Beauty Around Us

Do you ever get the feeling we spend too much of life ignoring the beauty around us?

 

Today I’m attending a training.  I’m in Central Phoenix, a place I rarely attend and certainly wouldn’t call beautiful on normal days.  This is a place where your GPS will calculate that you still have 10 minutes remaining on your journey even though it also tells you that you are 1 mile away.  A place so full of people and cars it literally smells like exhaust when you take a deep breath.  Yet today I am on the sixteenth floor of a building with a full wall of windows.  The table I have chosen is facing one of those windows and I’m completely distracted by the view.  I’m fully appreciating the teacher in middle school who insisted I learn to type without looking at the keys so I can share this thought with you whilst enjoying the scenery.

 

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This is not my picture or my exact view.  But it’s close!

What I can’t figure out is why I’m the only one who’s noticed.  There are (hold on while I pause to look around) about 20 people in here right now.  Two of them are the trainers, so I can assume they see this view often.  But the rest?  The rest are presumably teachers, like me, who spend entirely too much time sitting inside the walls of a school with only small windows to the outside world.  How are they not appreciating the small grassy area loaded with trees just to the left of all this craziness?  The mountains at the edge of the valley, with the white clouds just kissing the tops?  The planes taking off and landing just along the horizon, so small they look fake?  The twinkling of the rising sun over the steel that litters our capital city, looking like tiny twinkling lights on a tree?  Even the building directly next to us…the one so close I can almost see the people inside there also not enjoying the view…that building has patios wrapping around it on every single floor and has gorgeous pink flowered potting plants and adorable tables all around.

 

As we draw closer to the training start time, people are starting to notice.  But it’s not for the reason I would like.  Instead of basking in the beauty that is the landscape, they’re complaining about the sun coming into their eyes.  One woman saunters to the windows and twists the blinds closed.  I watch as the trainer approaches her and proceeds to help her completely block of the view.

 

I’m left wondering, what was the purpose of the windows?  We have effectively made it the same environment here as we would experience in our own classrooms with minimal access to the outside world.

 

I’m not blaming anyone, or judging anyone.  In fact, I probably focused better once they were closed and I stopped watching the scenery.  Instead, I’m merely asking…do we miss the beauty of the world around us?

 

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Disappointment

My 11 year old son loves hockey.  

He lives and breathes hockey.  He watches it, talks about it, and plays it.  He studies it, dreams about it, and quotes statistics.  If you can relate it to hockey, he gets it.

He’s actually been ice skating in leagues or formal skating lessons since he was three.  He’s been ice skating since 2.  He’s been playing hockey since he could walk.  

In May of 2016, he did something he had never had to do before.  He had official tryouts, where he may not make the team, for a travel hockey league.  In preparation for the tryout, we signed him up for the defensive clinic with the coach and other players so they learned who he was.  We paid the fee.

He didn’t make it.

Actually he made the “alternate” list.  

“What is that?” he asked.

“If someone else doesn’t want their spot, they give it to you.”

“They wouldn’t have tried out if they didn’t want the spot.”

“That’s a good point.”

I cried with him.  I cried for him.  Then I talked to him about resilience.  It was a message he received in ways that amazed me.  He returned to the final day of the clinic with the same kids who had made the team and the coaches who didn’t choose him.  He decided to play on the house league again, and make the best of that time.  In fact, his team won the championship this time around.  When tryouts were advertised for the All-Star team, one he actually played on last year before you had to try out, he asked to participate.  

We paid the money.

I saw the hesitation the second he took the ice.  There were 22 kids out there skating.  You could almost see the moment he realized that meant some kids wouldn’t make it.  His first pass along the ice wasn’t his fastest, he was hesitating.  But then he must have shaken it off.  The kid continues to impress me with his ability to keep going.

I wish I could tell you this is a story with a happy ending.  I wish I could say this is a story about a kid who worked his little tail off, didn’t give up, and made the team.  

He didn’t.

He actually was named as the alternate…again.

