Monday, February 5, 2018

Pretty in Pink?? And Pretty in Blue!!

It seemed so simple. For my 10th birthday, I asked for my party colors to be pink, blue, and yellow—so there would be something for girls, boys, and anyone who didn’t like the color the color they were “supposed to like.” Lol. Because who says all girls have to like pink? Or all boys have to prefer blue?? Out of the mouth of babes, right?! 

Just a few short 10...20...ish years later, I find that it's no longer so simple. As grown ups, we seem to have a lot of concrete ideas about what the people around us--including the children around us--do and wear and feel and express.

But when...and why...did we start to think this was worth judging?? As people, we are so much more than pink or blue, or skirts or ties, or other people’s expectations of our identity! And that’s not meant as a new age idea or liberal agenda—I believe this idea can be completely independent from social or political propaganda. It’s simply about respect, and in some cases, about the willingness to look beyond our own personal experiences. 

Then again, it might also be about the ability to look past the projections of modern commercialism. This little video walks us through America's "gender neutral" roots, and through the last few hundred years of gender bending ideas.

I realize it's not a sufficient source all on it's own, but at least it's thought provoking enough for a start..."So colors are up for grabs as cultural markers.” 

And as long as we’re comparing the expectations vs the practicality of American attire, can I just throw away my heels now?! My feet are killing me!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is North Korea attacking Moses Lake, WA?

Disclaimer #1: Regarding the title question--NO! Or at least, it's highly doubtful that North Korea or anyone else considers Moses Lake an upcoming target. But if you read the measly 4 paragraphs in this article, you'll understand the reason for the title.

Disclaimer #2: Regarding the following article--The years have been changed to protect the innocent...and the youthfully aging author...And yeah, that's as close as I could come to having a sense of humor when dealing with something so serious. 

When I was ___ years old, still in grade school, I had a panic attack because I was afraid the Gulf War was going to come to Moses Lake, Washington and kill everyone I knew. It surely sounded absurd to a grownup, and probably even to a less intense elementary schooler, but to me, it seemed perfectly plausible. In one of the most compassionate parenting moments that I can recall, my mother posted a 3' world map in the hallway next to my bedroom and marked it with places we should talk about: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Washington DC, New York, LA, Seattle, and Moses Lake. Her main point was to show me that the military action would probably never reach little ol' Moses Lake.

Granted, it didn't prevent me from crying about all the people who would lose their lives in the Middle East, or from worrying that someone else (apparently like Iraq) would topple the U.S. government in D.C. and change the way we all live as Americans...Again, I realize that probably sounds ridiculous to most Americans now...But her map did in fact comfort me every morning and night as I passed by.

Somehow though, here we are some ___ years later, discussing North Korea's potential nuclear attacks on American soil. Specifically on the contiguous 48. And even more shocking to the elementary version of me, potentially on the pacific northwest where my mom's map taught me how unimportant Seattle, and Moses Lake, would be in a military attack strategy.  But it seems that Seattle might in fact be within North Korea's nuclear strike range! And on top of that, I now have friends and family in Seattle, CA, NY, and D.C., and practically every other part of the USA. So I find myself actually trying to understand how things might play out in the coming year. I've started looking through a variety of hopefully reliable sources (as all good researchers, and English teachers would tell you to do!) so I know that even the experts have conflicting conclusions about how likely an attack is here in the great PNW, or on U.S. soil at all.

And even though the adult version of me has learned to steady the nerves that wracked me ___ years ago, the child version of me is still likely to pop up at some point when dealing with a topic this intimidating. So I figured I'd be proactive and start collecting resources that will help me understand what is possible vs probable regarding our current tensions with North Korea, and what steps we should take to be prepared in case anything should happen. If I find any sources with potentially interesting, insightful, or helpful ideas, I'll post them here. And if anyone out there is willing to share your resources with me, you're welcome to pass them on and I'll post them here as well.

