Sunday, January 22, 2017

At what cost?

Donald Trump is the President of The United States of America.
I am still having trouble wrapping my head around this reality- as are millions of other people throughout the world based on all available evidence.
I have spent the last several months trying to understand why this came about. I've been trying to figure out what millions of people have experienced that is so far removed from my own experiences that they would feel that this man is the answer to their problems. I don't believe that all of the people who voted for Donald Trump are racist, intolerant, ignorant people. I truly don't. I believe that they made their choice based on their own experiences in life, and that they truly feel that Donald Trump is going to make their lives better. Maybe he is. I hope that he is. I would like nothing more than for him to prove everything I believe about him to be wrong.
I was not able to bring myself to watch his inauguration. Listening to him speak makes me angry and upset. I did not want to hear him. I love my country. I have a great respect for the office he now occupies. The problem is that I have almost no respect at all for the man himself. In my opinion he has done nothing to earn that respect. However, this morning I decided that perhaps if I read his words (or the words that were written for him at least) instead of listening to him speak them, that I might be able to keep a more open mind. So I did. I found the transcript for his inauguration speech and I read it.
When I first started reading I got excited, because it actually made a lot of sense to me. He spoke of taking the government back for the people of this country. He talked about how politicians have corrupted our system of self government and he promised to end the corruption. "GREAT!" I thought. I can get behind that for sure. I agree that things need to change drastically.
He spoke about ending poverty and creating jobs. He spoke about improving our schools. He spoke out against drugs and violence. "YES!" I said to myself. All of these things need to be addressed.
But then things started to go downhill for me. He said "From this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first- America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body. and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again. Winning like never before."
I can understand how this would appeal to a lot of people in this country. People are tired. They are hungry, and worn down, and scared. People are working harder than ever for smaller and smaller personal gains. Parents worry about how they will feed and clothe their children on their small salaries. They see people from other countries coming here to pursue their own versions of "the American Dream" and they worry about the safety of their jobs, and they begin to view these newcomers as their enemies. They see them as a threat to their own survival. They remember the terror of 9/11 and they see people who look similar to the men who committed those horrible crimes against humanity and they worry that one of those people will do something equally heinous. Their fears are very, very real. I can understand these fears.
But here's the thing...what exactly are we trying to "win"?
Are we trying to win at hording the biggest slice of the pie while we watch our neighbors starve? Do we want to win at building technology and consuming resources at the expense of our children and grandchildren? I really am so very unclear as to what contest we are a part of. Living to "win" is how wars are born. Living to win means that someone else has to lose. I don't want to win.
Imagine a world without any borders...a world without limitations. Imagine a world where ALL people are free to dream, and create, and share their boundless potential with everyone else. Imagine a world where resources are shared and nobody goes hungry and everyone has shelter. I realize that these are lofty and idealistic dreams...but aren't they the dreams that we should be striving to achieve?
Donald Trump says he wants to unite, but every move he makes, and every word he speaks are designed to divide us. His words and actions incite fear and distrust. He seeks to win, and doesn't consider at what cost.
I hope I am wrong. I hope that our new President truly does want to make the world we live in a better place for all of us. I will continue to hope for the best, but I will not simply sit quietly by and allow my sense of hope to be enough. None of us can afford to do that. We have to do better.
This is how I am going to start. How will you make your voice heard?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Life Lessons

I have taught Preschool for almost the entirety of my adult life. Not to date myself or anything, but that means I've been doing this for 20+ years now. I like to believe that I've learned more than I've taught over the years. I also like to believe that I have a lot of knowledge to pass along to future generations.
Every year I'm required to take child development courses to remain qualified for my job. Over the years I've read lots and lots of studies about how children learn and what I should and should not be teaching them.
One of the main issues people always bring up during political debates is our education system. We are forever being bombarded with talk of how we as a country are falling behind. Politicians discuss the need to push science and math at younger and younger ages. Families worry if their 2 year old can't write his name yet, if their infant isn't able to identify the sound a cow makes, if their kindergartner can't tie her shoes. While I do believe that all of these things are important, the way I see it they are not the lessons that I need to focus on teaching.
I believe we are falling behind in a very different way.
I believe that the most important lessons that I can teach the children I have the honor to work with are the lessons about how to get along with other people.
In my class we have the children develop a list of classroom rules at the start of every school year. The rules differ slightly each year, but are always essentially the same.
1. Keep your hands/feet/mouth/body to yourself.
2. Listen to your teachers
3. Raise your hand and wait for your turn to speak
4. Keep our classroom clean and organized
5. Use kind words
6. Take turns/share

