Friday, August 31, 2012


Goodbye Six Word Fridays. It's been 
fun. But now seems like a 
great time to transition on. I 
am not quite sure what I 
want Fridays to become, but I'll 
let you know when I find 
out! Have a great Labor Day!

~Dear Readers, I've participated in the Six Word Friday writing group for a while now and it is now switching out its host (which is perfectly normal and cool). But I've been pondering somethings I want to add to the blog so methinks it's a good time to get off the "prompt" train and tackle some of my ideas. Hope you'll stick around to see what's new!~

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Filling my cup

An open heart and an empty cup

Relationships are so important. Not just in the social aspects. But as a learning/growing/catapulting tool.

Have you ever been surrounded by so much experience or knowledge that you just had to sit back and take it all in?

That is how I felt today.

I had a mid-morning meeting with other tutors, teachers, and educators and they blew my socks off. There had to have been at least 100 years of quality education experience in that room. And it was buzzing all around me.

Ideas and insights. Tweaks and suggestions. I loved every minute this 2 hour meeting that morphed into  4!

I think, aside from being with professionals I respect, my excitement stemmed from knowing I am definitely in the right field. I've found my lane. This is it.

Just knowing this is what I want to do and that I plan to learn and absorb all that I can. Whether it be through continuing education classes, mentorships, or books. There is a world of knowledge that brings me to life and I am going to keep pursuing it and the relationships it engenders.

And to think, I found this group, these people while working in a job I did not particularly like, in a position that was NOT my passion. But through friendly relationships uncomfortable situations have led me from one dead end place to somewhere much more in align with who I am as a professional and a person.

Relationships can have a funny way of doing that. Of filling you up.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The simple life

I am in the process completing my last Foundation of Teaching class before I enter the practicum (where I start going into a school for projects and teaching, etc.). Hip hip hooray!

The biggest takeaway from this summer term has been learning how to assess student learning and developing competencies to measure their progress.

It's something many highly effective teacher's practice. Setting benchmarks for their kids and then tracking the growth. It sounds so simple, yet many students go through classes and coursework every year never knowing what they are expected to learn and whether they have indeed learned it.

On a personal level I can see how that could be problematic. Imagine floating through life with no benchmarks. Nothing to measure yourself against. Or perhaps having benchmarks, but failing to adjust them to the reality of your life and the frequent shifts of your needs and perspective.

If I had to lay out a (rather broad) life objective it would be: To lead a simple life with love and peace.

The tricky part with me is that I LOVE to fill up my time. Pack my days FULL of activity. Pencil in appointment after appointment into my calendar. Which is not simple and sometimes counter-productive to me peace of mind.

So I'm learning to accept my reality. Which is that I DO need to be committed to something (i.e. tutoring,volunteer work), but I also have ongoing responsibilities to my children, spouse, and grand-family to consider.

Assessing my comfort level and changing things up accordingly will be a step toward my objective of simplicity and peace.

Which its something every teacher knows, small steps lead to greater progress.

Friday, August 24, 2012

All in this together

Fun, in a weird and painful 
sort of way, is having to 
get immunization shots right along with 
the boys. Seem's we were due.

~Happy Six Word Friday. The prompt for August is: Fun~

The hubs and I took the boys to the pediatrician for back to school physicals and shots only to discover that he needed one for Uncle Sam and I had never been immunized against the "Whooping Cough", which apparently has been on the upswing.

The boys got a kick out of seeing dad go first. And my middle son held my hand while I got pricked. So, it was fun in a way. The downside? I was shot on Monday and my arm just stopped feeling sore today.

Anything for the kids, right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's my motivation?

Self renovation is hard. Telling myself that a behavior is unhealthy and then consciously working to adjust that behavior takes a lot more effort than most would want or expect.

You think, "This needs fixing, I will fix it."

But the motivation behind the behavior does not immediately change just because you've pinpointed the flaw. For example, I may determine that smoking cigarettes is bad for my health and decide to quit smoking.

My decision to cease smoking, although positive, may not acknowledge my initial reason for smoking. Was stress my smoke trigger? Boredom? Anger?

Unless the motivating factor is exposed and dealt with my unhealthy habit of smoking will be replaced by another (more than likely) equally unhealthy habit.

Discovering your true motivation is where things can get sticky. To find the method to your madness you must self reflect. Ponder the past. Think on current events.

