Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thomas Kempis, Have you heard of him?

Yeah, I hadn't either. And yet, the other day when I was distraught that someone wasn't doing things the way I thought they should, my sister pulled out this Thomas Kempis quote... 

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."  

Oh Thomas, you medieval monk you! How wise your words are, and yet how very difficult to keep that perspective. 

I knew as soon as I heard them that they would require a blog post. How often does it happen that we have expectations of how someone else should be behaving and when they fail to meet our expectations, we are upset? For me, probably much more often than I should allow it to happen. I know better. I've been in this world long enough to know that expecations cause more trouble than almost anything else. 

Now, as an aside, I will say when I tell a child to specifically do something and she fails to do it, well, she is making her own bed. And she gets to deal with those consequences of making me angry. I might have had an expecation, but I made sure she knew the expectation. 

AND, when I lay out my expectations for others, I would like to think it is reasonable to expect them to meet those expectations or to tell me why that is not going to happen. Hell, just tell me it is not going to happen. Because I think then they lay their expecations out for me, it is reasonable to expect me to meet those expectations or at the very least to be sure the other person knows I can't meet them. 

Because a lot of problems could be aleviated if people would just communicate. Talk. Say "I don't understand" or "this is what I need" or "you must go away right now." What has happened that it is so difficult for people to communicate? What is the fear? What is the concern? Why choose not to communicate? 

Somehow we are living in a world in which we've decided it's better to slink off rather than deal with any difficulties or unpleasantness, we try to avert trouble by dodging it rather than dealing with it and moving on. We choose to come to conclusions that may or may not be supported by fact and then we act without every communicating those conclusions or verifying their veracity.  We live in a world that is making me slightly insane. 

I admit it. I don't like it. I would so much rather deal with people that are honest and straightforward. I would rather hear the bad news and deal with the problems than KNOW there is a problem but not be able to do ANYTHING about it because no one is talking about it.  It's exhausting.  

And lest you think I was ignoring the second part of that quote let me go on... I think one of my greatest struggles is dealing with who I am versus who I want to be. I am very aware of my shortcomings, many though they may be. In fact, I've been amused more than once by someone telling me of a shortcoming in a fashion that indicates I might not know about it. Oh, I know about them. I struggle with them. One or two I've just grown to accept. They are my shortcomings and I am sleeping with them at night quite comfortably. 

Recently, as I sat discussing personality tests with someone, I mentioned that on Myers-Briggs I am an ENTJ...loosely translated as mean, cold hearted bitch ( I don't think that it is meant to be that way, it just seems to come across that way at times.) I was asked if I wanted to change that. I don't think I gave a very good answer at the time. I would love to call a re-do. 

No. In this area, I don't want to change. I think the world needs people like me, and we aren't a better place because people are scared of truth and honesty. Because in a world of "oh it is so important to be polite and to not say anything that might upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings" Honesty, even when honesty is hard, is now considered mean and cold hearted. So, that part of who I am I do not want to change. I'm ok with that. 

BUT I do wish that I had more patience. I wish I was less uptight over things that really don't matter. I wish I had more discipline. I wish I didn't get so crabby when I'm tired or hungry. I wish I wasn't quite so cynical. 

About that honesty?  It probably wouldn't hurt if I learned to choose my words more carefully. I wish that when no one is asking for my opinion, I was better at keeping it inside. I hope that I can learn to temper my words and choose them carefully. 

So, I guess I'll keep trying to make myself as I wish to be and try NOT to be angry with others for not doing what I wish they would.... 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Will I ever catch up?

Right now, I am thinking no. It is hopeless. People always ask how the yearbook is going. This year, I can say that the girls are fantastic, and they are doing an awesome job. That is not to say that they don't, from time to time, fail to work as instructed, or go off the reservation without telling me, but after many years of this I can say they are a fantastic group.

In the meantime, the list of things I am supposed to be working on is growing expotentially. Literally, I can't catch up. I had another teacher make a snide remark about how all I do  is send emails and answer the phone. To a great extent that is correct. I am paid about the same as a  secretary (Ok, they may make more.) and a lot of my work is that of a secretary. It's a little demoralizing at times, but there it is. If I could hire a secretary then I could focus on all of the other stuff...maybe even how to be a better teacher. Such crazy talk.

But I digress. We have formed a "website steering committee" to see if we can get the kids involved and taking ownership of the crap ass website/iphone app that our journalism department updates. Of course that is a whole nother story of shit that pisses me off. So, working on that, working on designing next year's book, working on ads for next year and choosing staff for next year, and no we aren't done with this year. Kinda a hectic time for me.

And we won't even go into The Boys riding my ass about The Book which isn't even due out until August. They are going to give me heartburn.

