Weekend Coffee Share, On Relating and Forgiveness

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.

My son and my mother, circa 1997-98.

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!

Weekend Coffee Share, Shifting the Perspective

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Traveler at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/2021/03/26/5-themes-for-a-fun-week/ . The day is warm, and the coffee is on ice. Agnes Obel croons in the background to increase a calm, cool, collected mood. It has been quite a week.

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.

Flashback photo. Many cherished memories!

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.

Smile and think of mad possibilities when you’d rather give up and take a nap.

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!

#WeekendCoffeeShare. What’s New?

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali. Today, I drink green matcha tea, since I had coffee yesterday and experienced some bothersome sciatica. I started the matcha tea in an attempt to improve sleep and stress/anxiety reactions. I do think it helps in the long run, and I allow myself coffee 3 plus times a week. So now, I am experimenting to see if my nerves are calmer with the matcha tea, hoping that means I know one way to keep sciatica at bay. We shall see, right?

Bixby has had a haircut, and good timing, since it was 78 degrees yesterday here in Northeast Florida! It’s supposed to cool off again but won’t be below 40, so it’ll be fine.

The always-poofy tail! #pommix

On New Year’s resolutions

I always liked the idea of New Year’s resolutions. It is a great time to start over and look forward to a better year. I sort of did it differently this year. I’m reading and working on something called A Mindfulness for Beginners Journal. (That’s because, despite trying for fifteen years, I still suck at meditating, but I’ve accepted that some ideas that pop up at the wrong time could still be good ideas). Anyway, this journal gives recommendations on things or ways to ponder and disconnect from worry and the every-day grind. One suggestion was to think on an inspiring mantra, shut my eyes for a certain amount of time, and then write down the mantra or whatever variations occur to my mind.

Perhaps I was not narrow enough or focused enough (which I’m not), and I always break the rules with these ridiculous exercises; still, I will actually own it if I do it my way. I only call them ridiculous because I don’t do them exactly as they are prescribed. I’ll own that too. 🙂 Since mindfulness is a personal thing for all of us, don’t we need to access it in a way that works for us? I was writing each time something good popped into my head, thinking of the things I need to remind myself all throughout this coming year. Here’s what I have, in a quaint little graphic:

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”-quote by Amit Ray, from A MIndfulness for Beginners Journal

Yes, I am enough.

My running joke is that I take selfies merely to document the aging process. Believe what you want. 🙂

My gratitude today is for sleeping well last night, which is overall much better for my sciatica. They say practicing gratitude is a great way to stem off or fight anxiety, which I believe affects the nerve pain of sciatic. I will make it so. My belief is that, day after day, I can make a difference in this world while honoring my own needs and boundaries. I will make it so!

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for stopping by. I hope your life is wonderful, and I’d love to hear what you feel gratitude for during, and despite, this COVID pandemic.

Peace!

Weekend Coffee Share, Grateful for Each Day

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali. Pull up a chair and grab your favorite beverage! My ‘coffee shop’ has a cute pup wandering around, and in the background, music plays by the band, LIVE, particularly, my favorite song lyrics:

Don’t try to find an answer

when the the truth’s already here

don’t let your heart be wounded

Show no mercy to your fear.

****

Quite appropro, as I had to meet my traffic anxiety face-to-face this holiday season.

Scenes from my Thanksgiving: I proudly drive two hours straight through Georgia and then (respectfully) require my boyfriend, Kenny to drive I-95 in S. Carolina. At a rest stop in Santee, my bro grills hot dogs and we have chips too, before he ushers my mom up to Raleigh, N.C. I gratefully ride home with Kenny having avoided an 8 hour trip alone with my mom and my traffic anxiety. (If I needed a break, her driving would also cause me great anxiety). You see, I could have gone up to N.C. with my mom, but, you can infer why I preferred not to, and my brother and his wife don’t get much time visiting alone with Mom. By the way, what is up with I-95 in South Carolina? Everybody seems to take that route north during the Thanksgiving holiday, and it is just TWO AGONIZING lanes. That scene is just not for me, and let’s suffice it to say, I am honoring and setting my own limits….

Thursday, I effectively teach Kenny’s 83-year-old dad how to take a picture with my cell phone! His smile was wonderful! Carb-laden food is consumed and I laze around. I let my son drive me later on and I get scared half to death because of his involuntary tics…which also add to my anxiety and I don’t know how he can white-knuckle it and tell me “It’s nothing.” He won’t get checked out. I sometimes fear it is a lingering result of his head injury from 2017. It is in his hands, also in God’s hands, I suppose. I pray it is not as awful as it appears to me. Friday, I avoid shopping malls and do nothing but dog play, yoga, and laundry.

On the note of anxiety, I am starting to re-read the book, Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. It speaks of Toxic anxiety (so prominent in our world today), Natural anxiety (think of wildlife, ready to fight or self-protect), and Sacred anxiety (involving fear of death or that our time is running out to fulfill our purpose). It is brilliant, faith-based and Science- based, so all-around perfect in my book, and I highly recommend it if you are trying to achieve/ maintain balance or calm in your life.

I am not writing much as far as progress on a novel, but I already decided this next one will take some time, and I will give it time to marinate. However, I seem to churn out poetry now and then and a short story or two. Here is a recent poem I posted on my blog about ‘knowing thyself’ and honoring yourself during the start of a hectic holiday season. Check it out here: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2020/11/26/slow-down-and-grow/

Thank you for stepping into my world and catching up for coffee today. I hope you all have a great week!