Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Always the write time...

If you know me as all, you'll know that grammatical errors drive me nuts. I'm not exactly sure how this happened though because I didn't really have much of an English class until 7th grade (I still remember the look of panic on the new teacher's face when he realized the whole class of 18 was at a third grade English level). I still couldn't diagram a sentence for you to save myself, but I have always loved books and reading. Props to my mom for letting us kids read hours upon hours in the summers. My younger brother and I would ride our bikes down to the library during the summers (remember the summer reading program) and bask in the relief of the free air condition and free book on many hot Wisconsin afternoons.

Anyway, somewhere along the lines I fell in love with writing. I can't tell you any of the rules behind, but I love to do it. And if you use to, too, or two incorrectly (along with their, there, they're...not to mention you're and your) it'll drive me bonkers. Just don't ask me to tell you what anything is beyond the basic parts of speech. But I digress from the topic at hand...what was that again?

Ah, yes. Writing. It has become my outlet. Especially in the last couple years. I really enjoy blogging. winey whiney? Why do I even write this for everyone to read? Shouldn't this be something I keep private?
Wish I had time to do it more often. It's so honest. Well, it can be. It can also be a load of crap, just like anything else. But when I write my blogs, I try to keep it real. It seems like people crave honesty these days. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too honest. *pausing to think about that* You start to wonder what people are thinking when they read your blog posts. Can the readers relate to me? Do they think I'm crazy? Does this post sound

I guess there are two main reasons I write (can you tell I'm in teacher mode? I'd make the kids highlight or underline here...)

  1. I write to get it out. Sometimes some of this thoughts swirl around and around and around in my head and drive me CRAZY. If I can get the thoughts out of my own head, I have a better time being able to deal with them.
  2. So people don't feel so alone. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. There a saying about how you should be kind to everyone that you meet because everyone is fighting a great battle. Each person is unique and different. Each person has stressors in their life. Example time!
The Second Grader: "Is *insert best friend name here* going to play with me at recess today? If they don't play with me, who will? Why did they invite all the other kids over for a pool party and not me? I don't want the teacher to call on me to read out loud because I don't know some of those words. I lost my sidewalk chalk today and I can't find it anywhere. I miss the days when I got to stay at home with mom all day."
The Middle Schooler: "The popular kids don't talk to me. They were supposed to say something nice about me in class and they told me I clashed clothes well. I wish I could just fit in. I miss the days when everyone just played together."
The High Schooler: "I'm stressing out ALL the time. My homework is so hard. Why don't I understand it? I don't want to disappoint my parents. I need to get good grades so I get into a good college. But I need to have activities too. I'm just running out of time. I want to spend time with my friends. I'm afraid I'm going to lose my friend to a guy she likes. I know we don't have money, but I'm so sick of eating spaghetti for dinner ALL the time. I miss the days when losing your sidewalk chalk was your biggest problem."
The College Student: "Work, school, social life. I feel like all I do is the first two. No one tells you that once you get into a good school the work is just beginning. Now I worry about how to pay for school, how to pay for food, and getting good grades so I can 'rise above the rest' and get a good internship and get a good job. I miss the days when you went home after practice and there was dinner waiting for you, even if it was spaghetti for the third time this week."
The Single 20 Something: "Everyone is married. Everyone is having kids. Everyone is buying homes. Everyone is paying off their loans. Everyone that is, except for me. Here I am, living paycheck to paycheck. Just trying to stay ahead of the next round of bills. I'm tired of being alone at night. I'm sick of not having anyone to talk to when I go home. I miss the days of college when you lived in the bubble of work and school, all your friends were there all the time because you lived with them, and your biggest problem was which packet of ramen noodles you were going to eat."
The Married 30 Something: "I'm so jealous of all my single friends. They can do whatever they want to, whenever they want to. I love my kids. I love my spouse. But somedays, I just want to eat the last Oreo myself. I don't want to share my popsicle. If I want to vacation in Mexico...I buy a ticket. I miss the days when I just had some alone time."
The Empty Nester: "The kids are gone...what do I do now? How do I fill the time...the void? Sometimes I feel like my spouse is a stranger. We got so caught up in 'life' that we lost ours. I miss the days where the silence and time was filled with laughter and memories instead of reruns on Nick at Night."

Can you find yourself in any of those situations? Are you currently living one of those scenarios? One of the mistakes I think that we make as we get older is that we have the temptation to look at that second grader and think "they don't have it so bad." But at the time, those problems are very real...and very significant. 

