Best of the Year! #BOTY2020

     Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season’s Greetings whatever holiday you celebrate and where!  2020 has been quite a year. I would say my proudest work accomplishment this year as a Middle School English teacher was putting a focus on Socio-Emotional Learning in my classroom by trying to learn what personally motivates my students with various learning abilities from standard, advanced, to gifted learners.  I’m working on building community.  One personal achievement I reached this year was maintaining a connection with my students during COVID lockdown in Florida from March to June.  I would say that it was really rewarding during a time of uncertainty.   

      

Teaching during COVID Lockdown, Spring, 2020.

                       

     This year, I published one book titled Malachi, Ruse Master. It is not specifically sci-fi, but focuses on a character that connects to characters and events in my Detours in Time series.  I really enjoyed writing this one, getting into my character’s head and writing about the struggles of finding your identity when you are a young adult. He works in an unusual job that serves to help him discover many things about himself and his own ethics. If interested, it is on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086VYJYZX

 In 2020, I suffered a frozen shoulder and recieved physical therapy for it. I’d been through PT at the end of 2019 for my back and still use some of the principles and exercises I learned. The shoulder recovered, I’m glad to report. In the process, I read and discovered a lot about how our mindset contributes to pain. Some of it is automatic and takes much work to change, but I am working on the mindset constantly. There are many people who helped me and worked to understand me this year, and I am filled with gratitude. I am trying constantly to extend my circle of gratitude for every little thing someone does for me or every attempt at understanding me. It makes me smile more, which makes people respond more positively to me. It seems to pay off for everyone.

I wore my pearls to honor RBG on voting day, 2020!

COVID anxiety has been a struggle for me, but I’d say it comes and goes, and staying busy or exercising seems to really help.  I struggled with anxiety and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder even before COVID became a concern for the United States this year, so fortunately, I was already working on the problem before lockdown occurred and cases skyrocketed.  It’s odd to say, but the diagnosis came right on time. I’ve read and studied many books on the subject and took an online CBT course this year.  I feel that knowledge and acceptance of our own flaws are both very important.  One thing I do regret is my lack of focus, which really got worsened from COVID lockdown.  I am able to focus on my work but cannot seem to focus also on writing a book.  Never fear! I have an idea in the works, but it will take longer than my former books.

My social life has suffered probably as much as anyone else’s. I have a writer friend I would invite to the house a few times over the summer for coffee and a chat, distanced, of course. My boyfriend and I maintain contact and even went to socialize with some of his friends outdoors on their patio this summer. I had two Zoom meetings with some of the ‘gals’ from work, one of which carried on into a FB group video chat and included some fun app affects!

At least I have my family, I have an understanding significant other, and I have some longtime, trustworthy friends. My mother has had an extended stay at my brother’s house due to COVID concerns, but I am getting her this week. My 24-year-old son and I have been co-existing gracefully, and he is becoming such a generous soul. I remember his teen years, ugh. He certainly has had his own struggles and still has some effects from them. Still, he is finally growing into the person I’ve been trying to teach him to be in the most important ways: gentle, generous, kind to his family members and not so self-centered.

 My biggest lesson learned this year is that our mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It immensely helps a person’s mental health to tell someone about what is bothering them. I have a stressful job, and just discussing with my boss some of the things I have to go through to get organized and handle certain situations provided such a relief. My anxiety, especially in the holiday season, hits at unexpected times, and I’ve even explained to some of my classes that I feel claustrophobic if too many of them come up to my desk. It has helped. I also cannot concentrate if two people ask me a question at the same time. In my everyday life, I’ve been practicing not keeping things in and speaking my mind in a calm manner. 

I also asked for help, unashamed, from a good work friend before taking the drive to South Carolina. When asked if she’d ride along with me and maybe take turns driving, she said yes without hesitation, looking forward to time away from ‘mom’ duties. I am so thankful! Having her to talk to on the way up was great and kept me calm when I went 20 minutes past the exit for I-95. We laughed it off and kept on going. When traffic was congested in South Carolina, as usual, I said, “I hate this road,” and she said, “It’s okay, we’ve got this.” It was very helpful, as congested traffic makes me feel boxed in, a result of a car accident I had in 2016. Why am I not over that? Why ask why, just make adjustments as needed.