Today I get to explain it to him.

We will talk about Thomas Edison and the attempts that weren’t lightbulbs.  We’ll talk about JK Rowling and her rejection letters.  We’ll talk about Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team. We’ll talk about one of his cousins and hockey idols, who didn’t play travel hockey until he was older than my son.  We’ll talk about Stephen King, who kept his rejection letters on a nail and filled it.  Maybe we’ll even talk about my file of rejection letters.

Then my son will have to make the decision to dust himself off and keep playing, again.

My 11 year old son loves hockey.  

He lives and breathes hockey.  He watches it, talks about it, and plays it.  He studies it, dreams about it, and quotes statistics.  If you can relate it to hockey, he gets it.

The hardest part of parenting is helping him through those moments when he is reminded that hockey is just a sport, it can’t love you back.

#1linewed 12.28 Edition

A line from a work in progress using the word finish.

“He’s in the news like all the time. He’s super famous. Kind of like…”
He doesn’t finish the sentence. He doesn’t have to.

A comfortable silence wraps around the room as we finish our meal.

“I could just tell the truth.”  My fingers start moving around the letters, typing one at a time.

 

A line from a work in progress using the word start.

She tips her head toward the ground in the start of a bow.  “Don’t do that.  I’m not a Royal any longer,” I chastise.

I’m actually in my car with the air conditioning on before the tears start.

 

Emotions

We all know there are different emotions.

different-emotions

But there’s more to writing emotion than just flagging which one is present.  Emotions have a level.

mildy-annoyed-puppy
This puppy is mildly annoyed.
angry-puppy
This puppy is full on angry.

For today’s exercise, choose an emotion and give five different levels from low to high.  Ready, GO!

Happy

  1. Finding a penny
  2. The perfect cup of coffee
  3. Completing a workout
  4. Receiving a genuine compliment
  5. Accomplishing a goal

Sad

  1. No milk for cereal
  2. Rejection letters
  3. Favorite shoes break
  4. Kids experience disappointment
  5. Losing someone

Angry

  1. Waiting for someone
  2. Cut off in traffic
  3. Stolen gift or package
  4. An idea stolen or credited to someone else
  5. Someone hurting my kid

Election Lessons 2016 Style

Brace yourself.  The girl who doesn’t talk politics is talking about politics again.  Dang, if I keep this up I may lose my status.  Never mind that, this is important.

I learned 2 important lessons during this election year.  If I don’t share them, you may make the same mistakes.  I don’t want that.  So I’m sharing.  Pass it on.

Important Lesson #1-

Don’t vote by mail in ballot.

I’m actually super sad about this one.  Mailing in my vote 2 weeks early always makes me feel so accomplished and ahead-of-the-curve (where every irrational perfectionist wants to be).  But this year, because of allegations of fraud against my state in the primaries, the news has been all over this vote counting thing here.  Here is the picture: the election is over.  The votes have been called.  Candidates are conceding their races.  Riots have started.  But does the County Recorder here care about getting those early ballots counted?  Nope.  In fact she’s been interviewed on the news saying they’ll “count them when they count them.”

My vote could likely still be sitting there behind her, waiting.

Next year I’ll stand in line.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Important Lesson #2-

Register with a major party.

Okay, hold on.  Don’t get all up in arms on me yet.  I didn’t say you had to vote for a major party candidate.  In fact, I don’t give a darn who you vote for.  I’m all in favor of Independent and Green parties.

BUT this year we seriously maimed ourselves during the primaries.  You could get your voice in there earlier, help control which people run in the actual election.  But only if you register with a major party.

Now there are some states who claim you can vote in primaries if you are registered independent.  But when all those independent voters turned up to vote in our elections…well, you probably saw the news.  Hello, voter fraud cases.

So I’m glad I registered with a major party, even if it’s only for primaries.

 

There’s my two cents in regards to voting.  There are more opinions buried in there, but this is enough for now.  Who knows, maybe as I get older I’ll start talking politics.

