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You Don’t Always Have to Be Strong

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lately.  It’s really heartbreaking for their families, and leaves so many unanswered questions, but it seems that only when something like this happens do we really understand how much pain (emotional or physical) someone may have.  Of course, it’s too late to help them at that point, but how do we help someone who is hiding their pain from those they love? How do we know?  Some people love playing “the victim,” and love getting the attention that goes along with that.  Others of us, however, don’t want to be a burden on those we love.

My daughter had a friend who committed suicide a few years ago.  They were very close in high school, and then this friend ended up pushing away my daughter, along with a lot of other people who had been her friends.  Of course, it makes sense why she pushed everyone away now, but at the time, how could anyone know that she was hurting so much?  She pushed people away with meanness and made them not want to be with her.  I guess in her way, she was trying to protect them from the pain she knew she may eventually put them through.  Even when it happened, my daughter was not mad at her.  She hurt for her.  She still loved her.  She understood then that her friend had needed help, and didn’t know how to ask for it.

We all need help from time to time.

Last summer, I found myself in a dark place.  I was not suicidal, but I was sad.  I was afraid.  I was hurting.  And I was feeling a lot of pressure from so many different places.  I had been diagnosed with a medical condition that will be with me for the rest of my life.  I was alone when I got this diagnosis because my husband was in New York with his family.  I had recently been terribly hurt by some people I really cared about. I had no idea how I was going to handle another year of teaching with this type of medical diagnosis.  I was bogged down with some very difficult, important paperwork that was pushing me to my limit.  I was overwhelmed, alone, confused, sad, and hurting a lot.  I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to disappear for awhile.  I laid down on the kitchen floor, and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And finally a calmness came over me, and I got up and finished my paperwork that had been frustrating me so much.  I was still upset and alone, mad and frustrated, but I knew I had to pull myself together to keep going.  It didn’t matter what anyone else thought of me, or how anyone was trying to hurt me.  I had to keep at the paperwork, no matter how confusing and difficult it was.  Al would be home in a few days and we could begin exploring our medical options, and he would be home to comfort me.  It would all be okay.  I was entitled to a meltdown for all I was dealing with.  But I had to get up and face these obstacles.  I had to be strong for my husband and my children.  I couldn’t disappear.

Al and I had a discussion earlier tonight about how when either of us is hurting or sick, we try not to let the other one see how much we’re suffering.  We try to protect each other, even through our own pain.  I didn’t tell Al about my major meltdown last summer until recently.  I didn’t want to worry him, or put any added stress on him.  He worries enough about me….why cause him to worry more?  Why cause him added pain?  When he is sick, he tries to conceal how bad he feels so I won’t worry.  It hurts to see your partner hurt.  We are strong for each other, but we also know that sometimes we can’t handle everything alone, whether it’s a physical illness or a giant weight on our shoulders.  We need help from each other.  We don’t have to do it alone, and it has taken me awhile to learn this.  It isn’t something I’ve been used to.

Those people who are in so much pain that they take their own lives, aren’t trying to hurt anyone else.  So many times they have been protecting their loved ones for so long it becomes too heavy of a burden to carry.  They’ve had to be strong for everyone while they hurt.  They’re really quite selfless, even though some will argue just the opposite.  They’re funny, compassionate, and caring, but they have hidden their own feelings in order to protect those they love.  We know to take care of those who ask for help.  But let’s take care of those who seem strong too.  Let’s be there for the ones who always seem to be there for everyone else.  Let’s be there for the ones who start isolating themselves, even if they don’t want us.  Let’s be there for the ones who make us laugh when we want to cry.  Let’s be there for the ones who say, “I’m fine.”  They may be the ones who are suffering the most, and don’t know how to ask for help.  We are all human, and every human needs help at some point in their lives.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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Anger, Bullying, Change, Compassion, Crying, Egos, Fake Christians, Fear, Gun Control, Homegrown Terrorism, School Shootings, Uncategorized

Another Senseless Mass Shooting….

And it has happened yet AGAIN……another mass shooting….another SCHOOL shooting!  I remember how shocked we used to be by all of this.  Now it’s almost a daily occurrence.  We have become numb and desensitized to the trauma.  I’m going to talk about some things in this post that may upset a few people, but I’m very upset right now, as are a lot of others, about this nonsense, and how NOTHING is being done about it.  I thought about apologizing ahead of time if I offend anyone, but I really don’t care if I do. There are an awful lot of innocent dead people, and someone needs to speak up.  Each side accuses the other of making it political.  Well, it IS political! Unfriend me or stop following me if you must.  I will not point fingers at any political party, but I will be political.  You all know who you vote for, and where you stand.  And I will address what role Christianity (or those claiming Christians) plays in this.  So…..read at your own risk.