I watch the news and I see so much ignorance and intolerance and I really wish that we could force everyone to go back to preschool and learn the basics. I wish I could sit everyone down and go over the rules. I particularly wish I could explain this to our politicians and celebrities.
1. Keep your hands/feet/mouth/body to yourself. - you do not have the right to touch anyone without their permission. You may not hit, kick, bite, scratch, strangle, shoot, rape, kill another person for any reason. I don't care if they do something that makes you mad. I don't care if they sat closer than you wanted them to. I don't care if they took your toy. I don't care if you don't like the way they look, or what they said, or what they believe. You do not have the right to take matters into your own hands. Your rights/beliefs/feelings/desires are not more important than theirs.
2. Listen to your teachers- Realize that there are people in the world who know more about different topics than you do. Respect that. Open your ears and your mind and hear what they are trying to teach you. Realize that we are all teachers and we all deserve that same respect. Realize that we are all students who can learn new lessons every single day if we pay attention.
3. Raise your hand and wait for your turn to speak- Respect your fellow human beings. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard.
4. Keep our classroom clean and organized- Realize that we all have to share this planet, and that our resources have to last for future generations. Don't be wasteful. Work together to keep things tidy. Don't break things. Put everything back the way you found it before you move on.
5. Use kind words- We all get hurt or angry sometimes. That doesn't make it ok to lash out at others. If someone does something to upset you, TELL THEM. Don't call them names. Don't shout at them. Don't talk about them behind their back. Tell them that you are upset and why, and then talk it out until you both feel better.
6. Take turns/share- There are a lot of people on this planet. No one single person (country) deserves anything more than anyone else does. Our resources are limited and we all need to take turns with them to make sure we all have what we need.

These are the important lessons in life. Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies...all of those things are good to know and understand but they are not the lessons that I most want my daughter to learn. I want her to learn patience, tolerance, kindness, empathy. I want her to have a wide open mind. I want her to know how to love and to be loved. 

These are the lessons that I hope I've taught to every single child I've had the honor to teach over the last 20 years. By my calculations that should be roughly 400 people by now. 400 people who are hopefully passing those lessons along to others. This is the thought that gets me out of bed every morning. This is the thought that keeps me going to work at a job that pays little in monetary currency but so very much in the emotional kind.

I have a voice and I CAN make a difference. So can you.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dusting off the cobwebs

Hello!
Wow. I knew that it had been a long time since my last blog, but I didn't realize that's it's been well over a year! Shame on me.
Here's the deal though...I have a brand new laptop, and it's allllll MINE!!!! YAY! This hopefully means that I will be able to do a better job of staying on top of things like blogging. I really do miss it.
I have no idea if anyone will actually care, but I love writing and I'm excited to get back to it. It's been way too long.
Let's get to it, shall we?


