Category Archives: Family

Stand

Stand up and be counted.  Stand for the weak.  Stand hand in hand with her in public.  Stand still in the dark until your eyes adjust. Stand when you hear the National Anthem.  Set your moral compass and stand fast in the right direction.  Stand up and be counted.  Don’t get caught without a leg to stand on.  Ask others to stand with you.  When your opponent falls, stand down.  Stand for what is right and ask others to stand with you.  In a world plagued with conformity, stand out.  Teach them to stand on their own two feet.  Stand on your tip-toes to get a better view.  When fear strikes, stand fast.  When being measured, stand tall.  Stand on the edge and look down.  Stand up in a boat.  When they say you can’t do it, dig your heels in and stand firm.  Stand side by side and feel your strength.  Don’t stand in her way.  When everyone else is gone, have the courage to stand alone.

Superman stood for truth, justice and the American way.  The Ironed Jawed Angels of 1918 stood up for the rights of women in America.  Ben Cohen stands up against bullying.  Gandhi stood for civil rights and freedom for all citizens of the world. The Stand; we’ve all taken it for one reason or another, and regardless of our motivation, we all stand for something at some time.

All too often, we wander through our days without giving notice to the many stands we take.  Whether we are defending others, promoting a cause, proving a point or showing our strength; we all stand.  I’ve seen it in action, been witness to the results, and even participated.  I’ve felt the fear, the power, the joy, and the helplessness that taking a stand can create; and still I stand.

It’s important for me, living in a world where the actions of others, whether reckless or calculated, directly impact my life and possibly the lives of others, that I continue to stand, both for myself and for those who can’t.  I’m not a hero or a savior, I don’t have endless wisdom or insurmountable strength, and I don’t want power or fame.  I’m just an ordinary person looking for other ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things.

It doesn’t take much to make good things happen; all you have to do is stand.


Enough?

In the grand scheme of relationship break-ups, when is enough actually enough?  What is the limit of aggravation and frustration one has to endure before walking away completely?

Think it through a bit.  You break up with someone you have spent several years with, and in the beginning you both try to keep things civil.  You talk about dividing the household, dealing with debt, pets, kids, joint accounts; all the things you need to resolve before you can move forward in life.  This so-called civil period can last for years or it can tank coming out of the gate.  For me, it ceased to exist as soon as I made it clear that I am going to take care of myself and stop taking care of her.

My biggest source of confusion about this whole break-up process stems from my ex’s inability to understand that I am not interested in listening to, dealing with, solving or even discussing her problems anymore.  I acknowledge that I have played a role in her inability to figure out the little things in everyday life; possessing a caregiver’s personality, I generally took care of the everyday things that life would throw our way.  Perhaps if I had demanded more input or action on her part, we could have prolonged our post break-up civil period, and I could have avoided being financially and emotionally drained.  Sadly, I realized my error much too late and now I am still paying.

Over the past year, I have been threatened with law suits, stolen from, lied to repeatedly, cussed out, told I need therapy, told I am no longer a parent, and basically had my character dragged through the mud; all because I said …”I don’t want to be with you anymore.”  I didn’t take legal action, I didn’t steal from her or speak badly about her to others; I have continually tried to be a decent person throughout the whole process.  What I didn’t realize in the beginning is that she really wasn’t interested in being civil, she just wanted me to be civil. I can’t anymore.  I won’t continue to offer the olive branch only to turn around and get slapped in the face with it each time.

Here is my point.  When you break-up, whether you have been together 12 months or 12 years, it’s going to suck.  Separating yourself from another person’s life is a gruelling task, but in order to continue on with your journey, you have to cut ties and seal doors that were once open to that person.  You can’t continue to act as though you are a couple while you are breaking-up; it doesn’t work.  When you finally start acting like exes, closing the door is a little bit easier; at least it is for me.


Remember

Remember.  Remember  your childhood, your family, your friends.  Remember your first true loss.  Remember to call home.  Remember how you got that scar.  Remember summer and sleepovers in the back yard.  Remember important dates, and if you can’t then write them down.  Remember to send flowers.  Remember your grandmother’s window box and all the love she grew there each summer.  Remember your first dog.  Remember your manners; please, wipe your feet, thank you, yes ma’am.  Remember the milestones that have imprinted themselves on your heart; remember who was with you, who held your hand who shared your laughter.  Remember her name, her scent, the color of her eyes, the taste of her lips.   Remember to stay safe; wear your seatbelt, look both ways, hold hands.  Remember everything you can.  Remember the path you are on; try to stay true.  Remember your senses; breathe, see, listen, feel, flavor.  Remember who you are and where you come from, because there will be those who will try to make you forget.   Remember, you did not get where you are today by forgetting where you were yesterday.  Remember.

