Weekend Coffee Share, Milestones

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.

Yesterday morning, feeling the winds of Spring, I wrote this poem in response to my sometimes tired, challenged by middle schoolers, yet rejuvenated by the few who appreciate me feelings: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2021/04/16/spirit/

Age 15.

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!

Memories and Milestones! 1996

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!

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, Health: Body and Mind

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

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.

My sidekick and source of relaxation and play. Circa 2016

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.

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!

Weekend Coffee Share,  Not a Number.

My regular coffee buddy!

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.

Dear student,

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.

Signed,

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.

Weekend Coffee Share, Lounging Around

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.

Weekend Coffee Share. Bursting the Bubble

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Today I’m having half-caff coffee. It has been green matcha tea pretty much all week. I’ve been trying to imbibe just healthy things and sleep well at night. I slept in today and feel I can handle the coffee; life is short, right?

It has been a full, busy week at work with the end of quarter progress monitoring tests. It always means we must be on a modified schedule, which seriously throws me off. I believe I have a slight touch of OCD, because I like to know when certain things are happening, and where to find things, in order. It’s probably a byproduct of anxiety, if that’s possible. I know those two things can co-occur at any rate. The change in routine leaves me seriously tired in the afternoon. I survived the week, though, somehow, and Spring Break starts in seven days!

Tuesday morning I woke at 4 a.m. and didn’t sleep again. I had a therapy appointment and dentist visit. I took medicine for a tension headache, and it helped. I got home and ate dinner, then just relaxed. I remember my boyfriend calling and that at one point, I said “I’m not really able to talk much. I’m soooo tired.” He said I kept falling asleep on the phone. I believe it.

I did something difficult Sunday, and I’m proud of myself for taking the risk… My studies on pain, anxiety, and repressed emotions, learned from books by Schubiner and Sarno, have reinforced what my metaphysical friend told me once: “You’re holding in resentment from the past. It’s what has caused some of your health issues.” (I’ve had cysts in several places, had some removed, and was told 10 years ago I had one on my liver that could not be removed and might just deflate on its own, and not to worry. No sweat, right?) I know I’ve had resentment for my ex-husband, my almost fiance of 2005, sometimes my mom, and yes, my dad.

My dad is a recovered alcoholic, active in AA since 1989, which is very admirable. I was out of high school then. But when I was a child, he was ‘drunk dad,’ man without a filter, a little sexist and careless as to how his words would shape me as a person. Some of those words stayed with me for so long. It comes up in therapy a lot. I think of bubbles of resentment inside me, burping them up, internalizing them as cysts, and I think of bursting a bubble of resentment. I metaphorically stuck in the needle and started that process Sunday.

When you’re a child, you kind of live in the world your parents create for you. Maybe that’s why I am so keen on creating worlds now, and creating an atmosphere for my students in my classroom. As a child, you might easily stuff things down. Maybe you learn that you can speak up for yourself, but I did not. Mom’s religion taught me to turn the other cheek and be ladylike. Dad’s blackhole of a philosophy taught me to try really hard to be good out of fear of his temper, but his words taught me that I was a growing female fit to be mocked for the changes occurring to me, and that I was not good enough–to get a training bra, to wear bright lipstick, to gain a few pounds and still be beautiful. I brought it all up Sunday. Does it seem to you I was carting out past skeletons that are already dead? Well, they’ve been rattling around in my head inside that imaginary bubble.

At age 15, pictured with my brother.

I’m ready to bury past beliefs I developed from my childhood that caused me to date jerks and marry a man who was a mess and latched onto me for a sense of normalcy, yet blamed me for so much and held me back with his possessive nature. Past beliefs made me keep quiet when I felt wronged or when I saw something going on that I knew was wrong. I expressed all of this to my dad, (on one of our weekly long-distance calls) and he said he didn’t remember most if it, (not surprising from a foggy, rum-soaked mind), but he was sorry.

He said that he was sorry, and he thanked me for telling him these things. No admonishing me for trying to give a guilt trip (something I’d heard him say years and years ago). I am a grown woman past the age of forty, but I still remember being a small eight-year-old, being an awkward ten, being 13 with some baby-fat, turning fifteen and noticing I suddenly had hips, graduating from college and wearing red lipstick, which I thought looked very striking and daring. I remember all of that and should not have been ashamed of the changes I went through. His upbringing did not need to become my upbringing, but I can break through all of that! If I wear daring clothes or bright lipstick, it doesn’t mean I should be labeled. It doesn’t say anything about me except I felt daring that day. And now he and I have an understanding.

College graduation, age 23. Even with bright lipstick, it’s still me!

