float.

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I’m sick of following my dreams.  I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later.  ~Mitch Hedberg
Today, it’s been six months since we’ve been in the home.
I never dreamt that I would be so happy with a house.
I lived 20 years in a home that took care of us.  But.  This place.  This place is home.
In the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve loved and lost again.
My nephew died, and I periodically am slammed with overwhelming grief.
I ended one dream job, and got another, better, more perfect job.
My son’s soccer team won the division section championships.
My son’s football team was one short of the same.
I’m starting to understand the heartbeat of my neighborhood.
When I should run.  Where.
I didn’t know that I would have ever picked this place on the map.
This grief.  This love.  This dream home.
All I know for sure is that my dreams…
The ones I haven’t even dreamt yet.
Well.
They are coming true.

Not sure how to start this.

I had the most bizarre experience today.  We had cause to spend some time together at a doctor’s office today.  He with his smile, and what seemed like a friendly demeanor.  Well.  As best as he could.

So.  30 minutes later.  He left an accidental voicemail on my phone.  Calling me names.  The bad ones.  He didn’t know he was being recorded.  And the funny thing is, he was talking to a different woman.  Not that woman.  Someone else.  Was he speaking rhetorically?  Or to her out the window or on another line…?  I couldn’t tell.  But when he finally realized that he was being recorded, you could hear the sickness in his voice.  Like he all of a sudden was caught.

And here’s the deal.  He talked about my blogs.  Things he thinks he knows from reading them (this is my first post in a month).

My first reaction.  Shut everything down.  Go dark.  Run.

Then.  Another response.

No.  I will not.  I am not afraid; I am not worried.

In fact, my response was to stand right up.  Most people know I adore social media.  I’ve met wonderful friends on Twitter…my running world would not be complete without them.  I snapchat daily with a friend from my last job.  I love connecting with long standing friends across the country.  I’m the first to get on board for a new outlet.  I love it all.  So, in light of this morning’s development, instead of shrinking and changing what I love, I simply have decided to fling myself right out here, and give you my take on all the social media.  Including links that will take you right to my page.

First, the uglies.

  1. Ello  So not sure about this one yet.  I joined. I love the format.  I just don’t get it yet.  I’m reserving judgment, but there is no app, so I’m not hep.  Yet.
  2. Biker Or Not An old site I rarely use.  When I used to have a backseat, I loved reading some of these posts.  They are snarky and adult, and it’s only given me some cute pictures, nothing else.  I certainly am not interested in someone else’s backseat.  I go on and off of this one.  It’s really not for me.  Weird format.

The ones I like the most:

  1. Google + This is my new favorite. No advertisements.  Clean format.  Easily ported through gmail, google, youtube.  I like the interconnectedness.
  2. Twitter One of my first online ventures, I started Twitter when it was just a year old.  I met hundreds of people that I started to interact with on a regular basis.  I didn’t know any of them, but they became real, when all over the country, Tweetups were the thing of the day.  Many of those old friends from 2008 are people I talk with daily on Facebook.  I have a public profile, because I like the seamless interaction with businesses, and since I’ve come back to teaching, Twitter has started to flesh out my career.  Also.  Anyone remember the governor helping to save my house?  Yes, I could go on forever about this one.  I love Twitter.
  3. Instagram I love this site.  But.  What I really love it clicking your picture two times to bring up that heart.  So satisfying.  So many people I know do JUST Instagram, so it’s a fun way to connect.  The filters.  RISE.  My personal favorite.  Super fun.
  4. Pinterest When this first started, I just liked a page of all my favorite stuff.  Then, I liked to be able to link pictures to web pages I used regularly.  As with everything, some wise guys have fake pins that take you to spam, but for the most part, I like my collections.  It’s sort of my history there now.
  5. Snapchat This is the site where you take a pic, send it, and it’s gone.  Instantly.  Or so you think.  I only use it with a few friends.  Mostly snarky and sarcastic and stuff we don’t want seen again.  You know who you are.
  6. Spotify  My only music sharing site.  I have the premium.  I have thousands of collections, and follow many more.  I love music.

Lastly.  Facebook.  How could I forget you?  I have a love/hate relationship with you.  I can’t disconnect, because you own everything.  I will figure out a way, but for now, I am with you.

I’m not afraid.  I’m authentic.  Think what you want…then come join me.

Tomorrow, We Start Again

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I’m going back to the classroom.  Tomorrow, October 20th.

I loved my job as a therapist.  I love my colleagues there.

Then one day, I thought.  Hmm.  I really should go get that half of a year I need for retirement.

