Let Go of the Dream and Find Something

I’ve written posts about losing something, and it’s been hard to understand and follow.  REALLY hard to write.  Yet, cathartic. Then today, Shannon Kaiser, life coach and vlogger (video blogger) shared in her post “Play with the World” how to know when to let go of “the” dream.

As a continuing part of my writing 101 assignments, I was encouraged to write a post about finding something. Today, I found the ability to let go of the dream of being the perfect high school teacher who impacts a majority of her students, guiding them, and mothering those who need mothering, and inspiring all.

I found out that I need to share my love of life with more people, without using me up and being in harm’s way.  The Universe has given me a kick in the ass to redirect my energy.  That was my moment that mattered this morning, the something I found.  How liberating!  I thank Ms. Kaiser for her honest vlog, and I thank the Universe for kick in the ass that I’ve been fighting and lamenting.  Now I need open up and find more…

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

A Loss Unexpected, Part II

In my previous post, “A Loss Unexpected, Part I,” I shared a growing sense of loss, that I need to figure out what’s been lost, and how to recreate myself to alleviate the losses.  I mentioned I’ve lost the hugely important ability to be easily social, and have lost the bubbly person, the one who always has a smile. She’s gone away and I want to find her again.  But wait–there’s more!

I didn’t sign my contract for next school year–I’m no longer employed.  It’s official.  Not only have a lost employment by choice, but I just lost my chosen profession, at my chosen high school.  This school is a challenging school to teach at because many of the students live lives I cannot even imagine, they don’t have parental support that they desperately need, and many come from severely low-income homes.  My class room provided a safe haven, I gave them unconditional love, and I impacted many young people’s lives in a positive way, creating a ripple effect of goodness and love.  Except for the few who chose to ruin the “nice” teacher.  Over the past ten years of teaching there, I honestly can’t tell you how many kids told me they came to school just so they could see me, visiting between classes if I didn’t teach them that day, coming back after their semester was over… just to see me and feel loved.  Loved just because they are who they are.  Honestly, they were my babies, waking me up at night as I’d worry about them, thinking about ways I could help.  They’d share life issues, learning problems, all sorts of challenges and frustrations with me… I was their school mom.  I’ve lost that feeling of usefulness.  I’m also a burden financially–I don’t have income, but cost money to “operate.”  That’s pretty heavy too.

I’ve also lost the luxury of being known as a hugger–I can’t hug most people anymore because of their clothes detergent, dryer sheets, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, deodorant, lotion, self-tanning product, perfume, or cologne.  And I am a hugger.  This is a huge loss in my life, not being able to hug people.  Those students I was talking about that would find me usually needed a hug too.  But now I can’t.  I see former students, as I live in the district I taught in, and we automatically and gleefully head towards each other to share a hug until I remember I can’t.  It’s always a shock.  Still.  Our world is overly perfumed with artificial scents.  Essential oils don’t seem to bother me a bit; it’s the fake ones, created in labs, and there are 1000’s of them, so I can’t be treated for just a few with allergy shots.

Friends and family are actually apprehensive to be around me because they worry if some new product they’re using will cause a reaction.  A dear friend asked if the gum she had in her car was ok, because it was artificially flavored.  That seemed fine–apparently food scents don’t hit me the same way as smell-good scents.  But to realize that people feel uneasy being around me is rather devastating.  I’m a people person, forced to be a semi-hermit. My mother in-law let me know that she bought some unscented shampoo for everyone coming to the family reunion to use.  Bless her heart.  Shampoo is actually low on my list of triggers.  If I’m in the vicinity after a shower was taken with a trigger shampoo, then yes, bad news.  But there are so many things in our world today!!  My vets office is almost too fragrant.  We’ll see how that goes today when I take the two pups for their shots. If it’s bad, they’ve already said they’ll bring the dogs out to me and I can wait in my car.  We had to change my son’s dentist because they wouldn’t stop using plug-in air fresheners.  Here’s something they didn’t apparently believe; if you’ve used it in the past week, and haven’t fully aired out the space, it’s probably still in the air and on the cushions and in the carpet, particles getting sent back into the air as people sit and walk, for me to have reactions with. I’m unable to go into fragrant stores, have to avoid aisles of, and sometimes the aisles next to, the detergents and scented cleaners and air fresheners. Think about this the next time you go into a store.