I said, “I haven’t felt like I really know you in ages…you’re not the man I grew up with. Sometimes you still joke with me like you’re really comfortable, but I am not comfortable with you. I’ve been afraid to tell you how I feel or if I’m upset about something, because you live states away and we might become even more distant. But lately, we’ve just had phone calls in which I tell you I’m in therapy but not what I’m discovering about me and why I am this way or about the way I want things to be. And I’ve felt that if I’m not comfortable really telling you these things, I don’t really know you at all–which makes me just not want to talk to you.”

I know men have had their own narrow gender identities taught to them and reinforced through fear or religious guilt, especially those of my generation or the one before it. I had a lot of that, too. I couldn’t say ‘crap’ for fear it would be unladylike, as if I was disobeying the Lord by doing so. It taught me I could not express anger; likewise, a young man may have been brought up thinking he could not wear pink or express sadness. Well, bursting this bubble has freed me somewhat from that thinking as well. Thank God, the changing tides of time have also loosened these definitions and judgments!

So, you, dear reader, may have never met me before, you may somewhat know me, or you may know of me. I do not mind you knowing these things. Maybe you had a similar upbringing, maybe you suffer ongoing, chronic pain/tension or anxiety. Anxiety can run through the DNA, it can develop from your upbringing, or may be a reaction to a temporary lifestyle. But I feel that acknowledging and letting out things that make you uncomfortable or anxious can loosen the grip anxiety holds on you. Maybe you’re still young, but I want you to know, life can get better, and this is the one joy of adulthood. You CAN take charge. I’ve often worried what people think of me, but I do not want to be fake. I have struggled, and I have overcome many things. That makes me incredibly strong, and why would I be ashamed of that, ever?

I have burst a bubble of silence and fear, for I am not afraid to be who I am, to acknowledge where I came from, to change the parts of it I feel were wrong, and to feel proud of what I have done with all that I was taught and all I was given. The bubble has been burst and that which festered will leave me, in a sneeze, in a conversation, or when I spit out my toothpaste. I don’t expect it to happen all at once, but I am confident that it will not rule me anymore.

Thank you for reading my Weekend Coffee Share. I’ve been a writer for a while for many purposes. I have a book in the works, and I write blog entries and poetry. Here is my most recent poem on kindness: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/cake-it-poetry/

Have a a great weekend and an even better week to follow!

Weekend Coffee Share.  Let Me Introduce You

To me… Every week on Saturday, bloggers participate in a Weekend Coffee Share. It is now hosted by Natalie the Explorer at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/2021/03/05/doors-in-morocco/ I join in this worldwide, virtual Coffee Share almost weekly. Since I am joining a new group of bloggers, and you, reader, may not have been here before, introductions may be in order. You see, Weekend Coffee Share can help fill the need for social connection during the COVID lockdown and social distancing era.

Last Saturday (or the week before) Iwelcomed readers in to my imaginary cafe complete with fuzzy dog, sun through window blinds,  and Nina Simone playing in the background. If we had just met in this cafe, you’d likely see me writing, as I am working on another book when the muse (and my focus) revisits me. How would the conversation go? (Please don’t mind if I assign you a part in this play):

“What are you writing?” You’d ask.

“Oh, just notes, ideas, reflections on my sleep schedule,  what’s working and what’s not, same with managing my anxiety…what’s working and what’s not. Ideas for my book in progress and some observations that could one day become stories or books.”

I realize you might wonder why I just told you all that. “I’m not ashamed of my struggles, but I guess some of that was all TMI.” I chuckle, as I’m older now and worry much less about being judged.

“I’m a writer too,” you say, “here on Spring Break.” When asked, you tell me you’re from Massachusetts, not surprising due to your accent,  which is great, because, I tell you, “I’m sort of from New England.”

“What do you mean, ‘sort of?'” you ask.

“My dad was military, so we moved from California,  to Illinois,  to Minnesota with family,  to Iceland,  then Virginia,  then here. Everyone says I sound like I’m from New England. Lived there from age 5 to 8.”

“Do you work another job, or just write?”

“I teach middle school, and have done so for twenty years. I write when the spirit moves me, which, these days, is sporadically. My focus is not as good as it used to be, but I sponsor a News Club at school. I love encouraging kids to write!”

“What else do you do?”

“Well, I enjoy time with family,  I have a twenty-four year old son, and my dog. Having a social life is rare these days with COVID.” I  smile under my mask, using my eyes. You are young,  and I  can’t tell if you’re male or female,  not for sure.

Your coffee is ready. “What is a good thing to do while I’m here?” you ask. “My friend will be here to meet me in a few minutes.”

“Go to the beach. The water will still be chilly,  but it’s really pleasant for a walk right now. Great for people-watching,  too. We’ve got some nice national parks with trails,  too. I’m overdue for a beach walk. Whenever I go for one, all worries disappear…I become a happy idiot.”

