Welcome to Day 7 of #RRBC’S ’20 WC&BE SPONSORS BLOG TOUR!
I am proud to be hosting Author John Podlaski!
Title: When Can I Stop Running?
2019 KCT RRBC Runner-Up Silver Award Winner #RRBC 2020 Rave Review awards: BOOK OF THE YEAR
The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers – impressionable Detroit teenagers – during their long night in a Listening Post (‘LP’), some 200 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a “human early warning system”, is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the “Iron Triangle” and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as “bait for the enemy” and “sacrificial lambs”.
Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle – with visibility at less than two feet – John’s imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories – innocent, but equally terrifying at the time.
As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.
Author bio: John served in Vietnam during 1970 and 1971 as an infantryman with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the 501st Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He has spent the years since Vietnam working in various management positions within the automotive industry and has recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. John is a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 and lives with his wife, Janice, in Sterling Heights, Michigan. They own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage and are both members of the Great Lakes Chapter of South East Michigan Harley Owner’s Group. Both retired in 2013 and enjoy not working anymore. John has authored and published four books on Amazon: “Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel”, “When Can I Stop Running?”, “Unhinged”, and “Unwelcomed”. He is currently working on a sequel to “When Can I Stop Running?”
Thank you for supporting the books and authors along the RRBC ’20 WC&BE SPONSORS BLOG TOUR! These authors are generous in their support of others so we want to show our support of them in return. You may follow along each day of the tour by visiting the tour’s home page. Be sure to leave a comment below to ensure that you have a chance at winning a $20 Amazon Gift Card!
Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.
WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer. Good morning! Join me with my V8 and green matcha tea. Yesterday was coffee day, and I needed it to handle that middle school energy. It is gray outside, but my home cafe is playing The Bandit, new from The Kings of Leon, and it brightens my spirit. That voice…From their new song, Supermarket:”I’m going nowhere, if you’ve got the time.” Why, yes, yes I do. Needless to say, their new album is on my Youtube playlist.
This song played on my car radio yesterday on my way home from work. It had been such a stressful day, and if I’m not careful, I’ll feel old because of it…but I am resisting! The Bandit reminds me of a mix of INXS and U2, bringing thoughts of the Spring of my 15th year, a time of so many changes. Changes are not easy, but they are the hallmark of growth. So, I am going to focus on that today instead of talking about the stresses of my job. I feel I am managing them appropriately, and that’s all I need to say on that today. 🙂
I am surrounded by middle-schoolers going through vast changes, some growing wiser with their struggles, some consistent and solid yet growing taller or exhibiting voice changes. Others are struggling and reacting, and all I can do is try to reach them. I remember a lot of my ups and downs in the pre-teen and teen years and am able to look back and see the good in it all. This is a part of my job, to empathize and treat them with understanding. Again, if I focus on this instead of the stress of teaching in a pandemic in a system that does not have adequate resources, for instance, only two guidance counselors for a school of 1200 students. I play many parts at times and have learned to embrace that.
My son seems to be doing well on his own. His job and responsibilities are perhaps keeping him focused. I text him every morning. He always replies quickly. So, I know he is waking up and going to work. Working keeps him on a straight path, gives him purpose, and this is good. His 25th birthday is Monday. Yikes! So many memories will come back. My doctor, the doctor who delivered him, is retiring this year. Fitting, in the year my son is reaching for independence. May this reach be successful!
Have a great weekend, friends and fellow bloggers! Keep it light, keep it hopeful, and always carry some sort of shovel for the days that the murky depths which you must navigate are especially thick and deep. We’ve got this! Namaste!
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer, accompanied by the music of Agnes Obel. It’s a good day to invite tranquility in. I’m getting my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today and following up an eventful, slightly stressful wake packed full with just, well, too much for my liking. Still, I managed.
