of that, I had to claim the “trumpet was recovered” and many people were so ecstatic and excited and asked how it was recovered. I didn’t want to talk about it. Life is hard and we sometimes do some really messed up stuff. And sometimes we forget where we put our valuables.
After all that, there was no climax to the story- no guns were fired, no late night stake outs, no interrogating suspects. Just a kid who forgot where he placed his trumpet.
Thank you to all who gave so generously and without any judgement. Love truly wins.
And Thank you Prozac and Wine! You help me deal with teenage boys!
It’s only February 23rd and it seems that 2019 has hit pretty hard. Everywhere I turn I see loss, illness, hardships. When we go through a season of difficulties, we must not lose hope. Whenever I hear bad news, or go though hardships, I always tell myself- this too shall pass. But most importantly I remind myself that we live in a broken world. There is not one person who is immune to the hardships of this life. If we have expectations that we can live life free of pain, suffering and difficulties, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointments- ON TOP of what we are going through to begin with.
Give life a break- forgive it for being what it is. Give yourself a break and know that life is a series of ups and downs.
Bugs Bunny said it best- “Don’t take this life so seriously, not one person has come out of it alive.” I have always loved that rabbit!
Life goes by too quick for us to be angry and bitter about our circumstances, instead we put on our big person pants, or we take a few days to mourn or get well and then we smile and try to help others along the way. Sometimes life hits us hard, and then it gives us beautiful rewards along the way.
Hang in there friend- this too shall pass, and know you are loved, even during this difficult time.
Four years ago I received an email asking if anyone was interested in helping out with an after school program. At the time, I thought, why not. I need a little extra money, and how hard will it be. I enjoy teaching and being around kids, so what’s an extra hour and a half after school?
I had no idea what the program was- so when I signed up I was told I would be doing a club called, Leadership.
I chuckled on the inside because I don’t consider myself a leader- in fact I saw myself as an ordinary, scared, quiet person. Fake it til’ you make it, was my strategy that first year of teaching it.
I thought it went pretty well- we hosted a campus clean up, visited Road Runner Food Bank, invited distinguished leaders in our community to speak to the club.
After the second year of teaching the club, I felt that it needed something a little more. I saw need. These kids were hungry for some kind of way to get connected to their peers, with their teachers, and with the community- even if they don’t say those exact words, I knew they needed something.
As I researched about Leadership and Leadership Clubs, Student Council kept appearing. I found the New Mexico Association of Student Council website and thought- Why don’t we have a Student Council here at our school?
I emailed my Principal and the After School Activities Director and they told me to go for it.
This is my second year at trying to teach, guide and lead these students to create a Student Council that will leave a positive impact for our school and community.
Let me tell you- it’s not easy. Not only is there obstacles to overcome, I have very little money, and very little time to invest in order to make this Council what I believe to be AWESOME!
After our weekend escapade to Farmington, New Mexico, to attend the State Conference, I reflected a lot about the word Leadership.
I sat in the stands with my members and listened to some amazing Key Note Speakers about life, hardships, teamwork, and of course leadership. One particular speaker, known as The Amazing Tei Street, spoke a lot about being amazing. There was one point in her talk where she asked the audience to remember a time where someone spoke ill words to them. A time where someone “close” spoke those words. She then asked them to be brave and courageous- to be vulnerable in a safe place- and to share those words with the rest of the assembly. I was shocked and mortified. I was amazed at how many of our kids shared those words with us. I heard stuff like, “You’re stupid” “You’re ugly” “You suck” “I don’t want you around” “You’re fat” “You’re too sensitive” “You’re a mess” “I hate you” “Go kill yourself” “You’re weird” and you get the picture.
I of course thought about the words spoken to me as a child from someone close to me- ” You’re worthless” “You’re so stupid” “You can’t do anything right” “What is wrong with you.” And just recently words like “You’re too nice” “You’re not family” “You’re a hypocrite.”
What I realized at that particular moment is how powerful words really are- I mean, not just some cliche about the power of words, but the internal transformation they have for each and every single one of us.
You see, we do internalize the words that are spoken to us. We can preach it and tell ourselves that words don’t hurt, but they do.
I grew up thinking I was stupid and not worthy. So I gave myself to men. I wanted to feel loved and worthy and for some stupid reason that was what I did to try and satisfy the desire to be something to someone.
And that is exactly what our youth are doing as well- trying to satisfy their desire to feel loved, accepted and cherished. To know that they belong.
I sat their listening to the speaker tell these kids that they were amazing. I think we need to tell the people in our lives just that. That they are amazing. Not out of obligation of course, but to let the people around us know that they are loved, cherished and accepted.
So what does this have to do with leadership? EVERYTHING!
Leadership is about stepping up to the plate when called. It doesn’t matter if you strike out, it doesn’t matter if you only get to first base, it doesn’t matter if you walk to first base, it doesn’t matter if you hit a home run, and it certainly doesn’t matter what the score is.
What matters is that you are part of a team. Leadership is not a solo gig- it has nothing to do with ego.
What matters is that you encourage your teammates to be the best they can be. Leadership is about empowering others- not enabling.
What matters is that you give your everything when it is your turn to step to the plate- Leadership is about being all in- it is not halfway.
What matters is that you give a helping hand to someone who needs it- Leadership is about service- it is not about winning or being right at what ever the cost.
What matters is that you forgive your teammates and encourage them when they fail- Leadership is really about unconditional love.
With keeping with my Baseball Analogy, the crowd, the spectators, and the people who are close to us, will criticize, will shout words of discouragement, will question our strategies, and of course complain.
There is a great quote in Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” – Theodore Roosevelt
When we step up to leadership of any kind- there will be complaints, criticism, and discouragement.
Life is funny isn’t it? Just a few years ago I never thought of myself as a leader. Suddenly I have an urge, a need to want to lead. It is true that I have NO CLUE what I am really doing with the Student Council at my school, and yes, it probably could be more awesome than it is right now, but I answered the call. I said, “Why not? I’ll do it.” And sometimes that is all it takes. Leadership is not a HUGE GRAND PRODUCTION, it’s just about being willing.