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Friday, June 29, 2012

Office Musicals and Lie Detectors

Pin It I can't believe that it was my topic for the week, and I totally spaced it! Of course, I guess I could always plead the busy card...which would work in this case. So, that's how to comes to be Friday and I finally decided that it was safe to post for the week so I wouldn't be stepping on the day of anybody else.

This was a chore to come up with something, it's like being asked which of your students is your favorite; however, I finally narrowed it down to two choices. You know, since Gerb had two, this is fair, right?

My thoughts exactly.

This first video is something I can only say that I wish that I'd thought of...talk about sheer brilliance.

This second video is one I wanted to post on my personal blog - as well as on Facebook. However, being a teacher, I felt a bit sketchy about posting it in either venue. But here it is, and all I can say is that when I wasn't horrified, I was laughing to beat the band.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dance Walk, Baby!

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I could not possibly pinpoint my favorite YouTube video.  However, these are my most recent favorites:

(In the first video, please ignore the English transcribing.  It's horrendous!)

Why do I love them so much?  Hello!  DANCE WALKING!  This is an exercise regimen I could totally get into.  I just need to get a group together to do it with me.

Who's in?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Emotional Math

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Worry is a misuse of imagination.  ~Dan Zadra

People have been nice enough to tell me from time to time that I am creative. Sometimes I think it’s true.  I can look back at some of the things I’ve made or written or produced over the years and see some satisfactory creativity there.  I do think I have an active imagination. I know there seems to be a lot going on in my brain all the time anyway. Now  I can’t really attest to the quality of that activity mind you - I just know that it’s there.
The upside of imagination is the ability to create fun stuff, make stuff up and generally provide at least myself with hours of entertainment.   The downside is that it is hard sometimes to quiet my mind. My active imagination can take any concerns or worries I may have and spin ‘em off into some crazy extreme scenarios pretty quickly. That’s when the arguments inside my head start with one side telling me how crazy I am to worry so much and the other side arguing back that “hey, it could happen!”  
So what does my over-active imagination have to do with a lesson I have to learn over and over again?  Well, this is a big one for me.  Logically I know that worrying about something that hasn’t happened and might never happen is just a GIANT waste of time, emotion and imagination. There’s plenty of trouble that comes into everyone’s life without spending time looking for or worrying over a problem that isn’t actually knocking at the door. But sometimes my logic abandons me and I can sure conjure up a big old scary imaginary monster.
Now in my defense I had some help learning this skill.  Parents can, after all transfer some of their own neurosis onto their children. I really have tried my best not to do the same to my own kids (so far so good on that as far as I can tell). But it is something that I continually struggle with.  
Living with worry and anxiety is not way to live.  I know…I know this.  But I find that worrying is the emotional equivalent of math for me.  Unless I practice doing it (or not doing it in the case of worrying) on a regular basis, I just lose the basics.

I do worry though...well, wonder if I'm ever going to actually pass this particular class.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life's Lessons Learned

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 pic here
You will never be young again.  Age is inevitable.  Just learn to be happy with the person who looks back at you in the mirror.

Always be true to who you are.

It's much better to look for the good in things than to always dwell on the negative. 
Always remember to say thank you.
People who have skill in cutting naturally curly hair without the triangle-head effect are hard to come by.

Always leave a generous tip when it's warranted.
Not everyone is going to like you - and that's okay.

White socks are boring.

The power in prayers is real.
Love unconditionally.
Always keep some kind of journal because you will forget the little details that you think you'll remember. 

There are no coincidences, only miracles in smaller and larger degrees.
When you feel like dancing, dance.  When you feel like singing, sing.

Normal is whatever you are.
Real happiness comes from inside of you, not outside of you.
Give sincere compliments freely.
Everyone has a story.  Listen to as many stories as you can.

If you find yourself in darkness, look for the stars.

You always like your hair longer.
Take lots of pictures!
Give meaningful gifts.
It's okay to cry, but it's better to do it where no one can see you.
Whenever you're wrong, admit it.
Whenever you're right, shut up.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning and Relearning

Pin It Topic: Describe a lesson that you have found yourself learning, over and over again, throughout your life.