I probably should not get myself all torqued up in the morning. I should go back to checking stuff off my list. OK. Gonna do that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

I was reminded the other day that both Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday/Lent are strange celebrations (kind of) to some.  Yet they are such a part of my life and family tradition that it's hard to imagine how people don't celebrate Mardi Gras and practice sacrifice in the Lenton season.

Mardi Gras, distinctly a southern tradition, is that final hurrah before 40 days of getting down to business. It's like eating cake right before going on a diet (which I'm pretty sure many of us have done.) My sister and I were discussing last weekend how our mother has always been opposed to celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans (the original sin city if you ask her, esp during the Mardi Gras season.)  I've always wanted to go and just stand on a balcony all evening watching the chaos below.  Not IN the chaos...just watching. One of my student's actually brought King cake to school yesterday. I thought that was fun. I went out last night with a friend, had some steak and enjoyed the evening. Not the wildness of New Orleans, but still fun.

Today is Ash Wednesday. My plan is to go to church this evening, so I won't get home until after 7. The dogs will be distinctly unhappy by then, I have no doubt. I've spent a lot of years giving things up for Lent. I recently started trying to do things instead. It seemed more constructive than destructive and since my body pretty much won't let me eat a bunch of junk food, there's not a lot of suffering from giving that up.  And to be honest, it's just better for everyone if I stay happy and drinking through the Lenton season.

So, I already started a new routine of saying morning prayers each day. I like the idea of starting my day focused on who I want to be and how I want to live. I'm also going to exercise 30 minutes a day. I figure that is reasonable. I can run on the treadmill or walk the dogs, but every day I am going to do something. Maybe by the end, I'll be back to running 5 miles a day. I don't even remember what happened to make me stop running, but my body has definitely been feeling the difference. I HAVE to get back into it!!

And maybe along the way, as I spend the next 40 or so days reflecting on why I am doing these things and what it means to be a Christian, I will manage to pick up two habits again that help me to stay focused and clear on WWJD....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Better late than never

It's February, so it seems like it is about time to do my last year's review and goal setting for the new year. I have always loved New Year's Eve for this reason. I haven't gone out on New Year's Eve in years. But I have enjoyed staying up and contemplating the year. I'm not sure what I did this year, but looking at my blog, I certainly haven't been introspective. So it is time to do that now.

Over a month into 2013, I am looking back at 2012 and thinking last year may end up being a year for the record books in a couple of ways. I mean I had some serious lows. But I also set out to make some big changes in my world.

In a lot of ways, it was a really, long, long year. Started it broken hearted, home less and pretty damn unhappy.

At least by spring break I was in my own home again. It gave me something to focus on, and it reminded me of how much I like having my own space. I have become more solitary through the years. It becomes more and more lovely to be alone in my world, doing my own thing. (This is probably not great for romance and/or long-term committments, but what the hell, it is what it is.)

The whole year has been a strange lesson on relationships. Romantic, familial, friendships. All of it.

I spent most of my interactions with my parents trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I still have no idea really. I could ask, but that's not really how my parents work. When I try to understand their behaviors and why they did some of the things that they did, I keep coming back to the theory that they are trying to sever all the ways I might be dependent on them.  It's as if they want to be sure that when they die, there isn't anything that changes in my life because they are gone. It seems premature and a little weird to me, but there it is. If that is their goal, they have been wildly successful. It makes me a little sad, but it probably is for the best. The ancillary to that is that we don't talk very often any more, and I see them even less. I suppose that will change soon enough as they get older and need to be checked on more, but as my sister pointed out, they are still visiting all the siblings, and that means they all see how my parents are doing too.

I thought it was all looking up by the end of the school year, but it turns out even in relationships one thinks are solid, a lack of communication and perhaps people just evolving into different versions of themselves can change things. For good or bad, for now or forever may remain to be seen, but sometimes change is inevitable.  That actually may be the theme for 2012 now that I think about it.

I didn't go to Europe this summer, in fact, I didn't really go anywhere. It was ok. I got a lot done at home, and I didn't need to spend the money anyway. And, I am going this year, so it's good.

I did add 2 more dogs to my menagerie. It was almost 3, but thank God my friend, Mimi took Rowdy into her home!!  Although it has been a little crazy at times, Gracie and Dixie are awesome, and I am so glad that they are part of my family.

It wasn't a fantastic year for romance, but sometimes I look at my life and think, I may just be a really late bloomer. I am in better shape than ever, I think I like myself a lot more than I have at any other time in my life, I'm more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been before, and I think I have better friends than I have ever had before. And if the whole picture of a life is determined by relationships, all relationships, then in many ways, even without romance, 2012 was a great year. I have friends that are family. I am very lucky in that respect.

