Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Truth

The following is something I wrote a year and a half ago. At the time I was going through some very tough times in my life. I grabbed my laptop and headed to Panera Bread to write. Sitting there, unsure of what I even wanted to write, I wrote the following, almost as a letter to myself. I thought I would post it here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You are still here, Kelli. You are healthy, strong, smart, capable. None of this has "killed" you, therefore as the saying goes, you must be stronger. And you are. You are much stronger than you realize. You have withstood all of Tony's attempts to destroy you. Financially you may not be where you want to be but you are letting go of the things you no longer need. Material things...emotional things...ideas of what you thought your life was supposed to be. All of these "things" in your life that you have held on to so tightly that you couldn't bloom.

Anais Nin said, "And the time came when the risk it took to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." You've been holding on so tightly that you couldn't bloom. A flower doesn't strain to stay in the bud...it just blooms, naturally. No emotional baggage. No tears.

By letting go of the life you thought you had to have, you will now be able to live the life you are meant to have. This life will enrich you, uplift you, inspire you, and encourage you to be your best. You will bring joy and love to others simply by being yourself because that's where your true beauty is.

You have never been one to fit in with everyone else. In conversations, you take things to the next level and the next while most people keep it at a fairly shallow depth. Your beliefs are strong and solid, yet you are willing to listen and try to understand the beliefs of others. You have always felt as if your destiny was different from that of the average woman. So why would you expect that your life would be lived like that of the average woman?

While holding on to the dream of the life of a housewife with a husband, kids, home, family celebrations...inside you know that you are not meant for this life. You know that, deep down. You are meant for adventure...travel...solace at times.

You are not meant to shop at the trendy boutiques and wear the latest fashions. "Backwoods" is more your style. You'd rather spend $150.00 on a good pair of hiking boots versus a trendy skirt. You would rather be driving your 4-Runner off-road somewhere in the mountains in jeans and a boony hat versus driving a cute sports car around town. You'd rather have your hair sun bleached naturally by the sun from hanging outside versus spending $100.00 every six weeks on a good highlighting job.

As much as you love your daughter, you can now accept that she is many of those things that you are not. And that is ok. She will find her own way. You find yours. You know the path you need to take. And it is far removed from the path you thought you were supposed to be on. When you finally find yourself on the right path, numerous doors will open for you, welcoming you in. You will now be swimming with the current of your life instead of trying to swim across it in the opposite direction. Your life will flow easily now.

You are one of those independent women you always look up to. The women of Santa Fe that so inspire you...you are like them. You are strong-willed, passionate, and independent. You will do great things and you will touch many people, millions of people.

So, Kelli...write, paint, create...live. Live your life the way you know you were meant to live it. Live with Passion, live with purpose! Follow your heart. Take this time to purge things from your life that are unnecessary, that weigh you down, that slow you down. Find out what is important in your life. It's not the standing mixer or the nice house. It's not the image you present to people. It's what you present to people, in yourself. That's how you make a difference...with yourself...not with your stuff, not with the kind of home you live in...not with the kind of car you drive or the clothes you wear.

You are meant to live an EXTRAORDINARY LIFE, Kelli...start today!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

6 Pages

It is Sunday, October 24. Despite the fact that I said I absolutely did NOT want any teenagers in my house over Fall Break except the two I gave birth to, I had an apartment full of them last night. Caroline's best friend spent the night as did Brad's best friend and then two friends from Texas.

For the last few hours, I have holed myself up in my bedroom as they slowly found their way back to their own homes. It has been a productive time. I've written six, typed pages of a story. It's just flowing out of me. We'll see what happens, but it feels really good to be writing something other than just blog posts or writing exercises. It feels natural.

The thought of returning to school tomorrow is honestly, ugh, I'm really just trying to NOT think about it. The last four days have been a little slice of heaven - curled up reading, writing, cooking, sleeping. I even did a little shopping and got a few things for myself. It was so nice to just relax and take care of "me". And the end result? Six pages written this afternoon. It's amazing what you can create when your brain doesn't feel as if it is being squeezed by a giant vice. This feels right. When I am at school, it never, ever feels "right".

I have to do what feels right, even if everyone around me cautions me against it. They don't know what is right for me and although I know they have my best interests at heart, they don't know what it is that I need. I do know, however, and starting now, that will be my main focus so that I can be there fully for those around me that need me as well.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Life

When I was younger, daydreaming about the life I would one day lead, it was very, very different from the one I now find myself living. According to my dreams, at this point in my life, I would have been married for probably 20 years, married to my soul-mate, the man who still made me laugh like no other, the man who loved me like no other, the one who touched me like no other. Together we would be raising our children and preparing them for their independent lives. We would travel together, come home to the family, spend time together, laugh, relax..... I would spend my time pursuing my creative talents - art, photography, and writing. Fulfilling myself so that I had plenty to give to others.