Circa 2006.

You tell me that sounds great, but you’d prefer to play some beach volleyball with a bunch of co-eds. Then your friend arrives, a young woman, probably also in college.  I’m amazed at how much I’ve told you. I’ve come a long way since college. I still don’t know your gender and decide that it doesn’t matter.

“Thanks for chatting with me, Ma’am,” you say, as I cringe. I don’t want to be a ma’am, as if I’m responsible for what you think of me, and you’ve decided to be ‘carefully’ well-mannered around me. As if I could be your mother. (Oh, guess I could). I’m still not Southern like that. Your friendly chatter was good enough for me.

“Just call me Pam.”

“Okay,” you say. “I’m Joe.”

Or was it Jo? Short for Josephine, like in Little Women? Oh, what does it matter? I could have asked, but it didn’t matter. I just enjoyed the company.

Fictionally and virtually, it has been nice meeting meet you. I hope we meet up in this ‘cafe’ again. If not, I wish you the best in your journeys! Today, it is dreary outside, and after a great night’s sleep, er…read that as passing out on the couch after a crazy, loud week-before-Spring-break teaching week, I am enjoying coffee with creamer after my cereal with blueberries and banana.

Feel free to peruse my blog to find out about books I’ve written, and if you check out my prior posts, you’ll find some interesting reads about my journey through health , anxiety issues, life changes, reaching students, family co-existence, fun with my dog, mental health (my own and my loved ones), etc. My journey is a path to a good place, and I want to be a voice that reaches other voices who may have felt the same, may need commonality, may benefit from my honesty, or may tell me what works for them.

**My title is a reference to my current favorite song, Caution by The Killers. Partial lyrics:

Let me introduce you to the featherweight queen

she’s got Hollywood eyes but she can’t shoot what she sees….

I’m throwing caution, what’s it’s gonna be

Tonight the winds of change are blowing wild and free…

Fearless, it what that song says to me. Though it seems to be a love song, the speaker wants to make a change, and “get out of this town.” You certainly have to be brave and honest with yourself first to make a change. For me, dropping caution means to end fear about sharing myself, my story, or my heart with others. Be brave, know yourself, and be yourself, without shame.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

Weekend Coffee Share. Cafe Music and Pre-Springtime State of Mind

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share! The sun is shining through the window blinds on this crisp morning, and the cafe is the place to be! My ‘cafe’ is currently playing songs by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, and there’s a click of my dog moving about on the floor until he settles at my feet again. It all sounds heavenly to me. I haven’t “hung out” in a real cafe in quite some time. So, I’ve created my own. We’ll converse virtually.

It’s a coffee drinking day! I have abstained from coffee for the last four days, due to my desire for better sleep and less anxiety or stress tension. I don’t think coffee is the whole problem, but I promised myself I would drink the green matcha tea more often, as it fuels me enough and is supposedly healthier. Still, this is my reward today, since I slept great last night and actually, most nights this week. Coffee goes so well with Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” Piano and/or horns and a sultry voice just bring Spring closer to my heart.

Spring is scratching on our car windows, flirtatiously telling us she is near. “Be ready,” she calls. A rainy week has washed a lot of pollen off of our cars and into the streets. Florida is confused, but heck, that is nothing new. Having lived here since I was eight (with an 8 month misled venture out to OK for the sake of love), I’m used to it. Last night it got close to the thirties but our Florida sun is brightening this day.

I went along, day after day this week with a number of gray, rainy days. Having Monday off was great. Wednesday after school I had the Newspaper Club meeting. We accomplished a lot, I believe! Some are unsure of themselves with writing, so I pair them up, and it has helped. I am trying to make it a welcome place for anyone to find their voice. This was the third week. On the evenings after Newspaper Club, I am pretty tired. I get to bed and fall asleep with ease, and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I get right to sleep. It is good work, something that I am enthused about and that is turning out to be really good for me.

It’s becoming clear to me that I write a lot about my struggles. That’s because I am human. When I am honest with others about that, they are more honest with me. Add to that fact that, my struggles that I’ve overcome are a part of who I am. In my everyday life, I am teaching students who need to feel comfortable expressing themselves in my classroom, so I believe this is beneficial.

Keeping things in or hiding things about ourselves is difficult, too difficult. It results in us alienating ourselves; I know, because I did this drastically four years ago, when my son went through a really hard time with emotions and mind issues after a car accident and head injury. I felt like a failure as a parent. There were struggles he had with himself and that I had with him in the household. I kept so much bottled inside and felt really depressed since I was bottling up the stress. Not very healthy.

Glad that I’m beyond that, I have a few close friends that I can confide in. His struggles are much better, and he has held down a job for two years. I see that I wrote a lot about my stresses back then as well, and that’s a good thing. It helped me to hang on.