How often do we forget?  Why do we forget?

I used to think that forgetting was simply a sign of a lazy brain.  At other times, I believed that forgetting was simply the mind’s way of protecting our hearts.  Today, I’m not really clear as to why we forget, but I am beginning to believe that our thoughts run in cycles that are somehow dictated by our current priorities.  We don’t place the same level of importance on things that are not currently waving in our present picture. The daily ins and outs of life; work, family, bills, car trouble, grocery shopping; seem to start crowding out the important things we should remember.

People often say, “Don’t look back,” but I think we have to look back in order to move forward.  Sometimes the memories we allow to push forward can be painful or angry, but we still need to remember them.  Forgetting does not change the past.  Forgetting does not release us from the obligations we have to our memories; they are always there.  We are all a walking conglomeration of events, all of which have had an impact on who we are today; forgetting is like giving your mind permission to cut out and discard parts of who you are.

It isn’t always easy to review your history, but it’s necessary.  Don’t forget. Remember.  Remember everything you can.


Seasons

 We met years ago.  Coffee chats, happy hours, vacations, 3Days, Christmas, arguments and make-ups, kids, family, mother’s day, cook-outs, beaches, crude humor and most of all love.  In and out of each others’ lives, sometimes days, sometimes months.  Picking up where we left off, feeling strength in our friendship.  Forgetting what pulled us apart, just grateful for the continued connection.  We drift in and out of the lives of others without explanation.  There is no rhyme, nor reason, to the flow and ebb of friendship; it comes and goes like the changing seasons of each year.  

Seasons.  Yup, it’s like that.  Friendship is kind of a fluid thing for me. People come into my life and stay for a while before moving on, and I understand that their season with me might be over.  Then there are the people who float in, almost unnoticed, set up shop in my heart, build a comfortable little niche, and stay season after season; those are my friends.

Friendship isn’t easy for me; at best it’s a leap into a big, dark abyss.  Let’s be honest, the infancy of friendship is kind of scary.  You meet someone and start to identify in which direction their moral compass is set, and with any luck you find yourselves on the same page about the important things in life; truth, family, love, morality.  You keep your fingers crossed with every new adventure until you finally start to relax into each other, and then one day you realize; friend.

With friendship comes change.  Life will pull you in different directions at times, and hopefully pull you back together again at some point; but true friends always seem to have a place marker in your heart somewhere.  You might not talk to them for days or weeks or even months, but you still save them a seat at the table and patiently wait for their season to bring them around again.  It will happen at an unexpected time; no reservations, no forewarning, no real reason.  They pop in for a quick hello, and you start to realize they never really left.

Seasons.  Yup, it’s like that.


Burn

 “Burn leaves in autumn.  Burn sage and sweet-grass to purify your room and yourself.  Burn the old pictures, the old letters, the old papers that no longer mean anything.  Burn candles everywhere, inside and out, in glass holders and old pie tins and in seashells on window sills and counters and tabletops.  Cast into the fire those feelings and attitudes that no longer serve you.  Feel them disintegrate.  Watch how the smoke curls.  Burn off anger in small doses.  Don’t wait for a meltdown.  Create the hearth that contains and focuses your inner fire.  Burn the dinner and then laugh about it.  If it’s necessary for your self-survival, yes, burn a bridge every now and then.  Just make sure you’re safely on one side or the other before you do.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

Well, what do you think?  Should one engage in the exhilarating act of pyromania in an effort to clear themselves of the past and start fresh?  Is it rational to treat parts of our past like an overgrown forest that needs the focus of a controlled burn to make room for new growth?  Have you ever burned your past?

This is my controlled burn.  I’m choosing carefully what fuel I will add to my fire.  I have rifled through the boxes and envelopes and bins and gathered up the refuse of my past.  I won’t miss it.  I won’t look for it later and wonder why I let it go.  This fire has been smouldering for  years, and my mistake was not feeding it when it started.