Instead, I find myself divorced for ten years or so, thankfully, living with my two children in an apartment. There is little time to pursue my creativity as I am always working or running or collapsing into bed from exhaustion. My finances are limited which inhibits travel, time is limited which inhibits pursuits of passions, and the soul-mate....he's there, just in a different capacity for now.

I listen to my colleagues expressing their exhaustion at work this year. Never before have I heard so many people talk of retirement or finding a different career. Our teachers are spent, totally worn out and we haven't even made it to Fall Break yet. I can't help but wonder how many of them are ready to throw in the towel and perhaps search for something much more fulfilling.

I will admit that teaching wasn't necessarily a passion of mine. I loved kids and loved to teach, so it seemed natural to go into teaching. But over the years, in fact every year, it gets worse. The kids are worse, they pile more onto us, expecting more out of us as teachers and less from the students and parents. The spirit of the teacher is drained. This is not the life I envisioned for myself. I think it is safe to say it is not the life many teachers envisioned for themselves.

So what do I do? I am working two jobs, running around like a crazy woman. I get on here and express myself periodically. And quite frankly, I used to be nervous about expressing myself on here. I went back and forth between being totally honest and censoring my words for fear of who might read them.

So, again, what do I do? I know this much, the writing that I do here is liberating. As with most people, I want to be heard. I want my feelings validated. I don't know the answers but I know that they are there. I know that I have talents that when nurtured will allow me to bloom fully. My job is to make sure that I make time for that nurturing daily. My job is to make sure that I do not overwork myself so much that there is no energy at the end of the day to take care of me. Because if I don't take care of myself, how can I possibly take care of anyone else?

This is a short week at school for me......Fall Break. Thank God for school holidays. It helps us maintain our sanity. There are cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast, which for me is heaven sent. It means opening the windows to breathe in the refreshing scent of rain. It means dark, cloudy skies outside that make it perfect for curling up with a good book and a soft blanket on the sofa. It means a cup of hot tea to warm me as I look out the window, grateful for the time to just be. That is what will help me get through the next two days. The promise of peace, quiet, time to just let go and be.

But for now, I have to check on the pork tenderloin I am cooking for Bunko tonight.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Am

I am.....

I am the comfort they need when they are down

I am the voice that tells them "yes, you can"

I am the smile that won't go away


I am


I am the wind in the mountains of New Mexico

I am the essence of pinon that permeates the air

I am the solitary snowflake dancing through the night sky


I am


I am the passion that burns deep within

I am the love that consumes

I am ever present


I am


I am always hopeful

I am always searching

I am always strong


I am


I am listening

I am waiting

I am ready

Karma?

I often wonder if I was a brutal person in a former life and that's why my life has been non-stop drama and stress. You know, paybacks can be hell.

Or maybe, it is simply me. According to many new-age thinkers, I am living the life that I created. I certainly didn't intentionally create this mess. God knows I've tried my hardest over the years to do my best for others, for myself. Yet still I find my life exhausting on a daily basis. It seems as if no matter what I do I never get ahead whether financially, physically, or even creatively.

I've always thought I was a good person. Not perfect, but good. Good to others, always. I'm hard on my students, yes, but that is to get them off their butts and realize their potential and actually do something about it. I get frustrated and fed up with people and their utter self-absorption, but for the most part, I am kind and giving and have for the most part learned to just turn my head with the self-absorbed population. I always let people go in front of me in the grocery store line when they only have a few items. I give to charity constantly. I give my time to others trying to make them feel better. I even try to give some time to myself. I've always been fair in everything I've done, even with my ex-husband when he was trying to totally annihilate me.

Regardless of what I keep hearing from others, I can't help but wonder, what did I do wrong? Are there so many life lessons that I need to learn that God keeps sending me things to face on a daily basis? That which does not kill you makes you stronger????? How freaking strong does God think I need to be? I mean, really? When is it going to get better? Is this what life is about? Because this isn't all that great to tell you the truth.

Don't get me wrong....I have plenty to be grateful for. I have two wonderful children that I adore. I have a full-time, secure job in addition to a second part-time job that pays the bills and keeps us fed, even if it isn't the kind of food I would prefer to feed my children and myself. I have my health, a working vehicle, and a solid, secure roof over my head with all the comforts I need. My best friend is back in my life on a regular basis. I know I am loved by many and have done lots of things to be proud of. I know that I have made a positive difference in many lives. I have many, many things to be grateful for.

But when it comes to day to day life.....is this really what life is intended to be? Running around at breakneck speeds, never having a moment to enjoy the good things in life, not the fine wines and exotic locales necessarily, but just the good things in life, like the laugh of a child, or the touch of a fall breeze on your skin. Are we really supposed to be so exhausted at the end of our work day that we have nothing left to give others, so broke due to medical bills and unexpected expenditures that we can't afford the basics at Wal-Mart?