I know there is a little risk involved there.  So, appropriately, my favorite song of the year has been Caution by The Killers.  Okay, it’s a love song, but I want to love my life and ponder predominantly on the positives, so it works! The beat and the lyrics are so inspiring! 

So, I say, speak your mind, throw caution to the wind! Take a risk.  The worst that could happen is that you may not feel accepted by that person, in which case, they don’t deserve your openness. Talk to someone else, then. You will soon find someone who has felt the way you do at some point in their lives. So, I have learned to own my life, my personality, and not be ashamed to share what it means to be me. I may not be able to travel right now, and life and activities may be COVID limited, but I am still going to grow. 

This Best of the Year tradition was first brought to my attention by my global blogger friend Beaton. You may visit his blog at becomingthemuse.net and his Best of the Year at https://becomingthemuse.net/2020/12/17/what-2020-taught-me/ You are invited to share your own, and use the hashtag, #BOTY2020.

In my tradition, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and Best wishes for 2021!

Pamela Schloesser Canepa

#WeekendCoffeeShare Stream of consciousness. While I wait…

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali. It’s been quite a week. All is good now. Want to know? What’s it like to live a day in the life of someone awaiting a COVID test?

I know you want to know…just like that girl who asked me to describe what it’s like giving birth after I’d had my son. I summed it up…”It’s like the worst cramps you could ever imagine. ” She looked letdown. I did not communicate the drama, the fear, the excitement and the feeling that God is in that room and that I was a chosen one, to bear this pain and deliver this life. But I digress.

It should take 24 hours to get my test results…I hope. So I’m out of work today and will be again tomorrow. I think the moment by moment is agonizing.  My symptoms seem like that of having a cold, my glands are swollen and that’s what troubled me. Children have been sick at school and leaving early. Today, the soup I ate for lunch is sitting wrong with my stomach. I’m just going to be raw and honest here. We should all do that more.

I heard someone somewhere use the phrase that when they write it’s like God is guiding them. Are they seeing that bearded man in the sky reach down his hand to guide the pen? I’m not.

Yes, there certainly is a muse. She is a younger, but wiser me who would have spoken up for herself many times when I didn’t. She pops things into my head, and I become amused, inspired, thinking, “Yeah, I should do something with that thought.” If I’d heeded her sooner I would have traveled much more, written long before I did, and done more exciting things.

I don’t think there’s an angel guiding me, and when I write, it is not holy. I write to escape demons. Or, more specifically, to purge them. I imagine a kaleidoscope of vomit spewing forth from my mouth or through my pen and onto the paper. They are not horrible things that I did, but they are things that always make me feel I am less, they are things that some would, or would have once, defined me as. Trailer trash. Product of divorce. Daughter of an alcoholic. Navy brat. Divorcee. People make assumptions about these things. I could perfectly fix my hair and makeup and look like I had all the privilege I could besides that of race. I could dress like a professional working woman and mother and no one would know the crap I’d put up with from my husband at home. It was eating me up.

You’ve gotta spit up those demons somehow or they will give you an ulcer or some other GI disorder. They’ll eat at you and travel to your nerve endings causing serious sensitivity and pain issues. So, this is why I don’t think my writing is ‘touched by an angel.’ It is human, it is real, it is of this earth. Though everything I write has a message for someone, that you are not alone, it is not going to convert anyone and I suppose it won’t get me into heaven. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is to make something beautiful out of the tough lessons we’ve learned or the crap we’ve been given.

And I probably don’t sound like a good Christian, but I’m going to thank God he gave me this ability. It has helped me to dream and imagine myself into better realities. It has helped me survive.

***Thank you for stopping by and reading. I have a few constant encouragers, and I thank you so much for this. My test was negative, and my allergies were the cause. I felt so much better yesterday. Covid anxiety is serious. Today being World Mental Health day, let’s all be kind to each other!

Weekend Coffee Share, 8/30. Weird World.

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali. I know I’m posting this late, and I’m drinking green tea, not coffee, but you may have whatever you like! I envy those who can drink coffee throughout the day.

Unfortunately, I can only have one cup in the morning, and some days, like today, I only have macha tea. I figure it’s best for my nerves, as I already have slight sciatica acting up and tension in my left hip. I hate relying on Advil and a muscle relaxer. I need to get back to meditation and more regular hot baths. I’ve just been busy lately.  Fortunately, I am getting a massage later!

