Uncategorized

My Own Awakening…

Conflict is hard. Internal conflict is harder. I have had conflicting feelings over issues at my work place for 2 -1/2 years now.  So many mixed emotions.  I talk it out with my closest family members but have never discussed it with folks at work because I just never felt there was room for that.  To involve others in my personal emotions about a co-worker just never seemed fair.

This week I had an awakening. A moment of clarity that is helping me move further away from conflict.  I had a substitute fill in for my position while I filled the role of my supervisor, as she was recently out for two days.  I saw glimpses of my old-self in the young girl who filled my role.  She jumped in, she had creative ideas, she saw wonderment in what was old news to me now.  It made me sad, it made me realize how far I have stepped away from what’s good in me and how often I hold back what I would have once offered. I have identified these things in myself before through this conflict. I have held anger and frustration about this for a long time. Blaming my supervisor for having conditioned me to be this way, feeling like a lesser version of myself while at work. Not ever feeling valued by her, not having her notice when I am creative, having her be so controlling that my ideas are not accepted anyhow…the list goes on and on for why I am not me in my job anymore.  I have held on to these things and they are heavy.  A constant feeling of her not even deserving me to be at my best. What I know to be true is this is clearly toxic to myself and I have known for quite sometime that I’ve GOT TO GET OVER IT! That is the inner conflict. Not feeling understood. We have attempted to discuss things and neither one of us understands the other. I am a communicator and she is not.

She said some hurtful things to me when we attempted to discuss our issues 2- 1/2 years ago. Things that I was stunned to hear. They replay in my mind over and over since they were said. We have worked together 10 years now. She was always what seemed to be an understanding individual, easy going, nice person.  When I took the position I started as part time and it was then offered as a full time position. She was my cheerleader through my decision making process, I was re-entering the workforce after having been a stay-at-home mom for a long time. Going back to work full time was a frightful feeling, not knowing how it would feel to not be 100% at either place, but she eased my mind with thoughts of being able to take time when I needed it for my family. I accepted the position and my family began to adjust at home. What could not have been predicted at that time is what happened in the years to follow.  In my writing of Questioning Everything II, I talk about the hard times my family has gone through in recent years. I was supported at work through all of these medical issues and took the time I needed for my family. I was acutely aware of how my absence from work must be affecting others, but my family had to come first and I would convince myself of this daily to stay focused at home and release the guilt.

What happened 2 -1/2 years ago was that my supervisor began to use body language and silent treatments to what seemed to me at the time an attempt to send some kind of message. Her lack of communication was something that always worried me and I would share with my family at home that I wondered if she could really be okay with all of the time I had needed, but she always greeted me at the door with a smile and was always extremely understanding.  Well, I feel other people’s energy very easily and the message she was trying to send was making me feel very uncomfortable at work. When the day approached that we would be going our separate ways for summer vacation I approached her and asked if we could discuss what was happening between us.  I addressed some of the issues I thought we may be having. What was an attempt to communicate became a very cloudy, confusing time.  We got nowhere. She said hurtful things that I never knew she felt and I was stunned by them.  I had wondered so many times if she really was okay with me and all the things I had to deal with at home. Always wondering if she felt she needed more from me at work. Because I had gone over these things in my mind and ‘felt her out’ emotionally through it all ~ she never once stated to me that it was a problem ~ So, I would always revert back to her always supporting me as a mom first when I was considering the job.  I was not exceeding my allotted time for my job description at work, I was within my contract. So, I felt she really was understanding and didn’t have a problem with how much time I needed to be away from work.