This challenge is almost unfathomable.  No wonder I’m feeling loss.  And fear and dread and constant apprehension.  Will it get better?

tbc

A Loss Unexpected, Part I

I’ve been feeling a growing sense of loss.  And sadness, fear, discouragement…  That’s SO not me!  I’m the sunshine in the crowd, the one with the life and energy, the sometimes irritatingly always-happy-person, the bubbly one.  Well, my bubble burst, so now I need to move forward.  To do that, I need to figure out where I lost that part of me, why I lost it, and what to recreate OR create to feel whole again.

My health issues have kept me mostly housebound for the past six months.  I have a hyper-sensitivity to unknown chemicals in fragrances due to being bombarded in three of the classes I taught in high school.  Just a few girls, but no one would come forward to say who was doing it, as there’s a great deal of bullying that goes on. According to the kids who shared their concern about it and wished they could help, they told me the perpetrators thought it was funny to watch me have an allergic reaction; huge itchy, burning, raised, red hives on my face, and eventually my eyes would burn, itch and start to swell.  They hoped I would have to miss school, because !!! everyone knows that when you have a sub, you don’t have to do anything and can’t be held responsible for learning anything.  Therefore, you don’t have any tests, and ultimately don’t have to take a final.  Wrong. Administration didn’t back me when I asked for support in November of last year, in a way that I thought would be effective.  I had asked if I could send a letter, (approved by the lead principal,) to my student’s parents about the seriousness of the situation with severe repercussions (which would have to be done by administration,) if additional fragrance misuse was done.  Also, I wanted to post signs in the hallway and in my classroom stating they were Fragrance Free Zones.  Admin’s response was that I needed to tell them which classes were doing this, and principals would come and “catch them.”  If I couldn’t catch them, how would they?  Doesn’t that make it even more of a game?  I’d already told them what class periods were doing this to me.  I never followed up with any more requests.  Why bother?  I posted signs myself.  But that made things worse.  It was now a deliberate assault that I was unable to prove.  But I’m experiencing the aftermath–the inability to be in most public places.

I haven’t taught since the middle of January.  I’ve been on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act,) so no paycheck, but at least I had health insurance.  The human resources department extended my FMLA  until the end of the year, because we’d hoped for miraculous results with the shots of Xolair.  It’s oh-my-goodness expensive, has to be given every four weeks, and is preventative, not curative.  No such luck.  As of this past Monday, I still have negative reactions to good smelling people.  An odd outcome is how often people take offense that I’m allergic to something they use that smells nice.  It’s not at all personal, yet people often act as if it is.  I know they didn’t do this to attack me.  But an offense is done toward them, unintentionally.  And if you knew me, that’s the last thing I want to have happen.  It hurts me that people don’t understand I’m not attacking them, but what makes them smell good is extremely dangerous for me, possibly deadly.  Not by choice. Trust me.  I’ve lost the freedom to go anywhere at any old time because there might be someone who smells good.  I have to decline parties/gatherings/functions where there might be people who smell nice.  Isn’t that insane??  I’ve lost the “me” who is social.  And I’m SOCIAL.  As in Butterfly.

There’s more that I’ve lost.  I can only think about this for a little while at a time because this is so huge, trying to figure out the new me.  At 53.  Hey, that rhymes.  tbc…

Twelve Years Old, and I Lived

…in a brand new split level home in northern Wisconsin, with my mom and dad.  That was the year, ironically, that my parents also split.  Huh, I never thought about that correlation before.  We’d lived in a duplex across the street and got to watch the house being built.  I was incredibly shocked when I found it was ours!  It seemed so huge.  You couldn’t just holler to somebody as there was too much separation between rooms and floors.

Lots of stairs in the house, with landings and a boxed corkscrew effect.  When you walked in the front door, you could either go up a few stairs to the living room that had a brick fireplace set on the diagonal, or go down a short flight of stairs to the garage entrance,  with another short staircase leading into the family room.  The family room had a fireplace directly below the one upstairs, so we thought this place was really something because we had TWO fireplaces, never having had even one before.  In the family room, we had a honkin’ big new picnic table that I helped my dad stain and paint, and it was the only movable furniture in this long room.  I wonder why? The three of us would have picnics down there when it was too hot and humid outside, as well as having picnics all winter long with a fire in the fireplace. There were also built in benches under the windows to sit on, but I didn’t like them as they were terribly boxy and straight, and not at all comfortable.  You know, I haven’t thought about how quirky and unique this house was until just now. Funny, looking back.

