Stop Judging The Selfie.

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Do you know me?  I’m the girl that spends the first 15 minutes of our time together taking selfies.  No.  Not with one of those annoying selfie sticks.  The slightly off center, often out of focus and fixed up ones.  You know your selfie game is strong when the two of you knows who has the longer arm.  You try to edit out the needed botoxed places, and you never ever post anything without the approval of your girlfriends.

You edit and tag the photo, and spend a few minutes or 15 trying to decide which filter makes you look not crazy or pale or whatever it is you’re looking for.  You want to bask in the sun?  There’s a filter for that.  Use it.

You could do the selfie game.

Or, you could pretend to have someone take your picture and then they beg you to tag them (I’ve done that too).  Or you could be the guy that hates having his picture taken, hates selfies, refuses to be in any pictures.  Either way, they are all on the spectrum of narcissism, yet your selfie taking friend takes the hit, because she seemingly loves her pics on the internet. I have one friend who constantly changes her profile picture, and I love it because she just looks more beautiful today than yesterday.  It’s good.  Because I love her.

So, you may wonder what exactly is the benefit of this selfie deal?  It comes with the tags.  I put it on instagram, and when it goes to every social media account I have (except Tumblr, that’s 13th & J, mofo), I have the ability to tag.  And here’s the beauty of the tag on Facebook.

First, if you go to your tagged friends profile page, you see these little 3 dots.

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After you click on those, this box comes up.  Pick “See Friendship”.  Facebook will then filter everywhere you and your friend have been.  All of your selfies, check ins, music shared, tag status updates.  It’s maybe my most favorite reason to selfie.  It’s not for you.  I mean, it is, look, here I am at Starbucks again (don’t judge).  But, here I am with my bff, my kids, my man.  And much later when I look at our relationship, I use this tool to peruse our history.

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I love the selfie, because I love you, and I love our friendship, our relationship, our love.  I want to catalogue all of it, and this is the best way to do it.  Today, I took a selfie filled with eyes that are in desperate need of work.  But this wasn’t that selfie.  I stayed up late with 2 of my favorite girlfriends, eating pie and drinking coffee, and talking about  love and romance, and how exactly any of us can risk getting hurt.  Yet there we are talking about doing it anyway.  So, my picture today was a 2am bedtime, no makeup, throw on a scarf and a Huskers shirt selfie.

And, when I look at this picture, I look at 2 girls who were college roommates almost 40 years ago, talking to these college girls at the next table who were in our sorority.  I see two girls laughing over and fixing phone apps, talking about men and sex  and college for our kids, and all of it.  I don’t look good.  Not even.  But the selfie I was going for captured the moment of pure fun and joy, because I had much to discuss with her regarding this week.  And when those college girls looked away from us, we were giggling with the common understanding of how many lives we’ve lived since we lived in Room 2 or 15 or wherever it was, and how even after all this time, I’m the one who lost the keys and banged on the window, and drank too much at Jim’s Place, and how now I can fix her phone because my ADHD world has it’s advantages.

Stop judging the selfie.  Just hand me the camera.  In 5 years, you can look back on this day and remember how much fun we had :)

280.02

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This number is my all time low.

Since the inception of this blog in 2007, that is the lowest amount of miles run in a year.

I have a lot of reasons.

I moved.  I didn’t know my area.  It was dark.  There was a park.

My nephew died.  Hello, I did not run, I went into a cave.

I’ve run once a week in December.

These 280 miles.  They are mine

They represent a small part of the 4456 miles I have run already.

I’m not ashamed of the seeming smallness of them.

But I turned the calendar.

I’m 56 in a month.  I’ve run 6 marathons.

I can still.  Run.

Tomorrow I lace up.

Here’s The Thing About Time Capsules.

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We found this time capsule when we moved in March of this year.

When we put it together, my sons were 2 and 2 months old.  I can still see us at midnight on that new year of the new millennium.  I bought this thing somewhere, and thought it would be fun to open in 15 years, when we were all the same, except older.  Long time readers of this blog know so many roads have led us out of the family, the home, the jobs.

So today.  It’s 15 years later, and the boys and I decided to open it.  I remembered some American Express cards, because we were never going to charge money again.  I remember nothing else.

I was not prepared for what we unearthed.

Pictures.  Of me pregnant.  “I can’t unsee this.”  Laughter, as we read about what life was like in 1999.  Coloring pictures. Dreams we thought would come true.  A menu from New China Restaurant, which is essentially the same.  The Modesto Bee warning of the US illegals.  The 25 most influential People Magazine.

Then.  Letters.

Their Dad wrote them each a letter.  We read them out loud.  I looked up to see both boys sobbing.  Unknowing this would happen. We’ve gone through all this before, and processed as a family.  And, I was looking at two little boys who were transported to childhood.  To Thomas The Tank Engine and poopy diaper conversations.  To my sons reading that their Dad had big hopes for them to love Jesus, and to always set some money aside   But more than that.  They were looking at history and proof of how much their Dad loved them.   And still does.  His Southern League medals.  His grandfather’s watch.  A Beanie Baby from Ducks Unlimited.  A Ducks Unlimited magazine.

My letters were opened.  I remember writing them, and I was too busy to get very emotional at the time, but I said we thought my youngest would play football (true), and my oldest would be an author or a professor (not happening).  I then had a letter from their father, my ex husband.  I asked if I should open it, since so much has happened.  They said yes, and so I did.  Even at that age of our marriage, it was difficult.  But one thing was evident, I absolutely needed to share this with my boys.  He said in his letter that he would marry me all over again, and would ask me to marry him in a duck blind again, and would never forget certain things that only he and I shared.  I cried, and my boys smiled, as if somewhere in their psyche they remembered their Mom and Dad loving each other.