Back to school has required me to adjust my schedule and still fit in the arm/shoulder exercises with cardio 3-4 times weekly. I still take time to read but have a hard time sitting down to write when the sciatica gets worse if I sit too much. My current read is awesome, about finding my feminine spirituality away from the patriarchal church. I’m inspired by it!

You’re sure to hear more from me on toppling the patriarchy.  If you are a woman or a man who feels there’s no problem, maybe there is not for you. Haven’t you seen news reports of college guys who only get months of probation for rape?  Don’t you know a woman who has beat herself up because she couldn’t make her marriage work or change her husband with her loving ways?  Or because her religion made her feel like a Jezebel if she thought of leaving.  Let me tell you, the patriarchy was strongly ingrained into my dad’s head, and it came out in his words and attitude when he was frequently drunk as I grew up as a child.  It was strongly ingrained into my husband’s head too, and yes, even in mine as I was raised to accept this from a man and mistook his jealousy for love and accepted the possessive nature of his relationship with me…..until I couldn’t any more.  My childhood church taught me how I should be as a wife and a woman; it was unhealthy.  The main thread was SHAME.  So I have plenty to say.  This book and writing on this topic is so cathartic for me.  You can, if you’re so inclined, read my recent post on the topic here:  Lies Women (and Girls) are Told

Thus, in the meantime, I’m keeping my PPE on, avoiding germs, avoiding news of the COVID-19 numbers but staying safe, and trying to make students smile in this weird, weird world.

I still have plenty to say, and the mask won’t stop me.

Weekend Coffee Share, Schooling in the COVID Era

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.  It’s a half-caff day! I am introverting because it’s better than trying to communicate with a mask, something I am growing tired of.  I’ve been back to work since 8/12 and started teaching students on 8/20; while it’s been great seeing work friends and trying to joke and get to know my students, they don’t get it through the mask mumbling. I can’t wait to communicate and laugh freely, to high-five and hug without fear. But that’s not where we are.

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This starts year 21 of teaching for me.  It is hard sometimes to teach in a mask, and the air from my speaking makes it hotter inside the mask.  Yesterday, I put on the face shield and took the mask off, staying way in the front of the room.  In the back of this picture above, you see the desk shields.  Students have to look around them to see what I’m writing on the board.  They also have a lot to adjust to just as we teachers do.
I finished my physical therapy for the frozen shoulder. I’m not 100% (and the doc had said that would be the case), but still, the difference is amazing! I’d say I am somewhere between 80 and 90% now.  Of course, I’m continuing the exercises I learned in physical therapy.  This is the second time I’ve been through it, but I forgot some important details from the 1st time to the second even though it was only four months.  I also was quite fearful to do too much after I’d hurt my shoulder this time, thus, getting the frozen shoulder.

So, it was good that I was pushed little by little to exercise it, and I stuck with the same PT which made it easier to trust the process and to believe it when he said I could do this. Believe me, I can do things now with my arm and shoulder that I was afraid to do for years!  We talked about limits and he thinks I could do anything within reason. I can be the judge.  I’ll ask the doctor about this next month, too. Should my next adventure be skateboarding, skydiving, axe-throwing?

Anyhow, for now, my adventure is teaching middle schoolers in- person during the COVID pandemic, keeping them safe from others and themselves while opening up their minds to Literature and our language. At the moment, I feel ready to head up this mountain. Actually, sky-diving sounds good right now, since I’m such a risk-taker. 🙂

I got my exercise in for today on the Gazelle exerciser on my porch and did my arm/shoulder exercises.  Other than that, I am indoors, socializing on social media and actually, doing a little bit of writing!  I am working on the novel in progress, Ellie the Time Traveler, and she is going to intersect with Malachi in true star-crossed lovers fashion! Love can be bittersweet…..

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That’s all I’ve got for today! I am feeling pretty good, glad to be writing again and not wearing a mask for a while.  I hope you all are enjoying your weekend!

 

Weekend Coffee Share, Of PPE and Thriller

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share! It has been a busy week with return to school teacher planning, fear of COVID, and attempts to catch up on sleep. I’m enjoying full-caff today, and listening to Kraughbin in the background. It is quite pleasant. Stop and have a cup of joe!

