How Do You Define “Consequences”?

How do you define the word “consequence?”

Do you consider it a positive or a negative?

The Readers Write topic for the February 2021 issue of the The Sun was “Consequences.”

And I’m proud to say that I achieved my first Readers Write byline with my response.

You can click here to read it and all the other Readers Write responses.

Stories About Self-Care and Balance

I am happy and proud to share that my story, “ An Unexpected Gift,” has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories About Self-Care and Balance

I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best at self-care or putting myself and my needs on the top of my to-do list. 

I hope reading these stories will help you (and me) learn to regularly carve out “me time.”

A Process of Reinvention

 

The plan was for me to retire from my teaching career after twenty years, at least. Probably closer to thirty. 

To retire because I chose to. Because the time was right.

The reality was different. I retired due to a disability after a twelve-year teaching career. 

Everything changed. Not just my daily routines. But my identity.

I had to reinvent myself, in a sense. 

Recently, I finished my second read of Claire Cook’s Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (Without Getting Lost Along the Way). The first time I read it was a year after I left teaching. 

Now I re-read it, simply for a refresher. A little burst of encouragement to help me get out of my comfort zone and try some new things. 

This week, I’d like to share just a few of the book’s gems with you.

“Life can be ridiculously tough. And when it is, we have two choices: give up or be tougher.”

“  ‘Of course you’re afraid,’ a character in my novel Time Flies says. ‘We’re all afraid. There are only two choices: afraid and boring.’ “

“If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. (204 if you’re in Japan!)”

Raising “Obama Babies” and “Kamala Kids”

Ryan, almost 10 months old, applauding during President Obama’s Inauguration, January 2009

“I consider my almost-thirteen year old son to be an “Obama Baby.”

It’s all about the math. Ryan was born the year President Obama was elected as our nation’s first African-American President.”

Those words begin a personal essay that was just published on Motherwell Magazine’s Facebook page. Click here to read “Raising Obama Babies and Kamala Kids,” and please help spread the word.

What I Really Mean When I Say ‘My Leg Kinda Hurts’

It began with a writing prompt. Then some notes. Then several drafts. And resulted in a completed essay published on The Mighty.

 

“ ‘My leg kinda hurts, but it’s okay.’

That’s my standard answer when I’m asked how I’m feeling. I hesitate to say more. I don’t want to tell them (my husband, my son, my parents) how bad my pain is, simply because there’s nothing any of them can do to ease my pain.”

You just read the beginning of my recently published essay “What I Really Mean When I Say ‘My Leg Kinda Hurts’.” 

The reality is more complicated than that.

Click here to be re-directed to The Mighty to read my essay in its entirety.

8 Things Doctors Can Learn From Teachers

It’s definitely not a doctor’s office or exam room. Still, doctors can learn a lot from teachers.

I first became ill ten years ago. 

In that time I’ve seen a lot of doctors.

I don’t look forward to these appointments. Especially when I’m seeing someone new.

I dread having to explain and describe my symptoms and my pain to yet another doctor. I’m tired of re-hashing my story, my medical history. I’m tired of trying to explain to someone what my days and nights are like. 

And after all that, I’m tired of the non-answers, the uncertainty and confusion that my particular medical condition seems to present.

It’s been my experience that doctors could learn a thing or two (or eight) from teachers. A parent/teacher conference does, in fact, share similarities to a doctor’s appointment. 

Click here to read my personal essay “8 Things Doctors Can Learn From Teachers.” 

Still Dreaming the Dream

Ryan (not quite 9 years old), delivering the speech.

Here in the united States, today is a big day. Inauguration Day of our new President and Vice-President. 

Today is historic for many reasons. I’d like to jump up and down (but I can’t), clapping and cheering to celebrate our nation’s first female, first African-American, and first South Asian-American Vice President.

But, here I pause. And bite my lip. And hold my breath. Because I am writing this post before Wednesday, not knowing what the day will bring. I am hoping for a peaceful day. Yet the events from two weeks ago have shown us that peace is not guaranteed.

All I can offer today are words of hope. 

I’d like to share an essay I wrote back in 2017. Though it was written four years ago, I think the words are just as relevant today. Click here to be re-directed to Mamalode to read my essay, “We Hear You Dr. King – We Still Dream Your Dream.”

All I Can Do is Take It Step By Step

I recently finished reading Claire Cook’s The Wildwater Walking Club: Step By Step. It was a fun, easy read. Exactly what I wanted. 

The book is meant to make readers feel good. To transport readers into another world, Noreen’s world, as she walks with Tess and Rosie and navigates life as a newly certified health coach. 

So, why then, were there times I felt sad? 

Why did this feel-good book leave me feeling a bit down at times?

It took me a while to figure it out. 

And then I realized – it’s the walking. (Which is a big part of the book.)

I no longer know the easy joy and pleasure that comes from going on a daily walk.

I do continue to walk each day in my neighborhood, but they’re not always joyful. Not always pleasurable. 

I walk. Certainly not at a quick pace. And not to count my steps. 

But to walk. To exercise. To spend time with my family outdoors. To observe our neighborhood.

But my walking is … I struggle for the right word. Difficult? (Sometimes.) Unpredictable? (Sometimes.) Pain-inducing? (Sometimes.) Exhausting. (Sometimes.)

I don’t always experience more pain after a walk, but sometimes I do.

Sometimes I experience random pain during a walk. A step off a curb that sends a jolt up and down my left leg.

A sudden gripping pain in my calf, that causes me to stop and wait and hope it will pass so I can continue walking. But then the walking has a bit of limping to it. 

If I walk while in pain, it’s still walking. 

And so I keep doing it. 

Because some days are better than others. 

And I walk, step by step, hoping for one of those better-pain days.

 

12 Things Distance-Learning Lacks

My classroom prior to the first day of school. Just waiting for “my kids.”

Soon, my son’s 3-week winter break will end, and he will return to school. Kind of. 

He will begin the second semester of seventh grade virtually.

Distance learning from home. 

Seated at a desk in his bedroom. Except when he’s up and exercising for his physical education class.

As hard as he’s trying, and as hard as his teachers are trying, there is just no substitute for in-person instruction. 

There is so much that goes on in a classroom that gets lost when a lesson is transmitted through a screen.

Click here to read my essay “12 Things Distance-Learning Lacks” that was published on BLUNTmoms.com.

There Is No Shame

I saw this on the sidewalk recently, before a doctor’s appointment. A thank you to the artist!

“I’ve been living with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease for ten years now, and I’m still learning how to do it. I don’t know if there ever comes a time when you reach the finish line and achieve the “gold star” for figuring it all out. You just keep figuring it out, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, and wake up the next day, and do it all again.”

And so begins my recently published essay, “There Is No Shame in Life With Chronic Illness,” published at The Mighty. (Click here to read the article in its entirety.)

The conclusion of the essay goes like this:

“There is no shame in your body not working/functioning/behaving as it used to. Your body, your life, you – are still a marvel. Never forget that. 

There is no shame in who you are and how you feel.

There is no shame in needing to learn this lesson over and over again.”

It’s an important lesson as we look with longing and hope to the new year.

Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy 2021.