Anxiety, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Make a Difference, Misconceptions, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Understanding

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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Be Happy, Be Kind, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Togetherness, Uncategorized, Weddings

My Royal Wedding

Watching the wedding of Harry and Meghan this weekend really made me think about weddings and relationships.  I’ve never been a fan of big weddings because I feel like it takes away from what the true meaning should be. It shouldn’t be a production or a show, but sweet and personal.  Big weddings are usually beautiful and all, but it just isn’t my thing.

My own wedding to Al two and a half years ago was perfect…..for us.  We had both been through some pretty dark times with our health and other relationships.  The combination of the two of us going through so much separately, and then facing some rough times together, showed us that we are much stronger together, and that it really is a great thing to go through life with your best friend.  There we were in a park in New Orleans, with a minister, his wife, a few squirrels, and the beauty of nature all around us.  No, not in a church, but it felt pretty heavenly in that setting!  My emotions were in full swing!  Yes, I cried through the whole thing!  Happy tears!  Tears of joy!  I was so happy, and feeling every vow we spoke, coming straight from our hearts.  No choir, no family, no bridesmaids, groomsmen, no flower girls, no ring bearers, no friends, and no added stress.  It was all about us, and making our promises to each other…..no other fuss.  We even got a little laugh in when the minister asked if anyone had any objections….”speak now, or forever hold your peace,”……….no, not even the squirrels could deny us this happiness!  Neither of us were a bit nervous.  We knew we were doing the right thing, and the timing was finally right for us.

Big weddings, small weddings,  weddings in a church, on a cruise ship, a wheat field, a judge’s office, a forest, a castle……it doesn’t matter.  Whatever works for you, and how you want to handle it, is all that matters.  What happens afterwards is really where it counts!  My children have accepted Al, and love him for how happy he makes me.  He loves my children, and I love his too.  As long as we are happy, and are there for each other “in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer,” protecting and defending each other through anything and everything, then it can work, no matter what obstacles.  There are days when I actually think back about those vows, and how I meant every word of them.  My marriage and my loyalty and love for Al mean more every day.  I try to spoil him as much as I can because I always want him to know that he deserves the best I have to give.  And he’s pretty good about returning that, by spoiling me too.

We may not have a castle, or a lot of money, but we have each other, and we are blessed to have that. Love, laughter, selflessness, sincerity, and true friendship……that is what really matters…..til death do us part.

Be Kind, Cliches, Compassion, Doormat, Emotions, Insensitivity, Kindness, Love, Manners, Uncategorized

That’s So Cliche!

Bury the hatchet.  Clear the air.  Look on the bright side. Everything will work itself out.  Beat around the bush.  All’s well that ends well. You’ve all heard those, right?  Cliches!  Some are pointless, and I do not believe what they say.  Others have a lot of truth to them. Does it solve the problem at hand by repeating them, or do we just say them out of habit?

Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted that the saying, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” was not true.  I completely agree!  This is not a true statement.  Words (and sometimes a lack of words if you’ve been given the cold shoulder) can be incredibly painful! Even as adults, it can be very hurtful to be on the receiving end of mean words and actions, especially if you would never do that to someone else. I used to know someone who would say, “I won’t let them hurt me. They mean nothing to me, so why should it hurt me?”  It isn’t as easy as all of that for some of us.  Some of us hurt more deeply because we actually care more.  That particular person wasn’t exactly the most sensitive or kind person, and he could really dish out a lot of mean comments, so I’m pretty happy I don’t deal with him anymore.  But those of us who are loving and caring individuals tend to hurt more because we feel more.  We have empathy for others.  We haven’t selfishly made life all about us.  We tend to put up with a lot of crap from other insensitive people, and hurt very much in the process.  I’ve been going through this a bit lately, and it hurts very much.

