Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Happiness

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."-Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Those who know me well know me to be a Potterhead; I don't know how many times I've read the books, listened to the audiobooks, or watched the movies. At one time, I had the entire series in English, Spanish, French, German, and a few other languages I had studied at one time because, well, why not? As I've begun downsizing, some of the sets have found more useful homes.

The quote above was included in a set of four prints of quotes by Professor Dumbledore which I have hung throughout my house. While all four resonate with me as I make this long and often difficult transition to my new life of whatever and wherever it leads, this one is striking a chord right now. 

I was blessed to be able to get this photograph, Ketchikan, AK
As I recently posted, life has been difficult. Life has thrown me many challenges to the point where I've begun to feel I don't matter, nor does life. I realize that is foolish, but sometimes it's a hard feeling to shake when so many changes are happening around you all at once; relationships ending, seeing your basic human rights being threatened, seeing your career under attack, wondering if your sanity will make it to retirement and the sudden death of a dear friend. Let's not forget the violence and vitriol on the news and social media. I've had a hard time remaining positive. But, as Professor Dumbledore said we can find happiness, if we remember to look for it. And that is where the difficulty lies; remembering to look when times are tough. So, I'm going to look around a bit.

Teachers, especially elementary teachers, don't often hear about the impact we make on our students' lives. Yet, I received a letter at the end of last year from a student expressing her gratitude for my recognizing her giftedness, my believing in her gifts and talents, how my encouragement as well as my recommendation of her to a National Honors program all kept her in school to graduate. She is now pursuing a career in Criminal Science. Bless her.

I took my car in for a recall, nothing serious, but a possible potential problem. As I checked my tires before taking my car in, I suspected I might need new ones, and said something to the service representative. After he did the intake on my car, he reassured me I didn't. Not yet, anyway. Bless him.

Recently, I had to repair the central air/heat system in my house. After being told it would take a week to get the part (during the hottest week of the year, so far) I resigned myself to a fate of a week of sleepless nights. To my surprise, the next morning I received a call that the exact parts I needed turned up in the neighboring city and they could install it that very same day. Bless them.

I made the decision to go solar. After a few initial steps, I received a call at 9:00 a.m. that the company was now ready to install the panels. I asked when they had available and was told they could have a crew at my house between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. that same day! I made the decision to go ahead, quickly showered and ran a couple of quick errands fully intending to be back by 11:00 well ahead of the crew's possible arrival. When I got home, the crew was already waiting for me, an hour early! After they had left, I discovered they accidentally bumped the highly sensitive earthquake sensor on my gas main, completely shutting off the gas to my house. I called the crew leader back and asked him if they had done it and he said it was possible and offered to talk me thorough the process of resetting it. I replied I was too nervous and he then offered to have someone from his office come help me and make sure all the pilot lights were lit. After all, if his crew had done it, it was their responsibility to correct it. His words, not mine. Fifteen minutes later, he called back to say someone was on the way. Fifteen minutes or so later, one of the crew members showed up with his young son in tow, evidently having come from home. (He later explained he lives three blocks away.) He showed me how to reset the sensor, made sure I got the pilot on the water heater lit, and that the stove worked. He also apologized, and said that it was the crew's responsibility as they had probably bumped it. Both men were very pleasant, happy to help and quite professional throughout this situation. Bless them.

I later went to turn on the now repaired air conditioner and noticed a strange sound I didn't recall hearing before and with the issue of the gas main still on my mind, I recalled the heater runs on gas, and had a pilot that also needed to be lit. I also know the blower that pushes the air into the house, either from the air conditioner or heater is connected to the furnace in the attic. In my mind, if the pilot wasn't lit, the blower wouldn't work. The sound I heard reminded me of the sound of leaking gas, but I didn't smell anything. Still, I called the gas company. They had a two week wait to come check a pilot. Two weeks with no air conditioning would be too much especially in the middle of summer. I called the repair company who assured me they could come check but it would be a service call. I agreed as I wanted my air conditioning back. The representative I spoke with said he pulled some strings and could get someone to me between 12:00-2:00 p.m. that day since I was a good customer. 2:00 came and no one showed up, but I did get a call saying the technician was running late and it would be closer to 3:30. Okay, I'd wait it out, as the technician assigned to me had diagnosed the original problem so we already had a working relationship. The technician then called me and asked me to describe the problem as he really didn't want to have to charge me for a service call, after having charged me for the repairs  just the week before. He assured me I would be fine, as the blower, while connected to the furnace, runs independent of the heating unit. And there is no constantly lit gas pilot, I have an electronic ignition. Bless him and his company too.

