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Black Lives Matter

I have sat in terrible awe and horror over the last few days as I’ve watched our world implode.  I’ve watched as people have tried to justify the murder of a man because of his criminal history, tried to justify an officer of the law kneeling on his neck till he died.  There is no way to justify this, NONE!  I’ve watched as peaceful protests have become deadly.  As the people who are ordained to keep the peace, to keep us ALL safe have instigated violence.  I’ve watched as people were shoved, beat, bloodied, and maced for I don’t know what reason as all I saw was freedom of speech.  I’ve watched as opportunistic assholes took over peaceful protests to loot stores, I’ve watched as racist assholes tried to turn peace into violence so that the cause those protesting would be downplayed.  I’ve watched as intelligent, kind people who I love got caught up in the false bullshit.  Got carried away with the stupid and lost sight of what the fight was about.

2016-07-15-1468543542-5461644-theracistresponsetoblacklivesmatterLIbCT2p-thumbI admit there was a time in my life where I believed that “All Lives Matter” was an appropriate response to “Black Lives Matter”.  I admit that there have been times where I fought for the idea that ALL can be racist as I have been hated for my white skin, for something I too have no control over.  I admit to having grown up in predominantly white communities and therefore having no true idea what it is like on the other side.  And for this I am sorry.  I see you, I see the pain, I see the anger, and I see just how broken our world is.

Until we stop fighting and yelling towards each other, talking at instead of with; until we start LISTENING to the plight of the oppressed in our communities, our world nothing will change.  I am listening.

I see others listening also, the peaceful conversations are being lost in the sensationalism of violence.  I have hope that things will change this time.  That all will be heard, and that the oppressors will be shut down, that the fearful will stand up to them and say no more and that good will overcome the decades of evil.

I sit and I wait

I HATE this!  I pretty much hate everything that is life now.  I hate that my world, my life came to a crashing halt 11 weeks ago…that’s right 11 weeks, nearly 3 months, 76 days ago, everything in my realm changed.  Everything stopped.  The when of “would life start again” was tossed up in the air, and then out the window into a land of doubt and unsurety.  No one knew, hell no one knows now.  We wait.  We wonder…will we move to the next phase, will schools open in the fall…what will that look like, how will we do that, how will we keep people safe.

I was so glad when my college classes started cause at least something was coming back.  But not really learning on Zoom sucks, it is not the same, it feels different.  And where I have all the time in the world…because I am not teaching … I cannot get motivated.  My sense of urgency that is part of who I am and honestly part of my procrastinator hearts push is not there.  We sit in class and we talk about how crazy every one’s life is right now and I feel guilty.  I do not have kids, I do not have a family, I’m not teaching, yes, I’m working but it’s a couple hours a week.  I sit in my home doing nothing…my motivation is gone.

I sit in my anxiety.  I sit in my fear for the future.  I sit in a pit of depression.  I sit in my human need for people, for social interaction, for the hugs that are so glaringly absent from my life.  I sit.  I watch TV, I work on my computer, I read, but I sit…and I wait.  I wait for the world to figure out what is next.  I wait for the next shoe to drop, because “Have you met me?”.  I sit and I hope.  I hope for safety.  I hope for ‘normal’, knowing that normal will never be what it was.  I sit and I feel guilty.  I feel guilty that I am not out in the world and so many are.  I feel guilty for so so much as I sit, and I wait for the world to open back up.

Crossroads…what to do?

I hate these crossroads moments. The moments in life when you question what next? When you begin to question whether or not what you are doing is right whether it is where you are called any longer.

I KNOW that I am doing the right thing as a teacher. I love it and where there are aspects I’d happily hand off I know they are part of it and I accept them. That’s part of my quandary elsewhere, when the bad begins to outweigh the good is it time to move on. Just to clarify, my profession, my working as a teacher in a career and place I love, is not in question but other aspects of my life are.

I stepped into something after being asked many times to take on this mantle and after repeatedly saying no I finally said yes. I’m no longer sure if that was right. The voices of dissent are loud, they are always louder than the voices of assent…but is that all it is. Is it time for me to walk away…to pass the torch? I’ve done good things but maybe I’ve done what I can. Maybe it’s time to listen to the voices that yell that I am failure in this.

Either way there has to be a point where the bad to me and myself worth, my inner voice, has to be stopped. A point where I come first even to the detriment of others…even those so so important to me and my life.

God, I need a 2×4 moment so I know what is the right next steps…do I fight or just give up?

