This week’s list is about things I am really good at, so bragging about myself. I know it is often viewed as in poor taste to ring one’s own bell. As I write that I am thinking about so many students I have worked with that struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem. In my, English class students had a warm-up to name one positive quality about themselves. I had students tell me that didn’t have any good qualities. I know there are some days I feel like that too. I feel like I am just taking from the world more than I am contributing to it. Well back to the list~
I am good at making others feel comfortable. I often have total strangers telling me their life stories. When I was riding the T on a regular basis, I made friends with total strangers. One woman was going to school to become a minister shared with me her experience about the day of the bombing. Another person I also met on the T, we became friends when he gave me a ride to the Women’s march in Boston in 2017. Through the year while riding the T together, I learned about his family and he learned about mine.
Another way I try to spread joy or at least positive thoughts is through my post-it notes. I have these stick all over post-it notes. I put inspirational quotes or sayings on these and then leave them random places. One of my favorite places was to leave them on the T. At one point I was a topic of conversation on Reddit. People wanted to know who and or why someone was doing these. I am not sure how I started doing it other than thinking that Erin and I were riding the same trains maybe if I wrote positive notes she would see them and it would bring a smile to her face. I could probably do a whole entry on the post-it notes. Why and how I do them and different interactions I have had with people about them.
I am really good at laughing. I can find so many things to laugh about throughout the day. And often I can get those around me to relax enough to laugh too.
I am a really good friend. I will stick by my friends even when we have grown apart. I have former teaching assistants that I was especially close to when we were working together, most of the time people then grown apart after they stop working together. Not me I will continue to send postcards or text messages just to let them know they are still in my thoughts.
I am a great letter writer. I not only write good letters to people but I actually write letters and mail them the old fashion way. So many people have told me oh you are so good at doing that, I wish I was. What a cop-out, I do it because it brings me joy and hopefully it brings a little joy the recipient.
I am pretty good at letting things go~ now this is on a few different levels- post-it notes. I write them and then I am done with them. They are not for me to gain fame or recognition. They are just something I write hoping to spread a little joy and then let them go. When I have an issue with a person, I say my peace and then I am over it. If I have a problem with a student the same idea is true for them too. What happened in the past stays in the past. Now, I am not perfect about this but for the most part I try to be.
So I picked up this book called 52 Lists for Happiness. I bought it last year and did some of the activities but didn’t write them down in the book. Probably because this time last year I was working full … Continue reading
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I am very much of the mindset to take life as it comes. Yes, I work and I have at many times put in too many hours for a job I felt required to do so for it. After working … Continue reading
It’s the wonderful, joy filled time of the holidays. Family, friends, food, activities, a time to connect and remember. Growing up a couple of Thanksgivings come to mind~ both of them accord in New York. The first memory was going to the Macy day parade when I was about 4, we lived in Brooklyn and this was a big treat. I was most excited about all the colored paper from the floats so I collected a large amount of the paper. We (my family went to a restaurant before heading back home. While I was in the bathroom with my sister, the waitress cleared off the table and threw away my color paper. (Actually it technically it was trash I picked up off the street.) The other memory was when I was 16, I was with the Long Walk for Survival in New York City. I had run away to be close to a boy I fell in love with Charley Grass. That Thanksgiving I joined the group and fasted for Thanksgiving. I fasted to remember all of the Native Americans that lost their lives for this fun-filled holiday. The night before Thanksgiving that year I also fell asleep on James Taylor’s couch. I met him when I was “playing the role of a secretary” for the medicine man Leonard Crowdog. In some ways that was a very lonely Thanksgiving.
Other memories of the holidays ~ going to visit my cousins in KY.
Or when my father would invite faculty and or students that didn’t have any place to go. These were usually foreign or visiting students. They would bring a dish to share. Then after my mother married my stepfather ~ we always had a house full. We sat around the big table, and laughed and ate and told stories. We always had a puzzle on a table in one room and would play a board game after the meal.
The first Thanksgiving my now ex-husband shared with us. He told me it was his favorite holiday. He also told me my mother was a much better cook than his mother. He also told me I was a better cook than his mother. I wish he remembered when he was telling his mother cutting remarks a few years later. But he got to see how we celebrated family~ and that was through sharing.