Having gone through the shoulder injury last year and educating myself on dealing with arthritis pain has helped me acquire healthier habits. There is a true link between anxiety, body tension, and pain. I’m still working on all of it.

Writing is sporadic, but I will not give up. Perhaps I will move more into autobiographical writing. Journaling is a more frequent process for me in “getting things out.” Blogging is a sort of journaling. It’s all good.

The sunshine outside my windows is representing my current state of mind. I’ve gotten through many things recently, COVID fear being part of them, and I just don’t feel as fearful anymore. Sitting at home in the computer chair all day is not an option! I can do this. You’ve likely heard me say that before. 🙂

**Weekend Coffee Share is a weekly bloggers’ feature that many across the globe have joined. Search for or use the hashtag #weekendcoffeeshare and tell me about your cafe of choice and the goings on in your part of the world. Have a great week!

#WeekendCoffeeShare. Picture a Future

Good morning, and welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share!  I’m sipping a peach mango V8, but there is coffee or tea available. I won’t judge…

I thought of writing last night to work on the character of Ellie. I have left her in a precarious situation. I already know how her story ends. She is a warrior. I just haven’t worked out how she escapes her predicament that I was last pondering. All good things take time, I suppose.  Before that, I was composing this post in my head; to quote T.S. Eiliot: “How do I spit out the butt ends of my days and ways…” Sounds ugly, so maybe I am instead painting rainbows out of my doings. 

The last week had a few dark and uncomfortable days tainted by reality.  I can’t give specifics but it is the nature of my job to sometimes deal with uncomfortable situations.  I am so often thankful these days that I started on the journey to grapple with my anxiety and accept the doctor’s diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder a year ago, just 3 months before COVID hit my area of the world. 

I lighten the air with fantasy, envisioning talking flowers or animals, as if in a cartoon.  I do this for me and for my students.  Some days shine with meaning and purpose, while other days, I just respond to my needs.  Breakfast, shower, clothing, work, work, work, decompress, dinner, exercise. Sleep. Socialization and emotional connection fits in somewhere, but it is so different in this socially-distanced era.

Friday nights I put my feet up, with my loyal dog at my side.  I tire of watching someone else’s stories, though, having them stuffed down my throat, and I picture my own. They cannot be as terrible as the world today. Maybe they foretell of a brighter future, where we build the world we want to live in. Certainly not a world of cyber-bullying, sex-trafficking, or violence.  We owe our children better than this.  We need to teach them it is not alright, teach them how to turn the tides.

Who will teach the children to dream a new tomorrow, so they can make it true? To create better moments instead of just reacting?  At night I train myself not to worry about the future of our children, or unseen threats and my own assumptions. I try, but training takes time. It’s an ongoing work in progress, one step up and two steps back…sometimes, 3 steps ahead, others, going nowhere.  That’s okay though. 

In the meantime, I love the sound of my dog snoring, love the cool evening air when I let him out and the morning sun peeking through window blinds.

I try to ponder these things and think of nothing else.

Sometimes it works, and my breathing slows.

I try, but sometimes the trying takes time.

Yet, I try, and sometimes the trying is a victory…

So, still, I try.

If all else fails, laugh like no one is watching. Not so glam, but it feels great!

In other news, ‘coronophobia’ is now a valid term, researchers say.  I work amongst middle school children daily, and I lean down (masked) when I can’t hear them talk.  I social distance as much as possible, but I am not always behind my desk shield. I think I have good days and bad days, so I am not going to adopt that term; however, I believe it is real. 

My phobias stem from so many other things, and yes, a healthy dash of hypochondria at times.  It may have started with a hospitalization at age eight because I wasn’t eating right. My blood count was very low. I felt so alone for those few days, as Mom had to be at home with my three-year-old brother.

Suffice it to say, hospitals can really trigger me today.  I have to be mindful.  So here I am, dredging up my past.  Therapy can lead to that. You think about why your mind goes to certain places. It is very helpful, though, in framing your thoughts, as if you are taking a picture of a moment that makes you feel triggered, yet you take the looming clouds out of it, because, it was only your mind that put them there and interpreted them as a threat or an ominous portend.  I still can put up my guard, but now I can laugh at myself when I am overthinking things. 

Thanks for joining me. I’m going to run into the kitchen to get my green tea, and you are welcome to a refill.  The ‘cafe’ is playing something by Ben Harper, a guitar solo called “Winter is for Lovers.” Interesting idea on this rainy Valentine’s Day weekend! My ‘bae’ and I will go out for Mediterranean food tonight, and I’m cooking him spaghetti on Sunday.  Have a great weekend, send out some love to the world, and stay the course my friends!