A saying that I completely agree with is, “Actions speak louder than words.”  I’ve heard a lot of people say “all the right things,” but when it comes to actually “doing the right thing,” they don’t.  I’ve had people make promises to me, or fake concern or interest in me, but then do something incredibly hurtful through their actions, proving their words were just insincere statements or someone being nosy.  Some show a complete lack of manners, or make no effort to show they care, but if you did the same to them, they would be angry.  In that case….”When people treat you like they don’t care, believe them.”  I have definitely seen this since my diagnosis of a brain tumor a few months ago.  It has given me some clarity as to who I should devote my time and attention to.  Not that I want it to be “all about me,” but don’t pretend to care “once in a blue moon” just to ignore me when I need support.  I’ve tried to go on as normally as possible, and do not want this to dominate my life, but it has caused me to make changes, and I do suffer.  I’ve had people pass judgement on me over this illness, but unless “they walk a mile in my shoes,” they really will never understand what I go through every day.  I’m not a whiner, and don’t want to have all of the attention on myself, but it is a very serious condition.  Don’t pretend to care if you don’t.  I wish I had a dollar for every, “Let me know if you need anything,” that was coming from some insincere individual who really didn’t care a bit about me.  Maybe they don’t know what to say, but I can tell the difference between those who care and those who don’t.

Cliches…..applied to our lives….does this cheapen our situations and our feelings?  I think in some instances, it does.  Not all of these can be applied to everyone.  If someone was saying unkind things to me, and I was told, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” I would feel that I was not entitled to feel pain.  Who can tell us when and how we feel?  That isn’t fair.  Don’t take the right to feel away from someone.  Don’t hurt someone with words or actions, and then decide that they don’t have the right to hurt.

Be careful with throwing out cliches when it comes to someone’s personal feelings or situations.  “Until you’ve walked in their shoes,” you don’t have the right to cheapen their feelings.  Be sincere with your concern.  Allow them to feel on their terms.  Our lives are not built around cliches.

 

 

 

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How Will You Be Remembered?

How do you want to be remembered?  I think if everyone asked themselves this question, the world may be a better place.  How do we want our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances to remember us? I’ve had a lot of time to think about this the last couple of years.  In 2016, I was facing a potentially fatal health situation with a mass in my abdomen on two major organs.  I wasn’t afraid of dying, but I was afraid of what it would do to my husband and children.  I felt guilty about the potential pain and loss they would feel.  I didn’t feel like I had had enough time with them.  I even took my youngest daughter to Disney World because I wanted her to have happy memories of me, since she is still so young.  Fortunately, that health scare all turned out to be benign, and I made a full recovery (I think!).  Now I’m facing another serious health situation that has me questioning not only my mortality, but also thinking about how I want to be remembered.  As I struggle with the migraines, seizures, balance problems, tinnitus, vertigo, and pressure in my head, I am constantly trying to stay positive, grateful, and keep my sense of humor!  With the real possibilities of hearing loss and facial paralysis, and even death, staying positive can be a challenge!  I lean on my husband a lot, but I know it hurts him to see me hurting and struggling.  I’m just lucky I have him to help me through this process.  I may live another 30, or even 40 years, but I may not.  Any one of us could be gone tomorrow because of things we cannot control.  So even though being sick has made me think about these things more often, everyone should think about this…..see if it changes your attitudes or behavior toward anyone, or about how differently we could be conducting ourselves.

My parents and grandparents were wonderful people.  I don’t know of anyone who remembers them differently.  They may be remembered for their humor, their bravery, their honesty, compassion, and kindness, but most of all, they will be remembered for being good people.  My grandmother had a poem hanging next to her front door written by Samuel Walter Foss.  It was called, “The House By the Side of the Road.”                          It read:

“Let me live in a house by the side of the road, where the race of men go by. The                  men who are good and the men who are bad, as good and bad as I.  I would not sit              in the scorner’s seat, nor hurl the cynic’s ban. Let me live in the house by the side                of the road and be a friend to man.”

On the back of the poem was inscribed, “To Daisy…who lives in the house by the side of the road.” Obviously, my grandmother was thought of, and now remembered, as someone who was a friend to all, no matter how good or bad.  Years later, I told my former sister in-law about that poem, and she presented me with one very similar to the one my grandmother had for my birthday.  I have it hanging next to my front door, as Grannie did, and it reminds me every day to try not to be scornful or pass judgement on someone in need.  It reminds me to be patient, helpful, generous, compassionate, and kind because my grandmother was all of those things and more!  Having people in my life who have been so influential as far as their character and morals has been a blessing!  Not everyone has good role models, and I have been blessed with so many! I have also been blessed with a good sense of humor, which helps me get through a lot of difficult situations!