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the nature of people.  About personalities, about how we are people interact and relate to people who are different than us.  About how society expects a person to be.  See I am not the societal norm, I guess.  I am an introvert, I am terrified of people I don’t know well, I am a person with terrible social anxiety who shuts down in social interacts unless I am comfortable or working very hard.  I am a person with crappy social skills, no ability to have small talk – I literally don’t know how.  I am terrified that I am going to say or do the wrong thing, that I am going to piss someone off, that I am going to hurt their feelings, that I am going to find out that they don’t like me or worse that they are going to think I don’t like them because I do this interacting thing wrong.  God forbid I hurt someone with my words or actions.

I am a person who feels too much and I feel everything.  It is so hard to explain to people who don’t know what a true empath is but I am one.  I literally feel what others around me are feeling, especially those big powerful overwhelming emotions.  Because it scared me so much as a child I never learned to deal or process it, and more often than not if I don’t know where the emotions are coming from I struggle to pull apart what I am feeling and what another is feeling.  It overloads and overwhelms me and I don’t handle it well sometimes.  I am working on this, I am working so hard but that doesn’t mean I’m proficient or skilled at it, but I am trying so very hard. And as much as I hate this aspect of being me I also love it…it gives me a connection, a way of helping others that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is also part of why I care as much as I do.

I am also a person with anxiety and depression, my mind lies to me constantly, telling me that I am worthless, that I am a waste of space, that the world does not need, want or especially like me.

My mind tells me that I am difficult…and I am because of all these things, I am a difficult person.  I think to much, I worry, I stress, I become overwhelmed, and all that leads to me becoming frustrated with myself and it boils over to others, with my own ineptitude at this thing called life and I snip and I snap, and people hate me (or get very very frustrated) and I hate me for it.

96660007-288-k17389I have spent the last fifteen years of my life working, struggling, and striving to do this thing called life and interacting better … and you know what if you knew me fifteen years ago you know that I do do it better.  I have fought, I have stretched, I have grown…and I still am growing and I am working to do it better.  Please know that I am trying, trying so hard and when I say that I am sorry I mean it, I am doing my best to do better, to not repeat but I am human and I am about as far from perfect as possible.

If I mess up, if I hurt you, if I fail at this thing called life and people with you tell me, tell me what I did, help me to do it better.  Just like a child sometimes I need help growing and knowing where my mistakes and flaws are.

Change is Possible

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of people the last three days. There are people in this world who do not believe that people can change or grow. We have sayings and phrases in the common lexicon that imply this but you know what…it’s not true.

Throughout our life we change, we grow, we become better, or worse…but we change. To say that we don’t grow and change would mean that I was still the loose cannon of my early twenties. I was still the idiot who in order to hide her insecurities had to act like she knew everything. It would be to say that I was still the ‘Little Bitch’ my mom dubbed me in one of my shittier moments. A moment that started a rapid translation and deep look at who I was and who I wanted to be.

I am not that person anymore. Vestiges of her still exist, but I am NOT her. Who I was at 15 is different than who was at 25 and who I was at 35. This goes for all people.

We need to allow ourselves and others to change and to grow. To become who we are trying to be. Growth is hard and usually comes with many mistakes. It comes with hurts for ourselves and the ones we love.

Don’t assume that a person past actions are all there is to them, don’t assume that as a person is struggling to change it is futile. Love them and support them, see what can happen when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

To whom it may concern,

Over the last 36 hours I have watched as friends became enemies.  I have watched as people became villains.  I have watched as strangers attacked the character of a person they knew nothing about, all on the words of another.  I have watched as a group of people with mental illness have worked their hardest to drive another over the edge, to destroy other people with the same illness.  I have found myself in tears…wishing for a way to end the pain, the anger, and the hurt for ALL involved.  I have found my friends sobbing and aching from pain caused by words.  I have myself collapsed in tears at the words of a ‘friend’.

Why?!?!  Why do we do this?  Why as a people do we strive to hurt?  I know sometimes it is unintentional, sometimes we just loose our way in the darkness, sometimes things go to far.  Why do we not apologize?  Why are the apologies unaccepted?  Why is it so much easier to hurt than to forgive?  Why do we hold onto grudges, why do we seek annihilation instead of reconciliation or for that matter nothing instead, why not just strive to find the strength within us to move on?  Why is it so hard to let go, to move on?  Wouldn’t it be better; more healing to just move on?  Why are we, as a people so very prone to evil?  To nastiness?  To hatred instead of love and kindness?