Disclaimer #3: Regarding the invitation to share your links--This is not an open invitation to create arguments about what should or shouldn't be happening in a political sense, only an opportunity to educate people about what might or might not be taking place. A place to post logistical considerations. Thanks for helping us stay on topic. (Sincerely, your former neighborhood English teacher)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

Here I am again, after months of writing things and not posting them. I have in fact had a lot on my mind. (Those of you who know me personally are not at all shocked, I'm sure, but maybe someone out there doesn't yet realize that, so I felt it was fair to say.) But my whole life, I've done this thing where I have too much to say so I say nothing for a while while it bubbles up inside...then I try saying something and it all comes whipping out like a hurricane of then I go back to bottling it up and stating my need for "processing time." Guess that's what's been happening with my sporadic posting for the last few years too. Who would have guessed?

Then there's this other thing I do when I don't know what to say--I obsess over a song, poem, essay, etc. in which someone else said what I couldn't. So to that end, I'm directing you to a few two articles by a cause that I admire very much: To Write Love on Her Arms. If you haven't heard about them yet, I hope you'll follow the final link below to learn about their origins. And I hope the first two links encourage you to be a little stronger, or kinder, or more confident, or more understanding, or more of whatever is missing for you. We all have different battles to fight in this life, so whatever yours might be, I hope you find the support you need. 

TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski responds to the death of Chester Bennington

World Suicide Prevention Day: Stay. Find what you were made for.

It all started with a story.

I'll leave you with one of my (many) favorite quotes from the TWLOHA page...It revitalizes me and reminds me of how important it is to be compassionate AND strong for others when I feel like I can't give anymore. THIS is how true, life-changing love is shared. Not by thinking, or by acting once. But by continuing to take action.

"We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home." 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Behind the Scenes

WARNING: A moment of transparency, and a rather long post ahead. 

Yesterday, I had my 3rd teaching evaluation of the year and the administrator asked my students a variety of questions, one of which was "Does your teacher demonstrate enthusiasm in her job?" One dancer laughed and said, "She has more energy than the rest of us every morning." Since this was a student I've known years, I later confessed that I'm usually faking my 6AM energy, but that by pretending I'm excited in beginning of each day, I usually make the energy become a reality. (With the help of my 9AM dose of caffeine and B vitamins, at least until it wears off.) She was surprised that she didn't know how I'd really felt all this time.

 And I realized several of my mostly-on-line friends have mentioned similar ideas recently, with kind words about how fun or funny or happy my life seems to be.  (Although those who know me best can attest to what you're about to learn...And I offer you all a HUGE thank you for supporting me, or for even putting up with me.)

 So here it is: I'm EXHAUSTED.

I don't have a perfect life and I don't pretend to. Yes, I find beauty and humor and inspiration all around me in life.  I take pride in my work and I want my students to have the best experience I can give them, so I try not to show when I'm tired or sick or emotional. But that doesn't mean I'm immune to fatigue, frustration, depression, anxiety, or stress. 

My sleep disorder has not gone away, even though I don't often talk about it. Sometimes, I'm not sure which is more painful--the nightmares or trying to wake up from them. My house is often messy because I'm too tired to clean it and my make up often looks less than picture-worthy. I'm still figuring out what to do with my grownup body image issues. I'm working two wonderful jobs which I love dearly, but which each take a lot of time and emotional investment practically every single day. I know it's possible to do both of these jobs with less time or energy, but I sincerely value my opportunity to invest time in my students and coworkers who need it. That means I sometimes sacrifice the time and care I should be investing in my loved ones or in myself. I struggle to say NO when people ask for help or favors, so I overcommit myself then struggle to succeed. I worry obsessively when I'm not meeting expectations in my work or when I'm disappointing people who know me behind the scenes.  Sometimes I make dumb decisions that I later regret. I'm far from perfect. 

