I finished up my parent teacher conferences yesterday. I have amazing kids in my homeroom. It is interesting to meet with parents and their children interact... after leaving school I had my blood drawn yesterday afternoon...as follow up to my blood clot...hopefully the last time I will need to do it. I have been on the blood thinners since early May and am ready to not be on them... ready to have a margarita... I then came home and debated about what I wanted to do on a Friday night.. I thought about a movie, looked to see what was going on locally... and thought about an event I had heard about through my drumming class... my instructor is part of a group called Inanna- Sisters in Rhythm. Her group was performing at a fundraiser, raising money to help fund a permaculture project in Sicily... I know nothing, well after last night I know a little, about permaculture. But... I wanted to do something last night and the fundraiser was going to end with a drumming circle, and invited any and all drummers to bring their drums. So I went, djembe and all...
I am not sure what I expected...and I have to say that for the first time in a long time I was acutely aware that I was there alone... which is ironic because the presentation included much about how we are all part of the earth and each other... which really was not what I was expecting... I was expecting a full on Inanna performance with a few snippets of information about this project... but there was a lot of talking about the permaculture stuff and not as much performing as I would have liked. The performance was held at a local church, a universalist Church. (Which to be honest intrigued me because I have, at times, thought of going to a service at a universalist church.) I had hoped that the performance would suck me in and make me forget the stresses of life and I found myself having to try to get sucked in... and as the music played, I enjoyed it. Many people around me were moved to get out of their seats (pews) and dance in the aisles. And I had such mixed feelings about them.. some people were really... moved by the music... I kept thinking that I bet the scene would be similar if I were at some crazy revival where people were speaking in tongues and flailing about... then I reprimanded myself for judgint those people who were able to let the music suck them in and to let go of any inhibitions they may have had...I was pretty determined to stay seated and just watch the band... and as the evening went on I relaxed. I did not get up and flail about, while the music was beautiful I found myself just wanting to watch the drumming, hear the sounds of the drums and just block out everything else.... and it worked... and then towards the end of the performance a woman, associated with the group of my instructor, got up and performed... not really singing, not really storytelling, but a combination of the two... her story was about mother earth and her children... kind of about people uniting, finding other people and bringing power to each other, together. She asked us all to get up and sing,chant, or echo what she was singing... and asked us all to hold hands forming a huge circle around the edge of the church... Not everyone got up to join, but I did... and held hands with two complete strangers... and it was good... thinking about how we don't connect with each other, especially strangers. And I relaxed a little. But admit that returning to my seat to watch the final song of the night was a relief. I don't know why I was unable to settle myself down enough to just breathe and take it all in, but I was very distracted. But then... the performance part of the night was over and it was time for the drum circle. I was excited to play my drum with probably 40 or so other drummers, all of whom I assumed had more experience than me... and it was COOL... so cool. We were given a starting beat to drum and then as we felt the beat, we all started doing out own rhythms on top of that central beat... and it was really awesome. I could hear my drum... hear the different intonations my instructor has been teaching me as I hit the drum in different ways... and I could hear my sound amongst the sounds of everyone else... and I liked it. There are drum circles, free, that happen around here a few times a month... and I am going to go when I can... THAT was my favorite part of the night.. banging on my drum... and feeling confident in my own rhythm... it's something I used to be really good at... being the single person in the room, comfortable with that... going out to eat solo, and being comfortable with that... Life has been busy and hectic and crazy for a while... and I think that things are settling in some ways, while still very hectic in others... and spending time with myself, without having so much on my mind hasn't happened in a while... I mean, I have things on my mind, but it's stuff for me, work, coursework, but it is different than being unsettled about my mom.... I am still grieving, don't foresee that ever stopping... but it is in a different phase or stage I suppose... and I think that for so long I have been worrying about things, being on edge all the time... that being on edge has become normal to me... and when given a chance to just breathe and take it all in... it's like I have forgotten how to do that... but I think last night... the drum circle... helped me take a step forward... in my own time... my own rhythm...