Also down in the lowest level was the utility/laundry room and my dad’s “bathroom” with the only shower in the house, all in one room.  The shower was cinderblock, cold, dark, and I hated it. But I hated baths more, so I’d go down there to shower anyway.  My mom still had a wringer washer she preferred using.  She had a regular washing machine too, but said the wringer washer got clothes so much cleaner.  I can’t tell you how many times my fingers got “wrung” as I helped with the laundry.  (Not by choice!!)  There were clotheslines down there too, for rainy laundry days or winter weather.  We had a fairly new dryer, but my mom preferred hanging things to dry.  I didn’t like it because of the stiffness of the dried clothing, bedding and towels.  Especially the towels.  ooooh and washcloths.  Not pleasant at all, even though we used fabric softener!

If you were up on the main level, you’d go up another small flight of stairs to the three bedrooms and main bath.  I LOVED my bedroom.  Peach walls, white sheers on the windows (three large windows, so there was a LOT of light,) with white shades for privacy and darkness.  The best part was the crazy shag carpeting.  Surprisingly colorful for my parents; dark orange (almost a rust color,) medium orange that was Halloween pumpkin-ish, and yellow orange, like butternut squash.  The amazing thing was that we found a bedspread with those exact colors.  It was meant to be, I swear!!!  I had white French provincial hand me down furniture that I never really liked from my next older sister, consisting of  a huge dresser, a headboard, and make-up table with a little chair.  Never understood why we had a  make-up table since my mom wouldn’t let us wear any.  ha!  There was also a wonderful and simple bookshelf my dad and I made out of cedar, painted a shiny white.  He tried to talk me out of the high gloss, but that was what I saw in my head.  I still have it, and my son treasures it because his Grampa and I made it together. Honestly, I’d forgotten how much I treasure it too.

The kitchen was full of new “avocado green” appliances. Even the hood over the stove and the first dishwasher we ever had.  We were living in style, we thought. But I’d have moved back to central Wisconsin in a  heartbeat. That was where we were still together, still a family.  But then I wouldn’t have my orange shag carpeting…

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

A Full Honey Moon on Friday the 13th

Yesterday, our world experienced the June full moon, known as the Honey Moon!  Her name is due to the color as she rises, but by the time I saw her, she wasn’t so honey colored.  Still gorgeous though.  And I love the name (Ha–honey moon, honeymoon.)  AND it was also Friday the 13th.  The only one of 2014!  I didn’t know that fun fact until I started researching information for this post.  Anyway, this date scares a great number of people. As in people won’t fly on this date, buy a house or do other major business. There’s an actual phobia called Triskaidekaphobia!  Apparently there have been many bad things that happen on Fridays, and even more bad stuff is connected to the number 13.  And then there are the horror movies with this as the title, which I refuse to watch as it’s denigrates a really cool date on the calendar.  This day is supposed to represent bad, evil, scary stuff for everyone alive.  NAH!

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Not sure why, but I’ve always liked Friday the 13th.  Always.  AND full moons!  We were lucky to experience something yesterday that hasn’t happened since the year 1919, (which was the year my dad was born, btw.)  WOWZA.  That’s a whole lot of universe energy happening all at once!  Bonus, I started working with a new client to simplify and organize her home, a task which I enjoy immensely.  The super bonus part — she’s got a black cat who adopted me as her own petting slave!  I’ve seriously never had so much cosmic energy happening in one day–truly energizing and phenomenal.

This all seems like such a huge contrast.  A scary date with a full moon and black cats, and I feel peaceful and complete.  I have several friends whose children have almost frenetic energy when there’s a full moon.  But I feel calm.  My soul is happy, at least for now.  Thanks, Honey Moon.

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

Where would you go, Right Now?

Here’s today’s assignment from Writing 101, Day 2: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? INSTANTLY, I thought of the cottage at the Croan Cottages in County Kilkenney, Ireland.  I’m not kidding–instantly.  I felt like I was home when I was there.  It was only about 800 square feet.  But it was in IRELAND.  I’d wanted to go to Ireland since I was about eight years old, when there was an article in LIFE magazine.  I would gaze at those pictures in the article, absolutely craving to smell the air, to see the rolling green hills dotted with baa-ing sheep and happy cows, to hear the brogue as people speak.  I was sure my eventual husband would be an Irishman, so I could hear that brogue every day.  Ha!  The thoughts of an eight year old!!