First of all, never in my life, or my training to become a teacher, did I ever think that I could possibly be putting my life on the line in the classroom, and defending the little people I teach every day.  If I wanted to work in a combat zone, I would have enlisted in the military or law enforcement.  My calling was to teach.  I don’t want to carry a gun.  If schools start requiring teachers to be armed, I will be leaving the profession for good.  If others choose to carry a weapon that’s their right.  I will exercise mine not to carry a gun.  But my daughter and my grandson (the only two offspring who are still in school) have the right to go to school feeling safe, and so do their teachers.

I’m not anti-gun at all.  My father grew up with guns on a farm.  He had guns in the house when I was growing up (put away).  After all, we do have that 2nd amendment. But that amendment was written before we had semi-automatic weapons, and guns such as the now infamous AR-15. Yes, we do and should, have the right to defend ourselves.  If someone is coming into our homes to hurt us or our families, we should have the right to keep ourselves safe.  However, the AR-15 is meant for one thing…..killing a lot of living things in a very short amount of time.  And no civilian should have access to it, whether they are mentally sane or not.  It is, in itself, a weapon of mass destruction, and we’ve seen it over and over again.  Yet, the politicians with the NRA in their pockets keep turning a blind eye to it. And yes, the NRA and their political buddies have blood on their hands over this.  Oh, you’re an NRA member?  Okay.  I don’t care.  I’m not criticizing you as an individual.  I am condemning the organization as a whole, and how they have bought off the politicians who are supposed to be representing the people, in order to wield their power.  We are talking millions and millions of dollars.  They are profiting from the murder of innocent lives…..innocent children and public servants!

Mental health…..oh, here’s a good one.  I’ve noticed that any time the shooter is white, there is a discussion about mental health.  Well, that’s good, because there does need to be more access to mental health services in the United States.  Mental health is slowly losing the negative stigma and shame, and it does seem that people are more open to getting help for mental illness, depending on the severity.  Yet, so many of our mental hospitals were closed in the 1980’s, leaving these people with nowhere to go, and no options for help.  Sometimes, it’s more than one person can take care of alone.  Then they need help from society.  It should be easier for these people to obtain mental health services!  So, if the problem with mass shooters is mental health, then why is funding cut for mental health services?  Why are facilities closed?  They’re ill.  They need help! If you vote for politicians who cut spending on mental health services, then you can’t also use the mental health argument.  You can’t.  It makes you a hypocrite.  So if you voted for the ones who cut the funding for mental health services, then knock it off!  You can’t have it both ways.  I am tired of hearing it.  There was a law in place, which was recently repealed, making it more difficult for the mentally ill to obtain weapons.  Why was it repealed?  What idiot asshole thought that was a good idea (I’ll let you do your homework on that one)?  What purpose did it serve to repeal that law?  Oh, and if the shooter were black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc…..oh, that’s right….terrorist, and they should be deported.  The majority of these mass shootings are carried out by white, home grown, American terrorists.  Period.

Another argument I heard was that this gun should not have been in the hands of a 19 year old.  Really!?!?! So….a 19 year old with a history of mental illness was able to legally obtain an AR-15.  Please!  I have a more difficult time buying cold medicine! The argument I heard was that he shouldn’t have been able to get it until he was 21.  Because when he turns 21 he will be less mentally unstable?  He’ll magically become mentally stable at 21? Sorry.  That “logic” doesn’t work on me.  Neither does the bullying issue.  Bullying isn’t the problem either.  Bullying is a horrible thing that has been around from the beginning of time, and most educators do all we can to minimize it.  There have always been bullies.  There hasn’t always been access to weapons of mass destruction for the average person.

Another thing that was really disturbing to me with this most recent act of terrorism on American soil was the way the media described the suspect as being “adopted.”  AND?????  I happen to have 3 cousins, 2 nieces and several friends who were adopted, and none of them are violent or terrorists!  They are my family and people I happen to love.  By repeating this over and over on the news, I’m sure it was upsetting to anyone who was adopted, or loves someone who is.  This infuriated me, and put an unfair label on every adopted person! Totally unfair reporting!  Just what we need….more stereotypes and biases, as if we don’t have enough dividing us.

