Half a Cup of Blues

Monday, May 30, 2005

Jen wants to know ...

I couldn't reply in NewWaveGurly's Blog so I'll try linking to her from here instead (In the title!)

10 Things I've Never Done:

1. I've never written down the story (novel) that I have carried in my head for several years.

2. I've never let my dad know that I don't still blame him for walking out when I was a kid.

3. I've never skydived either, Jen, but I think I'd like to try it someday.

4. I've never been on a sailboat but I would like to experience it.

5. I've never been to the top of Mount Lassen. This is definitely on my "to do" list.

6. I've never been to a nudist camp. This is NOT on my "to do' list tho I could enjoy camping with some nudity with just ONE special person and not an entire village!

7. I've never had a tattoo on my body.

8. I've never had a full body massage. I am WAY overdue for this one.

9. I've never eaten anything (whipped cream, chocolate, er...caramel, or anything else) OFF of another person. Hmmmmm.... *g*

10. I've never had the pleasure of hearing your voice or laughter, Jen.
(PM your # and we can remedy this one!)

So, now I get to pick a couple of people that I'd like to see write their list, too?
"Tag, you're it!" kind of thing...?
I like this!

I'd like to see Yibbyl and Jay do this list... (Jason, you, too!).

The Key to the Dream ...

I left town for the long weekend. I packed up the kids, the tent, the sleeping bags, and a satchel of books. We drove west along the Trinity River. I'm a water~girl and when something is missing inside me, I go to water like a homing pigeon. I knew it would be hot and sunny here in the valley but it was cool and cloudy along the river. That suited me just fine. The spot that we picked to pitch the tent was, ironically enough, Pigeon Point, on the river side of the highway.

The first night there I slept deeply and awoke at 5:30am from a strange dream. I don't usually remember my dreams but this one stayed with me.

I had been taken somewhere. I didn't know where the place was (is) but it was deeply nature based and without people other than whomever had brought me there. That, too, was a mystery to me. It was a special place to that person; I knew that much. That it was shared with me was significant; I knew that, too.

I looked around in a complete 360° and I knew that THIS was the center of something. It wasn't the kind of center that things lead into, but, rather, the center or origin from which things lead out. That was/is important for some reason.

I thought a lot about the dream this weekend and wondered if it was addressing something in my life, if there was some message in there that I need to decipher and act on or simply soak in and learn from. This settled into the back of my mind and smoldered ... until I found the rock.

It is a small rock, no more than 1" x 2" and not very thick. It jumped out at me because of the center, lighter than the rest and outlined in an earthy bronze tone. You can almost see the shape of a heart at the top but there is no point at the bottom. Perhaps it has meaning in and of itself or, perhaps, it has only the meaning that I give to it. In the end, does it even matter?

Things in my life are changing, some slowly and some rapidly. I have to be centered to know where to go and what to do. I can't avoid the places that hurt but I can't live there and refuse to come out, either. From the center many things are visible and many paths are available. Some will obviously lead to better places than others but all of them will teach me something if I remain open to the lessons.

I think that many of us operate from the surface of life and do not delve too deeply into ourselves. How much rarer is it, then, to experience, however briefly, the center of another person? I think that may have been what the dream was about. It was, in essence, a sharing of something deeply personal. You can't truly receive something like that unless you open yourself up. I had that once, for an achingly brief time. Does lightning ever strike the same tree twice? Anything is possible.

Do we live to dream? Or do we dream to live?

Heart Stone

I have the dream. I have the rock.
I hope that I will know it ... if it ever finds me again.

Today's Plan: Be receptive
(to dreams, to life, to the future) ...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Some days are diamonds ...

Some days are diamonds, some days are stones
Sometimes the hard times won't leave me alone
Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.

~John Denver~

Today is a stone.

Today's Plan: Remind myself (often) that I like stones...
(and check the classifieds for teaching jobs).

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Now this...this is love.

5 January 1985, 3 a.m.,

Matilde Urrutia, wife of poet Pablo Neruda, died, uttering,
"I'm happy. At last I'm going to be with my Pablo . . . "

Matilde Urrutia, I'm leaving you here
all I had, all I didn't have,
all I am, all I am not.
My love is a child crying,
reluctant to leave your arms,
I leave it to you forever--
you are my chosen one.

You are my chosen one,
more tempered by winds
than thin trees in the south,
a hazel in August;
for me you are as delicious
as a great bakery.
You have an earth heart
but your hands are from heaven.

You are red and spicy,
you are white and salty
like pickled onions,
you are a laughing piano
with every human note;
and music runs over me
from your eyelashes and your hair.
I wallow in your gold shadow,
I'm enchanted by your ears
as though I had seen them before
in underwater coral.
In the sea for your nails' sake,
I took on terrifying fish . . . .