When I approached her that afternoon I asked if everything was okay, that I had been feeling like she was different towards me and was there something we needed to talk about? I knew I would be walking out that June and wanted to clearly know what it would feel like to walk back in in September. The comments she made that day have stuck with me ever since. Things like – “It just seems like you don’t care”… When I asked if we could move forward together she said “I’m not sure we can continue on together”. She said so many other things that were confusing to me.  I was stunned at her comments.  When I approached her, I thought we had a couple things to discuss to move forward but she clearly had allowed things to fester so long that she wasn’t sure we could continue together in the fall…?  I was deeply hurt.  She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t know if what she was feeling was her own personal feelings or having to do with me and work. She would use the summer to ponder these things and we would talk again in the fall. I said okay and went on my way.  I walked out of that office with instant resentment, here I was trying to be proactive in asking hard questions so we could progress in the fall stronger than we were in the spring.  Mind you I am her assistant, she is the supervisor, my leader…  Why was I approaching her when there’s a problem?

When we returned in the fall we had a whole staff Welcome Meeting with our principal.  He discussed stress and how we need to not bring it into the classroom.  I heard him, and was feeling good about having asked the hard questions in the spring to alleviate some of the negative feelings in our space. I was anxiously anticipating my supervisor and I sitting down soon to talk about what we had pondered over the summer.  She had experienced a divorce last year and I was pretty positive that she would realize that she had been bringing much of her own personal negative feelings into our workplace.  I felt positive that what we had to deal with between us was surely smaller than it seemed when I left in the spring. I felt this way because I thought we were a good team, I am confident in my work, I work hard and I love my job.

What happened next absolutely flabbergasted me. The welcome meeting ended and we all went back to our respective classrooms. She did not return right away.  I went about my work and when she returned she told me that in light of the message our principal had given us she had gone to him to discuss our situation.  I was floored! She went to our principal, my boss?? She reported that when we were to speak this time we would have a mediator that was assigned to us. Do you know that when we sat down in that meeting, she pulled out a notebook and had a list of all the things I went to her with for concerns in the spring??  I was so set a back, I was so hurt.  I was flooded with emotions.  To this day I am embarrassed that I cried during the meeting.  At one point, she sat back pointed at me in my frustration and said to our mediator “See, this, I don’t know what to do with this.”  I am a very passionate person, I am sensitive, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  She said things like “If we are going to talk about feelings, then… I feel like you have taken advantage of my kindness.”  Again, flabbergasted.  I was actually able to respond to that (at other times I was simply speechless) and I told her that I have never taken advantage of anything! I knew in that moment she didn’t know me at all and that we had some severe miscommunication happening.  I’m honestly not sure where we got with our discussion that day.  I know where it got me… it got me to a place of not trusting.  I thought I knew her, I thought she knew me, I actually thought we were friends. I learned to proceed by keeping my guard up and not share personal things with her. I have spent the last two years looking internally and wishing I could figure out a way to understand why this happened this way. All the while, not being free to be me in my workplace.

I spent the whole first year fuming at all the inconsistencies in the things she had stated.   When I had asked her the day with the mediator why she hadn’t pointed any of these “problems” out, why she hadn’t asked me to stay later on a day when I came late due to a meeting for our foster daughter, why she hadn’t dealt with these things when they were happening?  Her answer was that there isn’t enough time in our busy day to discuss these things. In the fall of my first year back I was hyper-sensitive to all of the things she called me on.  Noticing things I had never bothered to pay attention to before. Other people who are late to work (her – everyday!) Noticing that there is time for her to have ‘coffee chat’ everyday for 15 minutes or more with colleagues in her office, time to bring in a student teacher and utilize all of the curriculum and projects we created together and claim them as your own.  Time became a main focus for me, as she had called me on taking too much.  We agreed with the mediator that day that I would log my extra time to be earned time for personal time.  What I felt I knew then and find great satisfaction in proving everyday is that I earn a great deal of extra time with the extra hours (beyond my contracted hours) I put into my job.  I am contracted from 8:15am to 2:40pm, so I was told clearly that any time I put in extra it is earned time.  This was agreed upon in our meeting with the mediator.  Since I’ve been writing time down I currently have 6 hours of earned time still available, with another book fair coming in the spring.  We have 2 Book Fairs every year. Up until 2 years ago we used to do evening events as well as come in and set up on the weekends, this time was never documented in the past. We would do special events and I would happily stay late, work them in the evenings, this year without coming in on weekends and without any evening events I earned 9 hours of extra time during our fall book fair alone.  I was never asked in the past to keep track of the time, it felt as though we just had an understanding. I now know how important keeping track is.  I was hurt that she felt I would take advantage of this, I was always happy to do whatever she asked me to.

