Thursday, March 16, 2017

Impetus

I never considered myself an inspirational impetus but my amazing friend has changed that by asking me to share my story in order to empower other women. Sharing my story has been a very scary yet liberating part of my painful journey. It has not been easy to open up and share the "ugly" parts of my life but I feel that if, in doing so, other women can find strength and courage then it is all worth it. 
The other women whose stories are also on the Blessons page are just as amazing and inspirational. 
Please read, share, make a donation and/or apply for a scholarship!
Click here to visit the Blessons page, and read about all the inspirational women as well as the remainder of my story. Below is only part of my story......


I am a single mom to 5 children, a teacher and coach.
I grew up in the suburbs with a pretty "normal" life. 2 parents and one younger brother. Both my parents worked....my dad as a lawyer in town and my mom as a teacher in the next town over.
I left home to go to college attending St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana which was, at the time, an all women's college. 4 years and I was done. I was not an A student like I could/should have been and did not take advantage of opportunities the school had to offer until my junior year....something I regret.
I got a job as a part time teacher upon graduation. I wanted to live in the city so I moved to Lincoln Park (the only place my parents thought was safe) and took a job working for a small graphic arts firm. I eventually left that job to go back to teaching. I taught in the UIC area for several years then met and married a man. After a few years of commuting, I had a daughter thus, I chose to take a teaching job closer to our home. A second,  third and then FOURTH(!) child meant looking for a larger home and with that, a change to another school closer to home. Somewhere in there, my stepdaughter (goodness I hate the term step!) chose to become a part of our family. Thus, I became a mom of 5!
It took the change in my life for me to decide I needed to leave the school where I had been teaching for 14 years, and reignite my passion for teaching.
I am currently teaching at a charter school in the North Austin area of the city and I love it. It is HARD work every day with challenging students but the rewards are endless. I truly feel, once again, that I am making a difference in the lives of the young people I teach.
I went right to college after high school which was expected. I graduated in 4 years as was expected. I lived in the dorm and was only a few hours from home if I needed to visit my family. I do regret not getting an advanced degree. I do not have the funds nor the time now to do it. When I had the time and money, it was discouraged.
"Blessons" - I love that word. I have had many from being assaulted and hospitalized to anxiety and depression. The biggest Blesson I would have to say is my "in process" divorce. I was married for over 20 years to an emotionally and financially abusive man. I stayed "for the kids" and....if we are being honest, because I didn't know it was abuse.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tribe

 "I learned that people have three basic needs - To be seen, to be heard and to know they are loved."
Molly Barker

My friend, Molly, is an amazing woman. Each day I look to her for courage, advice and wisdom. She never fails to inspire me to be a better human. She is such an important part of the tribe of women I am blessed to call my friends. My tribe sees, hears and loves me in so many ways that make me stronger every day. 

I think in my heart I have always known this but somehow forgot.  I think that I somehow have always wanted to make people feel that they matter but somehow lost focus. I think it is all I have ever wanted and didn't know it. 
I have longed to be seen. I have become bigger and  larger than life to take up space and force people to take notice. I have done things I am not proud of to get attention. I have gotten louder in order to be heard. I have lost myself, compromising my values and myself in order to be loved. 
It took a major life change to force me to face reality. Looking back, and with the help of therapy and friends, I realized that I have given others what I so desired. I have treated others to being seen and heard and loved but forgot about myself and those closest to me. As I lost myself into a rabbit hole of giving to others, I had nothing left for those that needed it most. I covered up my own needs with excuses. My own needs and the needs of my kids got sucked into a vacuum of pleasing other people. I gave everything I had in search of what I had right in front of me. My children needed me to see them and I needed them to see me...the real me. My children needed to be heard and I needed not only to listen and to hear them but they needed to listen and hear me as well. My children needed my unconditional love and I sooo needed the same from them. I needed to peel back the layers, toss off the cloak of secrecy and get real. 
It has been messy....so, so messy. I am not talking a few grass stains in the knees messy. I am talking "covered in mud, wresting with pigs and the pigs winning" messy. It is still messy and will be for a long time but anytime life gets real....it seems to get messy. 
The kids and I love to cook together. Everyone has a specialty in the kitchen and the food tastes amazing when complete but cooking is messy so the kitchen becomes a disaster in the process. Life is like that too. Growth and change are messy but the end result is beautiful and sooo worth the effort. Our lives are going to be messy for a while but we are in the process of cleaning it up...and as we work together we are seeing each other. We are listening to each other. We are loving each other in a way we never thought possible.  It is perfect? Hell no!  I have teenagers. No more cute pictures on social media of faces covered in food. No more posts about behavior that makes other moms nod but kids cringe. My kids are also seeing the real person that is their mom....the human being....who is messy too. 
I am learning to see, to listen  and to love my children, myself and others in new ways and it is an amazing journey. Would I wish this journey on any one else? FUCK NO! It has been Hell on Earth. There have been times that I wanted to run....far away and never look back.  Thanks to my friends that did not happen. They saw me. They heard me and they loved me. All the parts of me...the good, the bad and the messy me. My friends knew just what I needed and when, They have gotten messy with me on this journey of love. They have allowed me to find my way back to my heart. 
It is a debt I can never repay but will pay forward until my last breath. 
Thank you to my tribe.
Forward is a pace.
Peace.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wings

