I teach. My subject matter is math. My students are 7th graders. I was observed by my principal today. It was an unannounced visit. Although I had the typical rush of adrenaline when I realized he was going to “hang out” for awhile, I decided the only thing to do was to be myself and do what I do. So my boss got to see some organized chaos. Kids were doing different things at different paces. Some were on computers, some were working on practice book assignments, and some were taking a quiz. Some worked alone, some in a group. Some talked and some were quiet. One was a student from another classroom, serving an isolation period in my room. One of my students was doing the same in another room and came to get more work from me. At times, I had to reprimand students. At others, I corrected student errors. (At times, they corrected me.) Sometimes we laughed. (Sometimes hard.) All the while, learning was taking place. Among the organized chaos, some students still struggled with multiplication and division, some figured the probability of drawing a white marble from a bag, and others navigated computer software. All of them knew I was there to help them along the path… or at least, I hope they did.
Tonight I heard something I had not heard before… “Serenity is spiritual sobriety.” This really struck a chord with me. I realize that when I lose my serenity, it is because I am clinging to some negative thought pattern to which I have become addicted. When I accept what is, I can experience love, happiness, and peace regardless of my circumstances. Practicing acceptance prevents me from compulsively thinking, which usually results in negativity, worry, and projection. I choose spiritual sobriety by noticing the thoughts and resulting behavior patterns that rob me of my serenity, then replacing them with thoughts and behaviors that are non-judgmental and non-compulsive. My serenity returns.
Today I remembered a reaction I had to a comment someone made to me. I was hurt because I respected this person AND I knew his criticism was accurate. His delivery was a bit harsh, but he spoke the truth. It took me a couple of years to get over it. I was also fortunate to have seen the situation from a different perspective when someone else gave me some kind, yet constructive criticism regarding a similar situation. Ultimately, I have learned something about myself but it took me seeing the same situation from a different perspective. I was only able to do this when some time had passed and when the delivery was gentle. I will work on remembering this when I am supporting another in making self improvement.
I hosted a meeting at 7:30 this morning at my house. It felt good to have a suitable place to do this. It hasn’t always been this way. I have lived in places that were so dilapidated that I would have been embarrassed to host anything. I have also struggled with clutter in the past, so having people over was challenging because it took lots of time to get the house presentable. As one self-help guru puts it, I had CHAOS – “can’t have anyone over syndrome.” Today my house isn’t perfect, but it is usually fairly clean and almost always presentable. When it isn’t, it never takes long to get it this way.
The inner work I have done on myself has created a prosperous, clean, and organized outer life. I know people whose homes are immaculate, and their lives are miserable. They are trying to control the circumstances of their life. Although this may improve the appearance of a house, it will not improve the inner life. Only when I took care of what was going on in my heart and mind was I able to make any lasting changes to the way I conducted my day to day life. The result is that my home reflects that all is well within me.
Realizations occur when something becomes real for me. Lots of things are becoming real for me these days. I am learning how to be present and how to alter patterns in my own behavior that don’t serve me. What is real for me is that I need to care less about how others perceive me, and more about experiencing every moment to the fullest. My own self consciousness keeps me from experiencing many things that would bring me joy. Today I will do the things I love (and that scare me), in spite of my ego’s attempts to paralyze me with fear.
Today my son crashed his car. He’s had it roughly a week. We sat in the ER for several hours, waiting for the radiologist to read the x-rays. I am grateful that he only had chest and arm contusions. His car is totaled. He was upset, but handled it very well. One of his friends was with him. He is okay as well. I have many more thoughts on this subject, but I am very tired. They will have to wait until later. (It was my son-in-law’s birthday today, so he and my daughter spent $170 on dinner… good for them!) More to come…
We went with Sarah and Dada to tour the hospital where she is going to deliver the baby tonight. Sarah and I both talked about what a large group we will probably have at the hospital. I’m really happy to have such a close family. And I am looking forward to being a Grandma. It will feel so good to have a baby in my arms again. I sometimes wonder if something is wrong with me because I was never really interested in holding other people’s babies, but I couldn’t get enough of my own. I’m anticipating the feel of peach fuzz on a soft scalp under my chin. I imagine the bond with my son will be even stronger than before. On a funny note, Sarah told me that her mother just realized that she is going to have to share the baby with me.