I have found personal gain in the things I’m working through, learning to pat myself on the back for a job well done and finding ways to help others in my building and continue to always be kind and helpful.  I feel changed ~ I struggle with the decision to move to another space in the building.  When I went to my principal in the first year after this happened, requesting a move, he asked me to stay and said he needed me in the space I am in, I respected that and continue to work hard in that position for him, for our school…not for her.  I love my position, I love what I do.

You must be asking…Where is this clarity? Where is the moment that helped with easing this conflict?  The clarity is my acknowledgment that she has a certain perspective and I need to try and respect that.  Not for her, but for me!

I have asked myself the question over and over again if there was any truth to the things she was saying that day?  Was I arriving to work on time?  Was I using a lot of extra time?  What I realize now that I wouldn’t allow myself to take into account before through the hurt was that all of those things had truth to them.  I am seeing through the hurt now and able to realize that from where she was standing (her perspective) all of these things had truth to them.  Am I still hurt? Yes.  Did I feel she was singling me out? Yes. Did I feel like she should understand more? Yes.  But were they true? Yes.

What I realize is from her perspective she has no idea what it felt like to be me in those days and years.  She couldn’t possibly know what it felt like to be my husband’s caregiver and stay strong and present for my three children through all of it.  The love and concern I felt for him and the determination to help him feel better and get better ~ to overcome our family set backs… She won’t ever know what it was like to be the foster mother to a teenage girl who lied and manipulated on a daily basis. What it felt like to fight for my family’s well being while trying to be this young girl’s cheerleader and guide her when she didn’t want to be guided.  She could not understand the turmoil inside myself for having to make choices about where my loyalty stood when things were hard at home and at work, and I chose to put most of my energy into my home.  She didn’t respect or notice that through that turmoil and with the guilt I was making my own self sick.  I had ocular migraines from stress that kept me from work,  I had gall bladder surgery, I had neck issues… the stress was hindering me.  I know now that she was getting the least of me. The clarity is that I now know I could not have changed that.

I didn’t know then the tole it was taking on her. I see it now, I get it, I feel bad, I have apologized, I have thanked her for her patience time and time again. But now… Now I am back!  I show up everyday on time or early, I work very hard. I am healthy again and my family and my home is strong.  We did not lose ourselves through the struggle and I do not believe that I deserve to be held on probation for all that we’ve been through.  But can I change that part?  No I cannot!  So I continue to work hard,  I become more and more creative as the fog lifts from the stress I was under.  I even move further away from the anxiety that had built of what’s next for our family?  Everyday!  I am empathetic enough to know that that had to be my supervisor’s feelings too… I get it, I’m sorry.  I never wanted any of what happened to happen, but it did. I am willing to look deep and find understanding.  I am strong and confident ~ I know who I am.  I know where my attention is needed to get a mission accomplished ~I am able to give that to my job again! I am letting go of the guilt and the anger.  I am proud of myself.

adult children, clarity, communication, life, responsibility

The Coffee Shop

   Saturday morning… the satisfaction of waking up thinking about something other than mundane tasks of a weekday morning routine.  I woke up joyful today. Texted the kids to see if either of them could meet me for bagels and coffee?  One answers immediately… he can fit it in before work “if you can be there in 5”.  Of course I’ll be there in 5… jump up and quick get ready.