There's a book that I love by Bill Peet. It's the story of a bear who enjoys rock tumbling. He rolls huge boulders down hillsides simply because he loves to watch them smash trees and destroy the undergrowth. As the rest of the forest creatures scurry pel-mel out of the way, Bruce laughs and laughs. To him, this is the greatest form of entertainment.

One day, Bruce sets a rock tumbling and nearly smashes a little witch who was out picking blueberries. When she confronts Bruce, he simply laughs at her. The witch warns him to be on the lookout, but Bruce ignores her and goes on his merry way.

The witch returns to her cottage where she creates a potion. She adds this potion to the contents of pie, which leaves in a place in the forest where Bruce is sure to find it. Upon discovering this pie, Bruce eats it and soon falls asleep. That is when the magic of the spell begins its work. When Bruce awakens some hours later, he is only a shadow of the bear he used to be. For you see, the spell had caused him to shrink down the size of a chipmunk.

Upon recognizing him, the other forest creatures begin to chase him, determined to let him know how it felt being held prey to the mercy of his rock tumbling. Bruce escapes, but soon realizes that the world is a big, unfriendly place.

Soon after nightfall, Roxy the witch finds Bruce and takes him home with her. Bruce is convinced that she's going to do something even worse to him - perhaps make him disappear altogether. Bruce is wrong and discovers that Roxy is a kind old woman. Soon, Bruce comes to like his new situation of being little, because little bears have short memories, and he has forgotten all about being the giant he once was.

The thing is, as the story ends, the author shows Bruce in Roxy's flower garden, tumbling pebbles to scare the ants, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Because Bruce, from a bug-eyed view, is still a hairy and horrible brute of a beast.

When I think about my life lessons learned, as well as those things that I keep having to relearn throughout the years, I am often reminded of moments of sadness, being down, or simple depression.

These are feelings that we can all relate to, and have experienced at numerous times in our lives. However, I find it strange that I always seem to go about combating these negative feelings in the same way, though it’s been proven to me time and time again that they don’t work.

You see, when I start to feel down, I immediately find myself turning to the fridge, television, or lazing about and letting the feelings surmount. It’s interesting though that these ‘cures’ seldom—if ever—have the effect that I want; what they do is make me feel even worse because weight gain, apathy, or a feeling of non-accomplishment that always settles in, making the problems seem even worse than they were on their own.

And still, I am immediately drawn to these remedies though they have been proven time and time again not to be at all effective.

So, what does help when depression settles in? What is it that makes things often feel so much better? Most of the time it’s when I get up and exercise, it causes my mood to change toward being positive. I feel a sense of accomplishment, and my own little world seems like such a better place. Something else that helps is when I give service to others who are in need. When I spend my time trying to help those around me, my self-confidence and happiness always tends to skyrocket, and I feel much better. This is probably the reason why I enjoy teaching so much; I am constantly helping somebody else, and this does wonders for my sour or apathetic moods.

I wish I could say that these lessons that I learned happened once and only once. However, that would simply be untruthful. These are the lessons—or lesson—I sadly learn over and over again as the years go onward.

Like the Bruce, the little bear who kept doing the same thing over and over again--even after getting into quite a bit of trouble, I still keep making the same mistakes over and over again as well.

I guess it's true that little bears do have short memories...

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Long Haul


Shawna is a photographer, graphic designer, and Jill of all trades. She is happily married and enjoys spending time curling up on the couch with a good book and a steaming cup of cocoa. She also enjoys cleaning dead bugs from windowsills. You can find more of her at Ramblings of an Otherwise Coherent Mind.

Topic: “What are your thoughts on marriage? Being married, not being married, staying married, not staying married and how does this impact your life?

I believe that marriage can be a truly wonderful thing. Being committed as part of a team can make your load lighter, but it’s a something you definitely have to work at. What’s wonderful is that you come to discover that when you are in it with someone you love and care for that it’s a job you don’t mind in the least.