What I didn’t realize, was that I was going to fall in love with teaching.  Or, prepping for teaching.  I’ve been scouring The Dollar Tree, The Dollar General, The 99 Cent Store (you get the gist) for things to put in my classroom.  I went to my classroom on Friday, and spent five (5) hours there, arranging, rearranging.  Starting over.

I found some journals, because that’s all I want them to do tomorrow.  Pick up the pencil, and write.

My principal asked if I needed a few days before I had students, since they have had a long term sub.  I said no.  I want them on Monday.  Fresh.  Bright.

Just like it’s the first day of school, because after all, it is.

(Old School Meme, written in 2010…don’t know what’s changed, but here’s my story)

20 QUESTION TEACHING MEME

1. Teaching assignments, how long? 6th grade 1981-1990 (in Dunlap & Fresno); elementary counseling 1990-1993 (in Fresno); elementary counseling 1994-1996 (in Stockton) 1996 High School Counseling; 7th grade 2002; 7th-8th Science (+1 Algebra) & PE (2003-2007) elementary PE (2007) High School Continuation School (2008-2009) High School English (2008-current).  (4th Grade starting tomorrow)

2. Favorite Class Taught and Why? I had some fun 6th grade classes at Easterby in Fresno.  I had street cred, a great reputation as a tough teacher, and mostly, had a great teaching staff.

3. Worst Class Taught and Why? I really had a hard time with Algebra.  I know how to do it…teaching it?  Not so much.  If I had to pick the worst class of students, that would be another story.  It’s not about the students.  It’s about how effective I feel as a teacher.

4. Favorite Class Taken?  H. Dan Smith at Fresno State was the man.  He was the one who taught me the most about in-vivo counseling.  He taught me that there is no way in hell that I can walk people through their trauma if I haven’t faced my own demons.  I remember him the most.  When you finally got to his classes at the end of the Master program, you knew you were with the best.

5. Favorite Education Book?  “To be quite honest, education books are pretty much full of shit.”  (Quoting Coach)  Education books about education make my teeth hurt.  However, I do like some old Self Esteem books for kids, circa 1973 or so.  This is the new version of my old favorite, by Jack Canfield.

6. Best Teacher Buddy?  Many, actually.  Currently it’s Carl.  (although I miss him … long story) Carl had taken up my cause last year in a Continuation School.  He believed in me, and that meant more than any *evaluation* I could get.  I’m learning how to learn.  Again.    From the beginning, however, there is “T” from Fresno Unified.  I was going through infertility treatments with my first ex-husband, and we had to do 6th grade Science Camp.  T. gave me my hormone shots.  At camp.  She had my back on everything.  Robman from the current round of teaching.  He is as old as I am sober (He’s 29 years old, I’m almost 31 years sober).  He and I were quite a team.  Anyone that makes you laugh and saves your ass at the same time…that’s gold.  I can’t forget the foursome ofGeorge, Wendy & Debbie.  We made quite a team, too.   One that’s never been replicated.

7. Best Administrator?  Rich Andrade.  Back in the day when you could have a conversation with your boss without union representation, or without what you said being held against you.  Before political correctness, and when you learned the most about yourself.  Rich finally had enough of administration and went back to the classroom.  I learned so much from him, and was blessed to have is support.  Currently, my boss, who should remain anonymous, has been a tremendous source of inspiration.  He could give me a pass.  But, he doesn’t.  He makes me want to work.  To be patient.  To improve.  He’s the new source of teaching mojo.

8. Most Disappointing Experience?  Being let go from a favorite parochial school because I wasn’t Catholic.  The parents went to bat for me, but alas, I was the wrong religion.

9. Most Thrilling Moment?  Teaching sabermetrics to my 7th graders, doing baseball stats, reading “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”, going to an Oakland A’s game, and having all my students meet the real Tom Gordon.  He signed my book, “Stay out of the woods.”  Another long story.

10. Funniest Incident in Your Classroom? A “female product”rolled out of my backpack during a book talk on a girl in the mountains…we were all dressed up as our favorite character.  Sorta stopped the conversation, as we were in a circle.  Reminded me of that Seinfeld episode (The Virgin), when Elaine’s diaphragm fell out of her purse.

Elaine: I was talking to this guy, you know, and I just happened to throw my purse on the sofa. And my diaphragm goes flying out. So I just froze, you know, ahh! Staring at my diaphragm. You know, it’s just lying there. So then, this woman, the one who sold me this hair thing, she grabbed it before the guy noticed, so. I mean, big deal, right? So I carry around my diaphragm, who doesn’t? Yeah, like it’s a big, big secret that women carry around their diaphragms. You never know when you’re gonna need it, right? (Sips the Snapple) Ahh.