I get there before my 19 year old son, my youngest of 3 adult children.  I order for us both and sit down in a corner seat.  I mention to a friend at a nearby table that my boy was meeting me and he’s heading to work … “I may only get a few minutes, but a few minutes I’ll take” I say to her.  Knowing smiles cross both of our faces. He joins me moments later and his smile fuels me for my day.  He sits with me and we chat a bit, just being with him after the crazy work week I’ve had completes me somehow.  He scoffs down his bagel in a way only a 19 year old can and gulps his chai… he’s out the door… off to work.  Off to continue his journey… his becoming. I love watching this, I love hearing him share that he’s got to pick up his buddy on his way to work and wouldn’t want to be late because then delivery times get “screwed up”.  This might all sound so simple and not worth mentioning, or blogging about for that matter, but I feel it is more than worth it.

What I’ve clearly learned over time is that most other people don’t see the world the way I do.  I realize this is a daily exchange of many as a day begins, but for me it’s me watching the growth in my son, the learning of responsibility, he makes me proud.  I find such joy and emotion in everything around me. I find that it’s the simple things that bring the greatest joy… small daily accomplishments all leading to bigger ones down the line.  Don’t be mistaken… with this strong emotional attachment to the little things that I say bring me “joy”… the small things also rock my world in a way that other’s can’t always understand. I FEEL everything… and strongly might I add.  The good and the bad.  I internalize things and overthink them… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure, I just know it’s me and I know that I am beginning to understand myself more everyday.  I have felt misunderstood for much of my life.

Sitting in the coffee shop after my son left was different for me, I don’t often sit alone like that.  I sat committed to finishing my coffee and taking in the morning buzz of the people around me. I live in a small community so there were many familiar “hellos” but just as many unfamiliar faces too.   Chit chatter surrounded me, I consciously worked at not pulling out my phone… I honestly wanted to “see” and be seen!  I sipped and observed.  I saw many so engrossed in their phone screens that they would need to come out of that trance to even remember where they had landed for coffee that morning.  Others are “regulars” here and had friendly conversations amongst them.  A gentleman sat alone in the opposite corner from me reading the morning news.  Chatter across the counter while folks waited for their orders… I noticed one man who was so kind and followed each “Good Morning” greeting with “How are you doing anyway?”  — A man after my own heart.  He wants to know more, head lifted, eye contact, genuinely interested in how another person is “doing”.  I honed in on one conversation at the counter that sounded a bit deep, they were discussing a poster hung up for a fundraiser for a local musician who’s battling cancer. The man who wants to know more asked the barristas how his battle was going.  The response came from one of my favorite people behind the counter,  his response was “he’s ok… but this just may be his last loop around the planet.”  This resonated in me. I pondered that thought and knew I would write this morning.

I have not been turning to this blog for a while… I have been preferring my pen flowing across the pages of my personal journals…Yes that was plural… I have multiple journals around my home, always ready for me to jot down my many thoughts. This feels good today.

My coffee shop experience this morning left me humbled to be human. The last gentleman to leave the shop before me made his rounds to say goodbye and told us all that “Life is just a big wave… we are all on a tiny surfboard! Stay steady!”  Peace.

 

adult children, anxiety, awakening, identity, life, purpose

In Nature All Things Transform, Even People…

I woke up this morning thinking about my daughter.

She will be home after her exams in about two weeks. She is struggling. I always want to take the hurt away, find an answer… a solution. We’ve been at this a while, she has battled depression for almost 2 years now and all I’ve had to really offer is listening and understanding. Medication worked for a while but now seems to not be? Her stress levels are currently very high as she heads into exam week, this exacerbates her anxiety as well.

This morning I awoke with a renewal of hope. I woke up thinking of nature… thinking about how everything that is worth it takes time and nurturing.  Flowers begin as tiny seeds finding their way through rock and soil to meet the sun, they need water and light to begin to grow. They then form buds and gradually open themselves up into great beauty to share with the rest of us, all the while never doing this at the same time as the seed beside them.

