Pain, Pain, Go Away

I spent the last day of winter break at the Urgent Care. Four hours of waiting for the Doctor to give me some Ibuprofen.

Twenty years ago (still amazes me that I can actually say– twenty years ago– only to emphasize that I am getting older), but twenty years ago I had a pneumothorax, that is a fancy medical term for a collapsed lung. I remember it like it was, hmmm, twenty years ago… a sudden feeling on my left chest that something big sunk down. In other words, it felt like when you swallow something big, with out chewing it, and you can feel it go down your throat. Well, it was something like that. It didn’t hurt. The pain came after.

As each hour passed it became harder to breathe. Every breath I took there was a sharp pain. Of course I didn’t rush to the hospital at this time because it didn’t occur to me that my lung collapsed. I mean, all I was doing was fixing my hair when I felt something weird and then slowly, and very slowly did I finally realize that something was seriously wrong.

THREE DAYS! That’s how long it took me to get into the ER, and even then it took an ENTIRE day to finally get a chest tube in there to inflate my lung. I was living in Las Vegas, New Mexico at the time, and my daughter had just turned one year old.

To make a long story short, I was first diagnosed with walking pneumonia and was given a decongestion and codeine for the pain. I requested a chest x-ray and was told that they were booked and to come in the next day. I refused, walked into an empty waiting room and had my chest x-rayed.

Turns out my left lung had collapsed and it was soooo painful, every little move I made was torture. I stayed in the hospital for five days to get that lung inflated and back to normal.

Five days with a chest tube in your body gives you a lot of time to think. I kept thinking how lucky I was that I didn’t go into cardiac arrest. I also thought how lucky I was that I lived in an era where technology can help diagnose and treat symptoms like pneumothorax. In a lot of ways, I felt like I was given a second chance to live. So I became a religious zealot for the next five years (that’s another post for another time).

Needless to say, after my run yesterday I started to have some chest pain in the same area as my pneumothorax twenty years ago (it’s actually a fun word to say out loud and it makes you look smart) and when I woke up this morning with the pain still there, I decided I better make sure nothing serious was going on, because if it was another pneumothorax, I wanted to take care of it right away.

Due to walking in to Urgent Care with “chest pain” you get seen right away. Within minutes I was poked, hooked up, and x-rayed. I’m happy to report that I do not in fact have another collapsed lung (wanted to spare you the fancy word usage). Instead I have inflammation on my lung lining. The fancy medical term is pleurisy.

Once we realized I was out of danger, I had to wait four hours to get Ibuprofen and the IV taken out.

OUCH!

All this to say, please don’t take your health for granted. I know what it is like to not breathe, and I will never understand why people smoke and put all kinds of shit in their bodies on a regular basis, that will harm them. Although, let’s be clear, having wine does not harm you if you don’t abuse it, if you know what I mean.

Our bodies are amazing! Unfortunately we live in a society that body image matters more than healthy bodies. In some cases, it is frowned upon if you want to eat healthy and live an active life style. What we do to ourselves to try and fit into this image is terrifying and ludicrous!

We can make fun or snub our noses to the experts about what we need to do to live a healthy life style all we want, but when we are faced with an illness of some sort, we may regret not taking better care of ourselves.

At the same time, there are illnesses that can’t be prevented, and when that is the case, we should be extra diligent with our health.

For now, I have to figure out the cause of the inflammation and seek treatment to reduce/eliminate it. That will probably take longer than a four hour Urgent Care visit.

So friends- take care!

Love Always

2020 Vision

As each year passes more quickly than the last one, I have come to appreciate what it means to grow in maturity. So instead of having unrealistic goals and resolutions to transform myself over night, I have decided to make this year a year of Acceptance.

  • Accept that I am getting older and my life is made up of more than fighting wrinkles, body image and grey hair. My beauty grows from the inside not the outside.
  • Accept that certain relationships will never reconcile. I will remind myself, when I am feeling grieved about it, that often gentle good-byes are the acts of great courage and kindness. It is kinder to let go so you can love them, rather than hold them close and hate them. It is true that you will only be able to love some people from a safe distance.
  • Accept forgiveness for myself and to forgive others. Forgiveness is a reminder that I am not perfect. I will always be a work in progress. When I withhold forgiveness to others who may have offended me, I am acting self-righteously. I have no right to judge, punish, or absolve anyone. When I withhold forgiveness to myself or others I am the who will suffer, since I separate myself from fellow human beings. I do NOT know the motives or circumstances that cause another’s behavior.
  • Accept that I can have an opinion without insisting that others share it.
  • Accept that life is a blessing.
  • Accept that life is only lived one day at a time.
  • Accept that my needs are my responsibility.
  • Accept that I have both shortcomings and strengths.
  • Accept that I need to ask for help when I need it and acting on my own when I don’t.
  • Accepting love from others, even if I’m having a tough time loving myself.
  • Accept that I can care FOR people without having to take care OF them.

I have a primary responsibility to myself and the world: to make myself into the best person I can possibly be. Then and only then, will I have something worthwhile to share.

