Saturday, June 25, 2016

If not now, when?

My mom was a dedicated dieter when she was my age. She had more willpower in her pinky than I have in my whole body.  But there came a time as she aged that she realized, " If not now, when?" And then she would have that extra treat she always had denied herself in years past. Good thing, because the ravages of really old age caused her body to continually shrink. She used to lament the years she spent worrying about her weight; when in the end she couldn't keep it on.
I told her sister that story the other day as she was craving a piece of bacon.

And ever since then, I've had those words. "If not now, when?" in my mind.

We've been planning a trip through Provence and Tuscany since we married. It was the dream trip that we would take "someday." You know, SOMEDAY. Which usually ends up in being NEVER.

 Ever since I told my aunt the story of my mom saying, "If not now, when?", I've been thinking,

If not now, when?

I've never had a birthday affect me this way. 60 starts making mortality a reality. And anyone who says that 60 is the new 40, hasn't spent much time with 40 year olds. 😜
The point is this. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. None. People we love die well before their time with no warning, or with plenty of warning but by the ravages of cancer. We have both lived this nightmare.

And at this moment in time, on June 25th, 2016,  we are healthy enough, and have enough sky miles to make this dream trip come true. But, with our experiences in life, we still bought trip insurance. Cuz you know, shit happens.

So, if fate or whatever is on our side, we leave on this trip on September 6, 2016 for 2 weeks. And a dream comes true.
Because, in the words of my awesome mother,


Thursday, June 16, 2016

God Blessed The Broken Road

Yes...the road was broken..but still I remain grateful that...

1. I am in a loving and secure relationship where I can express any emotion that crosses my heart, including missing Glenn on the anniversary of his death and being completely supported in that sorrow.

2. Both Jon and I feel completely free to regale each other with stories from the past; we just shared gross stories about mice infestations. Sometimes it's about great trips we have taken and the happy times we had; sometimes I share what it was like to become a mom or a grandparent; at times it's been about the heartaches and hurts we've both had...we speak the truth about our pasts...the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm really grateful for that. I am also grateful that we were together as high school/college sweethearts. We have a baseline. We knew each other's parents and homes and young experiences. I told him yesterday that I'm thankful our lives started together and will end together.

3. I left all that was familiar, dear and secure to me to start anew in this city last year on this date. Many times I've wondered if it was the right decision. My job didn't work out. It crushed me. I've been homesick for Brainerd often. But one thing I've learned in Part Three is that risk is part of the game of life. You can't move forward without it. Whenever I doubt the move, I think of all the LITTLE stuff I would have missed with my family if I hadn't  made the choice. After school pick-ups, swim lessons, helping to juggle a blended family schedule, dog-sitting, sibling time and impromptu gatherings. For instance, tonight, my daughter and son-in-law were taking a bike ride....they decided to stop to say hello as we were entertaining my sister and brother-in-law and niece and fiancé for my bro-in-law's birthday. It was a fun evening. Impromptu. Grateful to be here.

4. Wow. I get to PICK how to live out the rest of my days and make some money. I'm scared and excited. I'm officially "off-the-grid." This is a brand new  experience. Did I mention I'm scared??

5. I'm here and almost 60(!)  I think of my friend Peggy in the old neighborhood where my kids were born; her daughter was Emily's age and she died of breast cancer when the girls were six; almost 30 years ago. She has missed so much and I've been blessed with watching my children grow to adulthood and beyond. I don't know why I was spared,  but I'm grateful.