Christianity…..here we go!  Yes, I do call myself a Christian.  I do believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ.  His main lessons were to help the poor, sick, and the children.  Yet, so many people who are constantly saying they’re praying, asking for prayers, saying, “praise Jesus!” attending the “right” churches, or voting the “right” way seem to forget those simple things!  Oh, they’ll pray for you!  But what good is prayer if they don’t put forth some effort too?  Why are they putting all of the burden on God?  They’re lazy, that’s why!  Why are they boasting about all of the prayer they’re sending up, but then voting for people who do the exact opposite of what Jesus said to do….take care of the poor, sick, and the children????? Oh yes, I know about the lesson of God helping those who help themselves.  But sometimes people CAN’T help themselves!  Oh, they’re poor? They’re sick?  Do we know why?  Does it really matter?  No!  They need help! These are also the same people who claim that God/Jesus/religion is not allowed in our schools anymore.  Are you kidding me????  If you are true Christians, how can you remove that part of your personality when you are at work?  True Christianity should reflect in your actions.  Doesn’t God work through us?  Then if we are Christians, doing God’s work, then how is He “removed” from our schools?  Sorry, but yet another argument that doesn’t add up, and I’m tired of it.  I use compassion and love and understanding each day with my students.  They aren’t numbers. They are little lives, and they are our future.  We say the Pledge of Allegiance EVERY DAY (I’ve been told many times that we don’t….maybe before posting that nonsense on social media, you should check with someone who actually works in the public schools)…..and yes, we DO say, “One nation, under God” EVERY DAY!  I’ve been in schools where there were prayers around the flag pole, Bible study groups for teachers, my children were involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, etc. etc. etc.  No one is telling us we can’t pray. We just can’t force anyone else to pray! And quite frankly, I wouldn’t want someone forcing their religion on me either.  We are free to pray, and think however we want!  So all of these stupid posts about how we need to put God back in our schools to avoid more school shootings only anger me more.  Instead of putting it all on God, why don’t some of you step up and help out?  Stop using that as a cop out! Why don’t you go volunteer in the schools?  Why don’t you start serving the homeless, the poor, the hungry?  How about helping the mentally ill?  Volunteering in the Big Brother/Big Sister program? How about putting the prayer to work through your own actions?  How about praying for God to instill in you the desire to serve others, and understand others, and have compassion for those who struggle or need help?  Or, if you don’t have the desire or time to volunteer, maybe you have money, and you can help fund programs that have been cut? Time, energy, money, patience, understanding, compassion…….  Oh yeah…..now I remember……the answer is more guns, and protecting the 2nd amendment, right?

The 2nd amendment has become Biblical to some Americans, and it’s sickening!  They tout the Bible and say they’re Christians, but they are more willing to protect an amendment ratified in 1791 (that needs to be updated for today’s weapons) than to protect our children! That’s not a Christian. Why doesn’t our right to LIVE, and our children’s right to feel safe at school hold more weight than the right to carry a weapon?

So now we come to the right to bear arms…..concealed carry…..whatever you’re wanting to call it…..you’re carrying a gun.  Let’s look at the Las Vegas shooting.  That happened at a country music concert.  Now, I would guess that there were probably a few people in that crowd carrying weapons.  I don’t have a problem with that.  It’s their right.  Yet…..what good did it do them?  Were any of them able to stop the maniac in the hotel with his high powered weapons and mechanisms making his weapons more powerful?  More guns are not the answer!  The whole load of bullshit saying, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is ridiculous!  I’m sure there were plenty of good guys with guns in that crowd!  So where were they?  Why didn’t they stop him?  Wasn’t anyone praying?  If so, why did 58 people die, and nearly 500 people were wounded?  What happened?  Weren’t people praying hard enough? Weren’t those injured or killed deserving of God’s grace?  Of course they were! But who was there doing God’s work?  Prayer and guns alone are not the answer! Maybe that guy shouldn’t have been able to get his hands on those weapons in the first place!

Yes, prayer helps.  Saying, “All we can do is pray” is nonsense!  You can do so much more!  You can stand up and speak out against the senseless crimes being committed by having access to these types of weapons.  God gave us a voice!  God gave us brains!  Use them! If you are true Christians, then where is your compassion?  Why is the 2nd amendment more important than the teachings of Jesus?  I’m not trying to be preachy, but I’ve heard these arguments from “Christians,” and I’m not buying it.  I’m tired of lazy people hiding behind the label of Christianity.  The constitution is not the Bible.  “In God We Trust” did not appear on our coins until 1864, and not on our currency until 1957.  The Founding Fathers did NOT put it there (contrary to what gets repeatedly posted on social media).  Saying, “Let’s pray, ” and “Let’s put God back in our schools,” and continuing to vote for more guns is  NOT the answer!  Putting armed guards in our schools, arming our teachers, and making it easy to buy guns (but not cold medicine), but doing nothing to fix the root of the problem is not the answer.