State testing was the first challenge, though nothing compared to handling the emotions of my son moving out ON THE VERY SAME DAY. However, I focused all day on the positives and paced the aisles as the students whittled away at their thoughts and words for a state writing test. My ex had flown down to help my son move and get all things in order as possible. The students had my attention; I kept the thoughts at bay. I felt happy that my son is stepping into independence, happy that I may have a new sort of freedom now that my son is moving out on his own. All the while acknowledging that I felt relief and a little worry at the same time, but knowing that this is a necessary step.
I got to see it after work on Wednesday. The place is small, a studio apartment, but the landlords put in a new stove and ceiling fan. There is faux wood flooring which looks very nice. He got his bed and long dresser in there, has to keep his bike inside, and there’s a bookshelf. There is no room for a sofa. Mom and I decided to get him some folding cloth chairs and TV trays.
After seeing the place, my ex-husband took me, my mom, and my son out to eat a steak dinner. My son was so tired, and my ex was talking a lot about details and ways my son could improve his life, get a car, etc. I’ve mentioned before that my son had a bad car accident three years ago. He also has a mood disorder that is mostly kept in check. He gets lost in the details, and it is not wise to throw too many at him at once. He truly needs to take it one day at a time, but I am proud of how he lined up all he needed to do to get this apartment. He does not have a high-paying job but makes enough to pay me rent, so now he’ll see what true independence is.
It is true that my ex-husband can worry a detail down to a fine thread. Sadly, I guess that is one thing we had in common. He is more of a “You’ve got to do this” sort of person. I am more of a “You need to do this, and if you don’t get that done, what is your back-up plan?” gal. Obviously, we did not get along well enough to stay married; it only lasted 5 years, so dating and marriage for us lasted seven years, and my son was only 2 1/2 years old when I had to leave that marriage, after two failed marital counseling attempts. I felt controlled, manipulated, trapped. He would get onto me about who I befriended and talk them down to me, also accusing me of affairs with male co-workers (which did not happen at all). He stressed me out a lot.
In the years we were together, I had some depression, had a rough post-partum year, and his drinking was problematic. Sometimes I wonder if stress during pregnancy led to my son’s emotional state. I have often been very wary of my ex when he’s back around. I sent my son to live with him one summer six years ago, and it did not go well at all; my son was anxious to come back a month later. I have to try to avoid blame, yet I do feel I’ve forgiven him.
There’s a funny thing about forgiveness. It means “to grant pardon” or “cease to feel resentment.” It is healthy for us, they say, and can prevent the toxicity of such feelings to ruin us. Still, I want to point out that forgiveness does not mean letting down boundaries, which exist for a good reason: self-preservation. In my past year of self-improvement and looking inward, I have been re-establishing and exercising boundaries in relationships with family, at work, and with others. You can forgive someone, but still keep the boundary up. I’ve given past relationships a second chance and learned things didn’t work the first time for a reason. It is not a lesson lost.
My mother is impressed in the changes she sees in my ex. Yes, I’ll admit there is some goodness in that man and he seems to have straightened up. He is here when my son really needs him. I am allowing him to do that. He bought a microwave and some other things for my son’s apartment. The two of them may be bounding, and that’s good. So, I sat at dinner and enjoyed it whole-heartedly, telling him what a handsome son we have and how I love my son.
It is notable that, I have been divorced from my ex for twenty-two years. I dated a few other men after, but I have currently been dating the same man, Kenny, for eleven years now. That relationship provides me some freedom to be my own person and has allowed me to determine what I want: to come forward in my writing, to communicate with the world instead of hiding. I relate to others more freely and have found it benefits my teaching by showing I care and have empathy, benefits how I relate to co-workers, and not being afraid of relating to others makes me feel better about myself. I had a past full of secrets kept from my mom, a therapist, friends. Where I learned I shouldn’t tell my husband everything for fear of being judged or having it spun out of context. I have learned I’m imperfect but pretty awesome as I am.
My current boyfriend, Kenny, has boundaries and likes an amount of time to himself. I am finding that, so do I. Therefore, I am happy with all that has come about. I do wish some things had happened differently and had gone better for my son, but I am going to make the best of today and perhaps make it better.