Yes. God blessed the broken road...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Marathons and Teaching

I have a  wonderful young friend who completed the Boston Marathon this spring. She described to me the last few miles as grueling and painful...there were tears. She persevered and finished. Her time matters not; the fact that she finished was the whole point. It reminded me of watching my son finish his first half-marathon....the look on his face of complete exhaustion, disbelief and pride is one I will never forget.
That's how I felt today. Not that I could physically run to the corner and back, but the feeling I had of of completing the marathon that was my teaching year. I've realized that it doesn't matter if you've taught one or 15 years, beginning again in a new district is like being brand new all over again. Or at least it was for me. Today, there was an exhausted sense of relief and disbelief that the year was over. And I made it to the finish line. And a maybe there was a tear or two. 
Over the years, I've shed a few tears on the last day as my students went on to the next stage. I didn't expect that this year; my kids are tough and I didn't feel as if I'd made any relationships. Today that changed as I heard, "Please stay...I'll miss you so much!"
 "Does this mean I won't ever see you again?" 
 "I just want to give you another hug."
 "Will you visit?"
 I had to dig out the Kleenex I'd packed at the end of the day, after they'd gone. Most of the comments were from kids who weren't always so well-behaved. It was a bittersweet cry.
I'm not looking for accolades or, "See? I told ya so's". For me it was all part of the "disbelief" stage of the marathon. The realization that maybe mile 10 or 14 or 20 meant something after all in the "race" of teaching this year. 
But it's a new start! A new chapter! I'm tired, a little melancholy, but I'm not wallowing. This is not going to be a "Wendy the Whiner" blog. Will there be posts where I'm lost and confused about direction? Probably. But my intention is for this to be a place where I notice LIFE.  Where I step out into the unknown and get my toes wet. Where I have the time to notice all the good things in this world of ours.
I have  NO indication of where this will lead. I am however, reminded of this great lyric from a modern song. It is my new mantra
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong (I'll be strong)
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me
Know I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


My school year is ending this week..
For the first time in my teaching career, I have no job to anticipate this fall.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.
No. Not at all.
I was supposed to be called out at a last staff meeting, given a token of appreciation from the district, (a blanket in Brainerd), and a lotta pat-on-the-backs from younger colleagues.
I was supposed to leave by my choice, knowing that I had made a difference in the lives of kids.
It isn't happening that way.
And I'm really sad.
And somewhere inside me I feel really ashamed.
I failed.

You see, ever since the state of Minnesota issued me a license to teach at the ripe age of 45, it's been my whole identity. I'm proud to say I'm a teacher; I can criticize the system, but will defend it adamantly if you do. I have a handful of former students in their late twenties who still write me to tell me eighth grade was their favorite year in school. I loved my time in the classroom. I felt that I really made a difference.
So last year, when I began to believe that Jon and I needed our own place to call home; when I realized my precious ones were growing up so fast, and I realized I missed being there for the small stuff like school pick-ups and piano recitals and impromptu dinners with my funny wonderful adult kids, I took a gamble.

I left all that was familiar and secure and I changed jobs. Because really, I thought, "I'm a teacher! There are kids who need me everywhere! Same job, different place."

Except that wasn't true.

It was all so different and foreign. Being a tenured teacher in Minnesota, I had one school year to show my worth.
And I failed.
And that's where my shame enters.

My head knows I'm a good teacher; my heart is having a hard time catching up.
It's nobody's fault; the kids, wonderful in their own way, didn't "get" me or my personality as the year went by. I'm used to giving kids second chances and having them rise to the occasion. Second chances this year caused me to look weak and like a push-over.

But what's done is done.

 I know that time will show me the answers.

I titled this new blog Part Three because it is how it feels to me.

Part One of adulthood was early careers and raising my children when they were small.

Part Two of adulthood was my life with Glenn and beginning my teaching career and my children becoming adults.

So Part Three?
 It certainly is about the gift I've been given in Jon Kavanaugh and our new life together. And I think it's gonna be about a brand new beginning. I don't know what that is yet...another teaching job? Subbing in the neighborhood? Starting my own tutoring business? Working at something entirely different?
My intention is that Part Three includes "smelling the roses", and a time of high creativity and simple living and just appreciating the TIME, for it passes so quickly.
As I approach a milestone birthday this summer, it all becomes so precious.
I will heal from this defeat, and I will find gratitude in what I found on that journey.

And I will continue to look forward, because that's the only direction that matters.