Thursday, January 18, 2018

In My Head and Then Reality


 Dreams of spring and summer. Oh, if I close my eyes, I can picture myself with an ice tea, sitting outside a Caribou Coffee in my favorite St Paul neighborhood.

In my head I am lounging at the lake, pup having found a cool spot in the shade of the chaise. Or, I'm on my own back yard deck with a Vodka lemonade. I can hear the kids yelling and laughing on the play ground, soaking up the last of the sun-which of course is out until well after 9:00.
In my mind, I'm strolling along the banks of the Mississippi, or one of the inlets. Everyone I pass is happy and enjoying the warmth of a perfect late spring day.

 But here's really what is going on outside. I'm about to brave the cold and my commute. It is mid January, and I'm trying for humor to get through the next two long months.


 But then, if I close my eyes, not while driving mind you, and take a deep breath, I remind myself of the beauty of this season. Maybe, reality isn't quite so bad.




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Story About Making Snap Judgements

I wish I was less judgmental. Try as I might, I let that little "know it all voice" creep in, putting my sanctimonious values and priorities on others. Of course I do this silently, or might say something to my older daughter or husband, never directly judging. I just did this on Saturday to my friend. She came down to the competition later in the day, but didn't know her daughter was doing a solo competition. She ended up arriving just after her daughter was done and missed it. I'm thinking to myself, and then Sunday out loud to DH, "How would you not know your kid is doing this!" My friend does not work out of the house (the story another long judgemental opportunity for me), so of course, I also put that tone in my thoughts. "It's not like she has other distractions." Admittedly, I felt my judgmental thoughts cringe worthy. 

Jump to later Sunday when I ran into my niece in the grocery store. I haven't talked one on one, with undivided attention with my niece since September. We had at least 20 minutes in the tea and coffee aisle. She was flustered, needing to get a few things to tied her over as even though she is having grocery delivery, it wasn't coming until Thursday and she hadn't planned well the week before. She shared that she is going to home school her 11 year old for a while because the school just isn't supportive enough with the mental health challenges her son is having. Her youngest clings to her when home, and she feels like some days she has no energy left for herself. Grief hits in waves, but she is always first attending to the kids needs. This time in the grocery store alone, was her reprieve. 

Cut forward and she was a few people ahead of me in the next check out lane. I gave a brief wave as she left, then started unloading my cart. I heard, "Mam, you forgot this." Here the bagger was holding her purse that she had left in her cart. She gave me a quick look of a sigh, took the purse and left the store. I over heard the person behind her say, "What, that's a dumb mistake. Good thing we're all honest." to which the cashier, not a kid I might add, said, "I know right. She was scattered."As I was leaving, a woman coming in  asked me if I dropped a mitten. It was a nice thick blue mitten, dropped right where the last cart would have been put back on that side, the door my niece left. "No, but I know whose it is." I got the glove and she said, "You'd think someone would notice on a day like this they didn't have one of their mittens."

Mama bear wanted to come out to her, to the cashier, to the other customer. I wanted to shout that she has more important things on her mind than a mitten, being scattered checking out her groceries, and even her purse. I wanted to tell them she has an 11 year old and 6 year old who are scared of losing another parent, and whose grandpa also is being treated for cancer. I didn't of course, but in my short drive home, I realized I am no different, no better at being judgey when I know nothing about the situation. 

I know there is a lot of backstory before I knew my friend, that I will never fully understand, and it's not my business to need to. It's my business to be her friend now. It's not useful to tell myself I would do things differently when I see or read a train wreck decision, but it could be mine to respond to requests for help or at least provide words of encouragement. On this, I must not try to do better. I must do better,  and give support instead of hypercritical thought.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Positively Tuesday

I am coming off a four day weekend where I was about as busy had I worked Friday and Monday. No doubt I will have no time easing into retirement...a mere decade from now. I like to work. I like to stay busy, but I am feeling stretched right now and in another month I will be in the throws of the chaos season at work. I'm almost glad it Tuesday, the day I have decided to take a deep breath, step back, and look at everything that is positive right now. The last few January's many bloggers have picked a word or a short phrase to give them a focus for the new year. I'll start there.