But I don't write to focus on the problems. (Problems are the first part...the getting it out part.) I write so we can recognize the problems...but encourage each other to see beyond them. To know that you're not alone. To encourage each other to work through the tough spots and focus on the good things. We can turn every one of those scenarios around to a positive. Don't just stop with the focus on the troubles. Acknowledge them, but instead of letting them define or defeat you, use them as encouragement for yourself and others to continue to press on. Let them become the fuel for your fire. Money will come and go. Things are just things and can be replaced with other things. 

People are irreplaceable, and are what really matter. Be gentle with yourself and others. And when in doubt...

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Today was a bad day.

It was one of those days where one bad thing happens...and then another...and then another....until you hit the end of the day and you're either laughing because you honestly can't believe that a day this bad could actually be happening, or you're crying because it all just pushed you over the edge.

Today ended with the latter rather than the former. There were definitely tears...and not much laughter. The final straw came when I stepped on a carpet tack with my bare foot. But allow me to back up and relay the events of my day.

- Woke up feeling like the air had been sucked out of my lungs, coughing like an eight year old chain smoker.
- Cleaning crew at school had moved my students desks and not put them back. Again.
- In the middle of Junior religion the piano and I got into a fight. Piano, 1. Andrea, 0. Nothing like biting it in front of a class of high school Juniors.
- About ten minutes after I took my graceful float through the air I realized my foot was throbbing. Took a quick glance down and saw the top of my foot was growing. By the time I got to elevate it with some ice (almost two hours later), a lovely purple egg had taken up residence in between my ankle and toes. (This might also be a good place to mention that I booked a flight back to Milwaukee yesterday for my half marathon in two weeks...)
- I made it through the majority of my day fairly unscathed. That is, until I tried to go home after school at 5:30pm. Drove gma car across the lot, stopped at the office to mark myself out, came back outside...click. That's all she would do. Click. We tried jumping her. Click. We bought her a new battery. Click. The man who helped me said it was probably the starter. So I drove one of the school's vans home.

I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to go swimming at the pool. I just wanted a night that wasn't filled with work, to feel like a person. I called my friend (whose tire had exploded on the interstate earlier this week) to commiserate in the car woes of gma car (my car) and silver fox (his car). Talked to my mom for a little bit. Stepped on a carpet tack while I was trying to get ice for my still throbbing foot and wash the car grease off my hands from helping with the battery. And then I cried. And my car might not be fixed until next Tuesday. It's Thursday.

Let me try this again.

I woke up.
Someone else emptied the garbages for my classroom last night.
I have a piano in my music room.
My body responded to trauma like it should, with swelling to protect the affected area.
I had ice immediately accessible to me.
I get to go back to Milwaukee in two weeks. For two weekends in a row.
My car broke down at school. Where there were people to help me. And give me a ride to buy a new battery. And help me install it. People who smiled and waved at me after taking the time to help me after they had already coached a football practice.
My principal let me take a school owned vehicle home. So I could get home.
One of my co-workers knows a guy who can work on my car and won't kill me on the cost.
This is really only the second major thing I've had to fix on my car since I've owned it.
I have a car.
I had soap to wash my hands.
I have an ice cube maker in my freezer to make ice for my foot.
I can call my mom up on the phone and talk to her.
I have a friend that will listen to my problems, let me have the breakdown I need to have, and reach down and help me back up again.

One of my Facebook friends (who I've actually only met/hung out with once, but has truly affected my life and the way I look at/think about things) wrote a post today:

Dear Beautiful Struggle,
Im thankful for you. Its because of you that I am humble now. I see things so different now because of you. You have taught me so much. I am a better person who appreciates everything I am blessed with now. You have given me the vision to see past the fake people that smiled in my face while I struggled with you. They laughed they joked as if it was amusing to see someone struggle with you. Its cool though. They are out of my life now. They can see me shine now. No more struggle. No more pain. CHANGE IS GOOD. GOD IS GREAT. Goodbye beautiful struggle. My destiny awaits......

There truly is beauty in our struggles. No, no one wants the struggles. No one wants to go through the hard stuff. They are not easy, pleasant, or comfortable. I don't want to go back and relive this day tomorrow, by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm alive, I have a safe place to live, and I have some incredible people in my life who love and care about me far more than I could ever deserve. If that's not beauty in the midst of struggle, I don't know what is.

One day at a time. Tomorrow's a new day.

Live. Laugh. And most importantly...love.