I will strive to be the kind of Grandma that simply accepts and loves, just like my Grandma Marcella.
Today is the birthday of my oldest son, Joshua. Those who are closest to him call him Dada (dah duh). My daughter, Alex (18 months younger), couldn’t say Joshua, so she called him “Dah doo uh.” She eventually shortened it to Dada, which he has been called since then.
Dada is 24 today. He was at work and I wanted to take him a card and wish him “happy birthday.” By the time we got to Harbor Freight it was closed. So my husband and my two younger sons fist bumped him through the window. I slipped his card between the front doors and we kissed each other through the glass. I had to laugh because it was so typical of our family. My husband threatened to share the secondhand aroma of the chili he had eaten earlier. (We actually had come from a Boy Scout, Court of Honor, Chili Cook-Off where we had won second place… not too shabby since it was my husband’s first attempt at chili. Of course, I set everything out and told him to have my son, the Boy Scout, to make it while I was at work. When Bailey didn’t get it done by lunch time, my husband cooked it himself.)
Anyway, back to Dada. He is going to be a father soon. The baby, Aurelia Faith, is due March 14th. I can remember when I used to lay with my firstborn on the twin bed in his room, mesmerized by him. I can’t believe that infant has become a man, and will soon have his own child.
This comes less than two years after my father’s passing and soon after my step-father’s triple bypass surgery (as he also fights COPD), which was performed yesterday. On top of that, my mother’s brother, Jack, is only expected to live a couple of weeks, as he is losing his battle with cancer. He is only my age. The cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death is vividly apparent in my life. It is reminding me to be grateful for where I am today, in this moment. Life is good.
Today I was thinking about broken things… broken hearts, broken relationships, broken bodies. My step-father’s body (specifically his heart) is broken. He had triple bypass surgery today. I watched him struggling with post operative pain and to breathe.
I was transported back to October of 2011 as I watched my dad leave his body. His body was broken from lung cancer. Many of his relationships were broken (although he was well-loved by many). He had led a sedentary lifestyle, smoked for many years, and was an alcoholic for several. I am grateful that he was sober for over 20 years when he finally left this world. He had also been an workaholic, when he lost his job (and purpose) at 68.
My step-father’s body was broken from COPD and a heart attack, resulting from years of abusing his own body with cigarettes, stress, and alcohol. Most of his primary relationships are broken. At 60 years of age, he has the body of a much older man. He admits he is afraid he won’t wake up and that he is afraid to die alone (which reminds me how grateful I am that my own dad died while I was holding his hand).
Being broken brings wisdom and gratitude if we are lucky enough to be healed so that we have time left to experience them.
So this will be the first time I have submitted a post twice on the same blog… not even on consecutive days! Tomorrow I officially begin my agreement to post every day. So I thought it would be nice to go the extra mile and post tonight (before it is actually required).
I was talking to my sister today about this blog and how I was keeping it private… and that my husband says, “That’s a diary.” We also talked about how other successful bloggers kept theirs private for awhile too. I have to laugh at myself a little bit when I think of how silly it all seems. But being able to laugh at myself is very freeing. It hasn’t been too long ago that laughing at myself didn’t feel good.
I also spoke to my accountability partner and one other person about “my blog” today. They didn’t seem phased. I am noticing that when I talk about “posting on my blog,” it feels less phony each time I say it out loud. I am seeing that the person that is the most critical of me is me. Having this understanding is helping me push through the feeling of being exposed and vulnerable.
Anyway, I have been listening to Ekhart Tolle’s Practicing the Power of Now (for the bazillionth time) in the car. As if trying to remember, my 10-year-old asked, “Why are we listening to this again?” We had a brief conversation about dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, and it occurred to me that I am projecting into the future every time I worry what people will think of my writing… or me… or anything else I do. So I am giving myself permission to write with no concern for the quality… or content for that matter. Today, my purpose is to overcome the fear of seeing my own words on the page and to simply write. I will work on the content, style, and technique when the time comes.