And although this process can be uncomfortable it can also be freeing. You may discover that you just don't care enough to let XYZ bother you in to creating any more empty habits.

Or you may find that ABC was so traumatic that you need to call up some professionals to help you purge the pain.

Whatever the source of our personal motivations we must ultimately decide to get our hands dirty as we work toward a fresh and clean slate.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our sands

My husband and I attended a lovely wedding ceremony yesterday. The bride and groom had been together for a while and there were already children. Yet couple seamlessly incorporated their daughters into the ceremony. And it was simply beautiful.

After exchanging rings the couple had their daughters join them at the alter for a sand ceremony. There were three flasks of colored sand. One for the bride, the groom, and the children. The minster stated that after the sands were combined into the new single flask it would be impossible to remove the particles into individual containers ever again.

And so it would be for their family. Forever intertwined.

This was the part where I got teary-eyed. Because that analogy was so very true. When the girls grow up and move away they will still be connected to their parents. And whether the parents love, honor, and cherish forever or eventually divorce they will all still be irrevocably intertwined.

There is no undoing/untangling of the lives that they have lived together. The memories created and the trials overcome.

Then I thought of my cousin, who (because he is lucky enough to live in Illinois) was able to marry his husband and permanently commit and intertwine his life with his love in the eyes of the state. And although I've supported marriage equality for a while this heterosexual wedding just reaffirmed what I know to be true.

Love, family, and commitment (in their myriad forms) are undeniably beautiful and very much worthy of acknowledgement.

Friday, August 17, 2012


ME and some lovely ladies from WRTW after a 5K Disco race

I love, love, love running women!

~Happy Six Word Friday! Our prompt for August is: FUN.~

I must say I'm having a great time with my new running club, aptly titled Women Run The World. I trained pretty much solo for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Which as you can imagine was fulfilling, yet lonesome. This year, at the coaxing of my Run Fairy I linked up with her co-ed club for Saturday runs. They provided both motivation and accountability.

Then a few months ago a cousin added me to a Facebook running group for women and I haven't looked back. There's something about having partners that puts a little pep in your step. Makes you run a little longer/further/more often. 

So this post is dedicated to all the women supporting other women in healthy lifestyles. 

Who runs the World? Girls!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bird of flight

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free-St. John 8:32

I was in an interview last year and the person conducting the interview asked the most standard, yet most dreaded question: "What are your weaknesses?"

And I looked at her and said "Honestly, my weakness is that I am poor at self-advocating. I have a problem telling authority when something is not working for me or when I need help. But I am working on being more forthcoming with my needs."

And she said, "So you're working on being able to tell the the truth?"

I was a bit taken aback by that rephrasing. I feel as though I am truthful. Yes, I am a master negotiator and people-pleaser. Yes, I try to avoid conflict and find consensus. But I am truthful as well. Aren't I?

"Yes, I am."
But, and its a big BUT when I review my past personal and professional relationships I know I have managed to avoid any direct confrontations. When something becomes unpleasant I am loathe to tackle it head on. I just clam up. That nervous tic that makes me smile when I feel awful appears and I find a way to just try to fly out and away from the situation, whether or not the situation itself ever gets resolved.

I realize this not a healthy solution, yet it's the one I 've been using for years.

There is this fear of being too direct. Of saying the wrong thing and coming off as offensive. Or worse, escalating the situation.

Fear is such an ugly thing. And so is being untruthful about what matters to me the most.

If when I spoke, the words somehow came out printed on beautiful parchment paper I could easily get over the awkwardness of sharing "my iced tea".

Since that can not happen I must work to open myself up to finding healthy ways to speak/live/love my truths.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Go hard

In America we have this phrase "a self made man", which generally means a person who has pulled themselves up by their own efforts or bootstraps to become something or someone special.

An accomplished and fulfilled person without any assistance. Any hand-ups. Any shortcuts.

Only, the notion of a self made anything is a complete illusion. How can anyone become greater than himself without the help of others? Whether it be the tutor who taught him to read. The passerby that gives him a ride. The parent who encourages and cajoles them to success.

"There is always someone in our world that is offering us support"
 Even when it seems lonely and frightening out here, someone somewhere cares. But what we humans sometimes do is shut ourselves off from the love, support, and accountability we all need. We figure we can make it out here alone.

But loneliness brings despair, and despair begets desperation. And desperation causes us to act out in ways that are beneath our human dignity.