  • My word for 2018 is momentum. I like a few of the synonyms Merriam-Webster gives it such as encouragement, boost, and impetus. While of course there can be negative fall backs that easily could start to snow ball, I'm prepared to still keep putting my feet forward, even if I've taken those steps back.
  • My older daughter called when I was helping the youngest do her hair for pictures yesterday. The three of us work shopped out loud a new Instagram name for her public poetry account. I talked to her again after youngest left about her plans and ideas, and she gave me some prodding and encouragement as well.
  • I just pulled up my work e-mails. I really only have about 45 actual e-mails to deal with. For being out of the office four days,yes, three were weekend and holiday, that is a relatively tiny number. I should be at my desk and have most dealt with before 9:00, and it is only a four day work week until another weekend. Actually, all my weeks in January are only four days.
  • On Sunday, I unexpectedly ran into my niece, the one who lost her husband in August, in the grocery store. Something about that particular time, she felt very comfortable talking and sharing some of the struggles she and the kids are having. Standing in the coffee and tea isle, we came up with a small idea for her son, one that I was able to get implemented as soon as I got home. It reinforced that listening, and then offering a few actionable ways to help, even if they are small, are most meaningful.
  • Last, and probably to my life, not at all the most important, the Minnesota Vikings won their play off game in a clock ending touchdown. Other Minnesota football fans will understand this feeling that for once, our team was the one that snatched victory at the last second.
That's what I got this cold and dark January morning. Yesterday, researchers noted, can be the most depressing day. I get it. I have long lamented that by mid January, after my daughter's birthday  is done, I feel  off kilter and start longing for spring at a very impatient rate. I like this blog post debunking Blue Monday as the third Monday in January has been labeled. While it is cold, and dark, and a long time until spring, I'm trying to not get caught up in it this year. I'll bank on my word, and keep my momentum and use the indoor time to accomplish things, to talk with people, and to do little actions that make life good. 
 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Senior Year Registration

Thursday is the registration deadline for DD2's senior year of high school class schedule. While it seems early, they like to get this out of the way early as then the administration needs to plan class sizes, teacher needs, and other logistics to have in place  by summer, ready for the following school year. DD2 is a very good student, but unlike her older sister, is not well organized and like her older brother, has a wandering brain. Still, despite this, she manages  mostly A grades, and has all but three honors or AP classes, and has eight hours of classes instead of seven and no study hall. She has been on the fence about taking AP calculus and AP physics or the regular versions. Technically, she needs neither to graduate as she will have completed all the requirements in these areas by the end of her junior year. We though are parents that do not believe in a senior year slide, and while we are letting her make a choice about which math or science, not taking one at all is not an option. 

By taking AP, she will be eligible to test for college credit, saving her time later to graduate early or earn a second bachelors degree, and save her parents, potentially thousands in tuition. Yet, she takes the risk that the subject matter is presented in timeline and detail that will stretch her ability to maintain her high grade point average. She has a couple more days to discuss her capacity and aptitude with her current science and math teachers and her counselor. As her GPA, even if it went down a few  decimal points, is high enough to get into just about any state college in Minnesota, Wisconsin or the surrounding states with reciprocity, she is aware that her first choice school is very competitive academically and accepts less than 50% of applicants. If she decides a private school is a better route, she needs the GPA for potential merit based scholarships to make attending financially feasible. 

It's a lot for a 17 year old to weigh, but this is the first of many decisions she ultimately has to be the one to make. The stakes are high, with no guarantee that any choice is the right choice, and no guarantee that even if the right choice, she will have the career rewards after college she hopes for. Still, she has never been one to shy away from a challenge. If she ends up selecting the AP versions, she most likely will have a second stressful year academically, but in the end, will use her grit and determination, along with a healthy meltdown or two, and find a way to be successful.