It’s Going to be Okay

For the last several years, I have had my students work on a final project to end the school year. I like to end the year with reading of The Giver. If you have not read this piece of treasure, please do yourself a favor and take a few hours and read it. The cliff notes of the story is about a young boy who lives in a Dystopian world-a world with no color, no pain, no past. As the protagonist becomes more enlightened about the world beyond- a world of color, music and love, he makes a heroic escape to “Elsewhere” to save another soul from injustice.

I ask my students to create a Utopia in response to the reading. I ask them to create a money system, a government, theology, family structures, level of technology, agriculture, rituals, traditions etc. I also have them create a flag and map.

It’s a great creative and critical thinking project, and it never fails to amaze me how some of their Utopias turn out.

It does make me think about the world we create in our own minds. Don’t we all carry in our hearts a Utopia of sorts. Don’t we strive to make this perfect world a reality?

In my little perfect world, everyone gets along. There is peace. Everyone forgives and respects each other and drinks beer and eats pizza everyday- without gaining any extra weight.

In my perfect little world, everyone would have a safe home to live in and enough food to eat.

In my perfect little world, everyone is included and there is no need to lie or steal or cheat.

As simple as that sounds, I believe we all tend to create a world in our minds that is much much better than the one we live in.

As middle age becomes me and I ponder more and more about my time here on this planet, I realize more and more that the perfect little world I create causes more problems than it does good.

For one, it makes me feel bad that my life isn’t at all as I imagined it “should be.” The image of my perfect world causes me to “control” situations and problems to fit my idea of what I believe to be best. And when I try to “control” anything in my life- frustration, anger, disappointment and discouragement are born.

You see, when we create this world of what “should be” it is easy to become discouraged by the gap between our ideal and the real. And when we long for the ideal we criticize the real. And then it is tempting to just throw in the towel and give up on the ideal and just settle for the real.

It seems to me that real maturity has to do with living in the in between. To love the reality, without apology or shame, in spite of its imperfections, and still strive for the ideal.

After all are we not called to love REAL people, not IDEAL people?

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community (even if their intentions are ever so earnest), but the person who loves those around them will create community.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For me it is time to destroy my ideas of what “should be.” I don’t want to hold people to a standard that I myself cannot live up to. As a human race, we will fall short. We will hurt others. We will make wrong decisions. We will cheat. We will lie. And then we will also love. We give when there is a need. We encourage others. We laugh. And we have moments of exquisite happiness when a child is born, or get married, or reach a challenging goal of some kind. And then in a blink of an eye all that was good is taken away- divorce, death, rifts. Then slowly we once again experience the rich grace God has for us all.

Brene Brown teaches that we as humans have a strong need to belong. To be a part of a community. She states that the opposite of belonging is not aloneness, but fitting in. When we create a world that others or situations must “fit” in order for us to be happy, then we have experienced a taste of hell.

This post is to encourage you- because you might find yourself in a situation that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe your brother decides that his life is better without you. Maybe you find yourself in a place of unemployment and uncertainty. Maybe you find yourself divorced- twice or three times. Maybe you just found out about a diagnosis. Maybe you are in the middle of grief and mourning. Maybe you find yourself an outsider of some sort. Maybe your marriage is not anything as you planned. Maybe you have been betrayed, abandoned or abused.

I encourage you right now because life IS suppose to be hard, and crazy and messy and confusing. Life isn’t a neat tidy experience. It is in the chaos we find peace when realize that we are not alone in our ugliness and beauty. Embrace what is and strive to suck less with each day we are given. We CANNOT control the surroundings- but we can choose to love or life anyway, because life loves you! Life is a gift and the people in them is your treasure. Love them and your life, and you will be okay!

Love Always

Another Fucking Post about Gun Control

Enough is enough.

How many?

Why?

I hear the other side- it’s not a gun control issue it’s a mental health issue…It’s a society issue… It’s a parenting issue… Blah blah blah…

Excuse me, but doesn’t those issues PROVE we need gun control- I mean I don’t want a person who is mentally unstable, emotionally stunted, or who wasn’t raised to know right from wrong to own a fucking gun. PERIOD. Especially one that is semi-automatic. I mean doesn’t it make sense. I don’t understand why we as a UNITED country can’t just bind together and tell our leaders to enforce some common sense laws to control the gun issues we are having. I mean we ban books, drugs, and just recently we had a travel ban… but somehow mass shootings are not a gun issue… ummm is there a different interpretation for the the word “shootings,” because last time I checked we didn’t have a mass stabbing… how can we not connect these “shootings” to guns.

Yes, we have the right to bear arms, so does that mean I should let my three old have one? How absurd would it be if I let my three old play with a gun- we all know how negligent, dangerous and stupid that is, yet we think it is okay for a mentally unstable person with no background check to own one.