Teacher planning has been interesting, as we have received training for a lot of new policies in our three days of teacher planning. I have a bad habit of touching or rubbing my eyes a lot, so I’ll either be wearing safety glasses or a face shield from now on.  Students will be coming to school next Thursday, but we have about 50% of our student body taking online distance learning instead, so classes will be smaller.  The plan was for this to go on until 9/14.  I just pray those in power will extend distance learning options if COVID numbers have not dropped by then.  For reference, my state, Florida, has at least 557,000 cases of COVID-19 now.  I have been glad to be in the midst of my co-workers again.  Teachers are a special, understanding bunch of people, and we can be pretty fun at times, too!  I truly pray I don’t see any of my co-workers become sick this Fall.

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I have really slowed down on writing, but I am trying to still blog 1-2 times weekly. This past week, I shared a short tale for Tuesday called The Post Office, about one woman’s struggle with married life. You may view it here: https://pamelascanepa.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/the-post-office-box-shorttales-flashfiction/ I’d like for you to read it and share your thoughts!

I am sure I’ve said this before, but I’ve really slowed down with writing this Spring and Summer due to the shoulder injury, but I am thinking it is a long-term thing; I may need publish my next book for two years or so. I am looking to be more physically active. Of course, we’ve all had our share of butt-in-chair and being entertained by technology. But I think this is what I need from now on. I used to say “My body can’t keep up with my brain.” I would sit in my chair for hours, writing and entertaining myself. Then, I’d suffer from lower back pain or repetitive stress type pain in my hand and arm. I was sort of proud of my brain being so far ahead, but I do not want my body to fall apart! If my body responds in pain due to repetitive stress or too much sitting, the pain will affect my mental ability. Therefore, I need to keep my body in good shape.

Being back at work last week, I did not crave movement as much, but the weekends need to be pretty active, and more than my 30 minute mile, no matter how sweaty it can be. So, I am looking at doing this in the upcoming fall, and I could even start practicing now: Thrill the World It is a challenge to learn the Thriller dance and perform in zombie attire (by video) by Oct. 24th. Well, I’m at Step 1, but I think it will be pretty fun!  I have to decide what my Zombie attire will be. 🙂

https://youtu.be/jnoX8cX59LI

zombie-2013270_1280  I’m not so good at make-up, but I’m sure I can rip up some jeans successfully!

One must have some flights of whimsy now and then, must one?  Especially in the midst of a pandemic, COVID anxiety and virus prevention OCD.  I know, you’d probably choose something different for your flight of whimsy.  That’s what makes life interesting!

Have a great weekend and an even better week, as much as possible!

*The opinions I’ve expressed here about ‘those in power’ are solely my own and not those of my employer.

Weekend Coffee Share, Just Sweat it Out!

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali.

I’ve spent months not sleeping well and getting endless e-mails due to webinars you signed up for but never attended. Free yoga/workout videos.  Mindfulness webinars.  I can read the book, but attending a webinar is just not appealing to me these days.  Journaling has been an awesome task to help mindfulness.  I personally am tired of sitting at my computer for webinars and ZOOM meetings.  I started taking more walks in my neighborhood, in the hot sun, just to move and to sweat, and it also is great for my mind, helping to stop any worry or obsessing.

I’m trying to keep calm amidst COVID fear and worries, as well as the preoccupation with how kids will return to school this August, whether it will be online or in-person, and how we will keep them (and teachers and staff) safe and healthy.  This summer started out with me in a bad place due to my shoulder injury and pain, as well as my mind feeling flaky, spaced out, and unfocused.  Lately, I have been working on a picture puzzle and have made great progress. I  am also occasionally playing a word game on my phone to try and rebuild my focus and intellectual ability.  Worry can really eat away at all of these things.  I can’t just let me mind settle into a pattern of preoccupation with worry, so much so that I cannot focus on things I enjoy or that are important to me.  You know, the fear that surrounds pain, it isn’t so bad anymore.  In 2015, with huge family/parenting stresses and the advent of this arm pain, I went around fearing I wouldn’t live too long.  I remember getting a will.  I don’t feel that way now, and it makes a world of difference!

20200718_112158 Pumpkin houses and flying fish, Oh my!

