Triggered

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I hate the word, “triggered.” It seems that everyone, whether they have suffered trauma or not, has something that triggers them. As much as I hate the word, it is the only word I can use to describe my reaction to Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen by Hannah Howard. Feast is Howard’s memoir about her undergraduate years and her battle with body image and eating disorders. As she described her feelings of inadequacy and shame about her body, I couldn’t help but think about my own life-long struggles with these same issues.

My stomach churning, I went to bed and almost cried. I thought of all the decisions in my life. The times I thought I should have turned left, but instead turned right. Then, I heard my son, Hunter, laugh. He and my husband like to stay up late, so I was in bed before they were. Hearing him laugh shook me out of my misery. I realized that all my decisions have lead me to this place, with my son and my husband. My life isn’t perfect and my career didn’t turn out as I thought it would, but I can still be proud of everything I accomplished.

I wanted to quit reading Feast, but I made myself finish it. By the end of the memoir, Howard learned to deal with her issues and to become a powerful advocate. I felt, if she could do it, as young as she is, I could do it, too, with all the experiences of my 52 years behind me. That is what I am trying to do. Always moving forward, never backward, like a shark, carving through the water of my present and my future.

via Daily Prompt: Churn

Bucket List

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I have been reading this series by Lillianna Blake called Single Wide Female. In the series, the main character, Samantha, has a bucket list of things she promised herself she would do when she lost weight. After losing 80 pounds, she finally decides that she is tired of waiting to explore the items on her bucket list. She is still working on weight loss, but she is tired of putting her life on hold until she is thin enough to live it.

I found this series at the right moment in my life. Something just clicked for me in my 52nd year. I finally felt ready to lose the weight that has plagued me my adult life. I started exercising a couple of weeks ago. I ignored all the little nagging doubts (and the pain in my hip) and just started. I lost five pounds. It doesn’t seem like a lot but  that is the first weight I have lost in over a year. Last week, I joined Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time. This time around, I was ready for the structure. I don’t view my diet as a limitation any more but as a stepping stone to a healthier life. I have now lost seven pounds.

Another dream I have always yearned for is to become a writer. Like my weight loss, I started slow. I started writing in my journal. I found a book that would help me tackle the idea I have been thinking about. I started to write more regularly, maybe not every day, but enough to keep the flow of my writing going.

While I don’t have a bucket list that compels me to skydive or walk across hot coals, I am feeling like I want to move out of my comfort zone. I want to see what is out there for me.

via Daily Prompt: Explore

Radiant 52

I have never thought of myself as a radiant person. I am more like a hide-my-light-under-a-bushel-basket person. As I grow older, however, I feel less inclined to hide behind the expectations of others. At 52, I want to be who I am with no apologies and no hiding. I am tired of apologizing for who I am.

This is the year I am going to make my life reflect who I am on my terms. My 52nd year will be the year that I make the changes I want to make. I have stopped the self-recriminations: why didn’t I do this at 32? or 42? The important thing is that I am doing it now. I am going to come out from under the bushel basket and be radiant.

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via Daily Prompt: Radiant

Footstool

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On Christmas, we went to see my dad for Christmas. My grandma’s old footstool was sitting in the family room. For a moment, I stared at it. It looked familiar but I couldn’t seem to place it. Then, I realized where I had seen it. It evoked memories of my grandma’s apartment when I was little.

I can still see her little feet, her ankles crossed, propped on the stool as she sat in her favorite, swiveling chair. When she wasn’t sitting in her chair, I used the stool as a seat. I would sit on it as I watched TV. She would be in the kitchen making lunch: her famous fried chicken or cubed steak.

When she began to slip and was moved to a nursing home, there were only two things I wanted of hers–her cat cookie jar and her set of Uncle Wiggly books. I didn’t want her ruby red glassware which was probably quite valuable or anything else she had (despite her wish that I have all her shoes!). I didn’t think of the little footstool that ended up in my dad’s family room. The cookie jar and the books are the two objects that evoke my strongest memories of her.

Whenever I went to her house, she would have fresh cookies in the smiling cat cookie jar. We spent hours reading the Uncle Wiggly books. She did the funniest voices for the characters. Each book ended with a suggestion for what book to read next. I never got tired of hearing those stories.

For some people, a scent or a sound or a flavor can evoke strong memories, but I tend to focus on objects. The cookie jar and the Uncle Wiggly books symbolize the special moments I shared with my grandmother.

via Daily Prompt: Evoke

Resolution

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I have many resolutions for 2018. I want to lose weight, exercise more, and organize my house. While these resolutions are important, my main focus for 2018 is to write every day. I have an idea for a novel, but I will never write it unless I actually sit down to write. I also want to begin blogging more regularly.

Rather than starting with a huge goal, like writing the novel or gaining 1000 followers, I am going to start with one small goal. Write every day. I just read a blog by K.M. Allen that reminded me that I don’t need to accomplish everything at once. Just like I don’t expect to lose all my weight in a month, I need to remember that writing a novel or building a blog takes time. I need to take it one step at a time.