How do I continue to try to teach my children that doing the right thing pays off when I feel as if I HAVE done the right thing my entire life and it doesn't appear to be paying off for me so far, in fact, it all seems to be going downhill. How do I show my children how to pursue their dreams and do what THEY want in life when I can't seem to do it myself? It's not for lack of wanting or trying, but to the sheer exhaustion and frustration of my current life and not feeling as if I can make any steps in the right direction due to the neverending stress that I face daily.

I believe passionately in following your dreams and living the life YOU want to live. Oh how I wish I had learned this much earlier in life. Although had I had the courage to do what I really wanted 26 years ago, I wouldn't have my two children that I adore today, nor would I have certain people in my life that have enriched it so much. Having said that, I do think that once you reach the point in your life where you realize you need to pull your head out of your ass and actually be the authentic "you", it's a little crappy that you keep getting pummeled with life's little problems such as child custody suits, cancer, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and job stress on top of life's other daily issues.

All of my other friends, co-workers, etc. all have family to lean on. I have family who have been very supportive over the years, but none are here. I have no one here. Ok, that's not entirely true. I have my kids, my best friend, and my co-workers, but no one on a daily basis who is just there. I don't have my family nearby and that's such a blessing to have. For those of you who have them close by and they drive you crazy, think what it would be like if they weren't there. It's hard doing this alone. And honestly, I've been "alone" since I left high school. Even married, I was alone.

I'm tired. Very, very tired. And I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of trying to turn to people for help and all I get is "I don't know what to tell you". I'm tired of all the crap. This isn't right. I know other people don't feel this way on a daily basis. Some do, I know that. But, damn. What's it going to take? I know people out there who are complete assholes and seem to conquer the world.

I'm frustrated. I'm tired. I'm broke. I'm not going to worry about who is reading this or what their interpretation will be. I know the truth. I know my truth. That's all that matters.

Well, this was a "fun" blog, now wasn't it!! :) I needed to vent.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Education

Stephen King, author of over fifty bestselling books, was once an English teacher. At this time in his life, for the first time, he found writing to be hard. He writes in "On Writing by Stephen King - A Memoir of the Craft" that "The problem was teaching. I liked my coworkers and loved the kids - even the Beavis and Butt-Head types in Living with English could be interesting - but by most Friday afternoons I felt as if I'd spent the week with jumper cables clamped to my brain." He goes on to describe what might have happened in his life, thirty years later, still teaching, wearing the same shabby tweed coat, a beer gut hanging over his pants, smoking cigarettes, and merely dabbling in writing from time to time. Lucky for him and his readers, he had someone supporting him fully in his dream, his wife Tabitha.

The main thing that struck me about his words was when he said "The problem was teaching." The analogy of spending a week with jumper cables clamped to his brain really hit home for me. I think people often think teachers have a very easy job. We all get to leave at 3:30pm, right? Summers off, Fall break, Christmas break. What are we complaining about?

Most days I am at school by 6:30am. As the morning daycare director of our on-site before/after school daycare, I need to have the cafeteria opened up by 7:00am. That means arriving at school around 6:30am to get my computer turned on, turn down the a/c, check e-mail, prep my classroom, and maybe get in a quick bathroom break before I head down to the cafeteria at 6:55am.

Sometimes there is a student waiting at the door for me, other times they straggle in. But the next hour and a half of my day is spent in daycare, watching the kids, but mostly handling the financial aspect of the daycare. I take tuition, track it, call parents who haven't paid yet, write receipts, and turn it all in to the financial secretary at 8:30am.

From 8:30am-8:55am I try to make it to my classroom without getting caught by someone. There is always a ton of work to get caught up on whether it is grading or making copies or phone calls to parents. I try to sneak in one more bathroom break before the first bell rings because once the students are in the classroom, a bathroom break is out of the question. Don't even THINK about leaving those kids unattended.

8:55am. They're b-a-a-a-c-k! Regardless of how many times we go over the procedure for entering the classroom quietly and orderly, it never seems to go that way. Wait, it did ONE day last week. Once. The entire year so far. I'm beginning to question my classroom management.

Anyway, the kids are in, we do lunch count/attendance and get started on the day. It is non-stop until our unbelievably early lunch. We line up at 10:50am for lunch. I walk them down to the cafeteria, grab my lunch and scurry back to my classroom for a moment to myself before the kids who didn't finish their work last night come back during their recess. If I am lucky, I have fifteen minutes to inhale my lunch in peace. At 11:35, recess is over. Go get them again.