May 2020 bring you healing, peace, love, abundance, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Love Always

The Last Ten Years…

2010- Divorced. It was not easy for anyone. Restraining orders, court hearings, custody issues etc... 
My first house as a single mom

2011- Accepted in the CDP (Career Development Program) at UNM to become teacher. Only 17 were accepted. I was torn with the decision to attend the CDP program or find an accounting job. I have a degree in Accounting. I knew that the accounting job would give me a salary quickly, and since becoming a single mom I needed the money. I also knew that I was being called to teach. It was a risk in a lot of ways, but I had to answer the call. So we lived off of student loans while I finished school. Finding a teaching job was difficult after graduation. Even though my first gig was a 5th grade class, it was definitely my worst year. Since I was considered a short hire, I was not re-hired for the job. I was relieved and scared at the same time, since I desperately needed a job. So when I dropped off my 6th grader at her new middle school- I thought what the heck- I applied, got an interview and wasn’t hired until two days before school started, and not for the position I applied for. Instead I found myself teaching 6th Grade Gifted Language Arts.

Master’s Degree in Elementary Education

2012- First year as a middle school teacher. I found my place! Got my endorsement in Gifted Education and Language Arts so I could stay. And right before the year ends, I meet Dan through his brother who I worked with at that middle school.

Always smiling and laughing

2013- Engaged at Disney World. Dan turns 40. I move in with Dan, and once again at the end of the year- pregnant!

The sign says it all

2014- Transfer to Desert Ridge Middle School, the best middle school in the state! Got married. A short and sweet ceremony at Dan’s parents back yard. Avery is born.

She said yes…
8lbs 8oz

2015- Postpartum Depression hits me hard. Lots of fighting, crying and isolation. I really don’t remember anything else that year. Dan gets a new job at Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation.

2016- Medication and therapy help me and I see the light. Slowly reconnect with people. Dan gets a new job at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Santa Fe.

Silliness is our game

2017- My oldest graduates high school. Mother daughter trip to Belize. Then she goes away to college, lots of tears. Dan gets a new job with Casa Esperanza.

Grew up too fast
Snooba 🙂
2018- Loving life and making new friends. Dan loses his job at Casa. I turn 40. I start taking my running to new distances. 
First half marathon
2019- Ran my first marathon. Go me! Dan starts delivering pizzas for Dominoes. Go Dan! I start a running camp. Dan starts a new gig at Walmart, and then finally settles into ADC. 

What a decade it has been!

2020- What I know for sure in 2020 is that Kevin will graduate from High School, and then he will be off on his own adventure. I also know that the predictable life I have created, and proudly so, will continue to be predictable in my everyday ordinary life.

I know it’s tempting to expect and hope for all the best in 2020, but if I learned anything these ten years, is that life will always throw surprises. Good and bad. It’s tempting to chant, “2020 is gonna be our year!” And though my heart believes it, I have to say that last few years have made us who we are. Dan and I have been there for each other in our worst and our best. 2020 is not going to be any different than all the years past. It’s another trip around the sun and transmissions will break, water heaters will leak, heaters will stop throwing heat, cancer will continue to threaten and steal our loved ones, relationships will grow, or grow a part, new jobs and opportunities will arise and sometimes they demise. Much like the magic of Christmas, New Years brings on a euphoric sense of newness and second chances. We all want a smooth ride. Truth be told, it’s too boring when there are no challenges to overcome. Challenges shapes our character and delivers compassion to our hearts.

2019 taught me that while you are waiting for your life to get better, it’s time for YOU to get better.

Challenges are not meant to break you, they are meant for you to find and have a purpose in your life. 2019 taught me that I can’t expect life to be perfect- because it never will be. So instead of expecting 2020 to be a perfect year, I expect it to be a year of purpose.

Happy New Years My Friends!

Love Always!

It’s all about The Mashed Potatoes

Six years ago on a cold New Mexico winter, my life changed. All it took was a simple hello, a hand shake, and a conversation that continues everyday, every evening, and every night for the last six years.

I wasn’t sure at first, or let’s just say my track record was not impressive, so I doubted my intuition. I didn’t want to go through another break-up. I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to discover that it wasn’t meant to be.

It was a casual gathering. Just dinner and drinks. Little did I know that my life and the lives of my children would forever be changed. I was a little nervous, a little anxious, and a little guarded.

I was divorced for three years. In that time I had dated a few men. Some good, some not so good, and the truth be told, I gave up on the dating scene. It was just too complicated and too time consuming, and I was exhausted.

When I accepted an invitation to have dinner and drinks with some co-workers there was a hint of a set up with a single guy who just went through a divorce himself. No expectations, but when he made me smile and then laugh…. well.

I entered through the door, we were introduced, I shook his hand and then we began a conversation that we continue to have everyday.

There isn’t much to explain here, we have been happy ever since- well mostly happy. We have had our downs and our struggles. We had to work hard for what we wanted. We continue to work hard- and that’s really what love is all about. It’s all about the Mashed Potatoes- and everything else is gravy.

Happy Meetiversary Cowboy! MUAH!

Enjoy these few haikus he’s written me through out the years.

Love Always

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!