The picture is from Manas Roy (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/woman-with-african-drum-manas-roy-.html)


My head is spinning...

What a crazy time... tonight I had parent teacher conferences... 9 conferences.. everyone on the schedule showed up, which does not always happen. Tomorrow I have the other 5 conferences... It's always such an interesting thing... to sit down with the parents of the students with whom I have daily contact. I don't like to think of myself as a judgmental person... but I am... I make assumptions about what kind of home lives my students have based on their actions and interactions as well as appearance. One of the kiddos... who has already carved a niche for himself in my heart... came to his conference tonight and was so excited and proud to share his work with his parents. His parents... were NOT what I had expected...had his parents not walked in with him, I would not have ever picked them out of a crowd as being his parents. I expected that he came from a family that struggles financially... and that seemed to be the only assumption about which I was accurate. I had envisioned two parents who were pretty typical blue collar folks.. who would offer praise to their son... who would ask how they could help him improve in the areas needed... and expected to have that warm fuzzy vibe... after all... just a few weeks ago this kid brought in home made doughnuts, made by his grandfather, to share with our homeroom... which only enhanced my assumed vision as a Norman Rockwell-ish type family.... The people who walked in were different from one another, very different... and throughout the conference I tried to figure out which of his parents shared his wonderful traits... where does he get his gentle nature? His kindness? His smile? I still don't know. The father acted oddly... squinting as he looked around my classroom and avoided eye contact... he sat silently as his son shared work he has done well with...but it was more than sitting silently.. it was completely disengaged... and then the student said that he does not like math, and the father suddenly tuned in and sternly lectured him about how math was the most important subject there is, that he will use math in his every day life more than any other subject... this boy's demeanor... changed so completely in that moment....and remained altered for the remainder of the conference... his eyes went from looking at his work samples and at his parents seeking their approval, to looking at his work with doubt with his eyes darting back and forth between his parents, almost afraid of what they may say... or trying to re-engage his dad who had once again begun squinting and looking around randomly... I changed the subject and once again the father was disengaged until I mentioned something about how our school is working on bullying... and before meeting this boy's family, I had planned on telling them about an incident that this boy was involved in, where he passively bullied another kid... thinking that with the kind of family I had pictured, would have a healthy discussion with him about what's the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do... but... I just couldn't go there... was it because I was intimidated by this father? I don't think so... I think it's because I didn't want to throw the kid under the bus... This kid comes to me EVERY morning to say hello, not just coming into my room, but coming up to me to say good morning and to share a story of one thing or another...and when I talk to my homeroom, he is one of the kids in there who I can tell is really hearing what I am saying... He struggles academically, school is not something that is natural for him... and yet he seems to crave attention and praise from his teachers... so I couldn't do something that would cause him to see me as someone who told his parents something for which he would probably be demeaned for... my conversation will continue with him... and will include my choice to not share his action with his parents... hmmmm... and another student... whose older sibling I have coached... her parents were stoic... crazily stoic... yet their daughters are so animated and their personalities are so vibrant... it was like seeing Richard Simmons coming to a conference and learning that his parents were Ben Stein and Barbara Walters.... so interesting....

Oh... remember the light bulbs? I haven't heard anything about them since starting them a while back... until last night.... at a leadership team meeting in my building, one woman said, "And whoever started the light bulb thing, and I know it was someone in this room, brilliant!" Hmmm... maybe they are making their way around the building... should I add a couple more to the mix? Or just see what happens?