So, I sat across from my ex-husband, with my son to the left of me who looked quite tired from working the usual hours and moving in the afternoon. My mother was to the right of me, raising a glass of wine, wishing for a good transition and new life opportunities, smiling at us all. I smiled and thanked my ex-husband for the dinner. I hugged my son and said “I love you” as they left. Then, I went to Target and happily bought some chairs and TV trays to support my son in his move.
Thursday I had a usual workday with Spring-springy middle schoolers and evening time to myself for exercising. Friday after work, I had dinner and caught up on my sleep. It has also been a wake-up-at-2 a.m. and struggle to sleep again week. I made up for it last night. So, this morning it is coffee and a vaccine shot at 11 a.m. I look forward to more rest later!
Have a good weekend, my friends. I wish you all a reconciliation with your past events and/or decisions, a present that cannot be controlled but only appreciated, and a belief in a hopeful future!
It’s 9:59 a.m. here in Jacksonville, Florida and sitting at about 50 degrees. Nonetheless, our Florida sun is shining vigorously. My coffee is half-caff with almond milk and honey. Have whatever you like and join in the conversation!
Please excuse my bedhead, however. 🙂 I slept until 9:30 this morning. Sleep: what a glorious thing it is! There was a brief wake-up when I heard my son’s alarm and his shower running. I had to take the phone and knock on the bathroom door so he would make it stop; evidently I don’t know how. He was out the door and went to the gym. I returned to the world of dreams. I needed that sleep. Work has been hectic and life with my grown son at home has been taxing.
He’s moving out next week. This should be a good thing for my stress levels. However, he has been bullheaded and agitated leading up to this move. His move was at my request, though I thought he’d take a few months to save up. He won’t be far away, so that’s good. Still, he is increasingly irritated when I ask questions or give him reminders, as if he is offended and just can’t wait to get away from me. Well, I worry. I’ll have to give myself a number, and that is the number of times I’m allowed to contact him during the week. Only one or two, and I’ll have to stick to it, because I know it’s better for my own health and well-being. There have been too many near-misses, mishaps, ER visits and accidents that I have seen him through. You may be thinking, I see why you worry then. However, he’ll be twenty-five in two weeks. It is time for his next phase, and I can just hope he will step up and show more maturity with spending and responsibility to take care of himself.
I am one of those people who can get really tense, and I’ve been feeling that. It leads to more aches and pains, something I’m quite familiar with, having had several of my own injuries and in the last few years, having been diagnosed with arthritis and now, poly-arthritis. I was tested for RA and it came up negative, which is good. I’ve had my share of accidents and slips that may lead to recurring pain as well. I’ve read a lot about healing and dealing with emotions that may have surrounded an incident. I’m trying. I don’t think the pain is strictly emotional, but that these things react to each other. Part of my healing is likely dealing with past emotions and putting them in their place (which is a raging, burning dumpster that I will send off into a mysterious river by night).
My childhood emotions aside, and the numerous times of teen imbalance when I just fell off of stairs out of the blue aside, the first thing I remember is a car accident with my friend driving at age 20 when my head hit her windshield. I had no seatbelt on. I seemed okay, the paramedic said I looked catatonic, but no medical treatment. I made a little crack on her windshield.
When I was 24, living in Tulsa during my ill-fated engagement before my ill-fated marriage, I slipped and fell on my back on some ice. Also at this time, I caught a TV on my knee at work when a fellow salesman was trying to hook it up and it slipped out of the cabinet. I had gotten on my knees hoping to catch it with my hands and use my knee as backup. Stupid things we do in our youth, you know. My not reporting it was also stupid.
At age 25, I was married, and my husband was driving the car behind a foolish young girl who kept breaking. He sped to get in front of her. We had to stop in a long line of cars, but she just barreled into the back of us, and we had a ten car fender bender. I got x-rays and had physical therapy that time.