And he wrote:  I love watching Lukas when you come back from “talking to the people” (I had a private therapy practice). He said that when I would come home from work, Lukas would see me in the driveway and would say, “There’s Mom.  She said she’d come back, and I knew she would.”  I looked up to both boys in the midst of this emotional and intense moment, and I was able to say,

“I will always come back.”

I type this now with tears in my eyes.  I look at that 40 year old woman with such amusement. I didn’t know all that would come.  And I suppose you’re not supposed to feel this joy, but I did.  I don’t love him anymore.  I used to, and I would not marry him again, nor would he marry me.  But at that moment, my kids who were scarred by a scathing divorce and subsequent understanding of things no teenagers should have to know, were suddenly transported to that place when their parents loved each other.  What a gift.

And.  Breathe.

My kids had chores to do.  They are going to a party tonight together.  We then talked about parties, and what happens if you’re not on point.  Driving.  How if they had to give each other their passwords for their phones.  How if I text WRU (Where are you), they are to give me the iPhone detail from their phone within a minute (I won’t do that…).  How you always need a $20 bill in your wallet for emergencies.

They got up.  We hugged.  They want to take this time capsule to their Dad, and of course, I said yes.  They were excited to share with him in a way I haven’t seen in awhile.

More breathing.

I’m happy and sad to leave 2014.  My son won his Soccer League Championships, and my other son was able to play on Varsity Football playoffs, even for a few plays.  I turned 55.  My Dad was inducted into the University Of Idaho Hall of Fame for Engineering.  I coached my first marathoner, but ran my last one.  I started out doing therapy in a rehab, and finished by teaching fourth grade.  Some of the people I love the most drank and used, and got sober again.  People left and entered my life, as only members of our program understand.  I moved into my dream house, but my running lagged.

And 2014.  This will mark the last year that my sweet nephew lived, and I feel like I’m leaving him behind.  Guilty.  Please come back.  Please come with.

So, here’s the thing about Time Capsules.  They are meant to show a moment in your life.  That’s it.  Proof that you existed, had feelings, loved greatly, had hopes and dreams realized or yet unrealized.  Proof that after all is said and done, your heart at one time cared for people in a way that no longer is evident.  Proof that your love got bigger, more intense, richer. Proof that you will absolutely love again.  And then you realize that you are on this exact dot on the map because of all the twists and turns that brought you here, and there is no sadness, only excitement, because you know the best is yet to come.

Gratitude.  Love.  Friendships.  Sobriety.

The moment that we had an hour ago?  It’s gone.  It lives forever in this blog post…and it make me want More.  More Joy.  More Mistakes.  More Love.  More Life.

My wish for 2015.  More.

Onward.

Family Magnificence.

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So, someday too, you will go through my ornaments, and you will wonder why I kept this one, or what this fuzzy snowman with no arms is all about. You will think that there are enough popsicle sticks drug in glue and glitter on my tree, and you will see broken ornaments with your pictures in it, and then you will know.

You will see the brown ribbon winding around the tree, from a bow at the top, and you will not remember the time I had no ornaments, just a broken heart and a broken marriage, and you will not remember how the girls came to my house with boxes of ribbons and how we hung a wreath from a ceiling fan. And how I could barely talk because I had tears in my eyes, and they just put it all together for us.

The time your cousin lived with us, and how tonight I wished just for one minute that his time didn’t stop. That he would have another Christmas. That he wasn’t simply a picture watching over the decorating. And how that picture of your Christmas card with him would just have to wait.

There will be scratching of heads when you see the over-indulgence in brown and gold and red, and you will wonder just how someone like me could string clear beads around my tree. And jewels. Strands of jewels.

You will remember how tonight we argued about the correct placement of the star, and how you just lopped that limb off with a pair of scissors, and how I screeched, and how we scrounged around for another extension cord. You will remember that you didn’t really want to do the tree today, and how it was raining but I had to get this noble fir. You will be irritated remembering that I found another box in the attic, and how I had to have it right away.

There will be discussion about how our neighbor brought a ladder and a head lamp so that you and your brother could string up lights on the outside of our new house, and how you weren’t in the mood, but I made an enchilada casserole while you worked, and how later there were brownie sundaes, and how you didn’t even have to do the dishes.

You will never understand why I have to have eggnog with nutmeg in a pretty cup, and play Christmas carols. Especially since Thanksgiving just ended, and we have a whole month to go.

And just as you are wondering all of this, you will be sitting in your own houses with your own families and you will be untangling lights, and you will smile as you discuss tinsel vs. garland. And someone will pour some eggnog, and there will be a whiff of a memory of that time in your tiny little bungalow when you seemed to be the only kids from a divorced family.

And you will remember how tonight you didn’t have any time to decorate the tree…because after all, you had homework and Sunday night NFL football and essays to write. And how even after all of that, you kept decorating and singing Christmas Wrapping, and how even after the timer went off, you stayed.

There will be laughter and joy and a collection of ornaments, and you will have photos in slightly frayed frames with your child’s handwriting carefully written in glitter pens, and suddenly you will know. You will finally know. That your tree will always be made with love, and every year you will trot out memories, and you too will stand back each time and say, “This is the prettiest tree we’ve ever had.”

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.