Slump

There was an empty cup in my son’s bedroom yesterday. I couldn’t muster the initiative to take it ALL THE WAY to the kitchen, so I kicked it out of his room into the hallway and partway down the stairs. It sat on the stairwell all of last night and this morning. I just walked by it on my way upstairs to write this, so I kicked it the rest of the way down.

The empty cup sits on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, annoyingly. Right in the way, and I know it’s there, and it bugs me, but I don’t want to go move it.

I sat down on my bed to listen to music and contemplate showering when I decided the cup was a strange situation and I needed to write about it. Why was I being so darn lazy about it?

I’m not sure.

I  do keep looking at the time. Right now is 6th period. I’d be teaching my favorite class. We’re on World War I right now. 

I finished student teaching on Friday, and it’s only Tuesday. I anticipated a slump, but I thought there’d be a honeymoon period first. You know, where I liked the fact the long days were over and I could breathe again.

But for some reason, I breathe better when I don’t have time to stop and focus on it.

Deep breathing feels good for a second, but I always overdo it until I get dizzy.

I finished student teaching on Friday and said awkward goodbyes. I carried my box of belongings to the car  and drove away in the falling snow and cried a little bit because it was over. I called my mom and dad.  I started to feel better.

Then I got stuck in a traffic jam and ran out of gas.

And  then I sat there turning the car over and over and over (after getting two rides with strangers to the gas station and back) , wondering why it wouldn’t start even with gas in it. Wondering why no matter how often I repeated the same action, nothing worked.

Then my battery died.

I sat awaiting rescue in the cold and wondered why  I didn’t feel elated. I FINISHED. Four months of long, exhausting days of teaching and not even getting paid. This was the culmination. Another graduate degree awaited me, another diploma which said I was GOOD at something – school.

Instead of elation, a ton of realities seemed to hit me at once as I sat in my dead car in the snow.

Our trip to Scotland was canceled, for a host of sad reasons.

We lost our plight regarding moving my mom to Colorado.

My dad was about to get on a bus to protest DAPL and I worried about him.

Trump won.

My best friend (who had been visiting) was back in Scotland.

And I sat in a dead car, with nothing to look forward to but empty expanses of time to think.

Officially, a slump.

First world problem, though, I thought. And I made myself get out of bed on Saturday.

I attended a political activism meeting and I felt a rush of adrenaline for the first time in a few days.

But then I threw up in the middle of the meeting, and that activity was ruined.

Because the icing on the cake of my life was a virus of some sort.

Yep, a slump.

An existential slump, a first-world problem slump, but still, a slump.

I keep thinking back to this time last year, when we were anxiously awaiting our son Alistair having his heart procedure in Minneapolis. To help combat the fear and anxiety of such a time,  I enlisted Alistair on a a ‘kindness mission’ and we spent the weeks leading to his procedure doing random (and deliberate)  acts of kindness. It’s something I tried to do every December since 2012, when I did the 26 acts of kindness for 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shootings.

But this December I’d just been thinking about getting through my work days and passing my assignments and graduating. I knew I was lucky not to have to think about Alistair getting a heart procedure done, but it didn’t really hit me.

And now, the slump has resulted in me not even putting away dishes. Just kicking them around the house.

I think the sight of that cup was pathetic enough to stir something in me. The Light the World campaign is going on right now, and it’s right up my alley with the kindness acts.

Over the next three weeks I will be posting about how I get out of this slump, starting with doing things for others again.

Below are some highlights of what we did last year, in 2015.

20151211_135646
We left gift cards on car windshields.
20151214_124836
We brought gifts and surprises to friends.
20151214_114234
I tried (and failed) to donate blood. 
Advertisements

Nothing Is Ever How You Thought It Would Be

It’s me again, walking by my old school locker. ‘That used to the locker I shared with Susan,’ I think each time, and then I rush to my destination and start teaching history lessons again.

My personal history there, by my rusty locker, is of no real interest to anyone – just some portion of my brain which holds memory, thought, emotion, and evocation of these things, and keeps reminding me of them,  unwittingly.

I can’t help but think of my teenage self in those same desks I teach at, walking those same halls. And the memories which come back to me have helped me realize something about THEN me and NOW me.

