Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wrapping up

Last month of school is testing and wrapping up final big projects.  We are told not to teach to the test but the students and teachers are penalized for not doing well on the test created by the State.  People, this type of high stakes testing is useless....truly.  The only ones getting an advantage out of it are the ones creating the test and charging the schools.  The standardized test actually make more money if students fail so it is in the test makers best interest to write the test in such away that more students fail.  Then the students are labeled as failures and kept from scholarships, university and other opportunities because they were set up to fail on the high stakes test.  I struggle this time of year seeing how ridiculous it is yet knowing the students need to do well on the tests.  I also watch students struggling through the exams knowing then won't do well.  Thanks to "no student left behind" other options are no long open for students that need a different path.  I get frustrated and discouraged watching the ridiculous things students and teachers are expected to do to appease people that could care less then complain that schools are failing.  It is a vicious downward circle that every once in a while we fight back and win.  A student catches the vision that their dream is possible.  One year we had a couple of students show me their business license.  Two high school young ladies starting their own business is my goal not passing some manipulated test. 

Shout out to my friends in Canada that were kind enough to send us some of their cold weather.  I am not ready for triple digit weather.  Thanks, much cooler tonight.  :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sharing Laughter

Pecans in the cemetery...

On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts.

'One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me,' said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.

Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery, so he slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, 'One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me...'

He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along.

'Come here quick,' said the boy, 'you won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!'

The man said, 'Beat it kid, can't you see it's hard for me to walk. When the boy insisted though, the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery.

Standing by the fence they heard, 'One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.'

The old man whispered, 'Boy, you've been tellin' me the truth. Let's see if we can see the Lord!

Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.

At last they heard, 'One for you, one for me. That's all. Now let's go get those nuts by the fence and we'll be done...'

They say the old man had the lead for a good half-mile before the kid on the bike passed him.

Have a wonderful and blessed Sunday!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Process vs Product

One of the interesting concepts I explored while working with early childhood teachers is the difference between process and product art. 

Now I am learning pour painting which produce a product over which other than choosing colors I have very little control.  I mix the paints with glue, combine them into a cup then using different methods pour them onto the canvas.  I am at the beginning experimentation stage.  I listened to multiple videos before starting but then it was applying the basics to the materials I had.  The thing that fascinates me is I am limited in control, I let go of expectations and enjoy the process of mixing and pouring.  Often the final results are not visible until the next day when it is totally dried. 

The interesting thing to me is the concept that one of the struggles of counseling and treatment of PTSD is they treat people like a product to produce particular results.  People will then become.... __________, ________________, _______________.  People are treated like products to be pushed shoved and manipulated into a particular behavior. 

Fortunately for me, my first counselor taught me the process of living.  He first helped me to see the damage caused by how I was raised.  Tough going for anyone that experienced the ugly unveiling of lies distorting belief system from childhood.  He then cautioned me that my past did not define who I am now.  I looked at him utterly and completely confused.  I was a product of my past, or so I believed.  He reassured me that all that happened in my past was part of the process of my individual journey.  I have the opportunity every morning to get up and decide will my past be my present or will I take the lessons I learned a create something totally different than what I was told would happen.

People aren't products.  Treating them like you pour in one cup of this and two cups of that and a pinch of the other will create the same thing withe everyone doesn't make sense.  Yet, many of the 'treatments' for PTSD and CPTSD try to do exactly that.  As long as I look for a secret recipe to change my life, I will be disappointed.  However, when I learn the process of traveling through life, my adventure and explore avenues and try new things I am growing and thriving.  My difficult stumbling blocks from my past can be re-purposed into stepping stones. Occasionally, I will look back at a bridge I crossed, give a little smile and burn that bridge, never to go back to that place again.  I am signing up for the process of living instead of being a product produced by my past.

   Process art with photography.....painting with light. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Here but grumpy

I'm here but feeling grumpy so I'm going to share some pictures and post tomorrow.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Building confidence

Something I am learning watching at school and my own experience, confidence like happiness in and inside job.  Students all given a trophy do not have confidence.  Compliments from my counselor and others does not build my confidence.  All winning with the easy button does not build confidence.  When I look for outside praise to build my confidence, like a house of cards it all falls down.  So how do I build confidence?

I was praying for an answer to this question.  I read an article on one of the military web pages about using martial arts to build confidence.  I scoffed that is great for military people but what about me? The next time I prayed about building confidence, the answer to my prayer, "I gave you an answer and you didn't listen, why should I give you another answer until you are willing to try what is given?"  Made me think. 

When my children were teenagers they were involved with city park and recreation judo program.  I couldn't sit in the same room as the classes.  I took my kids then sat outside the door waiting for it to end.  I felt like a terrible mother that couldn't support her children by watching them succeed.  Thinking about taking any martial arts class made my stomach heave.  I decided one-on-one lessons first.  I started with basic self defense.  I didn't pass out.  I didn't like it either.  However, I did prove to myself I could do it.  When the teacher made excuses not to meet with me (yes, I was paying him) I went looking for somewhere else to go.  I look at several web pages that bragged about how face their people earned belts and the competitions they one, I wasn't interested.  I decided to join the city parks and recreation karate class. 