Writers, like teachers, don't often hear about the impact our words have. Sometimes we get feedback, most times we don't. I can check the statistics page and see the global reach of my blog, and also see which posts are being viewed the most. While I write mostly for me to help organize my thoughts and emotions, I can only hope I am reaching someone somewhere and helping them through something similar. I recently received such a confirmation. A friend on social media recently shared with me how a real life friend of his enjoyed reading my blog. A while back, a different social media friend made it a point to share how much he enjoys our varied interactions and that I had helped and inspired him in many instances. Bless them all.

It is amazing how the Universe recognizes what we need and when. Now, if we only remember to look for it. And sometimes we find it in the most unusual of places.

Nature itself is such a blessing, Skagway AK

Friday, July 22, 2016

Remaining Positive

It's been very difficult to remain positive lately. 

So many things have been running through my mind, causing many emotions to run through my heart. I'm not going to belabor, yet again, a potential relationship having deteriorated. I've beaten that dead horse to a pulp many times over. 

I've tried moving on. It seems it's not even time to do that. So, I guess I won't. Or maybe there's still something I'm supposed to learn or accomplish now. Time will tell, and fucking soon, I hope.

The men I've tried chatting with have, for the most part, turned out to be phony with the exception of just a teeny-tiny handful. I thought I could go along with chatting with the phonies, knowing exactly what they were and what they were after. But, I was only kidding myself. While I wasn't getting attached to them in an emotional/romantic sense, maybe I was in a Platonic way. Or maybe the sheer number of them following the same pattern has been discouraging. Anyway, I am done.

My summer break from teaching has been a bit of a let-down. I had egregious plans of reading, writing, relaxing, traveling and accomplishing those household/life chores that needed more of my attention as I had more free time to accomplish them.

So far, I have managed to:
  • take care of things I needed to-
    • address discrepancies on my credit report;
    • made necessary appointments-financial advisor, optometrist, though I'm avoiding the dentist;
    • deep clean my house; I've yet to tackle the refrigerator and stove;
    • clean out clothes I no longer wear;
    • clean out my office to make it more creativity inducing-well, I started to;
    • service my car due to a recall;
    • replace some of the dead and dying plants in my garden.
  • take care of things I wanted to-
    • have solar panels installed;
    • have my TV mounted on the wall;
    • get out and play with my new camera-okay, I did that only once;
  • take care of things I suddenly had to-
    • repair the air conditioning (so no little day trips due to the unexpected expense);
    I have also managed (in the less productive category) to:
    • binge a couple of old TV shows;
    • start to get caught up on a film franchise I've been wanting to see;
    • become completely turned off to the idea of a relationship-again (see above);
    • become nearly completely disillusioned in humanity at large (see below);
    • become nearly engrossed in some games on my iPad.
    I have yet to crack open a book and read; shame on me, I know. Or sit down and write a plethora of pages on either of my novels. 

    Something else running through my mind/heart is wondering if my sanity will make it through to my projected retirement date of 2020. It is just four years away. But it is still four years of teaching, parents, grades, report cards, conferences, professional development, students and continued attacks on teachers. I am seriously beginning to doubt I will last. Yet, can I afford to retire early? No. I may just have to leap and pray the net will appear.

    The massacre in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida and the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the police officers of Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as all the other attacks around the world have taken a very heavy toll on me. The vehemently venomous vocalizations around this election have also been challenging to listen to and read. As well as the anti-LGBTQ hatred spewing forth from some candidates and their party.

    Maybe its all piled up and hit me so hard because I've been in such an emotional confusion over the directions my life is taking, or seems to be moving in. Or maybe because my empathy is becoming stronger. So much stronger I have semi-jokingly told two people I want to move.

    Far away.

    Very far.

    Like Mars.

    Or at least a cabin in the woods. Alone.

    But, that would solve nothing, as it would all still be in my head. And if society did turn itself around, I would not be aware of it.

    Sometimes things get darkest before the dawn.

    There's always a day after every night.

    A light at the end of the tunnel.

    Can we please just get there?? And soon, please??? 

    It's becoming increasingly difficult to remain positive.

    Or, at a minimum, very overwhelmed...