Let’s make a long story short, and I’ll sum it up with, a few more car accidents, one of them in 2016 setting off anxiety in me and possibly causing some lingering claustrophobia. Then, there’s the one my son was in that landed him in trauma and ICU for a few days with a head injury. I was not involved, but waiting in the ER with no word of his condition for a few hours and then hearing the details of the accident caused me to envision it all in my mind, and how it could have ended up differently. He suffers no recall of the actual accident to this day.
Until a few moments ago, I had written event by event, and then my laptop froze, forcing me to exit out and come back into WordPress to finish. I’ve lost a few paragraphs. Maybe it helped me to get it all out but would not have helped my readers. Suffice it to say, the physical injuries we sustain are not as harmful until we emotionally take them to heart. Our emotional reaction to our injuries can impede our healing. Dealing with our emotions can really aid our physical healing.
I’ve spent a few days this week starting my morning with morning meditations through the DARE app (for addressing anxiety) and Youtube videos of positive affirmations involving gratitude for everything that is wonderful. I had no idea my post today would seem as dark as it is, but sometimes you throw the bottle into the ocean and it goes its own way, goes with the tides, or takes a path determined by fate. I do see the need for more gratitude. I promise you I will soon write the post, as it is long overdue. Now I am trying to get motivated to get my exercise in today.
Thank you for bearing with me as the subject took a turn today. I suppose it’s what I needed to talk about. What are you going through? Perhaps some of you can relate to my struggles as of late. I am not fearful; I am making progress. There is hope in that! Have a great Easter weekend, and enjoy the holiday or the coming of Spring, whichever you celebrate.
But then there is the process of becoming an adult,
And the moments of awakening you may be fortunate enough to reach.
You are influenced by the words you choose to let in, you influence the world with the words you send forth and share, and you may negate the power of any words aimed at you or nurture them in your heart and soul. Don’t grow and nurture the vitriolic words that bring you down.
Nurture in your heart the words that help you grow as a person, just like a flower grows toward the sunlight.
This thought comes to me on this Holy Week as we head toward Easter weekend, and I feel I’ve been neglecting my faith.
Perhaps a change is coming, or maybe this is just a phase. Hopefully, we are near the end of COVID’s rule over our lives, and I can get back to fellowship with my church friends instead of watching church or talking to heads on a screen when I actually choose to participate in Book Club. The fellowship sometimes feels two- dimensional in this era, but of course, that’s just me being like a stubborn child when my routine is upset and the things that I like change. So, I’ll ask forgiveness for that, but I will not judge myself for the way that I am.
The stories of the love of Jesus fed my childhood imagination. The judgment of my childhood church stifled my growth. Nonetheless, I am past that paradox and I hold the stories of Jesus dear.
On this Easter weekend, I feel it is helpful to think of what Jesus would do. He would live my troubled son no matter what. He’d work to get along with those who seem difficult to take. I don’t always feel up to it, but it’s worth a try.
I started today listening to a positive affirmations recording. It was an awesome start to my day. I don’t feel very churchy lately, but I am seeing the benefits of putting the right words in our mind. So I’m going to try to frame my life with words of gratitude.
I am not only dealing with rambunctious kids overwhelmed by the scent of Spring , the encroaching state tests, and my own allergies, but some family stress has given me hard lessons in parenting. You do know that once a parent, you are a parent for life, right? It is so hard to stand back when they are going through a hard time.
You cannot create peace in someone else’s mind. You can only be an example of how you will not let their sparks of agitation burn your calm down. It is exhausting to think and not react, to feel love even when you feel spit on. It’s also hard to let go as a parent, and to acknowledge the hurt and the love you feel, leaving space for both at the same time. Suffice it to say, I felt disrespected by my adult son (24 going on 12) and told him to save up, he had two months to move out.
