It Sounds Like Joy

Ever notice how we human beings have ways of marking the passage of time? Sure, we have our calendars, our reminders, our clocks and gizmos. I’m talking about the not-so-obvious ways of marking time. The ways that mark time in subtle ways that leave you realizing after the fact how time has passed rather than noting it up front.

I am not a winter person. I like cool weather but I’m really a sunny, summer person. I mark my years mostly by noting the passage of the seasons. The months from January to the end of March are dreadful for me. In the region where I live winters are relatively mild, but temperatures can vary from a balmy 60 degrees one day to snowing and freezing levels the next. I find this pretty tough on my system. I’m always glad when Daylight Saving Time arrives. Even though I lose an hour, I can see that summer is on the way, and with it, some more consistent temperatures. Continue reading

Anniversaries, Birthdays & Other Musings of A Convalescent

An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.

~Author Unknown

I’ve recently been thinking about birthdays, anniversaries and other events that commemorate the existence or longevity of relationships, lives, and important activities. This year, as with every year, is filled with several such markers which will recognize the presence of something or someone my life. I will celebrate the birthdays of my children; once again taking time to reflect on how quickly the time has passed since they each decided to depart my womb and enter the world as individuals in their own right. I will celebrate the birthdays of other loved ones as I give thanks for their existence.

In some cases, these anniversaries recognize the time since something ended instead of marking a beginning. This year marks the eleventh year since my first marriage ended and the fifth year since the end of my second one. It will be two years since I gave up dating. I’ll also celebrate one year in my new home, which is also one year since I decided to give up the battle I was fighting trying to keep up an old ranch-style home that I could not maintain nor adequately afford. Continue reading

Kicking Off The Holiday Season

j0422837 I have a friend who firmly believes that Halloween is the holiday that officially kicks off “The Holiday Season”.  Being a person who really knows how to entertain and, yes, even cook very fine meals, she is all about celebrating.  And she is good at it.  Whether you agree with my friend or not, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, followed immediately by the day now known as “Black Friday”  (only in America and when did that happen anyway?), it is clear The Holiday Season is well underway. 

The Problem

In years past, I was all about Christmas and decorating and making everything festive and, like my friend, I enjoyed celebrating in the company of family and friends.  But somewhere along the line things went horribly wrong and suddenly, The Holidays, have lost their appeal to me.  Or maybe I’ve just become very, very confused about does and does not matter when creating those memorable holiday moments.

Okay, things didn’t really go “horribly wrong”, at least, not all in one big life changing moment.  It was more like a gradual decline and I think I did it to myself.  Too much pressure, expectations for myself and those of others (mostly in-laws), the demands of being a new mom, starting a new demanding career at the same time (oh, yes, I do wish I’d played Solitudethat card differently), and the gradual erosion and decline of a marriage.  Along the way, The Holidays lost their charm.  They became something to be endured; a source of pain, frustration and immense exhaustion.

After the second divorce, I tried the best I could to make Christmas memorable for my children.  This wasn’t easy, since I was now in the place so many people find themselves in after divorce:  broke…if not bankrupt. I was definitely the former, scrambling to avoid the latter.  Looking back, I don’t even know how I survived that first Christmas because child support hadn’t even kicked in.  The second Christmas was also pulled off with meager finances and the third Christmas, last year, was the first Christmas my children spent away from me.  That was tough! 

  Yes, I am fully aware that in spite of the pretty lights, the happy smiles on people’s faces, the advertisements that boast loving couples, happy families, and joyous, grateful children with lavishly decorated homes where trees are standing amidst a treasure trove of gifts, the cost of which might easily feed a small third world nation somewhere for a year, The Holiday Season for many, is a season of pain, regret, disappointment, sadness and deep loneliness. Many of us, especially those of us who are Singles in a World of Couples dread the advent of the holidays because it means we will be attending yet another office party alone, waking up Christmas morning alone while the kids wake up and open presents elsewhere, eating alone with no one to greet us in the morning or drink a toast with us in the evening.  That awareness can gnaw at us and deprive us of joy, energy, and contentment.

A Solution:

Now, if I let it, that could depress me.  I could spend my time regretting the misused past.  I could spend my time fretting that I am now unable to provide my children with what I’d always wanted and hoped to be able to provide them materially. I could feel badly that I don’t have significant other to share the joys and sorrows (or my hot tub!) with.  I could get weepy that things are not exactly what I wanted or how I planned or imagined.  I could despair that things are not better than they are.  Sometimes I do.  Not for long.  Maybe only about two hours a month…if that.