The great enormous tree in our backyard began as a tiny acorn, finding ways to sprout despite all the adversity it’s faced. As a young tree it faced the wind and had to learn to stand tall, maybe changing form here and there to withstand the beating weather. But it is there now… with strong roots and providing shade and shelter to the rest of us.

The symbol I most thought of as I thought about my daughter this morning was the butterfly.  How the butterfly begins as a caterpillar… Haven’t we all felt like the caterpillar? The transformation and the morphing they must endure to eventually become the butterfly is inspiring. The interesting part to me is THE CATERPILLAR NEVER KNOWS IT”S HAPPENING.  They gradually go through natures plan, often very slowly, feeling undeveloped, feeling very unnoticed.

I saw my daughter clearly this morning as the caterpillar.  Not for it’s form or dullness… but for it’s desire, for it’s willingness to push on when all feels slow and unexciting. She is doing the inner work now to be able to fly off in grace and beauty… she is morphing and transforming right in front of me. I am so inspired by her strength and her ability to continue to smile when feeling such inner pain and turmoil. I am so proud of her and can so clearly see how today’s effort and strife will lead her to her transformation.

All of my children bring me such joy.  They are adults now.  I have such admiration for them, watching them take what my husband and I have instilled in them and seeing them apply it to their own lives, priceless!

“The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar was brave.”  ~ Anonymous

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, expectations, family, identity, life, purpose, school

Taking Life One Day at a Time

So…. It’s Spring.  Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does.  Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter.  This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch.  With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.

My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago.  He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.

We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…

We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there.  She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path.  College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.

This did not come as much of a surprise.  My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well.  Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business.  She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more.  She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.

This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression.  It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner.  She is very often in a very heightened state of stress.  She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se.  This is very unsettling.  A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc)  all seem to point in the direction of her gut health.  She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry.  My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.

Our son has also battled with major anxiety.  He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer.  My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of.  Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story.  It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them.  I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.

So here we are… Spring… new beginnings.  My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways.   One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling.  They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either.  I am proud of them and we support their journey!

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.  – Arthur Ashe

 

communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

purpose

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Fredrick Douglass

We seem to need a cultural shift.  The majority of families in society seem to be struggling so much. What do we do? How does the average person who can see this have an impact?

I work in a K-12 elementary school.  I am very blessed to work in the library, I am the library assistant.  I service every student and every adult in the building.  In all reality, this means I see everything! I see clearly the struggle of teachers trying to teach state standards to their students, many of which are unable to learn due to their own personal struggles, I see and feel the struggles of these kids daily.  I see administration and counselors working tirelessly day in and day out, often just to be scrutinized by staff for what they “didn’t do” or what they “should have done differently”.  I see paraprofessionals in classrooms supporting full-time teachers and often having inter-personal difficulties between them that there seems to be nowhere to turn for help.  I recently became the ESP representative in our building, sitting on the ESP Advisory Board, to try to help these issues.

The library is a quiet safe space, my students often open up to me, I am a listener by nature.  I enjoy my role and feel I have been placed here.  Our library class is considered a “special” on the kids schedule from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. We have most classes twice a week for 30 minutes. Often the kids are just coming in from recess, or maybe gym, and they walk into the library with unresolved social issues that popped up during their unstructured time out of their academics.  They may walk in bickering or whispering, crying or with noticeable tension, whatever it may be it feels to me to be a teachable moment. They want to talk about it, they want to resolve it, they want help with the way it feels.  The part that I don’t understand and see differently is that they are just shuffled through… “keep quiet, keep in line, come into class we are waiting on you now!”   There is no understanding of one’s feelings, no discussion to what socially just happened… just keep moving, push those emotions aside we have work to do!  I just don’t get that.  Isn’t that something we as adults need to also learn?  What then are we creating for these kids? More disconnect, no communication skills.  What is being taught to these kids about understanding their emotions and how to deal with them as they grow and have even more complex emotions?