Stranger things have happened!

Vote

I don’t talk about politics.

I was raised by a large family who feel very strongly on both sides. I teach children who bring strong ideals from families on both sides. I see benefits and challenges from both sides. 

I stay out of it.

But when it comes to my ballot, I vote. Always. 

I research and I vote.

Whatever you believe, good for you. 

Just vote next week.

Thanks! 

Stump

Inspired by a daily challenge (of the same word) and scribbled on the back of an envelope and a flyer…here’s a work of fiction for you.

Sometimes things happen in life.

Hard things.

Bad things.

Things you think you can’t survive.

Last January, it happened to me.  One day I’m a high school Senior, living a life that’s chaotic in all the ways that seem so simple now.  I’m worried about grades, college, boys, drama, and a part-time job.

The next day it’s my family car on the news.  That silver SUV smashed into on the 10, crushed on the passenger side.  You heard about it, I’m sure.  The one that the 2nd car hit after being spun around by the driver who was day drunk.  The one that closed the 10, probably ruined your commute.

One minute I’m pissed at my Mom for putting my sister’s ballet practice above me.  Making me walk myself home from basketball because Emily needed to get to Scottsdale for some recital rehearsal.  The pounding of my feet sends that anger kicking up like dirt in a dust devil.  Emily comes first.  Drop everything for Emily.  Emily.  Emily.  Emily

I arrive at home, unlock the door, toss my stuff around like it’s meaningless, turn on the TV.  Pause.  Check my phone.  Recognize something on the TV.  Hit pause.  Call my messages.  Drop to my knees, start praying to a God who probably doesn’t recognize my voice that I’m wrong.  Call Mom.  I can hear her sobbing the same word I angrily stomped…but somehow it’s completely different.  Emily.  Emily.  Emily.

Now?  Well now I can’t quite figure out what I am.  It’s like I stopped growing when she did.  It’s like everything before, when we were together, is this beautiful memory that I always took for granted.

People say “shell” or “shadow” like they’re hollow or replicas of what they were pre-tragedy.  I don’t say that.  I prefer stump.

Did you know “stump” is defined as part of the tree left projecting from the ground after the trunk has fallen or been cut?  That’s us.  Emily, my forever 14 year old sister, cut down.  Me, the tree that fell hard to the Earth that day.  Maybe I leaned on her more than I thought.  It turns out I am just too weak to stand alone.

Either way, we’re stumps now.  It’s how I feel every day.  We’re still together, but we’re kind of frozen.  

I never appreciated you enough.

I never spent enough time with you.  Now?  Now I’d kill for that chance.

capel_celyn_exposed_tree_stumps

You Hit That Wall

download
Now What?

It was bound to happen.

I’m a perfectionist.  Often I’m a completely irrational perfectionist; I was that kid in school who would prefer not to turn it in because I thought it wouldn’t earn the A.  When I first started teaching, I had to come to grips with the fact that perfection isn’t attainable in this profession.  There’s always a way to be better, stronger.  There’s always another kid to reach, another skill to teach, another (better) way you could present information.  There’s always another teacher to help, another club to lead, another sport to coach.  It was hard, but I’ve learned it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that lesson translated to other parts of my life?

When I decided to make a go at this writing thing, I knew it was yet another aspect of my life where perfection would not be attainable.  There is always a better way to say something, another book to write, another skill to learn.  Knowing it and accepting it are two entirely different things.

I’m barely starting out, at only about a year into this journey.  That’s nothing.  In the blip of my entire life on the radar, it’s an eye blink.  When compared with how long some of you have hung in there, it’s a heartbeat.  I get it.

Yet how do I convince my irrational perfectionist core that it’s worth continuing?

I want to tell the stories.

I want to make a go at this.

I want people to read the stories.

I want people to be touched by the stories.

So if you’re like me-and you’re hitting that (figurative, thank the Lord) wall-let’s make a pact to keep writing anyway.

Here’s to us and the books we have yet to write.

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