Can  you believe it's 2014 already?! It seems like just yesterday that everyone was hording canned goods and building shelters in preparation for the impending Y2K catastrophe. Speaking of which...I wonder what people did with all of that stuff? Do you think they gradually used it, or kept it stockpiled for the Armageddon in 2012? Do we have a new disaster to plan for and panic over yet? I'm hopelessly out of touch with these things.
I don't know about you, but I'm actually pretty excited to see what 2014 has in store for us. I don't really believe in making resolutions, but here are a few things that I hope to dedicate myself to over the next 12 months...
Along with my new computer, I have a brand spankin' new camera & some new lenses that I'm anxious to become familiar with. So far I LOVE them. A lot. I'd probably marry them if I could. I can't though, so instead I'll just caress them frequently and force them to do my bidding as often as possible. That's kind of the same, right?
When I'm not fondling photographic equipment, I plan to spend as much time as possible with my family. Remember that adorable little girl who used to get into my make up, snuggle with her Lamby, and beg me to play NKOTB for her? Would you believe that she's almost 9? NINE! How in the heck did that happen? It's crazy. (She still does all of those things by the way)
Of course, I also have my adorable nieces to keep me busy. I promise you that you have never met a bigger bunch of characters than those 4. Watch out world! You have no idea what's coming.
I do enjoy spending time with the adults too, just in case you were wondering. Hopefully I'll do a bit more of that this year. With that in mind- if you're local, please feel free to pester me and make me step out of my comfort zone! I'm an introvert so I struggle with getting out there into the real world. It's not that I don't want to, I just stink at making it happen! I would truly love to have more of a social life this year. Help me make it so. K?
Last but not least- I'm hoping to be more vigilant about my physical health. I know, I know...I say it every year. I really do mean it though. (So when you're pestering me about getting out of the house, maybe suggest we go for a walk?)
Let's break this down-
Goals for 2014
  1. Write
  2. Take lots of photos
  3. Hang out with the family more (I'm adding "sans technology" to this one)
  4. Be social
  5. Get off my butt
Seems like a good list to me.
What are your plans this year?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Rules

I was very amused to find that the strongest reaction to my most recent blog came from my older brother. He pointed out to me that while I may think that I am distancing myself from organized religion, my Christian background is still very much in evidence. He's not wrong.
My statement that I don't consider myself to be religious wasn't intended to discredit my upbringing- which included church services every single Sunday from the time that I was born until I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I am extremely grateful to my parents for providing me with that education, and even more grateful to them for allowing me the freedom to make my own decisions about what to do with that education once I was old enough to begin forming my own opinions.
Since then, I have studied religion both formally and informally in various ways. I am a knowledge seeker. I believe in asking questions. I have been fortunate to have been exposed to many people from a variety of different cultures over the years. I've always tried to learn as much about them and their beliefs as I can within the constraints of time and circumstances.
I tell you all of this because in order to begin to understand a person you need to understand their background. Our personal morals and beliefs are formed by our experiences in the world. We all have different experiences, so we all have different beliefs.
Many, many arguments start because people don't understand each other. We misinterpret the actions of others because we expect them to think the same way that we do. We forget that their view of the world is different from our own.
If you want to understand me, you have to know my rules.
These are the rules that I live by. That's not to say that I expect anyone else to agree...this is just my own personal code of conduct and the message I hope that my daughter receives.
1. ALL people are equally deserving of love and respect. There are no bad people, only bad decisions.
2. do not judge another person's actions until you have a solid understanding of their circumstances
3. treat other people the way that you would want to be treated in identical circumstances
4. honesty is always the best policy...but there is such a thing as tact. Never lie, but be as empathetic as possible when sharing the truth. Forgiveness is easier to gain than trust.
5. Always take responsibility for your actions. Everyone messes up. If you mess up, own it and be prepared to deal with the consequences. Remember that it is OK to ask for help. There is a reason that families exist.
6. Never, EVER have sex with anyone you are not prepared to raise a child with.
7. People come first. Chores and "things" can wait.
8. Your character is only as strong as your word. Never make promises lightly.
9. The energy that you put out into the world is the energy that will come back to you...so SMILE.

That's me in a nutshell. If you are ever unsure of where I am coming from it's a pretty safe bet that my actions stem from this set of rules.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blessed