He decided he would apply for an apartment right away and try to move out next week. He has his eye on some cheap apartments just down the road. He will have to ride his bike to work, as he has not gotten his own car since the accident that totaled his car and gave him a brain injury three years ago. He does need to experience true independence, so I know I cannot talk him out of it, and part of me does not want to. Yet part of me does, and I am not listening. I start to worry.
Worry is one of my traits and character flaws. It is distracting from real-life tasks. I am working on meditation. Trying not to ponder too much on whether he’ll take his meds as needed and be careful where he goes, eat healthy and live a healthy life, not the partier lifestyle. I could worry on any little thing, so the meditation is pretty necessary for me right now. I have an app called DARE (an app that addresses anxiety), and there are some really helpful meditations or information sessions there. Worrying about the future is a waste of time.
I am not just a parent. I am a writer, which is mostly consisting of blogging right now, and that’s just where I am at the moment. In looking at my life right now, I have to shift the periscope for another perspective. I am an English teacher of middle schoolers, and I mostly enjoy that. Still, I have to make myself remember the good that I instilled in my son, and believe that all of it will overwhelm the headstrong stubbornness of a young adult. While I have expressed that work can be stressful, I always try to maintain an accepting atmosphere in my classroom and to build relationship, to know them and make them feel part of a community, and that can be so rewarding!
It seems I may fail with some, but others, and even some whole classes, seem to feel the strength of community or at least appreciate my efforts. I believe in them as well. Some are so brilliant! At times I make corny jokes and tell them the teaching platform is just practice for my future live comedy career. 🙂 I can get going and talk fast, I always thought it was anxiety brain but my doctor thinks it could also be an attention deficit. I talk about these things with some of my students. Many of them know what these issues are like. Perhaps I can be a good example of functioning regardless. (So I hope). 🙂
When I relate to my students, I sometimes forget my worries. I get the feeling of being a stepping stone and learning experience in their lives. To let them know I’m glad to see them, I use my imagination and call them my little rays of sunshine, bright shining moonbeams, dragons, or butterflies. (Their choice). Some do not identify as the assigned gender. I have had to learn this; It is 2021 and I’ve been teaching 21 years. Things are different now. I must be mindful of whom I call a boy or a girl. So I’ll say, ‘Boys and girls or NBs (for non-binaries), listen up!’ They approve. I purposely called someone the wrong name who just laughed, then I started adding the wrong name behind his real name, and he just laughs.
Yesterday, I had another student request that I add a syllable to their name! I thought it was sweet, a way I can make someone feel special. There are some really bright kids in some of my classes, but they are all special, just in different ways. So, of course I’ve added a syllable which happens to be what her dad calls her, so she likes it! Now I have more to remember. I’m always trying new things to be sure I challenge the brightest gifted children while using strategies to motivate those at grade-level or just getting there. It’s safe to say, they challenge me as well. I appreciate that; my job is not boring, my life is challenging and motivates me to wake up daily. Those who may misbehave at times also challenge me to always show acceptance, one of the most important things in life.
Not only that, but the Newspaper Club I am sponsoring at school provides an outlet for ideas. It seems to decrease the burnout I could get from FSA test prep and prescribed teaching methods as well as antsy Springtime behavior in middle schoolers.
I feel I have digressed, as I often do. It’s just that, these extra syllables and NB nicknames as well as the bright students are giving me good moments that will become memories during the challenges of my life….as well as lessons learned. It is a wonderful life when you can teach others and keep learning from the experience as well! Maybe it is actually possible I am reaching these students socially and emotionally and building an accepting community. So now let’s shift the periscope again to another perspective that can also be viewed brightly: I have many reasons to be grateful, and raising a son who has been a challenge is just one of them. Maintaining an accepting relationship with him but giving independence shall be another, I am sure.
Thank you for reading my Weekend Coffee Share! Writing is so cathartic for me. I also love poetry, where I can just feel things and be completely metaphorical if I like. Maybe you can tell by my love for butterflies and dragons. 🙂 I can be either, depending on my mood. I am allowed. I hope you have a wonderful week!