I was terrified the first day.  I was worried I would be the oldest one there....I wasn't.  I was worried that my physical limitations would stop me....they slow me down but I can do things now I couldn't do as a teenager.  Tonight, I found out that building confidence is recognizing that I worked through and over came difficult challenges.  I tested tonight at karate and earned a stripe on my belt.  It is not another belt, a stripe on the belt.  I feel so good.  I worked hard.  I experienced difficult challenges and it took me over 2 years to meet my goal.  I did it.  I highly recommend martial arts to people interested in building confidence.  However, I also suggest you do your home work that the place you are learning is more interested in building character than a trophy case.  Nothing wrong with earning trophies as long as they are a side result of the character building. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Coloring books

Adults  are rediscovering the joy of coloring books

Coloring books for adults Enjoy

One of the interesting ways of coping that came out when I was in counseling long before the idea was popular.  When I started counseling, I would get so stressed I could barely talk to the counselor.  He had coloring books in his waiting room.  I randomly started coloring before each session.  It slowed down my racing thoughts.  I liked the rhythm of moving the crayon back and forth across the paper.  I felt guilty for using up the pages the were obviously for children.  So I brought another coloring book.  When he changed offices the coloring books disappeared.  It was bad enough that offices were changed but to lose the coloring books was too much so I brought some more crayons and coloring books.  I would come 30 to 40 minutes early so I could spend time coloring each day.  Now I have lots of coloring books for the grandkids but I noticed that I am not coloring.  I wonder about this some times.  I'm not sure why I am hesitant to use a known help for when I am feeling stressed.  I'll need to think about this.  I am glad that I can buy them at the dollar store so I don't feel guilty having a stack of them. 

Connecting with childhood activities that I enjoyed is one way to connect past and present peacefully.  Going to the zoo was another place I loved to go.  I still love taking grandkids to the zoo.  I discovered that I feel guilty if I go to the zoo by myself.  I'm still trying to figure that one out. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Handling frustration

A few years ago, a day like today would leave me totally stressed out and looking for another job declaring I'm useless.  My day did not start out well.  The email sent out by my supervisor was a detailed explanation of what I was supposed to do today.  I didn't get it.  Really.  I forgot that the type of message she sent the information is removed at the desktop.  In order for me to see the complete message I have to log on to the district email. Pickles.  Then I misunderstood an email so I really was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong assignment.  Heavy sigh.  I was 2/3 way through the day before I started sorting out my mess.  Fortunately, now I know what needs to be done and I can correct the other mistakes of the day.  Not thrilled with the situation but I am able to cope and recognize that I made a mistake.  No need for a melt down.  I can make a mistake and fix it later most of the time.  Occasionally life throws a situation with no edit undo.  However, today's snafus are all fixable.  Tomorrow I will correct my mistakes and hopefully have a better day.

I coped.

Yup, I need to recognize and congratulate myself for coping through a series of mistakes that did not put me at my best.  I made it through the day.  I will go back tomorrow ready to straighten things out.  What has changed?  I recognized I made a mistake.  I also recognized it wasn't the end of the world.  I didn't come home and collapse from the stress.  I felt frustrated but not angry.  OOOOOoooooo Progress.  I remember when I started counseling, early on I made a slight mistake.  I was trembling and on the verge of tears....a few years later, I messed up what time I was supposed to be at a counseling session, I was sobbing because I made a mistake.  Yes, living my life terrified of the slightest mistake is very wearing.  I worked hard at learning to accept that I can make mistakes.  I also take responsibility for those mistakes.  I fix the ones I can and ask for help on the ones I can't.  Over all, I had a fairly good day when I balance out sewing this afternoon and making delicious brownies tonight.

A bad moment does not make a bad day.
A bad day does not make a bad life.

Seeing past my mistakes to solutions is fairly new for me.  I like it.

Pictures taken about 10 minutes apart.  A lot can change in 10 minutes.  


Sunday, April 1, 2018

It was Empty

My favorite Easter story took on new depth this week when I laid an empty egg on my granddaughter's grave.  I believe that I will see her grow up some day and get to know her.  I feel deep sorrow surrounded with sure hope that we will live again, just like Jesus. 

The Empty Egg

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher. One day she called his parents and asked them to come for a consultation. As the Foresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a 'special' school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students."

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "There is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here." Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Foresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction.

Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying? As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares.

Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red. She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment?

Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk.

After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants
peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm.
"That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine." Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "Daddy helped me," he beamed. Then Doris opened the fourth egg.

She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty." He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too." Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there then his Father raised Him up." The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.