After we got married I continued the family tradition of inviting faculty or exchange students to our house for the holiday. I loved opening up my home and sharing food with new friends and family. It also worked out well when my brother Randy married a wonderful cook April and she would come and help. I would make very traditional dishes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, apple pie. One year I made a very fancy pumpkin pecan torte 7 layers.
Another Thanksgiving, Don (my ex) got us invited over to a colleague’s house but the turkey took much much longer to cook than his friend knew. His friend was very embarrassed but we explained it was all good. They were a young couple and this was their first holiday meal they were sharing. I had planned to host guests at my house too. Luck for me my brothers and niece felt comfortable going into my house and getting things ready without me.
But my biggest memory throughout those celebrations later when my sister and her family were unable to share it with us. Were the phone calls from my sister, she would start off calling me about 7am on Thanksgiving and tell me her big plans for the turkey. One year she found a recipe in the New York Times ~ this is going to be the best turkey ever. She would call me throughout the day keeping me up to date as to how her meal was progressing. Things started off positive and then would take a turn and she would call to tell me she was having this problem and what should she do. I would advise her. Then she would call back a few minutes later telling me something she decided to try instead. I believe that was the year the turkey was raw on the inside and burnt on the outside. She said, well Martha Stewart isn’t a good choice. The next year, it would start all over again. I would always advise her to go simple~ turkeys should be moist and don’t need much to make them taste good. Her phones calls seemed to follow a script. We would laugh and how things were going or not going. This happened for a few years till she called to tell me they were just going to have lobster and picked them up at Whole Foods.
Laura was ten years older than me, and she was my idol. When I was 18, she and I shared an apartment at the start of the school year. Her boyfriend Ron started off with us also in that apartment but then moved out and on with his life a couple of months later. So Laura, her dog Shiner and I fell into a rhythm ~ we were both taking classes at the local university, she was working as a waitress at a bar/ club. I was searching for myself and dating lots of guys, going out and dancing and enjoying my youth. Laura was working but also enjoyed dancing and just hanging out. Living with Laura was always an adventure. She was protective, yet wouldn’t hesitate to tell me to get off my butt and stop whining.
Laura and I both had our own bathrooms and its funny but many of our conversations took place in one of our bathrooms. Our conversation about her tattoo was no different. She was in her tub when she told me she wanted a spaceship tattoo. She wanted to have either people or an alien waving from the inside of the ship. This was back in 1982 before tattoos became mainstream. Laura explained she was going to go up to Chicago and make a trade with some tattoo artist. I am not sure if she was planning on exchanging beadwork or what really. I don’t think she knew either. I was not happy about this idea at all. I felt that tattoos were for other people, not my beautiful sister. I begged her not to do it. But she did, that January, she got a spaceship tattoo over her left breast. It was about 2 inches wide and about an inch and half tall. It was colorful and had a little person on the inside waving or maybe I just imagined that part. She didn’t make a trade but paid cash for it. She said she drank some whiskey to help with the pain when she was getting it. Great now I had a sister with a tattoo~ a spaceship tattoo.
Fast forward~ almost 20 years. Laura was living with her husband and her dark-haired beautiful daughter when she found out she had breast cancer on the same breast as her tattoo. I had lost a best friend a couple of years earlier to breast cancer so I was very nervous and upset to hear this news. Laura being the big sister that she always was ~ wanted to reassure me that, she was going to survive this and not to worry. So Laura started having the talk with her doctor about her plan of action. Living in the Boston area she was fortunate enough to be surrounded by excellent doctors and proven cancer treatments. This was some reassurance but still, I had not only lost a close friend recently but I lost my father to cancer when I was 13. And my sister was now my best friend I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. So Laura opted for standard traditional western treatment with a few eastern treatments as well.
Surgery would be the first treatment. I made plans to fly out after she returned home to help take care of her and her daughter. So her husband could continue working and supporting the family. I would sleep on my niece’s top bunk. I fixed meals, did laundry, and cleaning. And I helped Laura take a shower. Laura opted for a lumpectomy so they only took part of her breast. Laura wanted me to really look at her scar and pointed out to me that she still had her spaceship tattoo. I had to laugh. Yes, Laura you still have your tattoo. She told me this was one of her concerns she was told she had cancer. Seriously sister? You were concerned about losing your tattoo? She told me she asked the doctor if they had to take the skin with the tattoo on it. She wanted to keep it. Yes, keep the skin with the spaceship tattoo. She said, and she told him she wanted to put it in a jar so she could still keep it. I guess it was lucky for all of us that the surgery only took part of her breast.