What else... there is some big news to report... My beloved Dad... is amazing... that's not the big news... the big news is that he has turned a corner. I think somehow he has given himself permission to relax and have some fun... and this has included going out on a couple of dates! Yes, dates... oh and I MUST mention... the woman who he is spending time with... is my 6th grade homeroom/home ec. teacher!!! How CUTE is that? Is it hard to think of my dad 'dating' someone? Of course. But not because I don't want him to spend time with someone... It's just another change...adjustment... step in the process of losing my mom... it's a good step though... My mom, gave us so many gifts... I remember her telling me that she had talked to Dad, even though he didn't want to have the conversation, about not living the rest of his life alone... and she told me too... that she wanted Dad to find companionship... and wanted my sister and I to support him in that... So... knowing how mom felt... is huge... One of Dad's best friends told him that the only approval he needs to 'date' was from my sister and I... and I told Dad that he already had the only approval he needs... Mom's. Do I still miss her? Terribly... so much sometimes that I close my eyes and try to hear her voice in my head... to hear her laugh... to envision her cracking herself up as she was telling a story or making a self proclaimed witty remark... knee slapping and all... Do I miss seeing the way Mom and Dad were together, before the cancer? You can't even imagine how much... But...things have happened as they have happened... and I want my Dad to be happy, to have a spring in his step, a grin on his face, and to laugh... and this recent beginning... allowing himself to take some steps forward... has brought some of those things back to him... that had disappeared for a long time... a long time... Mom died about a year and a half ago... her cancer began killing her much before that... and I will never forget the moment after my mother's first surgery to try to remove the tumor... when we were in the waiting room, assuming that the news was going to be good... when the surgeon told us there was nothing he could do...That moment.... changed EVERYTHING... from that moment... our lives changed... Dad's life changed... and I don't think he has had more than a moment or two since that day, where he could smile authentically....... and he is smiling... He had emailed my sister and I to tell us about the date and tell us that he hoped we would understand his choice to go out and that it did not, in any way, take away from Mom's memory... I am so happy for him, to take this step... but I also hurt for him, ache for him, because I know this is not easy for him... and that he has been feeling an internal struggle to follow his heart that for so long was only in one place... and to give himself permission to let his heart lead him... without having to protect or care take... I want him to enjoy the happiness, the giddiness, the butterflies... all that... but I do worry that he will, at some point after taking many steps forward will freeze and back away from it.... and if he does, that's okay... but I am sure this is hard for him... but I am glad for him... proud of him... Love you Dad!


The Marathon...year 2

So do two halves make a whole? What about two half marathons? Does that make a whole marathon? I'm not sure if two halves, in marathon terms, equals a full. 13.1 miles is way different than 26.2. So participant in this year's half (in my crew anyway) was me, Jamie, Jaime, and Suellen. My blog followers know that Suellen is a good friend who lives really close to me and we often hit the gym together. Jamie and Jaime... I went to high school with them both, they were a year behind me. This is us BEFORE the race...notice how smiley and optimistic we are!!!

It was the perfect day for doing this race, cool and sunny with a slight breeze. I admit that at a few points I was a little chilly. Last night Sue and Jaime(1) and I had dinner together, the other Jamie wasn't able to join us. Jaime (1) was pretty confident. She recently ran an entire 10k without walking and also completed a sprint triathalon. (Which...for the record, may be my next thing!) Sue was a little nervous, like me she had not done any exercise since completing the 10 k a couple weeks ago. Jaime (2) was pretty nervous. She had sent us emails earlier in the week saying that she wasn't going to do it... but we had other plans... we told her to walk it instead of running it and she seemed to feel better, but was still very nervous. We all met at the start line this morning... Ironically Jamie (2) found Jaime (1) before she found me in the crowd! I know, I couldn't believe it!

The start line... is always sooo exciting...there are soooo many people. I forget how many there were this year... but they capped the number of people who could participate. We started toward the back of the crowd because our times are not considered fast... ha.. imagine that!