Other countries don’t have this problem.  There are other countries who have the right to defend themselves, and they don’t have mass shootings.  The United States…..the country I love with my whole heart, the country my grandfathers, father, uncles, cousins, and son have all risked their lives to defend….needs to get it figured out when it comes to the most horrifying and disgusting issue facing us today. The answer to most of us is very clear. For the rest of you….well, my husband and I will continue to speak up, while we go into our classrooms each day…..always ready for a lock down (with little to no appreciation from anyone unless we’re gunned down…..then we become unwilling heroes…..an entire blog post in itself).  Oh yeah, and we will educate ourselves on political issues and candidates, taking into consideration what is best for us as a whole, and who is interested in fixing this problem,…..after all, the 2nd amendment is NOT in the Bible.

So even though this blog post is long, I hope you can see my frustration, and how saying and doing nothing about the core of the problem is as good as guaranteeing that this will continue to happen.  I’m angry!  I’m pissed off!  No amendment is worth the loss of countless innocent lives, especially school children and their teachers.

Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Bewitched, Busy Minds, Civil Rights, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Empowerment, Family, Fear, Focus, Happiness, Insensitivity, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Manners, Misconceptions, Passion for Living, Peaceful Protests, Racism, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, Thankfulness, That's life, Tom Jones, Uncategorized, Understanding

Hocus Focus

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately.  Part of it is because I have a hard time typing with a brace on my wrist. Part of it is just because I’ve been a bit distracted with a few things lately.  I start to write, and I find myself not wanting to finish the topic because I get worried how some people might react.  I try to keep my posts positive, and try to inspire people to do their best, while maybe sharing some experiences from my life, or funny stories.  I know I shouldn’t worry about that, because I know if I’m doing the best I can, that’s all that matters.  I have a level of sarcastic humor that not everyone gets, but I can’t worry about that either.  I’ll try to give you an idea of what my mind has been like lately….

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is today……let’s keep moving forward.  Even my 1st graders think racism is awful.

Broken wrists suck.

Vertigo sucks.

I have a secret crush on Tom Jones.

Migraines suck.

Free movie passes are great.

I, Tonya was a good movie.

Catch the movie, Mudbound on Netflix……eye opening, and should tug at everyone’s heart.  Let’s not ever go back to that. Mary J. Blige does an excellent job in it.

I love Kansas City at Christmas.

I love warm weather.

My dog is the sweetest, snuggled next to me as I type this.

The Vikings had an awesome game yesterday, and I hope they go all the way, especially for my best friend’s sake…..she loves them!

Some people really take advantage, and are attention whores.

I would never have the nerve to set up a Go Fund Me account for myself…….

Therefore, medical bills and trying to get by through this really sucks.

Donald Trump sucks.  Yep.  I said it!

What happened to manners?

Why can’t people respect your time and your finances?  It’s not up to anyone else how you spend these things, and if you have the time or money for something.  I would never tell someone, “You have time for this,” or “You can afford that.”  No one’s energy level is the same as someone else’s, and no one knows what your financial obligations are.

A man complimented me in the elevator in the medical building for the boots I had on….then he asked if that was okay because he wasn’t sure it was acceptable….compliments should always be acceptable.

Work/teaching is exhausting.

Trying to get my foot in the door with real estate is next to impossible while teaching full time.  Taking my post license course now.

I don’t like one of my medical specialists…….at all.

Sometimes no matter how nice you are to people, they just won’t like you.  Be nice anyway, but protect yourself.  You can’t make them care.  Their actions will show you how they feel.  Be kind.

Seizures suck.

My family is wonderful.

I don’t get to see a lot of Al this time of year because he works at lot with youth basketball, so we spent today together.  He helped me with groceries and put gas in my car…..helping me with that wrist thing.

My kids are great…..and goofy, and I worry about them all the time.

Social anxiety can be crippling……try to smile and get through it.  I feel it every day.

Youth basketball games are fun to watch, especially when they’re scrappy little kids.

Some people are heartless.

I’m addicted to reruns of Bewitched.

Spring and summer need to get here soon. I need summer now!

So you can see……my mind is all over the place…..writer’s block, because I can’t focus on anything.  Not feeling bad or depressed….I’m just overwhelmed with a lot right now, so my mind is a busy place.  I wonder if I have adult ADD to add to the list of conditions? Maybe if I am able to reduce the stress in my life and get the rest I need, I can focus!  For now, I will rely on exercise and meditation (and Bewitched) to get me through!

I hope you all have had a great Martin Luther King Jr Day.  Did you do anything to give back? I didn’t this year.  I just don’t have the energy.  My justification for this is that I give back each day when I walk into my classroom. Every teacher does……

Get focused! Now back to studying….