We need teams, sisters/brothers, mentors, lovers. We need the warmth and wisdom that human interaction brings.

No man has ever reached his full potential alone. Olympians have coaches. Steve Jobs had a partner. Oprah has Gail. Jesus had 12 disciples, and Buddha had some too.

Its so easy to isolate ourselves when things get tough or hard and our make-up starts to smear. But that is when we need our teams the most.

This is something I have to work especially hard at, because when I start to stress I want to crawl into myself and disappear. But what I've learned as of late is that crawling away is not only selfish (because I shut off the people that love me) but harmful as well.

"I know I go hard for my team, so I have to let them go hard for me as well."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Get it in the morning

How I love thee...let me count the ways

Friday fun fact: Eating sweets with
breakfast can help keep weight off! 

The logic: 1. You have all day 
to burn all those sweet calories. 

2. Having satisfied your sweet tooth early 
you are more likely to resist 
unhealthy snacking or binging later on. 

Now if you excuse me I 
have a strudel calling my name.

~Happy Six Word Friday! Our August prompt is: FUN~~

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The average day

Photo by AP photographer Gregory Bull

As a child I really truly believed in fairy tales. I believed that one day some handsome responsible guy would meet my mom and whisk us all away to sudden, but permanent stability and happiness.

We'd have a huge house. Plenty of food. And wonderful family vacations.

One day millions of dollars would be given to our family and all our problems would go away.

I honestly thought that people who had things/relationships/happiness were just supremely lucky. They had somehow won the "life lottery".

"The rest of us were just waiting for our number to come up."

What I've learned since then is that even though some people do win "life's lottery" (i.e. heirs and heiresses) lasting success/happiness/progress is attained through steps.

Everyday getting up and working on ourselves, our jobs, or relationships. It's so easy to think that if we had just one thing it would be the cure-all for everything. But that's just not the case.

Tiny little steps and precious little actions. They are what we build into the product of our lives. It's the various moments that determine our direction/projection.

"The ugly, boring work that brings enlightenment."

Pretty much every person in the universe knows who Gabby Douglas is right now. But she was Gabby Douglas before her medals. She was Gabby Douglas as she trained and exercised and became sculpted into the beautiful Olympian we see today.

A few days ago told my husband that I would love to have her (Gabby Douglas') legs. But in reality I do not need her legs. I just need to make my way to the nearest gym/trail/bench press and craft the ones I already have.

There is a certain beauty in knowing that. That my life is the sum total of my actions/decisions/encounters.

Even if my "Playdoh" isn't as shiny and new as the others, I can still mold it into something beautiful. Something I can be proud to show my children.

It just puts the average day into a different perspective don't 'cha think?

Monday, August 6, 2012

No clothes

Remember that story about the boy that dares to tell the Emperor he has no clothes on? With hundreds of thousands of adults standing around pretending not to noticed the Emperor's exposed buttocks. But the child does.

He sees it and he tell everyone so.

As we age there is a necessary filter process that grows as we mature. It works as a screen between our thoughts and our actions/words.

We learn that everything that springs to mind need not be spoken. Yet there are times when the uncomfortable truth must be spoken.

When remaining silent is just plain wrong.

I think, even in those times when we know something must be done, it is not always easy to speak up. Or reach out.

Fear can make us just hope someone else will take the risk in being honest. That someone else will bear the responsibility.

And if they don't? What then? What will we do with our humanity?

Will we help or hush?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A word from our sponsor

~This post has been interrupted by a "Pep Talk to myself". The official sponsor of my Zen.~

You feel overwhelmed right now. That is okay.

Embrace the feeling and look around you.

Why do you feel overwhelmed? Downcast? Defeated?

When I look around this room of overwhelm-ment I see hundreds of thousand of "I's" floating around.

"I have to make this better" "I have to get them help" "I have to keep working" "I have to be strong"

Your "I's" seem invincible, but in reality they are shallow pieces of pride. A belief that you can make/do/control things.

You control nothing but your actions and intentions. Do not make believe that you control the outcome of others.

Release yourself from your "I's" and you will feel the dejected-ness ease away. 

Separate yourself from the outcome of others and you will gain strength.

Inhale. Now exhale slowly and blow the "I's" away.

~You have reached end of this installment of "Pep talk to myself" the official sponsor of my Zen.~