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The glorious view I saw the first morning in Ireland.

For my 50th birthday, my wonderful (1/3 Irish) husband totally shocked me with the news that we were going to Ireland when school got out.  OHMYGOODNESS.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was REALLY going to Ireland!!???!!  With him and our son!!??!!  Best. Present. Ever.  Ever!!  Bonus present: I got to plan everything! In my research, I kept coming back to County Kilkenny as the main area to explore.  My soul was guiding me, I swear.  It was perfect.  If we ever get to go back, that’s where we’ll go.  To Cabin #2 at the Croan Cottages. My heart and soul, my being, has never ever felt so whole as it did when we were there.  Here’s my theory: in a previous life, as a young woman, I took a boat from County Kilkenny, Ireland to San Francisco, U.S.A. to find a new life.  But Kilkenny was home.  And I’d finally gotten to go back.  I was honestly homesick for Ireland for over a year after returning from our vacation.  Not just missing the idyllic lifestyle, not worrying about work or bills or the mundane.  But really, genuinely missing it in my heart.  I’ve never been that kind of homesick before. I still miss it immensely.

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When we arrived at Croan Cottages, we were greeted by Pierre, the family peacock, announcing our arrival in the screaming way of peacocks.  There were also two black dogs, who immediately adopted my son as family. The cottage itself was one of four adorable white sided, black roofed, single family dwellings, with a courtyard garden, including a fountain.  The cottages were enclosed within a tall gated stone fence, the stones having been dug up on the property.

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Pierre allowed me to photograph his glorious feathers through the glass of the French doors.

As we entered Cabin #2, it felt like the perfect little place.  (SO glad my son got to be in my dream adventure too!!) All the walls in the cottage were painted bright white, with oak trim and cabinets, slate flooring in the main room, tiles in the bath, and hardwood floors in the bedrooms.  To the left of the front door was a European style kitchen: small, compact, enough. I think my chef husband was rather shocked by the simplicity of it.  There was a narrow stove/oven combo, a skinny and short refrigerator, dishwasher (unexpected bonus!), a washer/dryer combo under the counter, and a hotpot for tea. The cabinets were amazingly stocked with the basics and we simply had to get the rest.  The sturdy table and chairs and lots of light made the kitchen complete.  Not really my style, but our home for five days.
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To the right of the entrance was the sitting room.  Small, but cozy, with a gas fireplace, a settee, a couple of chairs, a couple of little tables, and glorious French doors to the private flagstone patio.  The two bedrooms were small, one with a squeaky but comfortable full size bed, the other with two twin beds.  Both rooms had a huge wardrobe filling a whole wall, a comfy rocking chair, and gloriously big windows that swung open wide, without screening. Pierre the Peacock came to the back of the house to see how we were settling in as we unpacked the luggage.  He strutted and screamed happily, and also introduce the peahen, who liked to sit on our bedroom and bath sills, trying to talk us into letting her come inside.  We couldn’t leave the windows wide open for fear that she’d do just that!  During our stay, Pierre said goodbye to us every time we left and greeted us every time we returned.  Peacocks are know as fabulous security guards, announcing the comings and goings of everyone.  Pierre never, ever made us feel like intruders, but rather was relieved when we returned and wished us happy adventures as we left. We keep touch with the family, and they let us know that Pierre passed away this last winter, an old and very happy bird.

The very first morning, I awoke early.  My guys were still sleeping, but I just couldn’t!  I wanted to rearrange the furnishings to suit me better.  I putzed around, moving things, rearranging the countertopss, making our cottage feel like home.  I looked up to find Pierre silently watching me through the French doors, where he finally took a nap in the sunshine.  I made my very first pot of French press coffee, looked out at the countryside surrounding the farm, smelled the clean “Irish” air, listened to the sheep, chickens, songbirds and grasshoppers, and could hardly believe how lucky I really, truly was.  Home.  I was home.

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Keeping an eye on things, Pierre calmly watched through the French doors.

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A view of beloved County Kilkenny.