Step 1: Carve out time to write. I need to set time aside every day to write. Rather than just think about finding some time to write, I need to schedule it just like I would any other commitment.

Step 2: Free myself from constraints. Sometimes, I try to give structure to my writing by following a self-help book about writing. This limits me. I need to just let go and write.

Step 3: Write for at least 30 minutes a day. I can easily find 30 minutes a day. While writing for an hour or longer might seem daunting, writing for 30 minutes seems more reasonable.

Step 4: Celebrate my success. Remember to take time to acknowledge myself when I follow my commitment and to remember the times I have been successful during the times when I am struggling.

via Daily Prompt: Carve

Adrift without a compass

 

When I was in high school, we had to take a class as part of our PE credit. It was called Outdoor Living. We spent most of the class inside. One thing our teacher tried to teach us was how to read maps and a compass. For the final, he gave us a homemade map and a compass. We had to use the map and the compass to find a particular spot on our high school campus. My friend and I wandered around for most of the class period completely lost. Even though we knew where we were as far as our campus, we could never quite figure out how where we were related to our destination. Our teacher finally had to come find us.

I feel the same way now. After finishing a stint at our local community college, I am again without a job. I find myself lost within the familiar confines of my life. Nothing feels the same. I can see where I am on the map, but I don’t know how to get where I am going. I am not even sure of my destination anymore. What is it that I want to do? How am I going to earn a living? Where is my compass?

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via Daily Prompt: Compass

Glaring

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One habit I have tried to cultivate this summer is to write down three to five things I feel grateful for every day. It is the first thing I do every morning, as I plan my day. Some days, it feels like it is hard to find things to be grateful for. I find myself facing a huge shift in my life. After losing my teaching job of fifteen years, I have to decide what to do with myself. I have been unable to find another teaching job, so I must decide where to go from here. I find myself looking back at the arc of my life–all the glaring errors I made. The times I turned left when I should have turned right. But I can’t dwell on those choices. I have new choices to make, so I focus on those things that I am grateful for:

  • I have a wonderful son and husband.
  • I have a home with food to eat.
  • I have my education that provides me with opportunities.
  • I now have time to write.
  • The future awaits.

via Daily Prompt: Glaring

Lollipop

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My son, Hunter, will do just about anything for a lollipop–sit still for a haircut, endure a shot, patiently wait in line at the bank. His face lights up when an adult offers him his choice of Dum-Dums. He loves to look for his favorite flavor, mango. No matter how long the day has been he sits back in the car contented sucking on his lollipop.

When he was three, he fell and cut his eye open. After his stitches, his pain magically disappeared when the nurse presented him with a lollipop. No matter how grumpy he is or how sad, the magical lollipop cures all.

Even, now, as he prepares to enter middle school, the lollipop is still his favorite snack. The other day I was sitting on the couch. I was a little sad, because I had just found out I hadn’t received interviews for a couple of jobs I had applied to. Coming out of the kitchen, he said, “Here, Mom, it looks like you could use a lollipop.”

As I sucked on one of his precious Dum-Dums that he had decided to share with me, I realized that maybe a lollipop can cure all.

via Daily Prompt: Lollipop

Disastrous

Is it disastrous to cry during a job interview?

Yesterday, during my one and only job interview of the entire summer, they asked me to describe a situation where I had failed and how I had handled it. The only answer I could think of was being non-renewed at Mrachek, my previous teaching job of 15 years. I thought I had gotten over it. I thought I could talk about it. But, as soon as I began to answer the question, tears began to form in my eyes and to leak down my cheeks. To my horror, I could not stop crying! During my job interview!

The interviewers were very nice. One of them got me a box of tissues. When I was able to stop crying, I answered their question. Will I be judged negatively because I am still brokenhearted over this experience? Will they think I am unprofessional? I don’t know. Interviewing seems inherently unfair. How can they judge me in an hour or so if I am fit to do the job? I might not interview very well, but, given the chance, I am a great teacher.

via Daily Prompt: Disastrous

Out of the Loop

I let myself fall out of the loop. The last two weeks of school started. I was focused on writing and letting my teaching go by the wayside. I thought to myself, Let my library go. The new teacher can clean it up. So what if my grades aren’t done?

But then, I talked to my colleague, Maxine. She reminded me of the work I had done at Mrachek. She called me the cornerstone of the literacy department. I’ve never been a cornerstone before. She told me to “finish well.” So, for a time, I put aside my writing to focus on my teaching. I cleaned my library, so it would be ready for the new teacher and the students I would never meet. I pushed my students to finish their projects and finished my grades. I said good-bye on the last day with my head held high. I took some time to mourn.

Now I am ready to get back in the loop. I can wrap my teaching hat in tissue and put it on the shelf. Now is the time to begin again–to show myself that I am a writer.

 

via Daily Prompt: Loop