Solution:  I don’t let it.  I’ve learned to enjoy what I have and be grateful that I have it.  I’ve also learned that things can always be worse.  After all, as one friend recently said to me, “You have a roof over your head, a good job, you are paying your bills haven’t had to foreclose on your home or file bankruptcy, you and your kids are healthy and you have food on the table.  It could be so much worse, so chin up!”

I’ve learned over the last three years to think differently about many things.  I now think differently about my holidays.  I think very differently about the holidays on those years when my kids will be away for Christmas Day.  I’m not so hesitant anymore to ask out that guy friend to my office Christmas Party.  I just make sure it is someone who understands that this is not a Friends With Benefits situation or that I have any illusions about us as a couple.j0444098  I’ve given myself permission to be single and to enjoy it.  I’ve given myself permission to take full advantage of the times when the kids are away.  I’ve met enough people and have plenty of friends that if I want a date to an event I can have one.  If I’m sitting home alone on a weekend night it is because I have chosen it, not because I have no other choice.  I’ve learned to be at peace with myself.

I no longer feel that I’m missing life if I stay home…alone…curled up on my couch in my lounge pants and t-shirt…in front of the fire.  Would it be fun to be using my couch differently?  Of course, but I’m not desperately hoping that will happen or thinking that it must happen in order for me to feel validated and alive.

Mostly, I’ve learned that the off times, those times when the kids are away at their other homes is a great time for me to work on the many home improvement tasks I have lined up.  I don’t have to worry about kids wanting to help with the painting or spreading the mess throughout the house. I don’t have to stop mid project to fix a meal and clean it up.  It’s also a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some j0438433of my adult friends that I have a more difficult time connecting with when the kids are around. It’s a great opportunity to get caught up on laundry and if all else fails…

…it is a wonderful time to try to learn to cook a new dish! 

Yeah, like that’ll happen anytime soon!

I do have questions though for those of you out there who, like me, have a shared custody or a parenting plan that means your children will be away from you some or all of the holiday season. 

How do you handle the holiday season when you don’t have your children with you to celebrate?

How has divorce changed how you celebrate the holidays?

 

 

75 Degrees & Crazy April

See Cat Stressed
See Cat Stressed

Today it is a rockin’ 75 degrees outside.  This is the first in a series of really brutal weeks that will make up my April.  I’m calling it Crazy April. If  I make it successfully through this week, I will be nothing short of very impressed with me. If I make it through the month, I am going to celebrate.

First, grades are due this week, by the end of the day Wednesday.  I was busy straight through the weekend, unable to get much grading done and none today.  That means that tomorrow and Wednesday, are the only two days I have to get grades in and I can’t do this during school hours because usually I’m sitting back watching t.v. and eating bon bons teaching.  I say, usually, because I have a student teacher in my room who is doing her practicum and thus, I am relieved of most of my teaching duties, but none of my grunt labor supervisory duties. 

Today,  all by my lonesome, I had to make sure all the invitations to our Math After School Club for 140 students were printed, folded, labeled and delivered to classrooms so teachers could send them out today. breathe That Club starts next week and will run through the end of the month. I’m in charge of organizing it.  This means I’m scheduling nine teachers and four aides, coordinating schedules, gathering materials, training, communicating and basically running my butt off (this is a good thing) to make this thing happen. Oh, yeah, and I’m also responsible for coordinating the snack.  Yeah, this ought to be good!

Today, was the start of our After School Science Club which will run all week.  I am teaching a play with stuff and get pretty messy Hands On Science Inquiry segment.  This, like the Math Club, will take up all my after school planning time.  Fortunately, I can rely on my student teacher for some of that.  I’m glad she’s so competent.  This entire scenario would be a nightmare if she were not.  I must make a point to thank her and tell her how wonderful she really is.

The big finale is the Professional Development Class that I will crash and burn teach on May First.  This one has me in fits…well…it just does.  There’s nothing worse than teaching teachers.

Of course, in addition to all these things, life’s normal demands still exist.  For example, tonight, my second oldest daughter told me her play rehearsals changed from being over at 6 to starting at 6 and going till 8.  This completely wipes out the plans I made with my oldest daughter to go shopping for a prom dress after she gets off at 6.  Somewhere in all this mess I have to fit in dinner. 