I won’t hang on to regret, it only weighs me down.  I won’t rely on hindsight to rationalize what has already happened, it only makes me mad.  I will NOT shoulder the burden of everyone’s reactions to my path; it’s my life.  I will let go of what once was and stop asking myself why it isn’t anymore.  The past is no place to linger.

I’m burning.  I’m piling it up and setting it ablaze.  Nothing says ‘I’m done’ like a big-assed bon fire.


Guard

 “Guard fiercely that which others want most to wrest from you. Your inner wild places and the freedom to visit them often. The gateways to your very soul, the keys to your secret garden and all that you cultivate therin. Guard against attacks of all sorts by those who covet your light and envy your brilliance. Create shields visible and invisible, and infuse them with the power to deflect invasions of your body, mind, and spirit. Guard the security of your home as if it were more valuable than the grandest place on Earth, for surely it is. Establish your personal boundaries and guard them against interlopers who would barge in against your will. Be the guardian of your own solitude and that of others, and peace shall always be yours.” ~ Rachel Snyder

Sometimes things don’t quite work out the way you had planned, and you have to make some drastic changes in your life; this is especially difficult when it involves dissolving a relationship that is toxic and damaging.  Well, having dissolved the relationship, I am now faced with guarding what it is I have chosen for my new life, and guard it I will.

Some people would say I gave up and quit on something that I should have fought harder to keep, but those people don’t know the whole story.  The details of that situation are no longer important; what is important is that I got out because I realized that I no longer guarded what was important to me.  I let everything I knew about myself get taken away without a fight.  No more.

Life can be incredibly complicated and unpredictable, but there is a way around all the chaos; guard.  Guard what you have learned about yourself, and trust it. Guard your heart from hate and fear.  Guard your sense of worth and ignore the challengers that say you are less than you truly are.  Guard your character and dismiss those who would try to create a false picture of your life.  Guard yourself from the anger of others by letting go of your own anger.  Guard all that is yours, material and emotional, and guard it with your life.

The past few years have taught me that sometimes a sense of self-preservation will lead you away from people, but it will also lead you toward those who you do not have to guard yourself against.


She Loves My Dog

You ever meet a girl and start to feel the sparks of attraction ignite, only to realize that she is not the least bit interested in one of the most important things in your life?  Sure you have, and you’ve tried to work it out and make adjustments and concessions, but you eventually realize that it was doomed from the beginning. You split up and go your separate ways….. all because she didn’t like your dog.

The problem always starts when you take a girl over to your place for the first time.  You open the door and there is the love of your life, wagging her tail and brushing up against you, so happy to see you.  Your furry companion is curious and begins to sniff your new friend, wagging all the time.  “Oh wait, who is this?  Is this your new friend mom? She smells nice.  I think I will give her a kiss.”  Then it happens; your date does what you have been worrying about all night long; the slow turn to the side get-away-from-me move. This move, perfected by those who have no interest in dogs, is a dead give-away that your night will probably end with you snuggling up to a cold nose instead of a warm body.

It’s not easy finding that special girl who will snug up your dog on the first date, or cuddle on the sofa with both of you while you watch a movie; nope, those women are few and far between.  Well guess what ladies, I found one.  I found the perfect girl. That’s right!  Not only is she smart,funny, and an amazing kisser, but she also loves my dog.  You heard me; she loves my dog. How perfect is that?!

My girl dotes on my dog Emma as though she had raised her from a pup herself.  “Do you think Emma is ok?  I don’t want her to get too hot, should I put some ice in her water?  Maybe Emma would like a special breakfast this morning.”  That’s right, she loves my dog.  She is always aware of Emma’s needs, and does everything she can to keep her happy and safe. She loves my dog.

As fate would have it, I married that sweet girl, and now she does everything she can to keep both me and Emma happy and safe.


She

 I know of no other like her.  I’m pulled up each day by the thought of her.  The smile that warms me, the eyes that read all my secrets, the caress of her fingers against my cheek, the sound of her breath in my ear as she sleeps in my arms; no other is like her.

We met by chance, luck.  She was warm and welcoming, full of laughter and a new-found friendship.  She made me laugh, she made me think, she helped me not take myself so seriously.  That chance meeting would send us on a path of friendship that grew with each new day, regardless of the distance and time that separated us.  Years would pass before we would stand together again, but when we finally did; she made me laugh, she made me think, she helped me not to take myself so seriously.

