I don't really know what that means.
I met some really interesting people today. I mean, A LOT of interesting people. I was fascinated by each of them. I wanted to sit with them--seriously, every single one of them--and talk with them more. I was hugged and loved, and admired, and I was able to return that favor. It was powerful. I don't know what happened today, but I think it has to do with my desire to write. Seriously. Strange as that may sound, my desire to write has opened my mind to the possibilities that exist outside of what I'm doing now. It makes me want know people and see people, and then write those people. It's pretty cool.
I was told by one couple that my "chakra is so open right now." I won't lie, I had to look that shit up. Evidently you have 7 of them, so I don't know which one is open, but something has raised a floodgate. I have words galore, and smiles to share, and I'm on fire, folks. It's wonderful. I feel like how a hippie must. But, that could also be that I've made it clear to myself that certain goals can be attained, and I'm not going down until they are. Watch out, I'm ready to rock.
Speak it, right? I am shouting it. I'm going to write until my fingers bleed, if that's what it takes. (And I'm also going to speak it, since I'm also working on a vlogging series...hold tight...it will be here soon.)
Wish me luck everyone! And look for my next book, StinkBug, on Kindle. I'll have that one ready in about a month. In the meantime, Notes to People awaits you, also on Kindle.
Be good to yourself, and if you can't be good to yourself, go take a nap.
About why I write.
I was inspired by Mike Faricy's (https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Faricy/e/B004DBU1QA) post on why he writes, so I need to tell my own story. The problem is, I spend so much time telling short stories, and telling fiction, that I'm not really sure what my story is. So I may have to wing it...fictionalize it, if you will. Or maybe it will be the truth.
I write because I think.
That's pretty much it. I write because I am my own best and worst critic. I write because I envision life in all its forms, and some of those forms suit me, but many of them don't. I want to experience all of them, so writing gives me the moment to try them out.
I write because I am reflective.
That's also pretty much it. I write because I have so many things to reflect upon. I have so many people and moments that inspire me and that make me remember that there are multiple realities to every single moment. Writing helps me to make sense of those. It helps me to distill those thoughts, those moments, those fears and failures and laughs and wins.
I write because it is natural.
Let's be real. I screw up a lot. But words have boundaries. Change a letter and the whole meaning becomes something else. Change a word, and suddenly you've changed a context. I freakin' love it. See, I just reduced the formality by choosing a word, and then, for added consistency, dropped a letter. Amazing.
Right now, I write because there are things that need to be done that no other person will ever do for me. And writing helps me to remember that.
And mostly, I write because it is hard. I've never really done anything the easy way. So this makes complete sense.
Dustin called me out. I had made the promise through this blog that I would finish my murder mystery by August 1st. And I worked on it, I really did. I made some really hard choices this summer about how to spend my time, and sometimes, I made some really EASY choices about how to spend my time, and it wasn't always used for writing. And I didn't finish the book.
This summer was pretty incredible, though. Aidan and I traveled a lot, and I gained some amazing perspective on life and experience and words spoken. I met some awesome people, and I heard a lot of promises that I believed, but which ended up being empty. So now, I have another new perspective on the words we speak and the promises we make. I promised to finish my book, and I failed. I don't think I failed any of you. I made the promise because you keep me accountable, and so really, I failed myself by not finishing it. I could make excuses, I mean, it is reallllly hard work to write a murder mystery, especially when you've never murdered anyone (but I can't say I haven't thought about how it could work out...), but that's not the point. The thing is, I underestimated my capacity for hard brain work when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, and my dogs are snuffling about underfoot. I was often distracted.
What this summer taught me is that I want to promise to keep my promises. And with that, I promise that the promises I make will only be promises I intend to keep. And as for others? I will consider my locus of control. If someone makes me a promise that they don't keep, or don't intend to keep, I will have to consider the source, consider the context, and consider how much it matters that this promise be held. And in this life, sometimes, promises mean nothing.
But don't let that distract you (or me) from the fact that this book is rocking. And it is an incredible experience that is motivating me from my core and raging through my being. It's going to happen, but it isn't going to happen just because I put a day on it. It's going to happen because I have promised this story that I will tell it. And I owe it to the story to do it the justice it deserves.