There is a comfort knowing that someone is waiting for you at home. Someone who will listen (even if its only with half an ear) to what new burden your co-worker became this week. To knowing that not only do you have a date for the rest of your life, but that this is someone who will notice when you are feeling down and who cares about you enough to find out why. Someone who will not only hold your hand when its sweet and romantic, but will also hold back your hair when you have the flu and find yourself tossing your cookies into the porcelain throne

While Disney would have you look at marriage with the rose-colored glasses of romance, many people fail to notice is that marriage isn’t all sunshine and heart shaped boxes of chocolate. There are days when you will not see eye-to-eye on things and days when you feel you are pulling that great big load all by your lonesome. Let me clue you in on a little secret you may not have heard before. Yeah, that’s right, lean in closer..


Love isn’t a 50/50 thing.

Shocking? Maybe to some, but I’d like to think the majority of us in it for the long haul stumble across this truth eventually. Some days he will love you more and vice versa. Balance in a marriage can be as bad as 80/20 one day and then 40/60 the next. The point with a functioning and happy marriage is that the balance doesn’t matter because no one is keeping score.

I used to think all people knew this, I mean, it seemed like common knowledge to me, but I learned firsthand how wrong I was.

Years and years ago (in my early twenties) I was too young, na├»ve and inexperienced to see the red flags a certain young man was throwing off. Ignoring the advice of family and friends I married the boy and was surprised that as soon as the “I-do’s” were over he threw out those rosy tinted shades of mine and became a bully who threatened and intimidated and demeaned without so much as a by-your-leave. And scorecards? This guy came pre-loaded with a ledger so far into the red with imagined slights that there was no hope of my swinging it back into balance all on my own.

I spent years trying to make everything better in that relationship until I wore myself out to the core. I literally could not take another step in the harness that I had allowed myself to be shackled into. All that time I kept thinking that any minute now he’d see how it really was supposed to be and he’d take the yoke on his side of the cart and we’d finally start pulling like a well-matched team. I eventually learned there was a reason why an ox and a horse were never paired together with good results (not that I am calling him an ox!) but you can imagine my relief when this individual announced that he was tired of “dealing with me” and moved onto what he imagined to be far greener pastures than those I maintained at home.

After that fiasco I put myself on the shelf for a while to get my bearings back. I was ashamed that I had let things get so bad and for so long, but I also found a new-found resilience within that let me know I would never allow myself to be someone’s doormat again.

Now you would think that with an experience as bad as the one I went through that I would be soured on love, but I wasn’t. I knew love could be so much more than that. I still believed in love, and hoped that if I was patient that it would eventually find its way to me. Please do not get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the “if its broken, mend it” mentality, but at some point you realize that if you are the only one willing to work on a less-than-desirable situation then the odds are never really going to be in your favor.

Now its round two and this time its different: we are both old and wise enough now to not only know what we want, but we are also able to see through the small flaws that every one of us has in order to see the silver lining that lies within. I am willing to overlook socks on the floor and he doesn’t get on me about hauling home yet more yard sale “finds” when my car trunk is still full from the previous week’s excursion. Who cares about the “proper” was to load a dishwasher… I am grateful to have someone who is willing to load it in the first place.

Love, however, is a compromise… another thing you may not have heard of. We all have things that get on our nerves, but we also need to remember that we ourselves aren’t perfect (otherwise we’d be translated already and our families would be standing around with no clean underwear and wondering where that gal who ran the washing machine went off to).

We all need to do a little give-and-take in our relationships. Sometimes its something small like watching a movie that they adore that may not be your particular cup of tea. Sometimes its backing off and allowing your spouse to have their own space for awhile. Love is knowing that even if we argue on something that we don’t have to worry if that person is going to come back home tonight. Its buying chicken livers even if they make you gag because he loves them. Its being willing to tweak that recipe you perfected years ago to allow for a pinch or two of tastes that they enjoy.