I spent 2012 being much more focused on my finances and getting my debt down. I feel like I will make a lot of progress in 2013, and THAT makes me very happy.

And, as I turn my eye towards 2013 and think about what I want for myself....

I am excited about making changes to the journalism/publications program that I think will be better for the kids and making it more fun for me. It might be some work, but I think I'll learn a lot and it will keep me interested. This  job is the perfect job for me because it IS always changing and I CAN find ways to challenge myself.

I want to keep working on reducing my debt. Not spending money I shouldn't and making choices that will move me closer to my goal. Sometimes that is extremely difficult, but that doesn't mean it isn't important to do.

I am excited about getting my real estate license, and the idea of starting a company with my friend Joanna really makes me happy. I think we are a good team, and it will be fun. We just need to start working on the details. More to come on that.

I've added a morning prayer to my routine each day. I hope that helps me to be focused each day on making choices that allign with my beliefs and with what God wants for  me.

I have not been running, and I miss it. I need to get that back in my life. It needs to be part of my routine. I want to look back on 2013 and be glad that I made that change (again.)

Relationships. Unfortunately, in ALL relationships when we aren't willing to communicate and perhaps bare our soles, our relationships can't grow. They, instead, begin to stagnant and wilt. So, for the people in my life that do want our relationships to grow and be strong, I want to focus on them. I want to do my part to be honest, and real and improve things. For those that don't, I will try to respect what they want and where they are in their lives. It's hard for me, because I would rather have relationships that feel symbiotic, but I guess there is an ebb and flow in all things. Including long-term relationships. Hmmm, might have to write more about this later too.

So, there it is. Last year summed up and this year's plan. Go team.

Work Smarter not harder

Blondie and I attended a tech convention/fair in Austin this week. We flew down Wednesday morning, and we'll fly back today. It was great for a couple of reasons.
1. It's good when we can spend some time together outside of the confines of school. I truly enjoy her company, and it was really nice to get to talk.

2. We are working on a couple of really big projects and there is NO time during the average day to get to talk about what we want to do and what our vision is for the project.

3. We each had a list of things we wanted do (meeting with vendors about products we are using/issues we are having: adobe, safari, skyward). So, we did. We tracked the people down that we needed, got the info we were after and problem solved a bunch of stuff. I basically parked myself at the adobe booth for Wednesday as they taught different sessions. They weren't advanced enough for me to learn a ton, but I picked some tidbit up at each one, so it was good.

I'm also really glad that we will be home this afternoon because it will give me my weekend to get all the stuff done at home that I need to be doing.

The downside is that being out of school for 3 days when there are just NO subs around means I had to use subs I didn't know. Subs. Because I  couldn't find one person for 3 days. Wednesday's sub was fine. Thursday's sub was a nightmare. Total Nightmare. She wouldn't let them in the office, she wouldn't let them take attendance. What a mess. So, it's been arranged for a different sub for my class today. I am praying it will go better.

In the meantime, I need to remember to work smarter not harder more often!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

So, what do you do?

My job is weird. Yes, I'm a teacher, but I teach yearbook classes. So it's not your average class. Mostly it is 25 people a class period doing 25 different things. Every day. I get to spend a lot of time answering 4, 365 questions a period. You doubt me? You shouldn't.

The yearbook is a student run publication which means I work really hard to let the editor-in-chief of each class period run the class. Be in charge. Tell em what to do.

There are a lot of questions that come with that. Also, I have students in charge of every part of the business. So, I also spend a lot of time explaining how to do things to teenagers. Who don't listen. And have the attention spans of gnats. So, I also get to be frustrated. A lot.

Also, I spend an incredible amount of time writing reminders to myself to check on things. That they have been done. That people have responded to emails, requests, etc. Teenagers and adults. Actually, it is impressive how often I am checking up on adults.

Recently one of them let me know people might not appreciate that. I get that. And maybe I wouldn't feel the need to do that if experience hadn't taught me that most people? Well, they aren't making lists and checking them off. They are not taking care of all of their shit. And I'm not saying I don't let stuff fall through the cracks, it does. But not all that often. And truly, it's usually not that important.

But I am talking about sending emails to the principal about things happening in a couple of days or weeks...and not getting responses. Sending emails confirming things, that receive no response. Not even a yes or a no. Makes me want to grind my teeth.

There are moments when I really love my job and seeing the kids do their jobs and feel good about themselves. And then there are moments when I think a well trained monkey could do my job.

Then I talk to my sister running a business down in Austin with almost the exact same stories...only ALL of her employees are grown ups. And well paid grown ups at that. At least most of mine are free labor teenagers and/or poorly paid adults. I don't know why that makes me feel better, but it does.