I admit I made mistakes, I carried things to far, and I apologized, I tried to move on.  I get forgiveness is hard, but why do you need to destroy?  Why do you need to take everything and everyone down with you?  Why do you have to break others?  Why?

There are times, there are days that I really hate this world we live in.  I hate that so many people are so broken and feel that they need to break others to be better.  Why are we as a people like this?

My heart hurts.  My very soul hurts for everyone who I have interacted with for the past few days.  I wish I could fix it all.  I wish I could repair the damage done not only now but the damage done in the past, the damage that caused the need to break others.  I wish I could fix it, and I can’t, and I’m oh so very sorry.  Really and truly.

The people of our world are so unbelievably broken, so wounded.  Until we figure out how to stop causing more harm, to heal ourselves, it will never get better only worse for us and for all to come.

Toxicity

There are truly evil people in this world. People who will do all they can to destroy others. People who will take all your mistakes, all your perceived evils and use them against you. People who will save up there anger to use at the most and in the most painful and vindictive way they can. When you find that these people are in your life remove them! Rip them out at the root and do not let them back in. Realize that what they do and what they say has more to do with them and their true nature than with you. Realize that they are the ones who are broken not you. Realize that your true friends, the ones who deserve a place in your life will look at the trash they are spewing and say no! They will look at the crap and ask about it, and talk to you before deciding and they will love you anyway. Realizing that mistakes are a part of life and that just because you made some, and someone held onto them to break you does not mean those mistakes are who you are. Realize that that evil person was never your friend and that the real ones, the ones that matter are still there loving you, and supporting you. In these moments cut out the toxic people and hold the others even closer. Remember how far you have come, how strong you are, and how important and loved you are by so many.

My brain on Social Anxiety

help-child-social-anxiety-coping-strategies-fears-afraid-quoteIt’s amazing how the human brain, well at least my human brain works.  Last night was my works auction.  For the last few years I have left the auction in a puddle of emotions.  Some bad, most good, all overwhelming.  So, here’s the thing for any newbies to reading my blog, not that anyone actually reads it – sorry that’s that that stupid brain of mine – I have anxiety.  Over the past four years or so I have become much more willing to talk about that…well in writing at least.  I am also an extreme introvert with some pretty gnarly social anxiety.  Once I get comfortable with people those issues greatly diminish and people forget that with new people, or busy environments I struggle a lot.  I don’t know how to interact in party situations, I literally don’t know how to make small talk, and I can’t get my brain to relax and stop second guessing myself and worrying about what all those people are thinking about me to just settle in,relax, and enjoy.

So, all of this leads to the realities of me in a room full of 90 people (or so I was told), mostly people I don’t know with the exception of my fellow teachers (whom I’m generally comfortable with) and a handful of parents (brain in overdrive to not say something utterly stupid or awkward).  As I wander the silent auction trying to find someone to interact with, without interrupting or intruding on another’s conversations; without trying to cling to my fellow teachers like the social looser I am, I am beyond uncomfortable and can feel the anxiety growing to insane levels. Thankfully it’s time to sit down, I go to my safe zone, a table full of my friends, the teachers I work with.  But I sit between two conversations, unable or unsure how to enter either, and smile at the person across from me, to far for a conversation and to new to my world for me to know what to say anyway.

It’s a great night in which we raise a remarkable amount of money for the school.  After standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, as the bidding for the item that I am contributing to, I am able to settle in and just enjoy the action and the laughter (our auctioneer is a riot).  Then the auction is over, and the families and church members begin to leave…but that means the hardest part of the evening is starting.  See, every year the auction ends with dancing, crazy wild, fun dancing by the teachers and sometimes a few of the crazier, more amazing parents.

For the last two years an amazing friend (if you read this I love you!), and this year a different one (love you too), has dragged me onto the floor and encouraged me to dance with everyone else, led me and tried so hard to help me be comfortable and have fun with my friends.  Shockingly enough (she says with utter sarcasm) I don’t dance, I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to dance with anyone other than my preschool students.  It’s not because I don’t have rhythm…I’m a musician I have rhythm, I just don’t know what to do with my body.  I 100% don’t want to be seen in that moment where I know I look like a big fat girl who has no clue and looks like an utter freak.