5-1-5~ A woman in my meditation group mentioned this is what she does when she is having trouble meditating due to the all too famous monkey mind. When I first learned this ~ life was not going especially easy for me. I was doing odd jobs, dog walking, house cleaning, filing paperwork, substitute teaching at a preschool anything I could do to earn a little money. There were times when I would get down on myself for things not progressing as quickly as I would like. So I took Lynn suggestion~
5-1-5 Five things I am grateful for, really think and express appreciation for those things i.e., the weather, family, food, friends, the list goes on. So I was usually dog walking when I felt inclined to do the 5-1-5. And in the beginning the weather was less than perfect (it was the year we got 10 ft of snow). But I almost always expressed gratitude for the weather. This could be things such as the right clothes, the sun shining or how beautiful everything looks with a layer of bright white snow on top of it. I really consider my statement and even if I am not feeling 100% that way, focusing on my gratitude somehow makes it smile. Each item I try to focus on for a minute or two.
5-1-5 One thing I need help with~ at the time I was job hunting, healing from a break up, needing a home, and just feeling lost. You can think of it as a little prayer or asking your angels or your own inner being. One time, I was walking Lucy in a big park, I started doing the 5-1-5, I got to my 1. And I was going to ask for help finding a job. I got a phone call from one of the schools I had applied. I didn’t end up getting the job (actually didn’t want it). But I felt like my prayers were being heard and I think that was a big part of the 1.
5-1-5 Five people or ideas you want to bless. This one is pretty straight forward. Somedays I would focus on people who were easy to love, like my daughters, Lucy, family. Other days I would focus on people not so easy to love. i.e. ex-husband, ex-boyfriends, mean people or just difficult people. I found sending these people my love instead of my disgust made me feel better. Well somedays.
I was doing it on a pretty regular basis ~ but I have come back to it many times. I have tried to teach this technique to my students and I tell them it will change your life. And I honestly believe that. So now sure where Lynn got this idea or if she came up with it herself. But thank you! You are definitely in my first five.
July 30, 2015
This past year I made a lot of changes, moving 1,000 miles away from friends, family and ex-partner as well as my job. I was a social worker~ I facilitated visits between parents and their children. I also helped with parenting skills and relationships and relaps prevention. It was draining work at times~ but mainly the driving that was involved with the job. Prior to that I was a special education teacher. A job I loved until we got a new administration that took the attitude of bullying teachers rather than supporting them in the classroom.
I live in a different state now and one that appears to have a more supportive view of teaching. So I am cranking out job applications. My hope is to find a job that I can love again. I started teaching at the high school level my first year after graduating with my 2nd degree in special ed. It was a small rural high school the students that would be in my class had experienced the loss of a teacher Ruthy they loved. I had to step into this classroom in this community where I was an outsider I was from the big city on the other side of the river. But I was hired because of my social work background (that’s what my first degree was in). I was warned about the department chair but introduced to one of my new co-workers. Kelly~ she later told me she didn’t want to like me because she felt like she would be betraying her friend ~ who I had replaced. But she said a lot of my quirky behaviors were similar to Ruthy and also that I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, ask for help or laugh at myself. It was a rough job~ I had grades 9-12 and I taught all subjects ~ math, English, science, history and then later an employment skills class.
The day I was called to schedule an interview I was coming back from vacation and I was a few miles from home and only had nibbles of jobs. We were less than 20 miles from home and I had just decided I would just go to grad school and continue to substitute teach. Rex called me to schedule an interview. He told me how sensitive the situation was~ Ruthy was in her final hours. I was able to convince them I had the skills to be the perfect replacement. And I was~ and then the time came for me to change jobs and move to the middle school which was another perfect job.
Nov. 19, 2017
I have started job hunting again after working for two years at a place I thought was my dream job. ~ check out unemployment checks. I am not worried I know things will get easier and the perfect job will fall into my lap again when the time is right.