I survived the dismantling of my life, and there she was again.  She listened to my fears and my dreams, she calmed my weary heart, she opened my eyes to my new life.  I felt this feeling growing inside of me, this pull, this attraction.  I pretended it was all a consequence of circumstance; it couldn’t be real. I was so wrong.  She was inside me, walking around in all the dark corners I had kept hidden from the world for so many years; lighting each new room with her tender way.  I tried to ignore it, but it was stronger than I realized.

Standing in the entranceway of her apartment, nerves turning me inside out, sweating, shaking, fumbling over my words.  A whisper, “Come here.”  A kiss.  One kiss to wash away my fears and confirm what was waiting inside my heart.  One kiss to show her how much she means to me.  One kiss to bind us together.  One kiss to start a journey in motion that just keeps getting better.

There is no other woman like her.  She is patient with my fears and gentle with my heart.  I feel her stare and I blush.  She touches me and I melt.  She is the love of my lifetime, and there is no other like her.


Birthday Thoughts

Today is my birthday.  I’m not doing anything special, just the usual Sunday chores and putterings, but I have been thinking about the last year of my life and what it means for my future.

This time last year I was celebrating with friends, severing a very caustic relationship, and navigating my way carefully into someone’s life.  The year has been cathartic, cleansing.  I have managed to make the tough decisions necessary for me to be happy, and I don’t have any regrets.  I’m different now, but somehow I am exactly the way I was meant to be; happy.

Often times birthdays cause people to think back on their lives and sum up their accomplishments and failures; not me.  I am taking this day to look toward the future and embrace every change that I have orchestrated over the past year.  I have often said that change is difficult, but I believe it is necessary if we are to open our lives to new paths and new adventures.

The season of my discontent is over, and I can finally see things more clearly.  I breathe in each day and all its newness.  I am no longer afraid of the turns my life will take.  I am not looking back anymore; I’m not critiquing my actions of the past.  I am leaving what’s done where it belongs; behind me.

It’s my birthday, and I have given myself the greatest gift of all; my happiness.


Dear Parents,

Dear Parents of High School Students,

I am not your child’s friend.  I do not care if they like me.  This is not a popularity contest for me,  it is your child’s education.

I am not going to pretend your child’s work is exemplary, when it is actually sub-standard.  I demand, and expect, nothing but the very best effort from your child.  Helping your child is not synonymous with giving them the answers, so please explain to them that they will be expected to do their own work in my class. I do not condone laziness or irresponsibility; make sure they have a good breakfast and pack their backpacks with all the necessary items needed to be productive at school.

I do not want to look at the top of your child’s head for 45 minutes each day, so please make sure they get a good night’s sleep.  There is no reason to send your child to school unless they are fully invested in working, my time is far too valuable to be wasted on someone who is not interested in what I am presenting.  If your child is not capable of being present, both physically and mentally, then perhaps a different learning environment should be explored; home schooling is an option for every child.

I will give your child complete and brutal honesty about their work, their behavior and their commitment to excellence, and I won’t feel bad if it hurts their feelings.  I will not pretend their behavior is acceptable when it is grating on my last nerve.  I will tell them to be quiet when I am speaking.  When I address your child, I expect them to be accountable for their words and actions.  If they ask me a question I expect them to listen to the answer the first time it is given.  I do not  want to hear your child telling me that my decisions are not fair; a fair is a place you take a pig to win a ribbon, it has nothing to do with my classroom.

It is not my job to feel sorry for your son or daughter.  Every one of my students comes to me with a different plate of challenges, and your child is not more special than any other child in my class.  Please understand that just doing the work is not enough, it has to be done correctly.  You child must follow directions, or they will not succeed.   I will teach them.  I will motivate them.  I will encourage them to be their very best self.  I will be honest with them.  I will not take responsibility for your child’s failures, and  I will always give them full credit for their successes.

Although I am not your child’s parent, I am a parent.  I understand that the teen mind is a difficult thing to decipher, however I would ask that get on board with the following truth:  one day you will die, and if you don’t pry your kid’s head out of her ass now, they won’t have a hope in hell of making it on their own.  Tell them no, motivate them, hold them accountable, demand excellence, instill a firm work ethic, and be honest.  If you are not part of the solution to your own child’s problems in school, then you are actually part of the problem.

Sincerely,

Your Child’s Teacher