Do you ever have a day where you feel like every single moment has been specifically designed to teach you something?
Today has been full of reminders of just how very fortunate I am. Things that make me feel as though for one reason or another I have been blessed with an amazingly beautiful life.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about it today. Specifically thinking about that word...blessed, and all of it's connotations.
Everyone knows that there are a few topics that are guaranteed hot buttons. Topics best avoided, unless you are prepared to deal with arguments, hurt feelings, rage, etc. I am not a huge fan of conflict, so I tend to avoid those topics as much as possible.
Not today. Today I feel like I need to share some of my personal beliefs. I don't know if it's just because I need to think out loud, if I'm looking for people to back me up, or if I'm just plain crazy...but here I am, whatever the reason may be.
First of all, let me say that I don't consider myself to be a religious person. Actually, I pretty much steer as far clear of organized religion as I can. I struggle with the whole "if you don't believe exactly what I believe then you are destined to spend an eternity burning in hell" thing. I don't understand that frame of mind...at all. I can't comprehend how anyone could possibly believe that they have it all figured out.
"Well, it's all written plain as day in this book here. See?!"
Nope. Sorry. I don't see. I see a book (books with an s actually if we're going to be completely candid) that was written by men thousands of years ago that has as many interpretations as it has chapters. I see a book of stories that exist to teach lessons...stories much the same as Aesop's fables.
Does that mean that I don't believe in God? Maybe? The honest answer is that I'm really not sure.
I believe that there are many, many things about life that I simply can not explain. Things that I don't feel science has been able to explain up to this point either. I would like to believe that our existence on this planet has a purpose, but I certainly would never be pompous enough to think that I could begin to understand what that purpose might be.
I believe that there is some sort of "force" that surrounds us all. You can call it God if you want, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha, Yahweh...I really don't care. To me it doesn't have a name. It just IS.
I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe that prayer works. I get hung up on that word too...prayer. That's another word that is just loaded with connotations, isn't it? How can you say you aren't religious, but you believe in the power of prayer? Don't those two statements contradict each other? Possibly, but not in my mind. To me prayer is just a word for sending positive vibes out into the universe...into that mysterious, unnamed force.
I believe that what you put out into the world comes back to you. I don't think that necessarily means that people who are suffering have done something horrible to bring the suffering upon themselves. I think that sometimes we have to suffer in order to learn, and to fully appreciate the good in life.
When people tell me about things happening in their life that are causing them distress I do the only thing that I know how to do. I tell them that I am here for them, and then I pray. I pray that everything works out the way that it is meant to, and that somehow no matter what happens they are able to come to terms with the results as quickly as possible so that they can move on and be happy in their lives.
I've been thinking about these beliefs all day. Thinking about how fortunate I am to have never truly suffered a day in my life. One look at my twitter timeline is all it takes to reaffirm that notion. There is just so much suffering in the world. It's heart breaking to even think about it.
I've been thinking about all of the people in the world who are truly struggling just to survive, and putting my own private struggles into perspective. When I think of all of those people, and think about my own life and how carefree and easy it has always been comparatively, it seems next to impossible to deny that I have blessed beyond measure.
I can't pretend to know why, and I don't think that I should even question it. I think that the only thing that I can do is be grateful for all that I have been given, and find some way to pay it forward.
I would love to hear what some of you do in your lives to give thanks for your own blessings.

Be well, be kind, and smile lots
xoxo

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Oops!

Oh dear. I haven't been very good about keeping up with this blog, have I?
I'll try to do a better job from here on out, but here's the scoop for now-

Shortly after my most recent blog I went on vacation with my family. We drove cross country to the Chicago area from Maine...which meant that we spent most of our vacation in the car. Not entirely conducive to eating well and exercising regularly. I decided pretty much right away that I wasn't even going to try to keep track of things while we were on vacation. I knew that there was a good chance that I would gain weight during our time on the road, but I decided that I was willing to take the risk.
I was thrilled when I stepped on the scale the first morning back home and discovered that I'd only gained a few ounces! I promised myself that I was going to get right back into my routine immediately.
Easier said then done. Our homecoming coincided with the first heatwave of the summer...and we didn't own an air conditioner. Add a healthy dose of PMS to the equation &...well, I'm sure you get the point.
I gained about 3 lbs in the few weeks that followed, but I was determined to get back into my groove. Last week I finally got serious & managed to lose just under 5 lbs. Yay!
This week I've been struggling a bit again. I haven't been feeling great and my energy level has been practically non existent. I've been eating pretty well, and I did get some exercise in this week, but not as much as I would have liked.
I think part of the issue has been that my husband has been out of town, and I haven't been needed at work...which means that I have no routine. No motivation to get up early & get going. Ciara is home for the summer and she's perfectly happy to sleep in until 8-8:30 every morning as well.
I CAN'T keep being so lackadaisical about this...I need a plan.
Here are my goals for next week:
Set my alarm for 6:30 am every morning (& actually GET UP!)
Get a workout in before Ciara wakes up (at least 3 days)
Plan meals for each day so I'm not just winging it
Get back to tracking every bite (I've been a little too casual about this the last few weeks...not to the point where it would derail me, but it's not a good habit to get into regardless)