We are the library, there is no grade given, there are no tests.  Yes, the literacy piece is undoubtedly important… but my point is, can’t there be 5-10 minutes if it’s needed to help these kids resolve some feelings?  Wouldn’t this be the time for them to be able to take a breath and feel the calm before shuffling along again? I get the lead teachers who need to push content during academic blocks, I get that wholeheartedly,  but I also think this is equally important.  I went to a library symposium recently and it is a fact that libraries are sanctuaries to some of our most vulnerable people in society.  Shouldn’t this feeling be taught to kids in the early years?  The feeling you get from your first library will last a lifetime. That is what I feel is most important in my job, creating an environment that’s bright, cheery, and a welcoming space for all.

The definition of school is an institution for educating children.  “Educating children”… to me that means the whole child, to support the growth and advancement of that little person.  Doesn’t that include mind, body and spirit?  If it doesn’t then I think we’ve turned the wrong direction somewhere along the way in education and may be contributing to some of our societal problems right from the start. Our young people have to be taught how to be people, not just succeed in academics, but succeed as people in a society!!

The school I am a part of does this better than many, I am sure of that!  But knowing that what we do is “better” than most and observing the struggle daily is very unsettling.

I see parents working hard… trying to do the right thing.  But they are having to make tough decisions between family and work just to make ends meet and pay the bills.  The stress that comes along with having to make these decisions leaves them exhausted and lacking patience for what their children need from them to succeed.  Who do we help? Parents, kids, entire families?  Do they even know they need help?  What are the steps communities can take to help?  Where in the world do we start?

I cannot reiterate enough that I see and feel the pain!  I see the hurt!  These kids are voicing it – asking for help!  I see kids at younger and younger ages understanding the dysfunction happening at home but feeling out of control of it themselves.  Imagine 6, 7 and 8 year old children knowing something doesn’t feel right and then living with feeling out of control for an entire childhood.  Those same young people feeling out of control of their environment become teenagers and then adults.  Coping skills and a full tool box of how to combat these feelings are so important to them when they are young.  Do we really question the human disconnect and lack of empathy of school shooters?  They were never listened to, they voiced all along what they needed and they were shuffled along through the halls and classrooms being “taught”.  What are we teaching?

The only motive I’ve EVER seen in a young child’s crying or misbehaving is the motive to be listened to, to be understood, or to simply be loved! Some of the children who act out most are those who need the most!

I was that child… because of my needy-ness I was taught to not like myself very much, that something was wrong with me for “feeling”… this carried over into my adult life and I have found ways to make sense of these things.  I have a loving supportive family, a dynamic husband who listens intently to my often crazy ideas.  But what about the kid who doesn’t have that support as they grow?  They continue to feel stupid, unloved, and misunderstood… What a horrible state of being to be in! Is this what we want to continue to create? I don’t.

“Listen to Your Children Now so They’ll Talk Later”

awakening, clarity, gratitude, husband, life, marriage, New England, purpose, seasons, Spring

The Sweet Sound of Wind Chimes

March is finally coming to an end.  The month of March in New England is just a miserable month.  Dreary, cold, long… but the anticipation of spring ahead keeps us going.

My husband has been putzing around outside a lot more these days with the extended daylight in the late afternoons.  He awakened the grill from it’s winter slumber and we have grilled out a few evenings this past week, what a treat!

Yesterday was my sacred Saturday morning, waking to silence and no commitments to run off to, just the quiet of early morning with my coffee.  As I sat reflecting on my week with sun flooding into the living room I heard a different but familiar sound… The sweet sound of wind chimes.

My husband had hung our wind chimes for the season.  I didn’t know he had done it… oh what a pleasant surprise!

There is surely something to be said for being grateful.  Knowing and acknowledging the simple things is a true gift.  It can change so much, just being still and listening… allowing ourselves to embrace what is good around us and not give our attention and energy to  negatives, this is gratitude.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie