From the Heart

Some months ago, I wrote about my reaction upon reading Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts.  (In case you missed it, you can click here to read it).  After reading my blog post, a good friend of mine let me borrow her copy of From the Heart – Eight Rules to Live By, also by Robin Roberts. 

Because this was a borrowed book, I couldn’t mark it up with a highlighter and Post-its, which is what I would have done had I owned this copy.  (As a result, this book has now made its way to my “want to own” list).  However, I did make note of passages that touched me, and so this week, I’d like to share some of what has stayed with me since finishing From the Heart – Eight Rules to Live By:

— “Fear is what keeps people in the comfort zone … There is no comfort zone.  Life comes at us in ways we can’t predict or control.”  Oh, how very, very true. 

“You can have sorrowful grief or you can have happy grief.”  “… the idea that you can choose the kind of grief you have.”  That was huge for me.  I had to stop reading and think about that one, because up until then, I had always thought grief was grief.

“Now that I’ve given you my rules, I want you to go out and break them.  Then write your own.” “… there is no playbook for your own unique, wonderful life.”

These last words of wisdom come from “Team Beauty” – the individuals that help get Robin Roberts camera-ready.  “You have to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel.”

This last one is hard for me.  It’s hard for me not to put myself down when the pain is intense, when something relatively simple like grocery shopping is difficult, when I’m out taking a walk with my husband, and I’m looking ahead trying to find a bench so I can rest.

But I’m trying.  I’m trying to remember to tell myself that just because my legs hurt doesn’t mean I’m weak.  It doesn’t mean I’m less than I was before I became ill.  It just means my legs hurt.


Love and Dating

Paris — a city of love and romance. This photo was taken on our trip there back in 2005.

Last week was Valentine’s Day — a day of romance and love.  But like most holidays, I don’t think romance and love should be limited to one day’s celebration.  It’s like Earth Day — we need to protect our planet every day, not just on April 22nd.

After 19 years of marriage, my husband and I continue to make an effort to go on “dates.”  We use this word loosely.  Dates, for us, does not mean dinner out.  Dates, for us, does not mean a babysitter for our son.  Dates, for us, are fit in while our son is at school.

But no matter how old we get, or how long we’re together, dating still isn’t easy.  Though now the reasons have changed.

And on that note, I’d like to share that my personal essay, “How Dating My Husband Has Changed Since Becoming Chronically Ill” has recently been published on The Mighty.  You can click here to read it.

Loving Day, Every Day

A few years ago, I wrote a personal essay for MomsLA about Loving Day.  You can read it by clicking here.

A few days ago, my husband and I finally watched the 2016, Oscar-nominated film Loving.  The movie is based on the real life story of Richard and Mildred Loving whose own interracial marriage and legal battles ultimately made it possible for my husband and I to marry.

And on this day, Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Loving with gratitude. 

My Kind of Teaching

One of my special teaching activities: a “poet-tree” created by my fourth graders!

Today, my son’s elementary school is hosting their 100th Day of School Walk-a-Thon.  It’s essentially another fundraiser for the school, with the goal of each child collecting $100 (at least) for the first 100 days of school. 

When I taught kindergarten, the 100th Day of School was a big deal.  Kids were learning that zeros mattered, that a zero didn’t always mean “nothing.”  After all, there’s a big difference between 1 and 10, and between 10 and 100.  (In fact, my personal essay, “Zero the Hero” was included in Ka-Pow!, an anthology about superheroes).

On the 100th day of school, my kindergartners participated in a variety of 100-themed activities. They would do 100 jumping jacks, build a tower with 100 blocks, clap their hands 100 times, take 100 steps around the classroom.  Each child would share their 100 Collection with the class.  (Pennies were always common).  And we’d celebrate with a special treat.  One year, I brought in a large sheet cake, and we piled on 100 different toppings!

When I moved to 4th grade, the 100th day of school wasn’t emphasized the same way.  Naturally, by this time, kids that age (my son’s age) have an understanding about zeros.  Still, I felt that completing 100 days of anything was a milestone that should be recognized.  So my students and I did.  We wrote a list of “100 Reasons Why We Love Our Class.”  And we celebrated with a special snack — 100th Day Trail Mix.  I’d partner my students up, and they’d count out 100 raisins, 100 mini marshmallows, 100 chocolate chips, 100 pretzels, 100 Cheerios, and so on.  We’d mix it all up creating our class trail mix, and then each child got a cupful to enjoy.

Those are the things I miss most about teaching.  Giving my students those extra experiences.  My son loves his school and his teachers, but there’s always a part of me that is sad that they don’t do for him what I used to do for my students.

Because those are the things kids remember.  Those are the things that stand out.  Because those are the things I remember too.