Sometime when we've stopped being,
stopped coming and going,
under seven blankets of dust
and the dry feet of death,
we'll be close again, love,
curious and puzzled.
Our different feathers,
our bumbling eyes,
our feet which didn't meet
and our printed kisses,
all will be back together,
but what good will it do us,
the closeness of a grave?
Let life not separate us:
and who cares about death

~Pablo Neruda~

Today's Plan: To be red and spicy, even if only for myself...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Jesus blew me kisses ...

I had this all typed out yesterday evening when the breaker overloaded (it was 93° and we had 3 coolers going) and I just did not have the energy to do it all over again so today you get the condensed version:

Quick update: The young man who had a difficult day last week is back in class and doing well. His blood sugar had been through the roof so they increased his medication and we'll help him monitor his food intake.

The Jesus Girl: I have a young lady that came to us from the streets. Literally. She's 16 years old and has been out of school (a runaway) for over 3 years. She was, finally, found by the police with a group of men in their 50's who had been "sharing" her. She is diagnosed as psychotic with delusional features and what this translates to in her particular case is that she believes she is pregnant. Not only that but Jesus is her boyfriend AND her baby, too. I really can't imagine what she's had to go through or what it took to survive but here she is. She's had about 10 sonagrams and 2 ultrasounds because she's gained about 30 pounds in the last 3 months (all in her belly!). It took the courts over 2 months to approve the medications that the psychiatrist prescribed for her and what a rollercoaster ride that time was!

So, here she is today, this lovely, broken, young woman. She tells me that she's bad and not worth loving. She doesn't yet know just wrong that is. She's been addicted to just about every street drug that was available to her so that her withdrawl hasn't been a cakewalk either.

She was blowing me kisses yesterday. She always does that from across the room but this was different, a deluge of loud smooches every few seconds. Most of the other kids had gone to vocational classes so there were just a few of us left in the room. Imagine my surprise when I ask her why there are so many kisses today and she tells me that she doesn't know why, it's not her blowing kisses! Hmmmm....

"Jesus must like you or something. He's blowing you kisses."

Ya don't say?! Not being sure how to respond to that, I think something incredibly insightful and articulate came out of my mouth, like, "Oh!"

About an hour later I hear some more smooches floating across the room and I look up and just had to ask her who, exactly, was blowing me kisses right now. With the sweetest smile she says, "I am."

It's not that I don't want kisses from Jesus but just knowing that she's here, in the moment, is enough for me.

Today's Plan: Capture the moments and not let them slip by unnoticed.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sticks and Stones ...

Every second of every day there are people with hurt feelings over names that they have been called, insults that have been hurled at them, or even the insidious demons of their own self-doubts and fears. They are tossed about like so much flotsam and jetsam upon the tides of meanness.

One of my favorite things to ask a student when I have to deal with this issue is this: If I call you a purple, two-headed rake, does that make you be one? This usually brings a reluctant chuckle with an adamant, "NO!"

Of course it doesn't.

We are not defined by the labels that other people try to place upon us unless we choose to be. We have the option to define ourselves and swim upstream against the current of what others do. Why, then, do so many of us simply give in to the flow and assume that that must be the right thing to do and wash away on downstream with no self-direction or self-definition only to drift into the rocks where stagnant water settles? This has been on my mind lately.

Stones are quite interesting to me.

I like to pick up special rocks when I'm on a trip or doing something that I especially want to remember. They have value not because they are worth a lot of money but because I have chosen to invest a value upon them. Diamonds, sapphires, and other gems are also just just stones. People have chosen to assign certain values upon those, too.

People are like stones. Just because one might not be an emerald or an amethyst does not mean that they are any LESS valuable. It is up to us to put value in and appreciation of each and every stone (person) and to gather them unto us like the most precious gems that they are regardless of color, size, shape, form, or clarity.

The least among us is no less precious than the greatest.

Today's Plan: To decorate my life with the beautiful gems that are my family,
friends, and fellow humans.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Against the wall . . .

I was hit by a train wreck of tears at work today. One of my kids just lost it. He's bipolar and diabetic and I'm afraid that his meds may not be coordinated correctly.

Anyway, he just lost it; there was no trigger or no external anticedent. Just BAM! He was hitting, kicking, tossing and shoving adults like they were straw people. We'd had to lock gates to keep him from getting to the other kids. He's a B I G boy for a 15 year old. His eyes were glazed over and nothing we said made it through to the place in his brain that might have still known who we were. It got worse. Physical containment is what it's called but it's really just outmuscling someone, holding them down until someone feels safe enough to let go.