For a very long time in my life, I was unhappy, and stressed out with a lot of responsibility.  It was hard to stay positive sometimes!  I hope that if people remember me during this time period, they will at least remember my strength and perseverance.  I made it through some really difficult situations! We will all have difficult times in life, and hopefully, we are better people after getting through all of it.

I hope to be remembered as someone who is a good wife, mother, and grandmother, compassionate, helpful, protective, funny, kind, considerate, loving, sincere, welcoming, accepting, strong, stubborn (not always a bad thing, is it?), generous, and loyal.  Are there other ways I will be remembered?  Short? Silly? Sarcastic? Dog lover? Hard worker? Good teacher?

Like I said earlier, I think if we all thought about our own mortality, and how we want to be remembered, we may make more of an effort to be good people.  Who wants to be remembered as mean, petty, selfish, angry, resentful, controlling, manipulative, racist, or hateful? We never know how much time we have left.  We will not all live to be elderly.  If you see any of these negative qualities in yourself, it isn’t too late to change. I want to be remembered as the one who lives in “the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

 

 

Be Happy, Happiness, Love, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Love Is In the Air

Well, tomorrow is another Valentine’s Day, and I have seen the retailers trying to cash in for several weeks now.  It’s really getting bad with the pressure to give just the right thing……or give to the right person, just because the commercials tell us we must.  While I really do love this special day, and what it represents….LOVE…..I don’t feel like anyone should feel pressure to “out give” or keep up with someone else when it comes to gift giving.  I also hate how it makes others feel left out or unloved if they don’t have a significant other.  That really isn’t fair.  I have been in that situation, and I believe it’s also called, “Singles Awareness Day.”   Funny, but kind of not.

Sure, every woman wants flowers.  I will take flowers any day of the year!  Fortunately, my husband brings me bouquets of flowers pretty often.  But I am just as happy with a sweet card, a favorite treat (usually Hot Tamales), or a nice dinner out.  I don’t need jewelry.  I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers delivered to work (although that is fun sometimes!), and I don’t need a new outfit.  More than anything, I appreciate the time I get to spend with my husband, because this time of year, he is so busy with his referee schedule that I barely see him.  I appreciate that he’s a hard worker, but he really is burning the candle at both ends, and it worries me a bit for his health. Having said that, he will be refereeing tomorrow night, so our Valentine’s Day dinner date will have to wait until the weekend.  It’s okay…I’m pretty sure I will still love him by then, if not more!

Valentine’s Day has become so expensive, but also cheapened in how it is approached.  You should buy cards and gifts for those you love because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.  The same can be said about Christmas….it’s become all about money.  Don’t spend money because the commercials and stores tell you that you have to! With the way our society is, and how busy and preoccupied we are with work, family, technology, and social media, why not give the one you love your undivided attention, and write a nice letter telling them how much you love and appreciate them?  Spend time making a romantic dinner.  Go for a walk together.  Turn down the lights, put on some soft music, and dance together. Go for a drive.  Those things can’t wear out.  Those moments can’t be thrown away.  Make memories with each other.

I know that at this point in my life, I try to make a special effort to let my Valentine know how I feel about him every day of the year.  Cards don’t have to wait until a special day.  Candy and flowers don’t have to wait until a special day.  Make every day count, and don’t take each other for granted…..sounds cliche’, but it does hold value.  Make this a great Valentine’s Day, and then make the day after that another great day of love!  And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that! Love is in the air!

“Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond words.”

 

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Courage, Family, Happiness, Iowa, Laughter, Love, Marshalltown, Iowa, Passion for Living, The Queen of Iowa, Uncategorized

Here’s To The Queen!

I’d like to tell you about The Queen……not the Queen of England, but The Queen of Iowa!  You didn’t know there was one, did you?  This queen is someone I’ve had in my life since I was 19 years old, and has been like a second mother to me, even though I don’t get to see or talk to her much anymore.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately…..

Joan Yvonne Wendt Williams…..The Queen.   I will get to why she has that title later, but for now, I want to tell you why she deserves it.  Joan was my mother in-law for 23 years, and is the grandmother to my children.  In fact, I was the one who made her a grandmother for the first time in 1989!  Her son and I may not see eye to eye on much of anything, and the divorce strained the whole family relationship, but I still consider her my family, especially since I’ve lost my own mother.  When you lose your mother, you lose a huge part of yourself. And when you divorce, you also lose another part of your family.

