Friday, January 7, 2011

Random Thoughts During my School Day

I am feeling quite discouraged by everything around me. I've tried to ask for help. My anxiety has decreased and now this blanket of sadness…if I close my eyes and just allow my emotions to take over, I probably would not be able to contain these tears. Outside the snow falls soft, barely there. That’s how I feel: barely there. I’m not going down into the hole. It’s almost like I am at peace in this sadness because I am not alone. There’s a woman at my school who I’m really worried about. I wish I could tell her how I feel, how I know how it is. I’m still recovering from the black days, from the time where hope was buried so deep there was no way to unleash it. When breathing was a task. So much of a task I didn’t even realize it. I can’t talk to her…yet. I don’t even really know her yet my heart is breaking when I can sense her desperation.

And there’s the students. And this occupation. Everyone’s talking about it. Why are we in this field again? Does what we do make any sort of difference? Sometimes I am so disconnected from what I always that I was, what I could do. I sit and stare at my class of kids and think, this is what I always wanted. So why do I feel empty, so utterly barren in the depths behind my shaken heart. I almost get to the point I want to be. I can feel excitement build, anticipation because my real creative loving self is trying so desperately to be the teacher I always dreamed I’d be. But then frustration which, thank God, does not lead to rage like it once did. But rather disenchantment. I just sit there and all my hope is extinguished because these kids are so needy, desperate, searching, hungry. The way they express this is with their disrespect, their disruptiveness, their meanness to classmates, their obnoxious comments and actions. I do not feel anger toward them. Just sadness for them, their classmates, me. There’s something missing in their lives that makes them think they can do whatever they want. And as every day passes, it only seems to get worse. That kids are becoming harder and harder to teach because of their messed up home lives, our poisoned environment. The questions about why children are the way they are…as compared to a few decades (even a few years) ago…they never end. My mind is bleeding trying to catch my breath, fill up my spirit with answers.

Oh God sometimes I cannot breathe in this world. I am so desperate for your healing. The people around me don’t realize how desperate they are for Your touch, Your life. Especially these innocent kids. But the world just gets worse and worse. I don’t know for sure why I have chosen teaching as a career. It has rarely been what I always dreamed it would be. But I’m not sure I would be confronted with a different picture of the world if I had a different career. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. The world is messed up. The older I get, the more I realize it and the more I long for heaven.

Behind every smile, I see tears and the realness behind the plastic. I want to believe the person is really happy. Maybe he or she is or maybe they think they are. I’m not sure my sadness is really wrong yet. It hasn’t brought me to a blackness where I can’t think about going on. I praise God for my ability to get up when I’m down, which I couldn’t do just a few years ago. And there’s so much to thank Him for in this job. I’m not trying to just survive anymore…I am really working on myself. I generally have hope…well, lately it has been slipping a bit. But I remind myself of all the things working against me that affect my outlook: my history of serious depression, getting off my meds, it’s winter and this is when I’m usually the lowest, my stress levels, and more. The fact that I am still this positive makes me marvel at how God is working through me.

I don’t feel I am getting out what I wanted to say. I guess when talking with (listening to) some of my coworkers this morning, I realized everyone’s having similar thoughts as me but they only let their guard down just a bit. It’s easy to see how they use good things-humor, friendships, food, etc.- to boost themselves up, to cover up what’s really going on, which I think is good-something I need to do more. Otherwise these teachers wouldn’t be able to do their job. They would end up in the hospital like me.

But I just feel for them…for the students too and wish You could do some sort of miracle to help us out of our misery, to clear up this devastating confusion, to wipe the tears, to instill strength, inspiration.

Love and dedication is not enough. I cannot change these kids’ circumstances with just these. Nothing is changing it seems. But I want to believe what I am doing is making some small difference.

I am kind of going through the motions when it comes to my job. I plan and plan and it seems all this agonizing does nothing. No matter the kids’ behaviors, I still tend to blame myself…Don’t really want to get into this. Maybe I can observe some of the other Spanish teachers to get some inspiration.