On the subject of COVID, I live in Florida, and we are having a boom in COVID cases.  There are still several people I run into in public who do not wear a mask when out.  My state now has more than 300,000 cases. I am pretty careful and wear a mask anytime I am in public, but if I’m outside walking alone or with the dog, I don’t wear one. It is awfully hot, you know.  My son and I went for a free COVID test last Weds. just to ensure we are still healthy.  I wanted to get one before school starts.  It will be a few days before results come back.

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Earlier, I got my exercise in on the Gazelle on my back porch.  It felt so good to come back in and let the air conditioning cool the layer of sweat I had acquired.  I’m using some good habits, and I want to keep them up!  My shoulder issue is getting better, but my arm and hand hurt often and it slows me down from writing.  Still, that is okay; to everything there is a season, and I am not in fear that it will control the rest of my life.  Maybe I am just determined not to let it.  I am still supposed to see an orthopedic surgeon this week because my doctor wanted an opinion.  We will see what happens!  Well, it’s time for me to relax, read a book, and maybe even take a nap. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Weekend Coffee Share, It’s a Wonderful Life, 5/30

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Ali.

It’s going to be a warm, beautiful day here in Northeast Florida!  I’m having hot coffee anyway.  Grab a cup of whatever you like, and let’s chat.  Last Saturday was not a Coffee Share day for me, as my internet was being a butthead, in and out, and slow as molasses. Instead of a Coffee Share, I posted an entry on writing about 9-11 and COVID-19 in my most recent published book, Malachi, Ruse Master and my current work in progress. You can read it here:  Writing Our History into Our Fiction

Learn more about my recently published book here:  bit.ly/RuseMaster

Farewell to another school year

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Things got really weird after Spring Break, I have not actually seen my students except in online meetings.  We’ve bonded, though. I tried to get created and learned about some new sites that are interactive for learning material. I tried to stay positive and was so glad to see or speak to them when they showed up for online lessons.  Some students never did because they were on a different sleep schedule. For the ones who did, I said “Thank you for showing up.  It gives me purpose!” Which is true.  I told them about my birthday the day before, which also fell on the last day of school.  Two things to celebrate! I made a video of myself waving good bye to my students and holding signs. I will miss them. I have learned a lot from this online experience that also gave me time at home to CHILL out and relax when needed, something I am working on and hope to master by the fall.  🙂 Anyway, at my school we would always walk to the buses at the end of the day on the last day and wave goodbye.  Here is my short video imagining they are boarding the bus and I am bidding them farewell:    https://youtu.be/9wleXNNYI1s   (I shared it with them in our online learning Team).

Happy birthday to me...

Ah, life.  So I have completed another year of middle age, or, maybe I’m past that? I don’t know, I don’t care.  I may have some complaints and recurring pains, but I’ve learned that a silly sense of humor is a great way to deal with the unpleasant parts of aging. I thank all of the women in my family for infecting me with that attitude.

My son took me to Outback last night for dinner! We went early.  They have certain tables blocked off to help social distancing, and the wait staff all wore masks and gloves.  It was reassuring.  My boyfriend came over for a celebratory drink, and he and I will have dinner tonight, place TBD.  A really rewarding part of my birthday was yesterday, getting a lot of well wishes from my students.

 

Our Nation and Our World

My heart goes out today to those who feel marginalized, profiled, or judged before they are known.  It gladdens me that one of the officers was arrested in the death of George Floyd.  But to think that it took the viral sharing of the video, or the many protests, is just sad.  We are all Americans. When someone says, Black Lives Matter, it is because of the frequency of these events, and the need to reiterate that thought. I don’t think cops are bad people; nor do I think the police system is racist, yet, many of them feel they are allowed to pre-judge and mistreat others. Why is that? I also don’t think anyone of any color or nationality deserves to be treated as if they have no rights or even ‘less’ rights. I could go on and on.  Let me just quote someone more eloquent: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).

How does this affect me?  Let me admit that I have grown up with white privilege, and I saw racism in many places. Being a kid in the 70’s and 80’s, I was around friends who would say horrible things about those of color without a second thought.  I didn’t speak up as often as I should, and for that, I apologize.  I often have not known what I could do about this; I am shocked that the mistreatment is still going on today.  I guess I am just going to start by admitting, I realize my white privilege. I see those who are marginalized, I realize it is still happening.  One more time, America:  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Writing our History into our Fiction

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Pixabay photo.