I’ve spent a lifetime as a flexible person. Really, my hips, thighs, ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists: all of them were well oiled joints that responded to the tortures I put them through on the volleyball court, the softball field or the rugby pitch. But now, they creak. They are rusted through and through. I have chondromalacia in the one “good” knee that hasn’t needed surgery, and tendonitis in my throwing elbow. Running the bases is torture on my kneecap, and throwing the ball? Forget it. Try doing a simple ab workout…nothing works like it used to. There is nothing like getting old, and trust me, it’s not for sissies. Oscar Wilde was so right about youth being wasted on the young. I beat myself up, and now I’m paying in spades.
Aidan and I did some yardwork the other day, including putting in a new fence, and I was practically on the verge of tears because I hurt so much. Honestly, the worst part was admitting that I couldn’t do the things I once had been able to do. I felt old and used up, and honestly…worthless. But that is a choice. I don’t have to feel that way. I can choose how to reword that. I can put a new face on it. I can start getting to the part my dad was a pro at: I can be a supervisor now. I have nothing to prove except to myself, and the expectations that I talked about the other day don’t have to be lower, but they have to be different. My body doesn’t respond the way I tell it to as often as I’d like it to anymore. That’s okay. I’m 43, I’m not dead. I just have to keep working at living.
I met an old man at Wal-Mart in the birdseed section. I noticed he was taking a really long time to get back into his motorized cart, so I went to help him, but he refused it, and then he told me all about being young—not old. He used his body hard, and he doesn’t regret a single bit of it. Jumping out of airplanes, fighting forest fires, taking risks…all were the things that made him the bright eyed, albeit slow old man on oxygen today. He wants to die after eating a bison steak on a mountaintop, or after he’s had a bit of fun in a whorehouse in Mexico at 103. I can pass on that, but I plan to be 103 when I go too.
And there is hope for flexibility. It’s called drugs. Just kidding. It actually means working through the pain, which is pretty metaphorical for most of things in life. We make choices in our lives that affect everything we do next. It’s often difficult to sift through the material we’re presented to decide if we’ve made a good choice, or if the next one will be just as good. So even though a standing ab workout sucks, and it makes me realize how much I actually hurt (or weigh), it is going to benefit me as I get better at it. Just like anything else, it takes practice, and it means taking risks, and it means getting up and just doing it. Quit making excuses and put your mind over your matter.
I have been reading Barbara Stanny’s book, Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life, and her message so far is that successful high earners know their own value and have a solid work/life balance. Underearners, in her estimate, tend to complicate their lives by doing multiple jobs thinking that they’re doing the best thing for themselves, but ultimately they are not making the income that meets their potential.
As a veteran Level 3 teacher in New Mexico, I am in the upper bracket of my earning potential. By working at the hotel I have been able to gain quite a lot of perspective on that, but also on my desire to make more money, along with my frustration at stagnating in my professional salary. Stanny addresses that at one point in her text by talking about how people who are underearning are essentially grinding down their hopes (and energy and time) and therefore, their ability to make more. Success is relative, to be sure, but contentedness comes from our own attitudes. The biggest question to ask is, "where is my time best spent?"
The growth process I've undertaken has also given me the opportunity to better understand my relationship with money. I sometimes take on debt as a challenge. That’s not healthy. I'm good at paying debt down, and at being smart, for the most part about what I purchase, but I definitely like to spend money on experiences and adventures. Until I make more money, or until my son is responsible for his own life, health, vision, dental and auto insurance, I probably should scale my experiences back a bit. (Kids aren't cheap, folks.)
I am currently looking at other professional jobs, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to leave the one I am in right now. It does mean that if I am offered a job that would pay me $20,000 more, I really need to consider taking it. I’m seven years away from retirement, and most people look at me like I’m a fool when I suggest that I'd like to do something new. Teaching is getting harder, but it’s also my own inflexibility that tends to grow as I as I get older. My frustration comes more readily. That’s not a fair translation for the students who need more from me.