Do you know when they let him go? About 30 minutes after the 3 sheriff's deputies rolled in. As soon as I saw the cars I stepped around the corner and leaned my head against the wall and just cried (it makes me cry to even tell here now). People that walked by tried to hug me but I felt so helpless that it just made me feel worse despite their wonderful intentions. Finally, after a few long moments, I pulled myself together and went back around the corner to see what was happening.

They were talking and asking the young man questions. They had to be sure he was going to be rational and in control before they gave the word to let him get up off of the ground and sit on a bench. Another hour of discussing options. He sat there and his shoulders were slumped, he looked so defeated. I got some paper towels and bandages for his cuts and scrapes while they were talking (the deputies, the principal, the therapist, and the clinical supervisor). I sat on the bench and talked quietly to my student until we heard what they decided. His therapist who also really adores him spent some talking to him, too.

The deputies did not want to take him to mental health (because our county no longer HAS one) but he couldn't stay on the campus so they compromised and called his aunt to come get him. She was advised to take him to the local ER where they could do blood work and check his med levels, then keep him home until we can all meet next week.

He looked as exhausted as I felt. The only thing I could do, while everyone was standing around watching, was go around to his side of the car and tell him that I was still going to be here waiting for him to come back.

Yes, he needs help. But some things are just out of our control. I can't "fix" chemical or biological issues but I can and will make sure that he knows he's still the most important thing and that I care enough about him being better to not give up on him. I don't know what else to do. If it makes me feel this bad and helpless, then how on earth must it be making him feel? *sigh*

There are those times, when we fail, that I think I just can't do this forever.

Today's Plan: survive.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Emotional Scorecards

You know that some people keep them. Every single thought, gesture, or behavior is tracked and thrown up in their partner's face when they feel they are being shortchanged.

"Well, I did X, Y, and Z for you so you OWE me the BFD that I want from you!" (<-- this is caca colored to match my opinion of it!)

Why do people do that?
Do they think it builds healthy relationships?


ratitude may be a nice thing to receive now and then but it isn't the reason that I do things for people. It is, in fact, almost a way of life in working with the special population of kids that I do that you may be cussed at, called every name under the sun, have things thrown at you, and be charged (like a bull does) just for asking kids to take out their math books. The kids are so fractured and beaten down by other people's expectations by the time they reach me that thier own hostility is their best friend.

I do what I do because I love it. I love pouring out from inside of me and filling them up (with hope, with love, with faith, and with belief in who they are) as long as they need it and then some more. Some people get really burned out and can't do that for very long when there is no reward or payback in it. It's not like that for me. I don't expect anything from them. The very giving is rewarding to me. It makes me smile to see them slowly grow and come out of their shell-shocked hiding places within themselves. They may come in hating me because I represent "them," the establishment, adults, authority, and everything that has been negative in their lives so far, but by the time they leave me it is almost always a vastly different story. It fills me up to know that I WILL make a difference in those lives, if not today, then one day down the road.

Conditional love is difficult to maintain. It is a wrecking yard of broken promises, crumpled scoresheets, and closed minds. A person who keeps score will never find someone who treats them as well as they think they ought to be treated. There will never be enough to balance the scorecard.

I was very fortunate to have that kind of unconditional love in my adult life, not as a teacher, but as a woman. There were no emotional scorecards, no need for one-upmanship, and no conditions on that love. It was incredible and fulfilling on a level that very things in life ever are. People should never settle for less than that.

Throw away your scorecards and give of yourself because you want to and need to. Expect nothing and appreciate everything. If you always try to give more than you receive then you will find that you are always overflowing. It's funny how it works like that. Love is the most magical thing in the world: the more you give away - the more you get!

If you aren't getting enough then you probably aren't giving enough.

My 2¢ worth.

Today's Plan: Give more.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Something missing ...

There are many things that I don't mind doing alone: driving with the music up loud, house cleaning, reading a book, even dining out isn't so bad when you're by yourself (though I seldom do it).



I sleep sporadically at best and often not near enough. I wake up constantly and begin most days still tired and unrested. I am not at peace when I sleep.

I hate sleeping alone. I miss knowing that someone I love is right there next to me, within reach, close to my heart. I miss waking up and listening to the sound of someone else breathing beside me. I miss having my hair brushed out of my face by hands other than my own. I miss that first sleepy smile of the morning. I miss seeing the look in those eyes that say, without words, "You are my whole world."

The man that I loved died 20 months ago and left a gaping hole in my serenity.

