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Archive for June, 2014

I’ve been feeling a bit like a toddler lately. I want things to happen, but I can’t make them happen, no matter how hard I try, and the frustration can be maddening. I won’t go into the details of my pity party, but will suffice to say that career-wise, my life isn’t going like I think it should. There’s the key phrase: Like I think it should. It’s like the old saying, if you want to make God laugh, make plans. Well, I’ve probably won the equivalent of Last Comic Standing up in Heaven the way my plans have been going.

I’ve never been good at waiting for things that I can see myself getting done faster or that I feel I’m ready to do. With other things, I’m extremely patient. When I’m waiting for my food in a busy restaurant or I’m number 99 at the Secretary of State office and they’re only on number 70, I get it. It’s not fun, but I wait it out. What can you do? Suck it up and make sure that you bring something to do. I prefer a nice, fat, novel. Sometimes, it’s the only place I can get any fun reading done, but I digress. Other things, like bureaucratic red tape, waiting for a simple yes or no answer from an agent or a company, make me absolutely crazy

Instead of dwelling on what I can’t do right now, this morning I decided to start counting my blessings. It’s kind of like what happens on Facebook every November for Thanksgiving, where you post something that you’re thankful for every day except, well, it’s June and I need to remind myself of the important things in life. Such as:

I’m healthy. I have a few creaks and moderate high blood pressure, but for the most part, I’m in pretty good shape health-wise and because of that, my life is much easier than it could be if I had any chronic conditions or injuries.

I have a job. Is it my dream job? No, but I have a steady income that helps to pay our bills and it’s a nice place to be. I love the people I work with and (I hope) they like me. We’ve been through unemployment, in fact, we’re still paying off that time in our lives and it sucked. I am grateful that I’m no longer in that situation.

I have an awesome family. I’ve been married for 17 1/2 years to my best friend, we have three boys that we adore (most of the time), and an extended family that loves each other and tries its best to stay in touch. There are problems and drama sometimes, but we’re family and we work things out. Not always in the best way, mind you. There are tempers and hurt feelings, but also apologies and epiphanies.

I’m a woman in a country where I can do what I want, be what I want, and dress how I want. I don’t have to cover my hair, my face, or dress in a certain way because I am female. I don’t have to have a male from my family escort me if I step out of my house, I can vote, I can drive, I can go to school for whatever I want and for how long I want, I can conduct legal business without my husband’s approval, and I could even be President of the United States. I don’t have total equality in all things yet, (Hello, glass ceiling) but I am not considered property or a child because I am a woman. I have a voice because of where I live and I’m reminded of that every time I read or listen to the news. Things aren’t perfect, but they could be a lot worse.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel. I’ve been to several states in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK. Oh, and Canada, which might seem like a big deal to some, but for me it’s only 15 minutes away. I adore traveling and realize that I’ve been fortunate in that aspect. Of course, it’s addictive and every time I go somewhere, it just makes me want to do it again. There should be meetings, like AA, for those who love to travel but can’t afford it. I’d be a regular member, but I constantly be falling off the wagon.

I live in a great neighborhood. I’ve lived in my house for almost 13 years. I’ve never lived anywhere for that long in my life. It’s not like I don’t have the itch to go somewhere new, but it’s not because of where we are. We have great neighbors and I couldn’t have picked a better place for the kids to grow up. We know most of our neighbors, it’s safe, clean, and very community-oriented. I don’t know how long we’ll stay, but at least until the kids are through school. It’ll take at least that long to fix the house up to selling condition anyway, so we’re in no hurry. It’s a happy place.

There are many, many, more ways in which I have been blessed and I need to remember them every day. I might not be where I want to be in my life right now, but I’m not in a bad place at all. That doesn’t keep me from any ambitions, but it will make me slow down and appreciate the things that I have. Until then, I’m sure I’ll keep God smiling.

 

 

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Oh, it’s been a long time since I blogged. The only reason has been my insane schedule of late. To make a long story short, I auditioned for a show, got a role in the show, continued to parent, teach, and do everything else that I have always done. I thought about blogging, several times, but just couldn’t find the time necessary to devote myself to it.