Being successful as a teacher also means knowing when to stay and when to go. I don't know yet if I've hit that point of awareness. My advice to myself? "When in doubt, do nothing." But I don't want to just sit around and wait for something to happen, either. I want to know it before it hits me in the face. So, for now, I will read this book, evaluate my thoughts, grow as a person, and one day soon, I will know what needs to happen next.
I'll keep you posted, homies. Love ya.
What concerns me most is that there are people out there who don't know good when it is in front of them...
I want to address the idea of expectations, reality, and perception. First, we all have expectations. That's just the crux of it. Whether they are high or low, we each hold them about each and every thing we do. We expect our son to take out the trash, and he either does it or he doesn't. Will he do it immediately? Probably not, and unless I do it first, he will eventually get around to it. That is the reality. I'll ask him, and he'll probably wait to see if I'll do it first, and then if I do, great, he's free, if I don't, then eventually he will take the trash out. The perception is where it all gets sketchy. Did I ask him to do it right away? Did he perceive that it was imperative to do it right away? Was he already involved in something else, that to him, was more important at the time?
What I'm trying to get at, is that each of us goes through this phase process of expectations and results, and along the way, we go through our own realities and our own perceptions of those realities. And if we aren't careful, this process can result in some really lousy reactions--and we are the only ones responsible for how we react to each interaction.
Last night, I served a family of 10, and while I thought I gave them great service, their expectation was completely different, and therefore, their perception was completely different. They felt that they deserved red carpet treatment, and that I might fawn over them because in their mind, they were spending a lot of money. Let me tell you, people, I've learned that "a lot of money" is all relative. But I digress.
My expectation was to serve them, make sure they were hydrated, fed and could spend the time with their family in peace and comfort, hopefully with laughter and joy. Their expectation? I'm not sure. I just didn't meet them. I didn't do a song a dance, just like I don't really want to do a song and dance in a classroom. So you can't please everybody. It turned into a completely horrible experience for me, and they walked away with all sorts of gratuities that they didn't deserve.
I could wax on about all of this, but in the end, what really matters is that sometimes, some people don't see the good in the things in front of them, and in that behavior, they make others feel things they don't necessarily need to feel: sadness, angst, misery, whatever. It's real in all areas of life. Manage expectations. I am certainly not saying to lower expectations. That's never a part of my vocabulary. I am saying, however, that there are good things in everything, and if we just learn to see them for what they are worth, then we can be happier, better people.
Have a great day, homies. I love ya.
A week ago I took a group of students on a school trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia. That's USA, folks. You'd be surprised how many people ask if I took them to the country of Georgia. Anyway...while the trip was educational in nature, it was also very important for me. I was able to reset a lot of the things in my mind that were askew, and have been askew for quite some time. I was able to gain some clarity. There may be something to being at the beach, up against the power of the ocean and the shifting tide, the uneasy sands, or the rocky wall of the breakers, but there may also be something to being forced to just stop, don't work. Be thoughtful, be reflective. It was wonderful.
I was able to reset. I was able to reconsider some goals, created as much as a year ago, and as soon as six months ago, or maybe even just five months ago. There is a big difference between five months and six months, though it seems small.
This blog for instance. There are people who read it! There are people who look for it, and I am disappointing them when I don't have something for them to read. Even more mind blowing to me, is that there are some people who are even inspired by some of the things that I say in my blog. I wouldn't necessarily know that except for the simple reason that I teach, and most of the people who find inspiration in my words are students. That's pretty cool, actually. And isn't that mostly what I'm seeking anyway? To inspire students? It's pretty amazing.
I have taken some time to consider my career, my professional marketability, and the choices I've made in the last few years that are either professional in nature, or that interfere with my professional growth. I'm okay. I've had a great career, and it will continue for as long as I decide it has value in my life. Much like a man, it must make my life better, or else, why am I doing it? Caught between the high waves of the incoming tide and the rocks of the breakers that protect the sands, I realized that there it is: tumult and change, but underneath, there is a quiet place that I can return to.
I've given some of these decisions up to God. I'm doing the legwork here, but I trust that He has His eye on my prize. He knows my heart. And, we all know that I have much to accomplish in this life. I know I have much to say, to think, to do, and I'm getting pretty excited about it. See you all again soon.