11. Most memorable student? “L”.  The first day of teaching in an all African American school, and we were lined up for lunch.  I told “L” to stop bouncing the ball.  He yells, “You ain’t nuthin’ but an old white honky.”  We went at it all year like that.  It soon became apparent that this student needed Special Ed., but because of his gang affiliation, he should not have gone into it at our site, because he would have lost all power.  I fought the law, and I won, getting him in a school off campus.  That May, he dedicated, “I Just Called To Say I Love You”* at his school Fine Arts festival.  I think of him every time I hear it.  I did one good thing, and I’ll never forget him. (youtube at end of post)

12. What about unions? When you need them, they’re there.  Since 1981, I’ve used them three times, and although they aren’t lawyers, they stand up for you, and usually get the job done.  My union thug friend Ken says, “Unions:  The People Who Gave You Weekends”.  I like it.

13. What about charter schools? I have no opinion.

14. What about merit pay? Too many factors to make it a good thing.  It always fried me to see teachers sitting around getting the same salary as me, while I schlepped cows eyes for Science projects into my classroom.  On the other hand, I’m sitting now.  Teaching Academic Enrichment/aka Study Hall. (for the time being)   So, it all works out, doesn’t it?

15. What does “21st century learning” mean? What it SHOULD mean, is that we get back to basics.  Stop living like fat cats, thinking we need computers and new textbooks that align the standards, and following scripts.  At the same time, embracing computer literacy, connecting via the internet with other classes, having equity for all students with computer access.  It SHOULD mean teaching with your “hair on fire”, which is a phrase I use, meaning…Give me a tube of vaseline, and I can make lessons in Science, Social Studies, Math & Reading out of it.  Teachers used to know how to write objectives, and create units.  I don’t think it’s what 21st century means…but it should.

16. What makes a teacher “effective?” Kids are excited, paying attention, and can translate information into their own world.  Kids become literate in communicating their heart.

17. Most overrated “reform?” Continuation School.

19. Personal education hero?  Every single teacher who suits up and shows up, despite and against all odds.

20. Priorities, if you could spend $5 billion on education? Better teachers in high-needs schools; innovation grants for creating new kinds of schools; serious teacher development–content knowledge, leadership, instructional improvement; a policy academy where practicing educators and policymakers jointly investigated research and creative options for problem-solving (I copied this from Coach because it was right on the money).   The only thing I would add is a solution that works for ongoing disciplinary issues.

Abundance is an Attitude.

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As I look around, I have more than enough. I have more books than I will ever read, and more music than I will ever listen to. I have over 20 cookbooks and can create as many different recipes out of hardly anything in my cupboard.

This morning, my gas tank is on empty, and I have $34.63 in my checking account. Not to worry, because I get paid tonight at midnight. However, I have so much more than I will ever need today. I don’t need that $34 today. This is an attitude that I’m trying to give to my children.

I don’t know if you long time blog readers remember when I was on welfare. I learned this little trick from my mother-in-law. At dinner time, I would put out bowls of things in my cupboard …a bowl of cheese nips, a bowl of raisins. I would add ice water and cloth napkins, and our table looked full and rich. A bowl of carrots, while not my children’s favorite food, was appealing to the eye. I always have flour and all the staples, so I could make biscuits. It’s one of the reasons I started baking cakes on Sunday when they came home. It’s an attitude of “we have enough,”, and “I’m so happy to see you.” Anybody can make a beautiful smelling home with a dollar cake mix.

So I was thinking about this, because last night, as I posted on Facebook, we had four hours of straight up homework …the annexation of Texas, parabolas, English vocabulary words, and a health test. My younger son had an hour of algebraic word problems, coupled with reading a new novel together. Everybody seem to be in a mini panic (including me), because there was too much to do.

My favorite quote from my dad is, “In a pond of alligators, shoot the closest one first.” The boys and I tried to assess which assignments had to be done first. My younger son was done relatively quickly, and was exhausted. My oldest son had hours of homework to do. While he studied his history and came up with seven different paragraphs on the annexation of Texas and the fugitive slave law, I read his health notes into a voice memo then texted it to him for him to listen to on the way to school today. He had two math problems that were difficult for him, and so we are trying to get help from sources that we have, which includes emailing two engineers.

See, we have an abundance. We have enough time to finish all the assignments. We have enough people that can help us when it gets tough. And we have technology at the ready that we can use to make our life easier. It’s an attitude.