 

 

 

 

Don't Judge, Fear, Fort Scott, Kansas, Friday the 13th, Ghosts, Halloween, Hotel del Coronado, Just Breathe, October, Pensacola Lighthouse Museum, Spirits, Spooky Places, Supernatural, The French Quarter, The Unexpected, travel, Travel Channel, Travel Woes, Uncategorized, Whaley House

Friday, the 13th……

I am taking a much needed day off work today.  After another trip to the doctor earlier this week, 3 more needles, a change of meds, and orders to rest, I decided to obey doctor’s orders (finally), after pushing myself at work to get things finished for the end of the first 9 weeks of school.  With all of the medical tests, I’ve sort of been feeling like a science experiment lately, and a bit like the Bride of Frankenstein……not that Al is Frankenstein!  I just feel like the female version of the experimental monster. With this being October, and today happens to be Friday the 13th, I wondered about the timing of all of these health struggles!  I also started thinking about all of the spooky, supernatural things that are so prevalent this time of year.

Some people choose not to celebrate Halloween, and that’s okay.  This is America, after all.  We are free to do what we want, right?  I happen to enjoy Halloween.  As a child, I never considered it to be demonic, or filled with anything satanic.  My family celebrated it as a time for children to use their imaginations in pretending, playing dress up, and getting candy!  I did the same thing for my own children.  There have always been the scary movies, which have become more terrifying in recent years, and I haven’t really enjoyed those.  I prefer the suspense of Hitchcock over the slasher or demonic movies. But there are also stories of supernatural, which are year round, but more front and center this time of year.

Do you believe in spirits, hauntings, or souls that might be caught in limbo?  Some people don’t….a lot of times that is because of religious reasons, but these same people believe in angels, which non-religious people don’t believe in.  Others do believe in this type of activity.  I believe that sometimes a spirit may linger, especially if there was something unpleasant about their lives or deaths, such as violence or murder. I also believe a loved one may be able to make themselves known to his or her family, in a way to comfort them.  If I hadn’t had my own personal experiences with this, I probably wouldn’t believe it either.  I have a memory of my grandfather talking to me when I was about 3 years old.  For years, I thought it was a memory from when he was alive. After discussing it with my mother, I realized the time line didn’t work out, and it would have had to be after he died, because he died when I was 2 years old……on Friday, October 13th……..fifty years ago today.  I wasn’t afraid at all, and I think he was probably just checking on his family, since my mother, aunt, and grandmother were all in the room at the same time of this occurrence, and weren’t acknowledging him in any way.  I know I didn’t understand why they weren’t talking to him!

Over the years, I’ve had uncomfortable feelings in places, where I feel like I’m being watched, or that maybe something really bad had happened there.  One of these places was at the old fort in the small town where I grew up in Kansas.  I had strange feelings there on two separate occasions.  One of those times was with my youngest daughter, Grace.  She was about 10 at the time.  We used to love going to the fort and touring the old buildings.  We were alone (so we thought) in one of the buildings, and I noticed that Grace kept looking behind her, and seemed uncomfortable and jumpy.  I also felt cold, and uncomfortable.  I thought someone was in the room with us.  I turned around to see no one, but I still felt the need to leave the building.  I asked Grace if she wanted to leave, and she responded with an enthusiastic, “YES!”  We both felt it.  We haven’t been back in that building!

I have watched the Travel Channel’s, “Most Terrifying Places in America,” many times. One of the places they have talked about is the Whaley House in San Diego.  I made a point to tour it (by myself) a few years ago.  Other than it being cold and a little creepy, I didn’t see anything, or really feel anything unusual or uncomfortable.  Maybe I would feel differently if I worked there, or spent more time there.  I also stayed at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, which is supposedly haunted by a young woman named Kate Morgan who died there in 1892.  While I didn’t get a bad feeling about her, I did feel uncomfortable one night, like someone was playing with my feet while I tried to sleep.  I asked my ex-husband, and he swore it wasn’t him.  It didn’t really scare me, but it was annoying.  For some reason, I didn’t feel like it was her though, but maybe some other type of mischievous spirit.

While in New Orleans, I got a few funny feelings at places in the French Quarter. Nothing terrifying…….but uncomfortable, and like maybe I wasn’t alone.  The Lighthouse Museum in Pensacola really gave me the creeps.  Sometimes I can’t really put my finger on it, but it’s just a weird feeling.  I’ve had odd feelings in a lot of places….even in one particular building in Stockholm last summer.

I think some people are more in tune to some of these things, whether they want to be or not.  Sometimes you hear of people who don’t believe in the supernatural, but yet, they may encounter someone who isn’t really there, and are then confused by the encounter. I do think some people see what they want to see, and get a little carried away with the whole phenomenon, either for attention, or for monetary gain.