So, it is a rockin’ 75 degrees outside and I am not able to be out in it grading papers.  Instead, I’m here, offgassing some of the stress of my week and celebrating the fact that I made it through Day 1 of Crazy April. 

tablesettingWhen it is all over, I’ll have a few additional dollars in my paycheck and this will be a great thing.  I’ve already decided that I’m buying 2 tickets to the Special Olympics Wine, Food & Chocolate tasting event on May 2nd which is the day after all this ends.  I’m going to treat a special friend ( identity yet to be determined) and I’m just going to go and celebrate a month well done.  But I have to get there first! 🙂

Hopes Of A Celebratory Fledgling Annum

It’s been more than one diurnal course (not to be confused with di-urinal course) after Christmas and I’ve not posted the answers to the “Can You Name This Christmas Carol” Quiz I posted a week or so ago.  The answers appear below in purple

Can You Name This Christmas Carol?

1.  Nocturnal noislessness  Silent Night

2.  Quadruped with the crimson proboscis Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer

3.  Monarchial triad We Three Kings

4. Yonder in a feeder  Away In A Manger

5. Righteous darkness  O Holy Night (but I kinda liked Righteous Darkness)

6. Youthful male percussionist  Little Drummer Boy

7. Father Christmas en route to muicipality Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

8. The Primary Christmas  The First Noel

9. Query regarding the identity of descendent  What Child Is This?

10. Diminutive Judean village  O Little Town Of Bethlehem

11. Ancient benevolent despot  Good King Wenceslas

12. Adorn the corridors Deck The Halls

13. Exuberance for the planet  Joy To The World

14. Give attention to the melodious celestial beings  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

15. Tin tintinnabulums  Jingle Bells

16. A dozen 24-hour Yule periods  The Twelve Days of Christmas

17. Befell during the transparent bewitching hour It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

18. Homo sapien of crystallized vapor  Frosty the Snowman

19. Singular yearning for twin anterior incisors  All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

20. To espy matriarchal osculation of fat man in red  I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Clause

21. Perambulating through a December solstice fantasy  Walking In A Winter Wonderland

22. Aloft on the acme of the abode  Up On The Rooftop

23. Frozen preciptiation commence  Let It Snow

24. Hence arriveth Kris Kringle  Here Comes Santa Claus

25. Jehovah dulcify blithe chevaliers  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

26. Endocarp desiccated in a conflagration  Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

Did you get them all?  Now you can take this one to your Christmas parties next year.  See how many of them people can figure out after a few hot buttered rums! 

I extend to you hopes of a celebratory fledgling annum!

Halloween-Kicking Off The Holiday Season

I hate the expensive pre-fab costumes that you spend a million dollars on at Wal-Mart and they disintegrate the minute you pay for them.  So, this year I decided to do something a bit different.  I went to the Goodwill store.  I have not dressed up for Halloween in forever…well since college days…yeah, that was forever.  This year, my school is doing a “Harvest Carnival” the night before Halloween and they want us teachers to dress up.  Great. 

Well, I’m going incognito.  I have this full head mask of an old professor type man.  The hair is scruffy black. The eyes are cutout but the bags under the cutout eyes make me think this mask was an alcoholic in another life.  I went down to the Goodwill to see if I could get a man’s suit that was about 4 sizes too large for me.  Well, I found suit coats but not with matching pants.  I had to go over to the pants section for that.  Found those easily. Picking out the shirt was pretty fun.  There were so many to choose from and many which could have doubled as my own sleep shirts after Halloween.  I chose a light brown one.  The suit by the way is navy blue. 

As I was in the store, I noticed that I was not the only one picking out items for the upcoming weekend events.  One youth, couldn’t have been more than 22, picked out a hot pink ski suit with matching ski boots and a red, white and blue ski hat.  I’m guessing he was going as a ski bunny?  Then there was the girl who picked out a straw farmer’s hat, a green bomber jacket and a flannel checked shirt.  Maybe she was going as a scarecrow? 

Anyway, I was there just having a blast as my wild little mind considered all the possibilities.  I mean, the used bridal gowns, the black lace things, the props!!!!  I also thought how much more fun it would be if there was a special someone in my life and he could have been their with me.  The fun we would have had creating and considering the endless possibilities for the bizarre, silly and weird.  It would have been a wonderful kick-off to the 2008 Holiday Season.  Instead, I contented myself with grabbing up the items my children (who were not with me at the time) told me they wanted for their costumes and enjoyed their squeals of delight when I arrived home with the treasure.  Judging from their responses, I apparently scored.  Now, that doesn’t happen every day.  Pleased and excited children…well, that’s a pretty decent start to the holiday season too.