In about a half an hour, I take them to the bus because we have to manage two cars today to go out of town for a soccer tournament. They will have an extra hour on the bus, one they did not think they would have. And so just when you think you’re out of time, a whole hour opens up for your convenience.

I think about this when I think about marathon training, and I used to say and I’ve heard from many people “I don’t have time.” The truth is, I’ve trained for six of them, and if you want something bad enough, you do carve out the time, even if it’s running at 4 AM while your children sleep.

There is enough of everything. Money, time, love. My job is to accept it and not struggle.

Onward.

“Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used To Know”

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I’ve had a blog post ruminating around in my mind ever since I saw this picture. Of course, you would think it might be describing the loss an ex-lover. In my case, however, it is just about everything.

For about a year, I’ve had what Hoss and I call the little burning in my chest. And I would call him up, and I would say “It’s burning”. As I was trying to release someone I loved, I assumed the burning was because I just couldn’t get over it. I assumed that I would never ever be able to love again. The little burning would come up, I would call Hoss, and he would say “Hello little burning what are you trying to teach me?”

It went like this for a little while. And then this summer when my nephew died, it came back. Of course I also assumed it was grief. Grief about leaving my hometown, and grief about losing him. In the last few weeks it was starting to come faster and faster. The insomnia I had was significant and the depression was increasing.

I went to the lab and finally did my blood work. Just so you know, I called my mother to tell her the results that came back, and her response was “You know, you don’t need to write about this”. I love my mother, but her era is different than mine. If this helps anyone, I feel I must write it.

In the 80s, I was a fertility patient. When I was pregnant with my second son, I had PICA, a disorder where women eat rocks when they’re pregnant …or gravel or sand. In my case, one night I went out to my tire and tried to cut a piece off of the rubber to chew it. For the rest of the pregnancy I ate pencil topper erasers like they were going out of style. My doctor even remarked that she tried to go to OfficeMax to get some, and she said, “Linda they’re all out.” Of course, my husband had gone and cleaned them all out earlier in the day. So I’ve had these really odd situations with my lady bits. This week, when I thought I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I was going to call the suicide hotline in the middle of the night (not because I was suicidal, but because I had insomnia and I knew they were up LOL), I was prompted to follow up on the blood work.

It did in fact indicate that I am in menopause. Full-blown. I nearly hugged the doctor, because I thought I was going crazy. So she put me on the progesterone and the estrogen and explained my symptoms as they lineup with this particular phase of life. In just two days my life has changed.

That’s just sort of the background of where I’m going with this post. Of course, I love a man who I am not with. Or is it love, I don’t know. I know that my symptomology had an impact on my relationship the last time we got together. I had the burning all the time, and I just didn’t have any fight left in me. But even this post. It isn’t about him.

This picture …It turns out, that it’s about my hometown of 20 years: Ripon.

I came here tonight to drop off my son for a youth group church activity. It turns out since I’ve moved to Modesto, I’m in Ripon a lot more. My sons’ sports are here, all of their activities are here, and I don’t mind really driving them back-and-forth. It’s all part of the deal. I committed this whole year to miss nothing. A few years ago, I was going to Fresno every other weekend, and every other weekend I missed one of their sports.

I was running in Ripon tonight, because I had 2 hours to kill. A slowish almost 4 miles. Very slowish. I made my way to Vermeulen Park; it was eerily quiet. I forgot my headphones, so my iPhone was just playing music from my fuel belt. I turn the corner and started coming down by Spring Creek, and I completely misjudged the turn. It was like I had never run in this town before it all. As I came up over the overpass,I noticed that it felt like I was running on new ground.

I turned up Main Street, and there I saw what used to be Twyla’s, that was a physical therapist, and a gym, and a then became a massage place. It’s now a market. I looked at the Urgent Care that is now gone. Each of the corner shops that have been a nail shop or a craft store or a clothing place. All changed hands. I ran by Pizza Plus to see the Giants and the Cardinals tied at three. It was super quiet – one man sitting there watching. I ran all the way down the street, and nothing looked the same. I hardly recognized this town at all.

As I was turning up to go over the overpass again, I realized that when I live in a town, I completely live there. I know every step of the way, every tree, every monument sign. And when I came back tonight to run it’s like everything is changed. That old adage “You can’t go home again” is really true.

I suppose it’s really the theme of this post. You can’t go home again. Sweet relationships with beautiful friends die. Someone that you love you will just have to get used to not loving. Towns that you lived in for 20 years? Well. You don’t live in them anymore. Bodies that used to work a certain way, now need supplements to function properly.