I’ve decided to write COVID-19 into my current fiction work-in-progress. Doing so makes me think of Stephen King’s The Stand with a shudder. Stores closed, streets practically empty. That is, until two weeks ago, when governors started announcing gradual re-openings. I am still playing it safe, though. If you were to write COVID-19 into your current work-in-progress, would you mention toilet-papergate? Stores running out of hand sanitizer? Stores with signs up requiring you to wear a mask? These are unprecedented times, and they are worth remembering and writing about. In my novel, the character will travel to our times from the earlier 2000s and will see some of those things. I do not plan to make it tragic, though. Still, who knew this would become our reality?

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In my most recent work of published fiction, Malachi, Ruse Master, I have written a whole chapter on Sept. 11th, 2001. My character is a young man living alone in the D.C. area. An ordinary day turns into an exercise in fear and uncertainty as news reports come in about the attack on the World Trade Center and the plane that headed for the Pentagon. The emotions were real, I experienced them and recall clearly what 9-11 was like.

I did a little research on what it may have been like for someone living in the D.C. area during 9-11 to get my facts straight. I do not know anyone who lived there at the time. I had lived there as a child, and I’m always reminiscent of the Potamac River and the weather changes. Living in Florida, the seasonal distinctions are not as clear. So, having a character living in that area around that time lent itself to writing that event into the setting. I feel that this is a way to frame the events of a novel, adding something we are all familiar with.

Like my character, Malachi, I did not really have a feeling of community reinforced for me. I just felt more alone. Though, I suppose, that is a result of terror. So why add such a horrible event into the setting? Because it is something we all remember, in many different ways. I also feel it helps us sympathize with the character. The book is considered a young adult novel, but it is not written specifically for young adults. It is something we all can identify with in some way; we’ve been there. My hope is that readers of all ages will find something to identify with in this book. You can learn about or get a copy of Malachi, Ruse Master at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086VYJYZX

As I grow in my writing journey, I am finding the importance of setting in a book, how it makes readers connect to the characters in the events. In a sense, a setting in any book is a character in itself.

What historical event have you lived through, and which fiction books express the experience well for you?

Weekend Coffee Share, Virtually Social

 

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclecti Ali.  It’s half-caff for me, with creamer and honey to boost my immune system.  Not that I should worry, I’ve been social distancing quite well and wearing a mask in public.

Last night, I invited three teacher friends to a Zoom card party called Cards Against Quarantine.  It is very cheeky, inappropriate fun!  One of the gals lives in Hawaii now but is moving back this summer, so we talked a long time after the card game.  I’m not used to staying up that late, but it was great fun.  I’m glad I downloaded that game.  Otherwise, it’s mostly work, work, work and streaming shows or movies these days.  I do manage to keep exercising, though.  I got my mile in this morning on the Gazelle.  Got to stay healthy!

On the topic of health, I went for x-rays Thursday.  I should hear from my doctor next week. I don’t think there is a tear, so perhaps what I feel is muscular.  I’m steal reading about the mind-body connection.  I am a personality type that holds a lot of tension in my body and often find it difficult to shut off my mind.  Yoga helps, but I skipped it yesterday due to feeling limited with my arm.  I am on the computer daily because of teaching online and have not spent much time writing my next novel.  That will certainly come this summer when I have more free time!  In the meantime, I bought playdough to play with and create things.  I also plan to schedule more online card parties or ‘girls’ nights’ for sure!

School ends in thirteen days. I hope to plan a fun last day in a Live meeting.  We discussed sharing poems and perhaps making one into a song.  One student volunteered to play guitar and another to play piano in the background.  I think it will be a melodious, joyful way to end this crazy school year!

I do hope you all are well and will have a great weekend.  If you are interested in any of my books, check them out at https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Schloesser-Canepa/e/B01E0KV716  or find my latest, a great place to start, at Malachi, Ruse Master

In a few days, look for my post about writing 9-11 and COVID-19 into my novels!

Weekend Coffee Share, Befriending my Brain

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Antoinette Truglio Martin.  If we were having coffee today, I would tell you that I am on a journey of learning.  Of course, I’ve mentioned my participation in physical therapy, as I am working on some pain areas that I have due to arthritis, or stress, or one of the car accidents from my past, or maybe from one of my falls when I was younger and stupid.  I believe it is progressing well, and the sciatica is at a minimum, though it comes back when I wear the wrong shoes at work and have a stressful day.  At any rate, I am so glad I finally took this step rather than telling myself I did not have time.  I feel great about this decision.