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Traveler. After some stretching of tired, sore legs, I did some work related things on the computer this morning with the dog by my feet, matcha tea in hand. Work is weighing on my mind. Not only is our state planning to do state testing, but they are asking teachers to come up with all sorts of extra ideas to make up for losses through the pandemic.
I feel I have made progress with learning to know my students and to make them feel understood. I also teach English Language Arts, a subject in which texts can have multiple interpretations.
I feel a little stressed, maybe the students do as well. All that matters is that they do their best. Most of what I write in these last weeks is short bursts of emotion. I’ve penned my thoughts for students during this era, and I’d like to share.
You are more than a test score. You are a moving ecosystem full of brain networks and emotions, and yes, personality. While preparing for a test and doing your best can reflect your brain ability and even what kind of person you are, those few answers you got wrong on the last test do not devalue all of your efforts and hard work. Nor do they hold you back from doing better next time.
You are much more than a test score. You are your determination and fortitude that got you this far through a pandemic, some of you going through quarantine or illness of family members. You are your force of will that got you through the hard times, your personal and spiritual growth (even when nothing makes sense) that moves you to do the right thing and treat others decently and try your hardest, even at things that only pay off in the future and not now.
You are your strength that helps you to never give up and keep on trying even when it seems impossible. That is the most anyone can ask of you.
A Tired Teacher in the COVID era
***It’s Saturday, and I promise to do nothing else work-related today. Now I’m heading out for a long overdue pedicure.
Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, Spring break edition! It’s a beautiful Spring day, my porch foor is wide open, and birds are regaling me with their song. My dog even slept late today! I must confess, my Spring Break has been more Emily Dickinson-like than Kerouac inspired.
Allergies have kept me indoors for much of the week. Being off work has allowed me a lot of time to nap, thank goodness. Being an educator, I am pretty careful and got a COVID test Tuesday. The results were negative, so of course, I am just having an allergic reaction to the exuberance and re-birth of nature. It is getting better, otherwise my porch door would not be open. Still, I’m sort of regretful that I could not get out and enjoy nature much. I won’t let it weigh on me too heavily. I’ve had coffee with honey several days this week, knowing that it would not overtake my lethargy, and I was right!
Yesterday, I sat out in my yard, half in the sun, half in the garage, with my loyal dog at my side. He loves to sniff the smells of nature, and today, he is listening to the birds on alert mode. Maybe he can interpret their song?
I did do some reading this week for a book club I participate in; the book was Of Mice and Men, a re-read for me. It’s fairly short, a plus for someone whose focus is challenged like mine is; it’s rough when I’m juggling the teaching requirements, and it’s rough when my sinuses are affecting my brain. At any rate, I love Steinbeck’s descriptions of the countryside, and it is interesting how a dream and a goal could keep an easily agitated man (Lennie) focused. This book could be interpreted so many ways, and I recall how the ending bothered me when I read it as a teen. Steinbeck threw quite a punch; he is an excellent writer.
It has been about a week since I worked on the Ellie novel. You can imagine how unfocused I have felt all week. Still, I am not out of sorts. All things must take their time: allergic rhinitis, writing a novel, pollination of our naturescape. I have a photographer friend who takes marvelous photos of bees, flowers, and landscapes, so I’ve been enjoying those sights from afar. I did write a short poem mid-week in response to the #RDP word prompt: Pursuit. I chose a minimalist approach. You can view the poem here: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/in-pursuit-of/
Upon feeling a little better yesterday, I made an appointment and will get my COVID vaccine shot today; I just have to drive a little further. My voice is still raspy, but I do not feel feverish, congested, and lethargic like I did days ago. Hopefully, the after-effects won’t be so bad, but I am sure more rest will be in order.
Once I am fully vaccinated, I plan to participate more actively in the world around me, which seems to be in full swing here in Florida. For now, I am drinking juice and getting my rest so I can be back to work next week with a voice that commands respect, authority, and, yes, understanding.