When it comes to posting on SOCIAL MEDIA though, I figure we could all use a little more positivity on our newsfeed so that's what I try to focus on. I'm not trying to create an unrealistic image of the blessings vs the struggles in my life; I just know it wouldn't do much good if I shared every little negative experience on here. I guess from this post, I hope you appreciate that there's more to each of us than what you usually learn on social media, and I hope that you appreciate the positive, thought-provoking, inspirational, or amusing things that we can share with each other online. Even if it's a super tired picture of me trying to take a nap on a messy closet floor at work. 

[Insert evidence of exhaustion here.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The calmest Trump conversation you've ever heard

I was trying to catch up on email during a coffee break, but I got distracted by the two gentlemen in their 60s-70s who were talking at the next table. 

The younger one was answering questions about how people can have so many opinions about President Trump all the time. The gist of his answer: Trump writes short notes on electronic media and shares them with anyone who has a computer via a place called Twitter. So people aren't just responding to his policies or his recent military actions; they're also interacting with these notes, which at times are actually quite brash or vulgar. 

Both men continued evaluating the pros and cons of various ideas, asking sincere questions and giving thoughtful answers, comparing recent events with past wartime experiences, and maintaining a perfectly relaxing conversational tone. 

Their conversation was so completely opposite of the hype and drama we've become used to on social media lately. It made me wonder how many of today's kids will grow up without ever engaging in thoughtful conversations like this with their elders. 


Then back to work, and my next class observation included a chance to read through a newspaper from 1918! This yellowed, tattered artifact was so fragile yet still strong enough to be here 100 years later--and to think it was originally read by people who are probably no longer here to influence our daily lives! Significantly older than the gentlemen whom I'd admired earlier this morning. The early 1900s had never felt as close, as real, as they did when I held that paper today.

I'm so grateful for the chance to eavesdrop on those two gentlemen this morning, and to leaf through this 1918 newspaper. I imagine that we could all benefit from more frequent connections to our past--as grandchildren, or as citizens of a collective history. It might even just help us return to that sense of thoughtful calm from our past...You know, like from the days of WWI...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

5 Minute Message

I haven't written anything here in a long time. Well, I haven't *finalized* anything here in a long time anyway.  I have plenty of half-drafts tucked away behind the scenes. But I haven't had enough time to fully explain and revise anything lately...And honestly, it seems like I haven't had enough time to accomplish anything in life up to my standards lately, so writing something here certainly wasn't a priority. 

But today, I heard a message that was so short and simple that I knew I had time to reiterate it. And more importantly, I knew I *needed* to share it. If any of you are wrestling with these same struggles lately, I hope this 5 minute post will uplift and redirect you (as it hopefully will do for me too)! 


Many of us have figured out how to live successfully behind the facade of "I'm all good, I've got it all figured out."

But this is a terribly stressful way to live, and it still doesn't resolve the emptiness, fear, or pain we feel inside when we look beneath that facade. 

The good news is that there is nothing we have done, or will do, that could make God love us any LESS or any MORE than he already does. Grace is not about US and our issues or accomplishments; Grace is about HIS LOVE. 

We already ARE loved. We don't have to pretend. Or work to accomplish it. Or worry about losing it. We just need to accept it. And begin to live in gratitude rather than in pretense. 


If you didn't get to hear this message in person or via live stream, I encourage you to check back here in a few days once the video has been uploaded. The sermon is short and powerful, and the music is skilled and moving. Even when I don't seem to have time for everything I want to accomplish in a week, I always end up glad that I made time for services like this: 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Follow your heart?

Contrary to popular belief, maybe we should NOT always follow our heart. The heart is unreliable and can even be manipulated by others. These unreliable emotions are what leave us exhausted, frustrated, doubtful, hopeless, and lacking focus. 

God wants us to be more emotionally attached to him than to any other person (or circumstance), and that is how we can find emotional stability and health. We must be honest with what we feel, challenge it, and change it. We don't have to automatically accept our feelings--good or bad. We can take control of them. 

Above all else, guard your heart because out of it flow all the issues of your life. (Prov. 4:23)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)

So who or what am I more emotionally attached to?? Wow...Where do I even begin?