My goal for this year's race was to complete it in under 4 hours. My time last year was 3 hours and 38 minutes... but the last six weeks have been soo busy for me that I have not devoted much time to training. So I figured that it would be pushing it to try to compete with my time from last year. But as it worked out I was pretty driven... my pace for the first five miles was 16 minute miles.. I was happy with that. I was hoping to maintain that pace and was able to pretty much keep it there until mile 11 and 12... mile 11 was okay... I actually tried to pull ahead of Jaime (2) and did for about a half mile, but wasn't too far ahead of her and then decided to finish with her since we had walked it all together...and I thought I could keep her at my pace... while I was ahead of her I started talking with a guy from Boston who was walking his first half. Jamie (2) and I kept passing him and being passed by him throughout the race. Once I got up to him and started going by him again, I think he decided that he would use me to keep his pace. As we approached mile 12... I really wanted to quit. Truly. Done... D - O - N - E... I could have stopped there and been fine... except I would have been mad at myself later... the last 1.1 miles of this race... I'm not gonna lie.. it sucked! It was HARD... Jamie (2) somehow got a second wind (also known as the appearance of hubby and 2 kids, one of which jogged the last .75 miles with her) decided to jog the last part of the race, and she pulled ahead of me... leaving me and Mr. Boston... Mr. Boston had hit the 12 mile wall hard, like I had... and he was full of comments about how hard that wall was and how his body wanted to disobey his mind... I kept trying to speed up to get in front of him, but... my legs, like his, were disobedient... the spectators on the sides of the road were cheering us on, telling us it was ONLY another mile, ONLY another half mile, ONLY another 2/10 of a mile.... Their encouragement is nice... but I so wanted to tell them to go walk 12.9 miles and then have the finish line seem sooo far away.... but... I finished... and with no official time yet, I believe I will have finished in about 3 hours and 34 minutes... so about 4 minutes less than last year... man oh man... if only I had not been a slacker the last 6 weeks... I could have done close to 3 and a half hours... maybe less... that's a good goal for next year... when I won't have my internship to focus on... This is us at the end of the race... We mask the pain well... we were elated... Jaime (1) finished in just over her 3 hour goal, Sue finished ten minutes under her time from last year...and Jamie (2) finished her first half marathon and says she will do it again! A Good day... and It did not escape my mind... that once again, by doing this half marathon, I am reminding myself that PVNS... does not control me.. my life... look how far I have come !

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I almost forgot to tell you... Before the race started.. I saw... my morning motivation.. OH YES I DID!! And we spoke! ahhh... wished each other well on the course... I am sooo gonna use that as water fountain talk next time I see him at the gym... ahhhh and he seemed to be there solo... no girlfriend cheering him on... Hmmmmmm... just sayin'!


What's a Djembe? and Marathon madness...

So in all of my free time this fall I have added something else to the mix! I am taking an African Drumming class. Years ago I saw a group of women who performed African drumming and it was amazing. Something about the music resonated with me and I told myself that at some point I would take lessons and be able to play music like that. I tried to make it work with my schedule last spring, but it just didn't work with my grad course schedule... so this time when I got the email I was determined to make it work. It is an 8 week session, and i have only been to one so far. It was fun... fun enough for me to go out and buy my own djembe, African drum. Here it is: It is actually my second djembe. I bought one and when I brought it home I was not happy with the sound... so I returned it. I then went to another drum shop and found this one. It is a little smaller than I expected I would find, but the sound is what I want...and it is made of wood, making it more authentic. So.. I have been banging on my drum. I can't wait to learn more and have been able to find some video lessons on youtube.

So... fall has arrived... There is a crispness in the air. The fall also brings the Maine Marathon... and once again I am walking it. I am much less prepared for it than I was last year because I have been so busy with my internship that I have not taken enough time in the last month and a half to walk... but I will be okay to finish the race.
I may not finish as quickly as I was hoping to finish, but I will finish. I am okay with that. Then next week I am going to get back into the routine of hitting the gym in the mornings and I look forward to that. Tonight I went out to dinner with Suellen and Jaime who are also doing the half marathon tomorrow. They are running... I am walking. Another friend, Jamie (yes 2 women with the same name...), will be walking with me. She and I went to high school together and haven't seen each other since. (or really been in contact since then.) So it will be nice to get a chance to get caught up. I think we should have enough things to talk about for four hours...

This is a picture of us at dinner... the lighting kind of sucks, but I like the picture. We were all laughing and looking forward to tomorrow's adventure! I will post pictures tomorrow!

My Favorite Place

My Favorite Place