82147550_10216558383061057_159610369222901760_n Working on health of body, spirit, and mind.

Stressful days have been a norm lately.  The teaching schedule has been a little off due to five days of testing students in the mornings.  Students don’t respond well to the change in routine, and as a matter of fact, I don’t think I do either.  I take extra long to get papers or test materials in order, to the point that one kid asked if I have OCD.  I said, “Yeah, probably.  Oh, well.”  It is a type of anxiety, and I tend to get that.

I’ve been reading up on the brain and its relation to anxiety and pain.  Facebook has targeted me, showing me ads on the Curable app.  So guess what? I downloaded it for free.  Better to be informed than to be surprised, as I was the first time I had an anxiety attack four years ago.  I was convinced someone had broken into our house in the middle of the night. My heart felt like it would jump out of my chest.  I went and got the dog out of his crate; he sensed nothing.  Before this, all I had ever sensed in myself was being nervous or stressed: sweaty palms, red face, that sort of thing.  This time, I wasn’t sure if I could slow my heart down; it was horrible.  I don’t know if it just all piled up.  I’m working on it.  I’ve read that pain and anxiety are part of the brain’s response to protect us; for that we should be thankful, but we should recognize when it is irrational and learn some tools to calm it (instead of feeling betrayed by our minds when they take energy away from our focus or memory to direct it to our danger alert system).  One website I have searched is https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms/brain-fog.shtml      I would cite other sources here, except that I’ve read so many and have committed these things to memory to use in my toolbox for surviving and thriving in a high stress job and a family that deals with a mentally ill family member with support, encouragement, and understanding. I won’t go on to list all of my stressers, but these are ongoing.  Another possibility is that going through ‘the change’ is affecting my responses and causing irritability.  Still, I am building a toolbox!

HendrixBook.82497427_10216553268053185_1263644820899889152_oIn my toolbox….

I must acknowledge that I have some really good friends at work that I can talk to about my stressers, and a boyfriend whom I have been dating for ten years.  He has seen me through my son’s teen years, a major surgery, and many of my family traumas.  I suppose I have seen him through some things as well, and he is patient when I am almost always late to social or family events. He jokes with me about it.  We are both getting older, and he has some health issues as well as a family issue that are both on his mind lately.  And I will be there for him.  I am thankful for his presence in my life.

Another part of this toolbox is the education I received in college and the encouragement my loved ones provided me when young to keep writing.  I write about a lot of concerns and anxieties, mostly in fiction form.  That way, I can write the resolution; I can create a hero, not a victim, and I can create characters who are there to help and prove that some people can be trusted.  I’ll be honest, I am not writing much fiction lately, but I am writing about my process with re-training my brain to deal with pain and change it into growth, starting with the process of physical therapy that is making me stronger every day.  I am still dealing with sleep issues, but I see the doctor in about ten days.  I know that all has something to do with the brain as well.  Let’s not forget imagination.  Being a writer of fiction, I have learned to work things out and write stories with heroes and lessons about those less fortunate than us.  It gives me hope. I have written some stressful, tense situations into my fiction, which I feel creates conflict, as there certainly is in day to day life.  I am 20% of the way into my next novel, and will return to it after I finish my current Teaching Gifted Endorsement class.  But for now, imagining has helped me to identify music and songs that relax me and take me away when I have to let the tension go, and some of Jimi Hendrix’s music does just that.  So I bought this beautiful book about him, so that I can know all I can of him, instead of obsessing over my health.

Next, I will need to start planning some real getaways, which has been on hold while I work on the pain and try to de-stress.  I cannot drive anywhere stressed and anxious; I’ve tried it, and it’s not a good idea.  The Endorsement class I have is a good escape for my brain, because I love learning, but at the same time it does produce some stress with deadlines and a lot of required reading.  I can do this.  I’ll read to learn more about Hendrix when I need a break.  And those trips I wanted last year to D.C. or New Orleans are still in my plans.  I CAN do this.

I hope all is well in your world, or that you are at least on the way there.  Have a great week!