This is my mantra this week...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 weeks in

This is the final week of the Healthy Habits Challenge that my friends and I have been doing on Facebook so it seems like a good time to update.
I just started my 11th week of Weight Watchers, and as of yesterday I have lost 20 lbs since I began.
I have also gone down 2 dress sizes...which is fabulous except that it's difficult to find clothes to wear every day. I'm hesitant to buy anything new because I sincerely hope that nothing will fit for very long. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be living in maxi dresses all summer!
I feel great and I've actually reached the point where I enjoy exercising. I honestly never thought I'd be able to say that. I still struggle with some things physically, but that just makes me more determined to conquer those challenges.
I've learned to like many foods that I used to dislike intensely. I don't know what that's all about, but it's like someone flipped a switch in my brain and suddenly things just taste better. Which is very helpful, because it's difficult to be healthy when you don't like vegetables.
So that's the scoop really. Things are going great (though never has quickly as I'd like). I feel terrific. I've reached a point of comfort. I am mindful of what I put in my mouth, but not so mindful that I don't allow myself to enjoy eating. I feel like a new me...a me that I like very much.

Current stats
Weight 273.6lbs
Waist 46.5"
Chest 42"
Bust 46.5"
Hips 50.5"
Thigh 28.5"
Arm 16.5"
Neck 15"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Success!

I did it! I reached my first weight loss goal.
I officially weigh 5% less than I did when I joined weight watchers a little less than 2 months ago.
My other unofficial 1st goal was to be able to wear my wedding rings again...and I am ALMOST there!
This morning I was able to get my wedding ring all the way on my finger. It's still too tight to wear, and I wasn't able to put on my engagement ring with it- but it won't be much longer before they are back where they belong.
So now my new goal is to lose another 10%...which would put me at 248 lbs. I haven't seen that number on a scale since just after Ciara was born. (I lost 30 lbs while pregnant, but quickly gained it back...& then some)
I'm hoping that I can achieve this goal before the end of the summer. If I maintain my current rate of weight loss then I should reach that goal around mid-August.
A big part of me wishes that it would happen faster, but I know that in the long run it will be better for me to continue taking it slow. Actually, according to Weight Watchers, I'm STILL losing too quickly. They recommend a range of .5-2lbs/week.
I will update again soon with photos & measurements. I don't feel like I look any different, but I have noticed a slight difference in how my clothes are fitting, and other people say they can tell I'm losing weight.

Thanks for all of the support!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pushing forward

Last week I allowed myself to have a little meltdown. I gave myself one minute to cry, and then I wiped away the tears, got up, and pushed forward with a new outlook.
This week I decided not to think about the scale, or formulas, or systems...I decided to just listen to my body and get it done one choice at a time. I ate what felt good. I didn't deprive myself of anything, but ate thoughtfully.
Guess what? IT WORKED! I lost 5.6 lbs! 
My other goal this week was to begin focusing on my physical fitness...because this isn't just about getting thin, it's about getting healthy. I want to be able to play with my daughter and nieces. Really play. I want to go for hikes with my brother and sister and not worry about slowing them down. I want to feel good in my body.
So I continued walking as much as possible, and I also purchased the Weight Watchers workout DVDs. I considered going to the YMCA where I have a membership to use their facilities and equipment, but then I realized that I would be entirely too self conscious there. At this point I'm far more comfortable working out at home by myself.
The DVD's didn't arrive until the end of the week, but I couldn't wait to try them out once they were here. I started off with the beginner basic stretch routine, and was pleased that I was able to do it all without any issues. However, when I moved on to the full cardio stretch I found that the same could not be said. I did my best to keep up for as long as I could, but I'm just not there yet...back to basics.
I also tried out the basic cardio workout. Got through that no problem so I tried the express workout as well. Again I discovered that there were a few things that my body is just not ready to do yet, but I was able to find other ways to continue through until they went into the next sequence of movements.
I'm a bit disgusted with myself for allowing myself to get this out of shape...but I can't change what has already happened, I can only make better choices going forward. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a number

A Twitter friend of mine shared this with me last night and I thought it was worth passing along...
(I told you I have an amazing support system)


Thank you for the reminder!

xoxo