I was SO WRONG back then.  Right? 

 

20140110_232018
Teaching At My Former High School, I’m Reminded of MY Time There Daily

Did I think I’d be thirty years old and a student teacher back at my high school? Not in the slightest. My best friend and I genuinely believed there was a chance we’d marry our favorite members of Nsync. We huddled together in relative seclusion, wrapped in our fantasy world.  Was that wrong?

Well, technically. I mean, neither of us is married to Justin Timberlake.

But I say we weren’t wrong at all. 

Our predictions were often way off as adolescents. Or at least, mine sure were.  I thought I was in love with a person who loved me back. But it was limerence, an alluring lie I told myself. I thought I’d be living by the beach in California at 25. But I was living in North Dakota helping take care of my mom when I reached that age. I thought I’d be married to a Mormon, have eight kids and still have time to be a best-selling author. So far, none of former are reality.

Everyone always tells me what an optimist I am. How rose-tinted my glasses are, how naive I can be, how  unrealistic my expectations of people are.

And I’ll often agree, wearing the label with the knowledge that yes, I am like that. Not the naivety, per say, but I can agree with being a bit too unrealistic .

Anything is possible, right?

And I think that’s true. Anything IS possible. But does  life often have other plans for you?

Yes.

You know that old adage – ‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’

It is true. And a realization of life as something other than what I had in mind, due to circumstance, choice, choices of others, chance, God…..this is part of what happens when you reach adulthood. At least, this is how I’ve found life to be.

I think accepting the curve-balls, embracing the choices we maintain within some imposed limitations, and learning to love ourselves and others for for who we all ACTUALLY are is an important step to happiness and adulthood.

2016-06-15 11.57.40
Colorado Is My Home Now, Again

When I was a teenager – at the high school I still teach in every day – my friends and I would lament about how booooring Colorado Springs was. How conservative and closed-minded and ultimately booooring it was here. Was there ANYTHING to do? And oh, the slim pickings of date-able boys we moaned about ceaselessly. I couldn’t wait to move. California, Scotland, anywhere!

So we went to Scotland and thought it was, without a doubt, utopia. The guys were hot and like, so into us, yeah? Those accents! The stream of phone numbers and offers to date…wow, where had Scotland been all our lives??  Colorado Springs had NONE of this.

Fast forward a few years and my best friend and I were sitting around talking about how poor we were in Scotland, and how we missed the mountains. Oh, and Thanksgiving. We really needed pumpkin pie.

When I did move back to Colorado Springs, Scottish husband in tow, I was excited…for a few months.

Then it was the same old story, this time with a husband instead of my friend: it’s boring, it’s conservative, it’s just, like, totally lame. Time to move to Boulder. So we did.

And now we’re back.

And I’m seeing Colorado Springs through a lens which never would have been possible back then. I’m seeing it as a mom, as a working adult…as someone who now cares about good preschools and grocery stores.

I’m also seeing Colorado Springs with new eyes…the kind of eyes I refused to use when I lived here as a teenager and young adult. I’m seeing it as a place to settle down, a place to grow, and a place to raise my son.

And it’s like a totally different place.

2016-06-18 14.38.13
As I Raise Alistair, I Can Introduce Him To Places Where  My Love For Humanity Flourishes

Speaking to friends and relatives and therapists and folks beside me on plane rides, etc.,  I’ve come to the conclusion that while my experiences are my own, the sentiment is universal.

Life never turns out the way you planned it to.

What prompted me to write this blog post tonight? I was flicking through the radio stations and landed on ‘The Dance’ by Garth Brooks. I’m not even a country fan but I was listening and it evoked the thought of how even if we don’t know how things are going to turn out, the journey usually makes it all worth it.

Don’t live a life of regret, but don’t live a life of undue expectation on yourself or others, either.

I remember the teenage me, every day at work now. How she spoke, how she dressed,  how she talked. I can feel she is still a part of me. And I can see how despite how ‘wrong’ she was about the future, she was right, for that time and  place.

Everyone is a work in progress. As John Mayer says…..’I’m in repair….I’m not together but I’m getting there.’