From the first time I met her in 1984, wearing my bathing suit (aghhh!), she was friendly, warm, and loving, and acted like she had known me my whole life.  For the first few years of knowing her, she was in an unhappy situation with her marriage.  Through hard work, she came through it on the other side, stronger, more independent, and happier.  It was hard for her to take that step, but she did it, and she has deserved every day of peace and happiness it has brought her since. She stood up for me several times in some uncomfortable situations during that time period, and I have never thanked her for that, even though I appreciated it so much.  I’m not even sure she would remember doing it because it is so second nature for her to do that sort of thing.

She was raised in a small town in Iowa, married young, as most girls did in the late 1950’s, and raised 4 children.  She lost a child shortly after birth, which I know is still painful for her.  I’ve been to the cemetery with her a few times to place flowers or pinwheels on her daughter’s grave.  She has talked to me about that time, and I could feel the pain myself through her words, even though she was so strong and composed telling me about it.  This is just one of the few things that made her such a strong woman.

Her own mother in-law, Florence, was a good woman, and was good to her too, but…..difficult.  I knew Florence well, and I always got the feeling that no woman would ever be good enough for her sons.  Yet, with Joan…..any man would be lucky to have her!  Joan told me once that she never wanted to be that type of mother in-law to me.  I feel thankful to her for that.  It sure made life easier!

We grew closer over the years, and always enjoyed having a beer and pizza together.  The laughter and friendship we shared can never be replicated with anyone else, but two of my children are now to the age where they can sit down and enjoy a good drink with their grandma and laugh the way we used to.  She and her oldest daughter, Lisa, used to make a trip to see us about twice a year….once in the fall, and once in the spring, when we lived in Kansas.  Lisa would bring her step daughter sometimes, and always had her dog in tow.  It was fun, but Joan hated driving through the Kansas City traffic before getting to our house!  It stressed her out to no end!  The very first thing she would say after her hugs and kisses all around, was, “I need a beer!”  I tried to be fully stocked on beer when Grandma Joan came to visit!

I will never forget the time I heard my 4 year old daughter say, “Oh damnit!” when she dropped something.  I said, “Lily, we don’t say that.”  She looked at me confused, and said, “We don’t?  Grandma Joan says it!”  Now my own  five year old grandson is repeating Great-Grandma Joan’s salty language that he picked up last summer.  Of course, it isn’t appropriate, but I can’t be mad.  In fact, I think it’s pretty funny……if Joan has taught me anything, it is to not be stuffy and unhappy, even when life is hard.  Learn to laugh and let go.  Don’t be angry.  Smile.  Don’t hold grudges.  Have fun.  Don’t take life so serious.  It’s short, so enjoy it.

These days I hear she enjoys her boxed wine while getting her daily fix of Drew Carey and The Price is Right!  One of my daughters was telling me that Grandma loads up her walker with beer, and meets with friends at the Embers, her retirement apartment building, for “coffee.”  I got such a chuckle out of that!  She has always known how to have a good time!  Whether it’s playing bingo, trips to the casino, watching her favorite soap opera or TV show, or “coffee” with her friends, she always has fun!

The last time I saw her, I was able to introduce my husband to her.  She hugged him, and told him that if I loved him, then he was okay in her book!  Before we left, she hugged him again, and told him to “take care of my girl.”  He promised he would.  After we left, he said he wished we could have stayed because he could have sat for a few hours, having a few beers and talking with her!  Now that I’m sick, she continues to check with my daughter to make sure Al is taking good care of me…..he is!  I’m stubborn, but he does as much as I let him do.

Now to her well earned title…….The Queen……in most retirement or assisted living facilities, they will choose a king and queen.  I’m not sure what all goes along with the title, but they get to ride in a parade!  Last year, Joan was chosen as Queen of the Embers.  She got to ride in the parade, and from what the kids tell me, she was ordering people to “bow down.”  I can’t help but laugh, because I can picture it!  Recently, a little girl was introduced to The Queen.  She asked if she was the Queen of Iowa, and my daughter told her yes!  And you know what?  She is!  Beautiful, funny, kind, gracious, friendly, salty, and compassionate……what other qualities do you need in a queen?

Here’s to The Queen!  I love you Joan!

 

 

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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….