Should my fifteen year old have a semi-automatic because it is his right? The legal age to drink alcohol is 21, yet an 18 year old can purchase a gun regardless of background checks, and mental stability.  I mean if my 15 year old is acting like an asshole I don’t let him continue to play video games because it’s his “right.” I take that shit away until he is mature and respectful enough to play.

I agree 100% with the people in this country who say that our society is to blame for these mass shootings. So until we can get our shit together and form a much better society- lets pass some gun laws to protect the innocent children of our future.

And for a personal story-

I was ten years old when I saw my dad put a rifle to his mouth. I thought he was going to pull the trigger. He didn’t.

He was emotionally unstable, and he got rid of his rifle after that incident. THANK GOD!  He had the common sense to know that having that weapon in the house was only trouble.

For Children’s sake- let’s do this.

 

2018 is Gonna Be…

In 2017 I forgave.

I forgave the world.

I forgave my past.

I forgave the people in my life.

I forgave myself.

In 2018 I will continue to forgive- because life is too short to wait for everything to be perfect before forgiving. I forgave first so that everything could be perfect.

Without forgiveness, there is no happiness. No forgiveness, no freedom.

Let it go. Let 2017 go. Let the wrongs go. Mostly, let yourself go. Stop trying to be perfect and forgive yourself, your friends, your family and the world. Let’s forgive so we can LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Happy 2018 my friends.

Love Always

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My Son

There is a secret I have been carrying in my heart for quite some time now. A secret that needs to be revealed into the light so that it can stop haunting me and I can make the changes that are necessary.

There at times at night, very late at night, where I cry my eyes out and cry out to God to help me with this. I feel so ashamed, alone and powerless.

If you follow me on any kind of social media, and if you are reading this, then you probably do, you  may or may have not noticed that there isn’t a lot of posts about my son.

My son who I love more than anything in this world, but who I cannot seem to help.

My son is fifteen years old. He goes to Cibola High School. He plays basketball and the trumpet. He misses a lot of school. He is in the gifted program, however his grades don’t reflect his potential. He is depressed, angry, and oh so different. Different or should I say unique? His sense of humor is rather dark and he isn’t the most open or sociable person around. He would rather stay in his room and play his video games than do his homework- then again what kid doesn’t these days, right?

My son’s name is Kevin. Kevin has very high expectations for himself and for life in general; a sense of perfectionism that prevents him from taking risks and enjoying the messy life that is his. He tends to shoot himself down- constantly criticizing himself. I’ve heard him call himself “a loser”, “a nobody.” All because he couldn’t make every shot during a basketball game. All because he doesn’t seem to fit in with the popular crowd.

What you all don’t know about Kevin is that he is sensitive and loving, affectionate and caring.

In middle school, that hell of a bridge we all have to cross, was a miserable time for him. His parents divorced. Going back and forth from home to home. Mom too busy to notice or too scared to admit the issues he was facing. Teachers were constantly emailing about his horrible behavior. Conferences being held to “come up with solutions” to his misbehavior. Phrases like BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) and ED classes (Emotionally Disturbed) were being thrown out- immediately I withdrew him and enrolled him to a different school. Only to go through it all again.  All the meetings were nothing but a ranting circle to confirm what he already believed about himself- nobody cares about me. I am just a loser.

Then jokes about suicide start.

I remember driving him to the evaluation specialist at APS for at risk children. The counselor at his school was concerned about him harming himself and so the protocol was for me to drive him to the center for evaluation. He was sent home that day. What does a mother say to a son after that? I tried. I gave my love- but it never seems enough.

My secret? I don’t know what to do. I am a failure as his mother, because I don’t know what else to do!  I have taken him to a psychiatrist, a therapist, tried to shove pills down his throat, threatened to enroll him in boys home, or some kind of military camp to help him “snap out of it.”

My other secret? I am ashamed and embarrassed that he is going through this. I teach a group of sixth graders who are gifted and seem happy and well adjusted. I sometimes wish in my heart that Kevin could be like the kids I teach. I know- how awful of me to think that. Well, I use to think that.

Kevin now lives with his dad full time. It’s just more convenient.

I miss him dearly. I know I am missing out on a big chunk of his childhood, and most importantly the last part of it.  It pains me knowing I am missing so much.

When I married Dan, I fantasized that we would all become one big happy family. I suppose that was my second mistake.

You see, to think that we are suppose to be happy all the time is not only unrealistic, but foolish. To think that Kevin would immediately adjust to a new family, and a new school over night, or a week, was just plain dumb.