Yesterday I took the day off to grade papers. It's a sad state of affairs to have to take time off from your job to do your job, but that is almost a side story. What is really important is that I was not aware that we were going to do a "stay in place" drill.
On most occasions, this is simply an easy drill. Something odd has been observed on campus, so kids are supposed to stay in their classrooms until it has been identified and managed. Usually, this means that a teacher has a Christmas present behind their desk that they were unaware of. But who knows, it could be a bomb.
Anyway, I digress. These days, it could be anything. And more importantly, after the shooting in Florida last week, or gosh, the week before, tensions have been high. And worse? I promised my kids that I would stand between them and anything that might come. And instead, the day that mettle was put to the test, I was at home, grading essays that were a month old, because no matter how I tried, I could not get them done in my day.
I was devastated when I read the email that it was about to commence. I wasn't there. I couldn't reassure my kids, or look them in the eye, or take care of them. And even a rational mind knows that the drill was, in any instance, simply a drill, and it wasn't even a serious concern, since all students could continue about their business (minus the bathroom...sorry Jared), and so they were safe, but fuck. I wasn't there. And last week, when we talked about what we need to do in the event of...I promised them I would be there.
So today, I proudly took my graded papers to them, and I hugged one or two of them because I was so fucking glad to see them, and then I got through my day until our PD meeting, where we talked about "in the event of." And I'm so fucking sick of thinking about "what we should do in the event of." I want to just love them and teach them and fight with them and get them through it, and I HATE it that evil destroys all of us. There isn't enough wine in the world to make me feel better.
So when people talk about how this is the way, or that is the way, or we need to make our teachers work harder, or carry guns, or love more or love less or that parents need to take more of a role, I say Fuck All Of You.
Look at yourself and do something yourself. QUIT passing it on, and know that each of us has to do something. And I don't know what it means for you, but for me, it means I will put myself in the way of someone who wants to hurt my kids. I've lived 43 amazing fucking years, and Emile Sande can't say it any better. MY heart beats for you.
God, I'm a fucking mess. Forgive me. Or forgive yourself, but make something change. Each of us MUST.
Presidents' Day. A day for "reflection." Which I never do. I mean, on Presidents. I'm constantly reflecting.
Today, I set up my list of "to-do's" and I haven't done much of any of them. I sure took a couple of incredible naps, though.
The wind blew through, and blew my mind. I wish it wasn't so windy in my world. And I didn't write a single thing. I simply worked, watched some television and puttered around. I am a master at puttering around.
If I want to be successful at writing, I should have been writing. All day long. Wind, rain, sun, or any other weather situation. I mean, I AM indoors. So how much do I really want to be successful?
I have a solid four or five hours left in this day. I better get cracking. I've beaten myself up enough today for not writing. Now I need to settle on an idea and get after it.
Titles are hard. Just like some emotions.
I’m a pretty optimistic person, I think. Most of the time, at any rate. Sure, sometimes I think life has just kicked me in the ass, and I’d love to make more money and be closer to my next goal, and maybe feel a little more excited about getting up for work each morning, but I can’t really complain. There are only about three people in my life who would listen, anyway. But sometimes, people can sure bring me down.
I was watching a Ted Talk about the new philosophy that people are embracing--that they are maybe “sorry” for feeling sad, mad, discordant, etc. I don’t really feel sorry for feeling those things when I feel them, although sometimes I may apologize for having expressed them. I am certainly a reactive person, but I’m definitely also a reflective person, and after my little eruption, I can pretty easily move to the next stage of processing. But I’m a little concerned that this idea of hiding emotion, or worse, denying emotion, is a trend. If anything, we are human, and humans emote. But better than that? Humans are resilient.
So, I think the key is to figure out how to best handle that in your life. I’m not offering advice, because I’m definitely trying to sort it out for myself, but I do think we each have to do our own thing. And I’m past the point in my life where I’m looking for someone to understand me. I think what’s most important at this point, is figuring out how to understand myself. I’ve finally realized that in the game, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along.
Wanted: a good set of sentences to grab you from the depths of the internet. I keep trying to catch your eye.