One thing is for sure…..there are a LOT of stories out there of similar experiences in places all over the world.  I don’t believe that millions of people just have over active imaginations.  Not everyone has to believe, but sometimes there just aren’t logical, scientific explanations for everything.  So, on this Friday the 13th, during this spooky/fun month of October, watch out for the ghosts and goblins!

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Fear, Happiness, Kindness, Negativity, Respect, Self respect, Support, Uncategorized

Accomplishing the “Impossible”

I accomplished something yesterday that I never thought I could.  I have wanted to attempt a career in real estate for many years.  I have bought and sold my own homes, after fixing them up, several times.  Now, don’t get me wrong….teaching is where my heart is, and always will be, but teaching is just not making ends meet these days.  I have to have at least a side hustle, or a plan to supplement our income.  If it turns into something full time, that will be great!  I will keep teaching until I feel the need to walk away.

I used to toss around the idea of real estate occasionally, and was met by the same comments from negative people, or people who felt the need to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough……..”Yeah, but it’s commission only,” “The test is really hard….are you sure you’re smart enough?” “There’s a lot of realtors out there!”  “It’s not possible.  You don’t have time!”  I know it’s commission only, but with any business where you work for yourself, it’s basically based on how much you sell…..commission only!  Yet, plenty of business owners and contractors do quite well. Yes, the test is hard, and I didn’t know if I was smart enough or not, but if I didn’t try, how would I ever know?  And yes, there are a lot of realtors out there, so the competition is tough, and some people aren’t cut out for it. But again, if I didn’t try, how would I ever know?  And, it would be possible if I made the time, and that’s what I did.

I finally decided last summer to start taking a class.  It was tough!  It was online, so I had to pace myself, and be disciplined to read and study every day.  My husband was very supportive, and cheered me on, keeping my spirits up, even when I felt defeated. I spent my whole summer focused on it, and finally took the test yesterday…….

When I went into the test center, I was very nervous.  I didn’t sleep well the night before.  I had heard that the there was about a 50/50 chance of passing it.  I went through all of the security procedures to make sure I am who I said I am, they checked my jacket pockets for cheating devices, looked at my calculator to make sure it didn’t have any way of typing letters or words, gave me the directions, took my photo, and then led me into the testing room.  As I read through the questions, I was telling myself that I should probably try to memorize a few, because I was counting on failing it.  I thought I would be back in 30 days to retake it.  That’s what happens to you when you are worn down by those who doubt you, question your character, intelligence, or motives, or are constantly pessimistic or negative.  Even though I try to always be positive and encouraging toward others, I have let those feelings of doubt and negativity wear down my own self esteem. Going through life not feeling good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough is tough.  I’ve never wanted to be the cause of making someone else feel that way……..

When I finished the test, and walked out of the testing room, the proctor smiled and said, “Congratulations!”  I was shocked!  I said, “I PASSED????”  She said I did, showed me the verification she had printed out, and asked how many times I had taken it.  I said this was the first time.  She said, “Oh baby, didn’t your instructor tell you that nobody passes it the first time?  We have people come in 4, 5, and 6 times to take it!  You did great!”  I was shaking!  All of that hard work had paid off! Here I am, at 52 years old, taking on something completely new……oh, and with a brain tumor too!  I did it!

On the drive home, I was fighting back tears, telling myself I didn’t fail, and I’m NOT a failure!  I had planned on keeping it together when I told Al, but as soon as I walked in the door, I burst into tears, saying, “I did it!  I passed!” And you know what?  He was just as happy as I was!  He was proud of me, hugging me, laughing, kissing me, telling me over and over how proud he was of me.  I haven’t had a lot of people tell me that in my life.  It means a LOT to hear it.

It may not seem like such a big endeavor for some of you, but I know of people who have completely given up on this test.  It was a huge deal for me!  I know that with determination, hard work, and a support system, I can accomplish what I want.  We all have our dreams in life.  Let’s support each other in our endeavors.  Let’s not make each other feel like we aren’t good enough…..for ANY reason.  Encouragement goes a long way.  Let’s do that for each other….in a world where negativity, jealousy, divisiveness, spite, anger, resentfulness, and hatred seem to prevail, let’s help build each other up to accomplish our dreams and goals.  It doesn’t take much to give an encouraging word………and wouldn’t you rather be spreading good cheer, and positive vibes, instead of hurting someone because of your own doubts and insecurities?

Tonight, I can finally say, “I did it!”  I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do. What is it that you want to do, and what (or who) is holding you back?  You can do this!

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Passion for Living, Support, Uncategorized

Coping Through Fear and Uncertainty

The last couple of months I have been dealing with an issue that I have been afraid to write about.  Actually, up until a couple of weeks ago, every time I talked about it, I would cry, but I am learning to deal with this more comfortably, or as comfortably as possible, so maybe writing about it will be therapeutic…..I have a brain tumor.  THAT is a very difficult thing to say (or write).