I am down but not defeated. If anything I feel kind of comfortable underneath my blanket of sadness.

I want to do more than just long for heaven in this life. I live here right now so teach me what that means. Is this world ugly or beautiful? Beautiful because it is Yours and You are in control. Beautiful because of the beautiful people I meet and engage with every day. Your creations. Beautiful because of the colors, the skies that take my breath away. The crisp white against a spectacular blue sky. Winter’s hues are truly amazing. When I can soak in these beauties, I can escape the other reality. The reality of ugliness. This reality seeps into my conscious and invades my veins and I can barely breathe because of the stench. Somehow we are to live and breathe in the moment. And that moment is in this hideous world, where somehow I am still able to see indescribable beauty. I can feel indescribable pain at the same moment as I sense unfathomable peace and security. Lord, help me live in Your love in this dichotomous world, hanging onto hope despite an aching heart, shaky spirit and downtrodden soul.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 in Retrospect

I know I haven't written in a while... Here's a little about my year.

1. what did you do this past year that you’d never done before?
a. went ice skating! (March)
b. became an Auntie to Callum and Corryn (June)
c. started a grad school program (Aug)
d. became an elementary Spanish teacher (Aug)
e. became extra concerned about my health
f. tried a gluten free diet (among many other diets)
g. began seeing a chiropractor regularly
h. was part of an untraditional but beautiful wedding of my dear brother Nate and sis-in-law Kat on the Oregon coast! (Sep)
i. saw the West coast (Sep)
i. did not buy material gifts for Christmas and (mostly) didn’t feel guilty about it

2. did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not explicitly make a resolution but it was probably something about being healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually and I think I have achieved those goals! (Of course I have a LONG way to go!)

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Dallas & Brandon = Jacob (March); Zach & Beth = Jude (April); Greg and Sarah = Callum & Corryn; Bethany & Jesus = Armando (Oct.)

4. did anyone close to you die?
a friend of mine died last week. She was a wonderful woman with disabilities I had the pleasure of working with for several years. I am so glad she is free of pain and in peace now but we will miss her dearly!

There were several tragic deaths of people extremely close to some of my friends and family members. It was and still is very hard to see my loved ones go through these painful losses.

5. what countries did you visit?
Just the west coast of the U.S.

6. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
more peace, patience and hope

7. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 10-Callum & Corryn were born! Sept 18-Nate & Kat got married!

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
making choices that support my health; developing in my character; not going into a major depression (so far) this winter!

9. what was your biggest failure?
messing up another relationship

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
I was blessed to be mostly healthy this year! Thanks, God!

11. what was the best thing you bought?
good, wholesome food from the Earth!

12. whose behavior merited celebration?
my dear friend and roommate Theresa, who has been such an encouragement to me and has taken the brunt of my actions
my beloved parents who continue to support me unconditionally

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
mine, mostly in the way I treat the guys I date and my closest friends

14. where did most of your money go?
food (I don't buy cheap grub!), loans, grad school

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
I don’t get really (x3) excited about much, just excited period. Probably having Greg & Sarah moving back to MN and being a part of my niece and nephew’s lives!

17. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Neither, I would say more hopeful!

18. thinner or fatter?
Same, thanks God!

19. richer or poorer?
Poorer in the monetary sense. More loans have been taken out so I’m MORE in the hole! Richer in that I am a better, stronger person because of another year of life.

20. what do you wish you’d done more of?
•Playing piano and violin!
•Staying in touch with people close to me better, sending more cards, etc.
•Writing more, especially blogging, not being afraid to share my thoughts with others to possibly help them!
•Exercising regularly.
*Volunteering or missions trips

21. what do you wish you’d done less of?
•Worrying and analyzing and trying to be perfect, I’m at pro at that!
•Eating sweets
•Watching depressing and violent TV shows

22. how will you be spending your birthday? No idea!