I’m not sure why this is so significant tonight, except that I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a little while, and it really didn’t hit me until I came here tonight. I don’t live here anymore.

I’ve never been the maudlin type, although when I drink I always cried at the bar and wished for the good old days… (I was 20). But ever since I’ve moved, I simply don’t come back. I’m called today to look for the people that are in my life.

A woman recently started messaging me with really wonderful quotes in the morning. At first I was like “Thanks, but I have enough friends right now” then I was in a meeting, and I looked across at her and she waved at me and smiled…and I got this sort of warm feeling come over me. I went right home and messaged her saying, “I’m sorry, please keep sending those messages they’re really sweet.” I look forward to her messages in the morning.

And this is how it goes. I am simply to love the people that are in my life today. My kids, my dog, my neighbors. My mom, and this wonderful pastor at church today. Friends texting me to meet for dinner or coffee. My sisters.

I’m reading a lot of Abraham Hicks right now. I’m practicing releasing the resistance and therefore allowing whatever is to be happening to happen. I’m finding much peace there, not living with regrets, and simply moving along.

My next topic for the blog is going to be something so radically different. Starting next week I have a new job. I’ll get into all the details then, but for today. I’m still a therapist and I’m still in the rehab and I’m still very happy.

My mom wants me to keep this to myself, but I can’t help but shout it from the rooftops. There’s a reason that I had anxiety and depression. There’s a reason that I wanted to jump out a window and couldn’t sleep all night. And it was simply taking care of myself getting to the doctor, and getting on the right hormonal balance. I’m super grateful for this.

I used to know my body. I used to know where I live. I used to know you. But I don’t anymore, and it’s exactly as it should be, right in this moment.

Onward.

Matt, Clayton Kershaw, and the #Dodgers

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I finally slept well the last two nights. I wake a little bit, but it’s nothing like the fear and the sadness that I’ve been dealing with the last three months. In fact, it will be three months tomorrow that my nephew is gone.

Last night I got in my car to go take one of my kids somewhere, and the radio station was changed again. The Sam Smith song came on, and I got it…okay Matt. You changed my station again and I’m hearing the song again. My sister Laura put this song in the video for the funeral, and I had never heard it before that day. I hear it all the time now. When I get back in my car later that evening and am driving home, that song is on again. Now, I guess I could say it’s a super popular song and it probably means nothing. Maybe.

I had a few times during the night where I sort of felt warm. Is this menopause I ask myself? Or is it simply that I’m being connected. I get in my car this morning to leave, and I turn on the car radio and again. Stay with me. Will you stay with me? I never knew who Sam Smith was before, but he’s becoming a really good friend of mine.

And suddenly just as I pulled out of my driveway, I had this sense that Matt was there. On my roof or in my trees or something. And he was protecting my children. He gave me like this look that said, “I got it Aunt Linda. I’ll take it from here.”

The sense that Matt was protecting my children came over me like a wash of warm water and I felt in the stream. I felt connected, and I felt at peace.

Tonight, in Dodger Stadium, Clayton Kershaw pitches. If we win tonight, we clinch the division. I think maybe it would be appropriate, since the last conversation I had with Matt was when he texted me about Kershaw’s no-hitter back in June. Six days before he died, my nephew started texting me at 6AM, the day after that game. And he told me that I didn’t believe. He called me a bandwagon aunt because I was starting to believe that our season was over. He told me that I had to believe that they were going to go all the way, and I didn’t. We had just come off a hard early June, and I was thinking that the hated ones would be in first place all the way. And Matt just laughed. He said that he knew they were going all the way to the World Series. And then he died.

It’s maybe one of the most important games of the season for me, and I would give anything to be there.

So. Is it just because Stay With Me is a popular song? Is it just because maybe there was an accident and somebody changed my car channel (for the second time) to this hip-hop dance music that Matt loved? Is it a coincidence that Clayton Kershaw is pitching tonight, almost 3 months to the day of his no-hitter?

Is it a coincidence? Or is it absolutely Matt’s protection?

Tomorrow, it will be three months since my nephew has died. There is definitely a hole in my family, and as my young son said last night, “because we don’t live in LA with the rest of the family it’s sort of like not real.”

So I imagine Matt taking care of my kids, watching over them, treating them like little brothers …just like he did in 2002 when he lived with us. I have never felt such peace. I imagine him with a front row seat tonight in Dodger Stadium watching Kershaw clinch our division. And I imagine him saying “See Aunt Linda? I told you.”

Grief is a constant, and yet today I feel his love.

The last words I said when I spoke at his funeral were “Go Dodgers”. I’d like to think he would approve.