After a couple of years of dealing with vertigo off and on (mostly when I was tired, or the lighting was low), headaches, tinnitus, balance issues, and noticing some hearing loss last school year, I finally have answers, following some medical tests.  Our trip to Europe seemed to intensify the symptoms…..I guess from the pressure during the flight?  I tried to pass it off as fatigue or jet lag, but deep down, I knew something wasn’t right.  I felt horrible most of the time we were there.  After we got back, the symptoms didn’t go away.  On July 25th, I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, which is a tumor on the main nerve going to my ear.  My husband was in New York visiting his family at the time of my diagnosis, so I was alone, and very afraid when I found out.  I told him over the phone……  I called my three children, and cried while I told them.  They’ve all been very sweet and understanding, very supportive, and patient with my emotions.  I emailed my four sisters, and they were very supportive. They told me not to worry because they would worry enough for me.  I texted my friends because I didn’t want to cry while telling them.  I texted my pastor.

Basically, this thing has probably been with me for awhile.  It’s not malignant, and it’s very slow growing. For now, it’s small (1.7 cm), and we are lucky to have caught it at this stage.  It’s obviously big enough to be causing some serious problems……….headaches, vertigo, balance, tinnitus, pressure, hearing loss, noise sensitivity, fatigue…….but we have chosen to watch it to see if it is still growing, and if so, at what pace.  If I were younger,  and if the location were different, the approach may be different.  Two of the main concerns are total hearing loss and facial paralysis (it pushes against the facial nerve), and of course, if it is left completely untreated, it can cause death.  It does not grow into the brain, as a malignant tumor would.  As it grows, it pushes against the brain and brain stem.

It’s a rare condition, but I actually have two friends who have had this same thing.  Their tumors were larger, and they were younger, and they each had different treatments. Each one was left with problems resulting from the surgery…..facial paralysis, total hearing loss, epilepsy…..and have a lot of the same symptoms that I have which surgery and/or radiation didn’t eliminate.  My doctors want to wait to see if it is growing before making the decision to go in after it.  If I can learn to manage the symptoms I have, and it isn’t growing, my symptoms may never get worse…..but they won’t get any better.  If I have surgery and/or radiation, there is a risk that these symptoms may get worse.

I have had to do some soul searching throughout this.  I was very depressed at first.  I have had to count my blessings though. There was so much uncertainty before the diagnosis.  Was it MS?  Parkinsons?  Cancer? No, no, and no, and now I have an answer, even if it is scary.  I’ve done a lot of research, talked to my doctor, and also consulted with my friends who have been through this. I’ve decided I have to accept what I have in front of me, make adjustments to my lifestyle, position myself in places where I can hear, try to avoid loud noises (my principal will give me a heads up before those screeching fire alarms go off during drills…..that feels like being stabbed in the ear drum with an ice pick!), get up more slowly, don’t turn too fast, take aspirin for my headaches, be careful while walking or standing, especially in low lighting (the vertigo and balance problems are extreme for me in low lighting), fall asleep with the television or fan on to drown out the tinnitus, get plenty of rest, do more yoga, avoid stress, etc. etc. etc. I definitely don’t have time for anything petty, negative, or dramatic.  I’ve never liked those situations anyway, but now I have a legitimate reason to avoid it and brush it aside!  My health depends on it.

I have decided that if I am to completely come to terms with this, I need to make peace with it.  This is the best way for me to stay positive and be able to face it….as I always do…..with humor. The tumor needed a name.  I thought about Tammy, but since that is one of my sisters, I knew it wouldn’t go over very well (she agreed)! So I have named her Tina, and damn it, Tina and I will be friends, whether she likes it or not!  My children and Al make fun of me for my hearing loss, but that’s okay.  What I think I hear is usually way more entertaining than what they’re saying!  For instance, today at work, they announced that the latchkey program would be meeting in the “portable.”  Well, I heard “toilet bowl.”  What I heard was a lot funnier!!!!