We do take about ten to fifteen minutes after recess for read aloud time. I recently got a used gliding rocker with gliding ottoman at a garage sale. It is so comfy, and I sit there with my students surrounding me as I read to them. But then, it's back to work. I look forward every day to my "planning period" which is technically thirty minutes but by the time you get the kids where they need to go and get in yet another bathroom break and pick them up you are lucky to have twenty minutes. I relish this time! It is finally quiet.....because........

Throughout the entire day, as I am trying to teach, there is the constant, "Sit down, pay attention, stop playing with your pencil, put your pencil down, pick your pencil up, pay attention, no we're on number four, not number five, I just gave you the answer to that, sit down, put your chair on all four legs, single file, eyes forward, no talking, no you can't go to the bathroom, where's your work, where's your book, where's your folder, sit down, bring it here, do it again, pay attention, ......................................................................." It is exhausting because you do this all day long. Every day. All day long. Every day. Again, I am questioning my classroom management skills.

The day is finally over. We line up at 3:25. I have an after school duty, so my class leaves a couple of minutes early so I can go stand in the middle of the street crosswalk with a stop sign and let people try to run over me. Watching parents completely disregard rules on a daily basis and pretty much do whatever the hell they please makes it very clear why the students we are attempting to teach today have so much trouble. There is no discipline because they, and their parents, feel as if they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and who are YOU to tell them otherwise? Last year I used to try to deal with parents. Now I simply ignore them. I found, at least in my particular situation, it is best to just keep my mouth shut. Tight.

3:45pm. I drop off the stop sign at the office. I usually need a bathroom break again. Then I head back to the disaster that is my desk. This is hard for me. I am, by nature, a very organized person. I don't understand people who can live in a continual mess. It clouds the brain. But in teaching, there is very little time to keep your desk organized on a regular basis throughout the day. So, I sit down and try to sort through the chaos. If I took all the time I needed every day, I'd be there for an hour or two. Many times I have stayed for that hour or two. So, after arriving at 6:30am I might leave at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. Some nights I have stayed longer.

I've been coming home at night too tired to think. It's one thing to work ten or eleven hours, but in teaching you are going 100 mph the entire time. At least I do. I can only speak for myself. But after that many hours at that rate of speed, I'm worn out. My brain is fried. My body is too tired to work out. All I want to do is stop. Just for a while. But when I do, I'm a goner. One night about a week ago, I was literally in bed, asleep at 6:45pm. I slept until 5:30am the following morning. This past weekend I slept for 12 hours each night. I am entirely too young for that!

Yesterday I had a conversation with my dad about all this. He taught for years and years. He finally convinced me to let it go and just come home. Give 100% while I am there, which I always do and have done, but when the day is over, leave. Ok, Dad. I listened.

So, today, I showed up about 6:50am. I had just enough time to drop off my purse in my classroom and turn on my computer. I left school at 4:05pm. For the first time in weeks, I came home with energy and actually walked after school. It was only a thirty minute walk, but it was brisk and invigorating. I came home and fixed an incredible salad, took a shower and now am writing....what?? WRITING????

Stephen King recognized that teaching zaps you, mentally, physically, creatively. Luckily he sold "Carrie" and was able to pursue writing and leave teaching. I became a teacher because I wanted to teach, to make a difference, and I do, I know that. I have so many students who come up to me years later telling me how much they loved having me as a teacher. My own children's friends know me from school and they all love me. I've had students who I thought would never make it come back and tell me what a difference I made in their lives. I appreciate all of them so much.

But the reality of it all is that we are spinning our wheels today as teachers. Again, I am speaking from my experience, in my school. I know how hard I work and I know everything I try to do to help my students be successful and learn all they need to know, not only from the curriculum I am teaching but also to fill in the gaps they have missed over the years. But every year it gets harder and harder and they pile more and more on us and quite frankly, they are killing the spirit of the teacher.

Students come to us knowing less and less, being able to retain and process less and less. Parents care less and less. Yet we are expected to produce bigger and greater results and in the meantime, our students are with us less and less in the classroom. I am appalled at the amount of time our students spend away from us as teachers. I value most of the activities that they are doing while away from us but they still need more time with the teacher, in the classroom. Yes, I think we should have longer school days and years. It is absurd how our schools are run these days with the summer break and short days. But that I will save for another post. Tonight I am just venting, writing, for the first time in weeks.

I have to let it all go and know that I am doing the best I can but there is only so much I can do. If I want to become a writer, photographer, and/or artist, I have to give myself the gift of time and sanity and I cannot achieve that by spending ten to twelve hours a day at school. I truly believe that I have something in me that needs to be expressed whether through writing, or my photography or art. I don't know yet, but I can feel it, deeply.

I know I need to write. I know I need to create. It's who I am.

What happens when you take a break from Facebook?

Eleven days I ago I deactivated my Facebook account. The negative posts, political bashing, and idiotic memes were beginning to have an adve...