23. how will you be spending the holidays?
Hopefully with my family, maybe a few of my brothers will be home this year. And I will have a new niece or nephew by that time! Yay!

24. did you fall in love this past year? nope, not that I know of

25. how many one-night stands? none

26. what was your favorite TV program? At the beginning of the year, I watched a lot of Law & Order: SVU and CSI. Not good for someone so sensitive and especially before bed!

27. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, I’ve been able to be more understanding of people thanks to God working in me

28. what was the best book you read?
So many!!! Here are just a few of the books that really influenced my thoughts and actions this year:

•The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright
•Seeing is Believing by Greg Boyd
•The G-Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide by Elizabeth Hasselbeck
•Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes by Therese Borchard
•The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by Step Guide to Safely Overcome Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence and “Addiction” by Joseph Glenmullen
•Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk
•An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
•Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields
*Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult
•The Help by Kathryn Stockett
•Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
•Expecting Adam by Martha Beck

I recommend ALL of these! Ask and, with delight, I will tell you how they changed me!

29. what was your greatest musical discovery?
Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, Michael Gungor, Michael Buble, George Winston

30. what did you want and get?
•A job! Thanks God!
•Healthy babies for my brother/sis-in-law and friends! Thanks God!
•To be an auntie
•Strength, endurance and personal health and healing!
•To be (mostly) depression free! Woot!

31. what did you want and not get?
•A man to fall in love and spend my entire life with
•Clarity for my future career path
•To be married with children
•To be anxiety free (this'll never happen in this life, I guess.)
•To not be dependent on my antidepressants

32. what was your favorite film of this year?
Probably Toy Story 3! So sweet, I cried!

33. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?
Twenty-flippin-siX! Crazy! I had a horrible HORRIBLE migraine. While medicated, I worked a shift at the group home, I came home to find my room decorated by my sweet roomies. Then I went to bed despite a lot of hammering and drilling (a friend was working on our house on the other side of the wall where I was desperately trying to rest!) BUT I celebrated two days later with a karaoke party which I set up. I was so blessed to have a large group of friends show up! What a memorable day!

34. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
I’ve been told I’m good at accessorizing my jewelry with my outfits! (Luckily, I have a mom who makes amazingly cute jewelry)

35. what kept you sane?
Reading! (got me through so many days!)
Counseling was always helpful-talking to someone who is pretty much a perfect stranger, no biases… etc. I’d highly recommend it.
My beloved roommate Theresa and other friends and family members

36. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

37. what political issue stirred you the most?
I don’t understand it…but the health care stuff really hits close to home.

38. who was the best new person you met?
my friend Nike from Nigeria I “met” on my blog. She’s been such an encouragement to me. I look forward to getting to know her more this year!

39. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
A few things I’ve concluded (based on my 3-18-10 journal entry):
-You have no right to judge another’s experience.
-People are never as they appear on the outside.
-Pain is pain.
-You can always find joy even in the hardest times.
-You can never get this moment back.
-Faith is dead without action.
-You can choose to feel differently about any situation.
-People rarely notice you (the way you think they do) and that’s quite freeing!
-Always assume the best but be aware of the worst.
-Christ is incarnate; He is found in anything beautiful of the world, most often the day-to-day things you forget to acknowledge.
-Hope is living in the moment but knowing one day everything will be perfect.
-You may mean little to the world, but to one person, you may mean the world (and that’s a great reason to stay alive!)
-My body is not my own; it is my Creator’s that’s why I am a sacred and beautiful person.
-People come and go from our lives; I strive to learn from each one, knowing that the one conversation we have may very well be the only one.
-Each mistake is a chance to learn more about yourself and become a better person.
-Self-hate is a sure way to make yourself look ugly.
-Striving for perfection takes away this moment to be completely you.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things
out of us
all around
hope is springing up from this old ground
out of chaos life is being found in you
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things
out of the dust
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things
out of us” ~ Beautiful Things by Michael Gungor