As I sit in the auditorium of a high school, I look around. I see the faces of other anxious parents waiting....waiting for their children. We are all nervous. These hours spent waiting are not nearly as difficult as the hours of preparation our children have done. Waiting is not nearly as nerve wracking as performing in front of strangers who will determine their future.
Our children have prepared all their young lives to perform for these auditions that will determine if they are admitted into this special school or not. It is make or break. No second chances.
We can no longer hold their hand or cue a line or check a note of a song. We now must wait in the wings as they take the stage alone. Break a leg, kids.....your parents will be waiting to give you a standing ovation.
#forwardisapace
Peace.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

14

Today begins the 14 days of love challenge. For the next 14 days I will leave a note for each of my kids with "I love you because..."  . with a different reason each day. (along with a chocolate kiss) It gets more difficult as the days progress as I try to find reasons they don't think I see. 
Try it with the people you love. Challenge yourself.
#forwardisapace
Peace.

kind

Today after my workout I went in the sauna. While in there, a lady was speaking loudly on the phone. I wasn't paying much attention to her, but to the to young girls siting near me. 
"I wish that polack would shut up!" One whispers to the other. 
"Right?! Stupid foreigners!..."whispers the other. 
I open my eyes, tune in and start to say something to the girls but instead ask the woman politely in my broken LITHUANIAN (yes she was not even Polish but Lithuanian.... she was talking to a child I think) to take her conversation out of the sauna. 
She looked at me with amazement and embarrassment, apologized and stepped outside the sauna. 
After she walked out, the girls looked at me... 
"Fucking immigrants. You all need to go back home." Said one of the girls. 
I got up to leave and looked at the girls and said,
"I was born here. And who knows... maybe she was too..... more tolerance and kindness .... less judgement will get you far in life." 
And I walked out shaking. 
Not sure if I said the right thing but I knew I had to say something. 
More tolerance and kindness. 
Less judgments. 
(And I really need to work on the Lithuanian language skills!!) 
#forwardisapace
Peace.

Back

I am back.....
After months away it is time to come back to my writing. So much has happened in the months away and I will try and find the words to write about those months but for now....I am back and ready to write again. I hope that you all are ready to read...
#forwardisapace
Peace.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

GuanYin

 This morning I decided on a whim to take 13 to Chinatown. I felt the need to buy a Buddha and Chinatown seemed like a good spot. 13 LOVES Chinatown and was a willing companion on the adventure.
We parked on a sidestreet and just decided to walk in and out of shops looking at all sorts of knickknacks. I knew I would know what I was looking for...when I found it. I think I just opened myself to the right thing finding me...and enjoying time with my son. I love spending time with him and seeing the world through his eyes.
He had only one request/destination...a candy shop that he loves.  So we walked, we window shopped, we people watched....we looked at all sorts of things and talked to many interesting people.
We walked into a shop and I rubbed the belly of large happy Buddha by the front door.  I walked in and looked at all the things....one thing about Chinatown...every shop is small and crowded with all sorts of items. Looking for something specific is futile...like a needle in a haystack.
So as I wandered the shop, a sweet little Asian woman came up to me. She asked what I was looking for....I responded, "I am not really sure. I think I will know when I find it."  
She took my arm and walked me to an aisle of shelves. She started telling me about the Buddhas on the shelf....How did she know that is what I wanted? Each "style" of statue had a story....
One caught my eye...she was unique....there was not another on the shelf (among the 100's) like her and I had not seen one like her at all in our shopping. I felt drawn to her. The woman told me the Buddha I had chosen helps people with problems.The old woman took my arm again....she pulled me to the back of the store to show me an altar. She told me that was what I was to do with my Buddha. She explained every part of the altar in broken English to my son and I. I stood, towering over this woman, suddenly feeling very small. I was entranced by her. She then reached onto her shirt and pulled out a mala she was wearing. She took hold the one I was wearing and looked up at me holding hers and mine at the same time.  I felt as though I was in the presence of something special. We stood for a moment...quiet in the back of the store. She let go, took my arm again and took me to another part of the store. She showed me a 3 sided gold Buddha ....I loved it. She then disappeared, returning a few minutes later with a box for my 2 figures.
My son felt the need to have a Buddha from the same place and got a tiny one.  We stood at the counter with her as she carefully wrapped our figures and placed them into boxes and a bag. As we left, she took my arm again.....she pulled me out of the store (hhmm....she was done with us!) and on the street she pointed...She told me where to go to get the statues blessed at a small temple.
We walked around the streets, visited the candy shop,  saw some interesting medicinal items for sale, ate some amazing dim sum and then found the temple to get the statues and other items we purchased blessed.
When we got home I did a little research on the statue I had bought.
Well. The statue is of Guan Yin/Kwan Yin. She is synonymous with the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the pinnacle of mercy, compassion, kindness and love. Being of bodhi or enlightenment, one who has earned to leave the world of suffering and is destined to become a Buddha, but has forgone the bliss of nirvana with a vow to save all children of god. In Sanskrit she's known as Padma pani - "Born of the Lotus", the lotus symbolizing purity, peace and harmony. Commonly known in the West as the Goddess of Mercy. She has been compared to the Virgin Mary. Quan Yin is a shortened form of a name that means One Who Sees and Hears the Cry from the Human World.
Anyone who knows me, knows my devotion to Mary. I wear my heart and my faith on my sleeve. The fact that this Buddha is the Goddess of Mercy....the Goddess of compassion, kindness and love....the one who sees and hears the cries of the world....was not lost on me.  The right Buddha had, in fact, found me. Quan Yin had found her way home. 
#forwardisapace
Peace.