One thing that’s been on my mind for the past week or so has been the increase in random shootings across the country. This is not going to be a debate about Second Amendment rights. There are so many opinions as to what the right to bear arms entails that it already fills up countless comment pages on any article about the subject. People are so incredibly divided on the whole gun rights issue that we aren’t doing what we need to do the most: come together to find a solution to all of this.

Let’s look at the facts. We, as the United States, have the highest number of gun violence incidents in the world. This does not take war into the equation, only violence committed on other people living their lives. We are arguably the most powerful nation in the world, yet we cannot stop this tide of violence that has been correctly reported by President Obama as happening, on average, once a week, beginning in December 2012. Elementary schools,universities, movie theatres, even a pizza joint, have all been the locations of random, senseless shootings. Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, police officers, kindergarteners, teachers, have all been massacred. Why? What has happened to make this a normal event in our modern world? I’m not going to pretend that violence in the US has never existed. There has always been random violence in the world, no matter where one is, but the increase in unprovoked, random assassinations has increased. This is not an increase in gang or street violence, this is an increase of shootings in places where we should be safe, schools, pizza parlors, movie theatres. Who sends their five-year-old to school in the morning with a kiss thinking that they will come home in a body bag? No one! Yet, it’s happening more and more.

One partial theory that I have about all of this craziness, certainly not a scientific one and definitely not the only cause, is that some of these kids that snap may not getting noticed at home very much. As all teachers know, children crave attention and if they’re not getting positive attention, some of them will try to get attention by making negative choices, but some will hold it in and let it fester. No one listens to them, no one seems to care that they’re hurting. Eventually, those feeling will spill out, sometimes in depression, sometimes in violence. That being said, there are plenty of kids who have real mental disorders and our mental health system makes it darn near impossible for them to get the help they need. I’m not talking about those kids, which is another topic entirely. I’m talking about average, mentally healthy children who are ignored on a daily basis. It adds up after a while. It kills me to walk by a park and a mother is pushing her baby in a swing or pushing a stroller while yapping away on a cell phone instead of interacting with the baby. Toddlers play, not always kindly or safely, while parents scroll through texts. This generation of parents makes me wonder if we’re not raising a generation of children who are not able to successfully connect with people because their parents choose to spend more time in the virtual world than with them. Maybe if we spent more time with our kids, we’d notice if they were feeling sad, mad, or left out. Maybe we’d notice when a middle school student has a small arsenal hidden somewhere in the house.
What I notice as a teacher is that some parents simply don’t want to take the time to know their kids. It’s too inconvenient, it’s too hard to be consistent with the rules, or they have more important things to do. Kids need and want adults to give them boundaries and to take an interest in them. One of my students, a boy, would try to use his entire reading lesson to tell me about his life. I jokingly asked him if anyone ever talked to him at home. His face grew quite serious and he said that no, no one actually did.
Let’s try something, shall we? Instead of fussing and fighting about laws, let’s PAY ATTENTION TO OUR CHILDREN! Yes, let’s put down the cell phone, put down the tablet, and pay attention to our kids from the time they are born until, well, forever. We’re all guilty of it, at least from time to time. If I have a lot of work to do or if I’m taking a long time catching up on Words With Friends, I know it bothers my kids, especially if they’re trying to talk with me. That’s my cue to turn it off and give them my full attention.
None of us are perfect parents. I’ll be the first one that steps up and raises my hand as someone who needs improvement and technology, with all of its updates, is here to stay. What I’m saying is let’s recognize that we have a problem. Let’s show our kids that they’re more important to us than Facebook or that text conversation that we’re having. Let’s shut our phones off at bedtime to give our babies our undivided attention during a story or feeding time and resist the temptation to check our status while on the school field trip. Let’s listen to his day at school or what happened to her at the park. There will come a day when they stop trying to tell you. You may not have a school shooter on your hands, but there are always other negative behaviors they may indulge in. I saw a saying once, that as my kids grow, I find to be more and more true: Parenting is not for wimps.

This subject bothers me. I send my boys to school every day. They go to the movies. They go to pizza joints. Will they be in there one day when someone decides that they never felt loved and have to take out the whole class because they don’t know what to do with the pain? Who will teach them to talk it out, write it down, deal with it in a way that they feel they are loved and secure? I’ll give you a clue; it’s not Siri.

 

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