I am so thankful to my children, Lily,  Evan, and Grace, who check on me regularly (even when Evan is in the middle of the ocean on his ship in the Navy, he checks on his mama), keeping my spirits up.  I am thankful to my doctors and modern medicine! I am thankful to my wide circle of friends from California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Florida Europe, and South America…….it makes me emotional thinking about how much support they’ve given me! I am thankful for my sisters, who keep me laughing with their quirky emails (I’m not the only quirky one), my cousin Danny (who happened to be the first person I told because he just happened to reach out to me after I got my diagnosis).  I’m thankful for my church family who has prayed for me, and has checked on me when we have been able to get there.  I’m thankful for my friends at work who have kept my “little” secret until I have been strong enough to talk about it, and have helped me. I’m thankful for my little dog, Andy, who snuggles with me, giving me comfort and kisses! And most of all, I am thankful for my dear sweet husband, Al.  I know that he is probably more worried and scared than he lets on.  But he is so strong for me.  I’ve lost count how many times I have fallen, and he patiently helps me back up, making sure I’m okay and steady on my feet before letting me go.  Falling like a two year old is very humbling!  Through my headaches, emotions, and all of the financial strain I’ve put on us with this…..he is my ROCK. We may have found each other late in life, but I know that I couldn’t go through this without him.  I don’t have my parents anymore, but I have some very good people in my life!  I am the luckiest girl in the world…….

Life is a party……face it head on, embrace it, and enjoy every minute of it!

Anger, Civil Rights, Fear, Peaceful Protests, Protests, Racism, Respect, Uncategorized

Fear and Sadness…….

Well, after the weekend’s events in Virginia, I really wanted to write about something positive, happy, and less upsetting……but my heart and mind keep going back to the news.

Angry alt-right protesters marched…..chanted…..and violence/terrorism ensued.  It breaks my heart, and makes me so incredibly angry and sad.  Those protesters, carrying Nazi swastikas, and chanting their hateful messages spit on the graves of every U.S. soldier that fought and died in WWI and WWII…..and every American who ever served this country, or currently serves this country, defending our freedoms.  My grandfathers, my father, my father in-law, my uncles, my cousins, my son…..

At this point, it isn’t about Democrat and Republican, or who you voted for.  I have friends who voted unlike me.  They had their reasons, and we didn’t agree, but that’s the beauty of America……even if we don’t like the outcome.  Even when we were in Europe earlier this summer, an American friend was shaking his head, wondering why his family in New York voted the way they did.  Right now……it doesn’t matter.  Right now…..it’s time to put a stop to the hate.  SPEAK UP!  Take a stand against bigotry.  We absolutely can NOT let this continue!

The truth is, the atmosphere in America right now is ugly, sad, and scary.  It seems that unrest, racism, and hatred comes in phases in our country.  I have a tendency to put on my Pollyanna personality, and try to see the good in everything, but right now, I’m angry! My parents (especially my father) were a little too close for comfort to it during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.  Actually, our country was built on violence and racism, but I believe that the Declaration of Independence and Amendments still support that “all men are created equal,” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and we need to respect that, and stand on that.  Our current administration seems to condone the hate.  I’m not a fan of his, and I don’t hide it, yet some people were more upset that President Obama wanted everyone to have healthcare……”It’s un-American,” as one of my friends stated.  Un-American?!?!  No, it wasn’t.  What is un-American is supporting white supremacy, and threatening the lives of those who are standing up for their rights or those of others.

I still believe that the majority of Americans are good people, and do not condone hate or violence.  Some will say that if you voted for the current president, then you condone the behavior of these individuals.  I disagree.  I may not agree with their decision to vote for him, and I can’t stand him, but that is/was their right, and they had their reasons, which was also their right. What upsets me the most about this is that the behavior of those idiots (yes, idiots…assholes…..jerks…..traitors…..terrorists) yesterday is condoned, while peaceful protests, such as someone “taking a knee” during the National Anthem, or peacefully marching in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade, or a women’s rights march, or a gay pride parade, are condemned, ridiculed, abused, or called “un-American.”

It all comes down to what I’ve written about before…..respect.  Those who marched yesterday disrespected the American public.  They disrespected our Constitution.  They disrespected every single individual who fought and/or died for the freedoms we enjoy today.  This is not Nazi-Germany (remember….they were the ENEMY….America fought and won that war!).  This is not the 1800’s or early 1900’s America where men hid behind their white hoods terrorizing African Americans.  I was raised in Kansas, once known as “Bleeding Kansas” because of the racial unrest in the 1800’s.  My father was raised in South Alabama.  My parents served a church in Southern Arkansas in the 1960’s, and I’m married to a bi-racial man, living in the South……I know a bit about racial issues.  As time goes on, you would think we could see the sins/mistakes of our past, and not repeat them.  Unfortunately, what I saw yesterday made me sick and ashamed.

I love my country.  I am as patriotic as they come.  I cry when I hear the National Anthem.  I love our diversity.  I love the freedoms we share in America….but I do NOT love hatred, bigotry, or anyone attempting to deny the rights of anyone else because of their race, religion, gender, political affiliation, etc.  As much as I miss my parents and grandparents, I am glad they are not here to see what is happening in our country today. It’s just too sad….and too scary.