Get in Line!

“Get in line!”

About a decade of teaching elementary school reminds me of the no less than hundreds of times I’ve said this to my students. I expected a quiet line, straight and orderly–I guess because I was supposed to show I had things under control (in education, that’s called effective classroom management). Well, all that changed the year I had #8, who acted as if he thought he was Michael Jackson in more ways than one–dancing. attempting to moonwalk, grabbing…himself. Now that I think of it, he might have even tried the one glove (mitten) look. That year I had the student, who every teacher passed by me with a WHAT is he doing?!?!? look on her face. By the end of the year, I couldn’t care less if #8 was out of line. As long as he wasn’t doing anything horribly inappropriate, all was well in my book.

That year, as much as I yearned for quiet, peace and relaxation, things didn’t seem to work the way I wanted them to. I definitely have the tendency to always want things just right, to have my ducks in a row. It’s great to have a plan, work hard toward goals and to be organized. I like my house to be clean, be happy with my hair/ makeup and feel like I’m put together. In fact, I was the high school kid who had to have her bed made before she could begin typing papers or studying for tests. I also remember my brothers, sister, mom and I running around, cleaning, like crazy fools before someone was coming over to visit. Oh, and I used to put on full makeup before going to the gym. The bottom line is: being OCD about appearing to be put together just to cover up the fact that we are swimming in a sea of all things opposite is just not authentic.

My plans are challenged on a daily basis; it’s just part of life. Whose aren’t? At times, I don’t even feel as if my ducks have their feathers in place, so I fall into a fog of complacency and just quit trying. Don’t get me wrong–I’m all about looking fear in the face and doing what I thought I couldn’t do; however, I can be perplexed about these web-footed creatures when I’m struggling under that heavy fog. If they’re not where I want them, waiting a while for things fall into place might be the answer. Sometimes, though, there is so much waiting (to do things that I am in control of) that waiting = missing out. It’s as if putting things off repeatedly is somehow better than even trying because there’s the possibility of gasp!…failing. I’ve learned something through every failure, so why do I fear it?

Happily, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the dust bunnies mixed with dog hair around my house, essentially, I am becoming calm(er). I feel more at peace with who I am and where I am in life, too, so there is less of a desire to make everything perfect.  I’m planning ahead for when the ducks are scattered and going off in their own directions, to stand back and smile and then take the tiniest of steps forward out of the fog.

Photo courtesy of http://www.free-pet-wallpapers.com

You There?

Where is God when bad things happen? He’s on His throne.

This was hammered into me at a certain summer camp I went to as a teenager. In fact, it was the theme of the week, and we wore the slogan on our camp t-shirts. I actually had a great time there, but I don’t remember leaving those summer days of fun and sun with it settled in my mind. Really, if God was there, then why didn’t I feel different? In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought something more like this: Sure. This all powerful God is hanging out upstairs while I am in the midst of my own “bad things” happening at home.

It’s easy to feel like we are all alone when we are going through the tragedies of this life. We long to reach out and connect with those who might be be feeling just as devastated, scared, confused or angry as we are. We long for that, yet we don’t always push ourselves to reach out. Sometimes, it takes so much courage and… effort… to open up and tell someone. We want to find some solace and hope that someone will just get it.

This month held two funerals in two weeks’ time, talking with a stranger about her friend’s husband dying last week in a horrific accident (after he and his wife finally, finally got pregnant), hearing the pain in a friend’s voice after the anniversary of her mother’s death, and then a woman with a young family, who lost her battle with cancer. It’s unbearable sometimes, this life. I do not understand why bad things happen to good people every, single day.

But here’s what I do know. I used to think God WAS simply out there somewhere, far away from me–aloof, uncaring, and untouchable. In my 36 years, I have finally learned that He has been feeling my laughter and my pain through all my high points, the lowest of the low points and everything in between. I never felt Him because I refused to let Him close enough to me. I found that telling God exactly how I feel is cathartic, and you know what? He can handle it, all of it.

So, today the sky opened up–turned dark and windy with heavy showers, as someone special to me mourned the loss of her husband. I imagine the weather perfectly mirrored the turbulence in her heart. Maybe, just maybe that is a glimpse that He is there, and He does get it.

An Adventure of My Own

The purpose of life it to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote, and have had it posted on my refrigerator in one apartment and three different houses as we’ve relocated from place to place over the past decade. Why? Well, it’s a reminder to live something new and wonderful every, single day. I’d love to say that I’m an expert at that, but there are plenty of times I have gotten up, gone to work and gone back home without doing anything spectacular. I’d love to say I’ve visited lots of remote places and eaten turtle blood soup with people of little known cultures. Yep…right after I climbed Mt. Everest and ran a marathon (or even two miles). I used to think I had to do those things to expand my life, and believe me, I’d LOVE to (minus the turtle blood soup), but I’ve come to see that life is an experience if we just experience it, which also requires jumping in and getting started.

It’s surprising that these are a glimpse of a few of my meaningful adventures: the time my older brother and I were kids and wanted to share the experience of riding together down the big hill by our house. We connected ourselves by about six feet of string–one end tied to my index finger and the other end tied to his.  Naturally, the ride began at the top of the hill, he on his skateboard and I on my bike. Well, that was so meaningful, we somehow coordinated running to our house, screaming as our fingers turned blood-red by the tightened string. It ended horribly, but it’s something we can laugh about today (and we both still have all 10 digits). There was also the time I was going to win the fifth grade girls’ 50 yard dash on field day. I won the blue ribbon the previous year for my class and was ready to reclaim my prize until my foot got “tangled” (as she remembers) with my best friend’s, and I fell on my face, a dusty pile of sweat and tears. Something else? In 7th grade, I was on the homecoming court. “No one has messed this up; don’t be the first” was what we were told after being given the directions on how to walk in and stop to have our picture taken. I’m not quite sure what happened, but my picture with my embarrassed date is probably the only one in school history that is different than all the others. On an adventure quest, I climbed to the top of a 50-foot high telephone pole and jumped for the trapeze that seemed like a mile away. I missed it and climbed right back to the top. I never reached that stupid trapeze, but the best part of that story was that I tried again.   

So, clearly, some of these experiences didn’t go so well and others had happy endings… if I change my perspective a bit. I learned that all of these things are a part of who I am. Still today, I can laugh about a lot and throw out a “remember the time when…?” Sharing the journey with others sweetens my existence and my relationships. That’s why I am choosing to continue my own kind of adventure and jump into this blogging thing without rules or promises of any kind. I am learning that the best way to get started is to just. get. started (and thank you, Cheryl, for putting me on a deadline :)).