I fully admit to you tonight, that I am more than grateful that God chose Kevin to be my son. Having Kevin in my life has not only taught me valuable lessons like humility, patience and unconditional love, Kevin has brought truth and reality to my life. You see, I have realized through Kevin that our world truly is divided.  It doesn’t matter how much we preach about acceptance and forgiveness and kindness- we are so far from all of that.

There isn’t a lot of people who accept Kevin. They find him awkward. They find him dark. They find him “weird.” I have read the posts on his Instagram account. I have tried to instill in him self-love, self-acceptance, and to not care what others say or think about him. We all know that for a child, the acceptance of friends and family is gold- is life.

Yes, all I have ever wanted for him was to be accepted. To be loved by others- and that is my fatal mistake.

I know deep down that my son is different. I know that I accept him for who he truly is. My fight now is to teach him how to love himself- the same way I have learned to love myself despite the criticisms and rejections of others.

It is sad that our world is so divided- so hateful- so smug. Until we  can see these qualities in ourselves, and change it in our hearts and souls, it will remain.

Love Always.

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Hard-Core, Gutsy Perseverance

There was a time when my life was governed and chained in fear.  It was fear that kept me from risking and reaching out. Fear prevented me from asking forgiveness of those I had hurt. Fear hindered me from asking for the support I needed from a friend. Fear kept me cowering from my tough circumstances instead of standing up in God’s power, facing them, and working through them. It was fear that led me to hiding and pretending to be someone I was not.

Fortunately, God, as I understand Her, uses an infinite number of vehicles in the process of helping me face my fears and grow. I do not know of any means that leads to instant growth. In fact, I’ve never met anyone who became instantly mature. It’s a painstaking process that God takes us through, and it includes such things as waiting, failing, losing, and being misunderstood—each one calling for extra doses of perseverance.  In other words– Learning to grow up comes through hard-core, gutsy perseverance.

Each of these vehicles has led me to a place of wisdom, compassion and acceptance.

In waiting I learned to trust.

In failing I learned that I was not the failure.

In losing I learned to let go.

And in being misunderstood I learned the art of compassion.

During my time as a single mom, and learning to survive in this broken world, I had no choice but to grow up, face my fears and learn to trust a Higher Power for my daily needs. There were months when I didn’t know how I was going to pay the rent or buy groceries. Being on a fixed income with little and no child support I had to rely on government subsidies and student loans. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt that I was a failure because I was divorced and I didn’t want to raise my children in a broken home.  It was never my plan to raise my children that way! I was depressed, angry and full of fear. There were some mornings where I just didn’t want to get out of bed. But hard-core, gutsy perseverance forced me to!

Little by little, each and every day, I put a smile on my face and did what I could to survive. Learning to grow up comes through hard-core, gutsy perseverance.

Of all the vehicles, waiting was the most difficult process for me. This is because waiting is a true measure of one’s faith. There isn’t much to do during this time except to trust that The Plan is being executed. I, on the other hand, did not always trust perfectly, sometimes it was messy. I remember when I was waiting for the right teaching job. No matter how good the interview and how much they liked me, someone else always got the job. So I panicked, I cried, and I was giving up hope. So just when I thought I was going to be living on the streets, the perfect job landed on my lap! And it was through this job I met my future husband. Which reminds me when I also waited for love. It seemed as though every guy I met was married, untrustworthy, or had an addiction of some sort. And when I thought I had found a winner, it would escape me. So I cried, and I doubted myself. I asked the wrong questions such as, “What’s wrong with me?” rather than trusting that love would find me… little did I know that at the right time… at the right moment… with the right person… love would in fact knock at my door. Looking back at this I realized what a waste of time it was to worry and panic about the future. Knowing what I know now, I would have never shed a tear for the wrong person. I would never have worried about finding the right job. I would have just waited… Learning to grow up comes through hard-core, gutsy perseverance.

Now I am married, and living the life I thought would never be mine! I wake up every morning and pinch myself just to make sure I am not dreaming! Every so often, however, I find myself afraid, thinking the shoe is going to drop and I am going to be alone again. I fear that I am going to get hurt again as I did in the past. I know that my cowboy won’t hurt me and that he loves me very much. I just have to trust that! I know we are going to make it, and not only make it, but we are going to be amazing. I have come to believe that my difficult time as a single mom was so that I can be prepared for what is to come. Hard-core, gutsy perseverance.

The truth is, is that life is messy, and we don’t know what the future holds. Until we grow up a bit and understand the meaning of waiting, failing, losing, and being misunderstood, is when we are ready to make the best version of ourselves, ready to live the life we dream of. It is because through these vehicles we learn to be compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and accepting– we learn to persevere. Those qualities my friend are the definitions of love. And because sometimes love isn’t enough we need good-old, hard-core, gutsy perseverance!

Hang in there friends! Life is only preparing you for what’s to come!

Love Always.