I'm tired. I want to sleep like I used to. I want ...

Today's Plan: Take a nap and not feel guilty about it.

Friday, May 13, 2005

This is what it is really ALL about ...

Teaching in a special education classroom, that is.

That's what I do. I work with, on average, 12 students at a time in a self-contained classroom. I have high school kids (14-18 years old) who have been unsuccessful in public school settings. They each have a mental health diagnosis (several in some cases) and many have learning disabilities as well. The majority of my students have serious neglect and/or abuse in their early lives. Many have already fought with drug and alcohol addiction. Promiscuity is about the only way they know to feel loved and, even then, they usually recognize it for the artificial and short-lived affection that it is.

By the time these students arrive at my door they have been rejected from many other schools and special settings. I am, in many cases, the last resort before this child is locked up in either a youth authority camp or a mental hospital. Failure has been their greatest success and they take a certain pride in that and will tell you that, given enough time, they will make you hate them and want them gone, too. And you know, looking at them, that they believe that with every fiber of their being. They've lived it and already think they know how it will end.

Try teaching math or english in that environment! I dare ya! I double-dawg dare ya! The very first thing that I have to do is make an impression and I do that with a HUGE welcoming smile and sincere interest in who they are. I have to build the relationship, not from the ground floor, but from some deep subterranean level where their sense of self-efficacy has been buried. I am always establishing physical contact of some kind: a pat on the back, a hug, a ruffled head, or even sliding onto the classroom couch next to them and asking, "Wassup?" The bad touches that these students have had have to be replaced with good ones or they continue to live physically isolated lives and look for that contact in negative ways (you can't believe how often a kid will become assaultive JUST to force a containment where they will be "held" until they are once again safe!).

So that's what I do. I love my kids. And, yes, they are MY kids. I stick up for them, I scold them, I mother them, and I teach them. Often are the times when a student will do for me what they will not even do for themselves, based on our relationship. Progress is made incrementally and slowly but it IS made. And then they blossom. They amaze me with the incredible insight and beauty that they bring forth once they know it is safe to be themselves. And that's where this is leading...

I got a card from one of my students. A Mother's Day card, in fact. It had a lovely picture on the front and sweet poem on the inside but it was the handwritten note that touched my heart. This is what it said:

"Happy Mother's Day, Michelle! I want to thank you for everything that you've done for me. You're so easy to get along with and you accept me for who I am. You and the other staff in the classroom have made school interesting. You've taught me to love learning and to love without end. Thank you! Always and forever!"

Wow. This is, indeed, why I choose to work with this special group of kids.

I am blessed.

Today's Plan: To remember what is important and to make a positive difference in someone's life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Yes, it's true.

My life really is just THAT generic.

It's a good thing that I like it.

Now, the rest of you can carry on blogging!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Weekend Warrior

What a busy weekend!

The California USA Wrestling Freestyle Championships were this weekend and one of the goobers is a "cadet" wrestler who qualified to go. He weighed in at 125lbs. Friday evening and then promptly ate a HUGE dinner. He and his friend were both eliminated after their first two losses but they learned a lot and look forward to next year!

We spent Sunday (Mother's Day) at Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara. It rained like crazy off and on and we were drenched but the lines for the rides were short so we still had a great time! Top Gun and Invertigo were my favorite rides.

The rain was coming down in buckets on the way home last night. We had a flat tire around 10pm and didn't make it home until nearly midnight. We were exhausted by the time we got here.

And, now, here it is - time to go to work.

Today's Plan: Drink coffee, stay awake, and hug someone at work.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blog Bouncing

I just followed link after link and traveled all over the world, one blog at a time. That was pretty fascinating.

Next time I'll post here the trail that I follow and any tidbits that catch my eye and make me wanna share. Today, though, I am too tired to think that coherently so, unfortunately, this is all you get. Sorry.

Today's Plan: To graciously open doors for other people (both literal and figurative ones).

Monday, May 02, 2005

Flowers by the side of the road near Whiskeytown Lake. Taken Sunday 5/1/05 (May Day).

--> Vacuum Filled Space <--

This, too, shall pass.

Recent events have a lot weighing on my mind but not everything thought ought to be spoken or written; a filter of time and distance will, hopefully, work some of that out.

I was camping this weekend and it was wonderful. The sounds of the river rushing by in torrents of spring runoff lulled me into some of the best sleep that I have had in weeks, maybe even in months. I was under a pine canopy and could just see the stars winking above me between little shower storms. The world looked and smelled fresh and alive. This is the image that I'm keeping close to me for now. I needed the break and feel much better for having had it.

Today's Plan: Smile and hug someone who needs it.