Now I know that these amazing ladies don’t care!  I just don’t know how to shut up that part of my brain, to not worry about what others are thinking, to not worry about how I look, to not worry worry worry…I don’t know how to shut off that anxiety part of my brain that says I look stupid, that everyone is laughing at you.  Even as I am being danced with (one of the event crew was dancing with us and seeing discomfort cane over with Ana I fly kind words and twirled me around the dance floor for a moment) and as am I laughing, and truly having fun, there’s still that niggling voice and those tears of unsurness and embarrassment in my eyes.

I have come a long way in the past four years at fighting all those years of shitty words, those mean and nasty comments, the bullying of my youth, but it’s still a process.  And those voices feed the anxiety, they feed the fear.

There is nothing like feeling overwhelmed, scared, loved, and extremely joyful all in the same moment.  There is nothing like trying to process all of that or trying to explain it all to someone else.

Every years a little easier who knows maybe next year I’ll find a way to just have fun.

At about 6:00 pm tonight, January 14th, 2019, it will have been two years since I found out my father was dead.  I cannot say that I have dealt with his loss with a whole lot of grace.  I have had moments of maturity but mostly I have had moments of a girl missing her daddy.

For 36 years he was there.  He was there to love me in spite of my failures, to help me figure out what to do, or to panic at his sobbing emotional mess of a child depending on the issue and me.  But, he was there…with unending and unconditional love.   My dad and I did not always see eye to eye and I could royally piss him off as only a daughter can piss of her Dad, but he loved me.  At times I exasperated him, but he loved me.  We fought, but he always loved me and except as petulant child, and really at the heart of it even then, I always knew that he loved me and that would never change.

I miss him, and the pain of his absence hits out of nowhere with no contexts sometimes…and sometimes I see it coming, sometimes I can deflect and sometimes I get swallowed whole.

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I will forever cherish the memories of him.  I will cherish styling his hair as a little girl, as he sat with a slightly exasperated and bemused grin.  I will cherish wrestling with him.  I will cherish sitting in the kitchen with him when he cooked, or watching cooking shows with him.  I will cherish watching horror films with him.  I will forever cherish our conversations, how he challenged me to think for myself, to fight for myself, and be the woman I am today.  I will cherish the memories of him going to bat for me when a teacher did wrong.  I will cherish him telling me, and throwing pillows at my head, when I was being a shit.  I will cherish loving hugs and cuddles.  I will cherish games of chess.  I will cherish all the good times the last year of his life brought before the cancer truly took his mind as well as his body.  I will cherish it all.

I will say this as well Cherish your loved ones.  Make memories, make time.  There are aspects of knowing my father was going to die that I will never be okay with, but having that time and making those memories that I will always keep close and be thankful for.

Good People

You ever marvel at humanity and human beings? I think there are more good, caring, and kind humans than the opposite but the opposite gets our focus and our attention.

Today is All Saints Sunday, a day to remember those we’ve lost, the names of the people in the church community who’ve died in the past year are read. My dad’s name was still in the list. I was silently sad remembering him and others we’d lost, but I was ok, until his name was read. I ran from the church as the loud sobs began. I was checked on by a member of the church. Another, a friend, came into the room and saw me, hugged and comforted me.

The next person to encounter me sitting on the floor, now silently, crying didn’t see the sorrow or the tears. She didn’t see my glasses on the floor she just saw me someone who could watch her granddaughter who was begin to struggle within the service. Of course it was at a time in the service where the nursery isn’t manned but hey. I stood up and told her she was welcome to hang with her but I could not take her. She still didn’t see the tears, the cracking voice. I repeated myself, smiled a teary smile at the little one and left.

I went and calmed myself, marveling at the lack of caring and compassion for a fellow human. I wondered what was wrong with the world. I then returned to the church to get my stuff. Was pulled into a comforting hug and kind words by yet another amazing friend and then in true Jenn fashion went to my office at the church to work, organize, basically focus on something else.

After a bit I returned to the church needing to relay info to someone. Our Deacon stopped me on the way to check in with me. As I approached my Priest, wanting to talk to him about a Children’s Ministries thing he saw me coming and said he wanted to talk with me. He wanted to check on me having seen my rush out of the service and knowing why he was concerned.

As I drove home I thought about all of this. I thought about the uncaring person for a bit but really considered the reality. One person was self focused and oblivious, 5 including one who doesn’t really know me, showed compassion and kindness.

My point in all this rambling? Focus on the five not the one. Focus on all the kind caring, compassionate, empathetic people in the world not the one whose wrapped up in something else. They are probably caring as well but in the moment they’ve got other things happening and that is where their focus is…it doesn’t mean they’re ‘bad’.