I am at the beginning of this crazy relationship…one that I plan to go on forever. We’re still in the “honeymoon” phase so to speak and are still learning things about one another, but then that’s a lifelong process anyway as no one stays completely the same anyway. For now I try to keep a list up of what foods the beloved likes, but I still occasionally get it wrong, as does he. Our world isn’t going to come careening to a halt just because I couldn’t remember if it was rye or pumpernickel bread he preferred, and I am not about to go into a fit if he buys pink flowers instead of the yellow variety that I adore. He eats his sandwiches and tells me he loves me anyway and I just enjoy the flowers and the love that went into picking them out for me.

We’ve had some bumps and ruts in the road, but we keep pulling onward, together.

They say most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be and I believe it. We choose to focus on the good, and that’s made our life together thus far pretty happy, but what about what comes down the road in days and months and years to come?

Well, what you practice becomes habit. If we choose now to work through these things together, then I truly believe that will be the way we will continue to work through the long haul. I have found myself a pulling partner… one who is willing to pull his fair share of the load, whatever percentage that happens to be today.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What It Should Be

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Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without.  ~James C. Dobson

I just got back from a trip to New Mexico to visit my brother and his family.  My brother, I'm happy to say, is really a good guy. He married young. Had two sons with his first wife. Was divorced, then a few years later, married again and has been happily married now for almost 13 years. The operative word there being happily. 

I don’t get down to New Mexico to visit very often, but when I do, I’m always so happy and relieved to see my Big Bro with his second wife, JM. I think this is because he was so very unhappy in his first marriage - I think it almost broke him.  Although with the childhood we had, I think he may have already been a little broken – we both were.  But  since he married JM, he’s gone through  a change. I don’t know if it is a change that everybody would notice, but I see it as profound.  Big Bro was never what you would call an extrovert, but each time I see him  (every three or four years) he is easier and more open with people and seems generally more content with himself.  Not that everything has been just peachy-dandy with Big Bro and JM.  They have certainly had challenges with raising the boys from marriage #1 and with not just one but two Army tours in the Middle East for Big Bro, having to close his self-run business while serving those tours and then trying to build it again once he’s back. And then to top it off, some serious health challenges with their new baby girl.  So it hasn’t all be easy for them, but it has, I think, been easy between them.  JM has been so good for my brother and I think he is good for her. They admire each other and enjoy each other and rely on each other and in the end they are stronger because of each other – no matter the challenges they face.  Marriage changes you I think. Both my brother’s marriages changed him.  In his first marriage, he was on his way to becoming the worst version of himself. His second marriage is helping him to find his best self and whenever I see that in him, it almost makes me want to cry…in a good way.

This would be a longer blog than you’d ever want to read if I were to talk in detail about myself and my marriages. I’ve had two; one long that ended in divorce and one short that ended with the death of my husband.  Both marriages changed me of course and I think I feel the lack of that now.  Marriage gives you someone else to rub up against, and I don’t mean that in a sexual way…at least not in this particular blog. What I mean is that being married means there’s someone in your life that forces you to evaluate your behavior sometimes on a daily basis.  In a good marriage, your rough edges are smoothed by that daily buffeting and, like my brother, you make changes for the better. It’s much easier to fall into selfish and self-centered behavior when you don’t have that daily reminder to look outside your own needs.  There’s also something to be said about being yoked with someone else to pull your life along…or lives along if you are lucky enough to have a partner that will pull with you.

I know there’s a lot of people that lament the high divorce rate and argue that marriage shouldn’t be so disposable – that people should stick with it and fix it.  Even though I am one of those lamentable statistics, I agree with that. I agree that marriage takes work, but I would argue that sometimes there isn’t enough viable material to work with.  I see evidence around me every day of what a blessing marriage can be in people’s lives.  It’s exactly those examples of happily married friends and family that made staying in an unhappy marriage so difficult. I’ve never asked my ex-husband directly, but it seems to me that he is happier now with his wife #2. More importantly (to me at least) I think my boys see that he is happier as well and at the end of the day, I want them to be fully aware of what a happy marriage looks like – even if it’s not my own.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the kind of marriage that my brother has.  There are times when I still hope so.  But I do know that I’m not willing to settle for a marriage that is less than what it could be…and what it should be.

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