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New Year

Posted on 2017.01.01 at 23:55
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2016 was a bad year for a lot of people. Someone told me today, in regards to a mutual friend, that she lives in the grief. She commented that she doesn't express it but lets it marinate. I asked what I do and she said it consumes me and will come in a wave and then it's over.

I think she's right. I refuse to hold on to the negative. The problem is when I can't escape it because it overwhelms me, the wave crashes into the shore and then I let go of it again. 2016 was a year filled with grief for me. Every aspect of my life had it profoundly and on many levels. But I really only talked about a few of them.

I also realized, that while I talk a lot at times, I am sharing experiences and not myself. Usually I am trying to establish trust so I can help or comfort the other person, but I am not actually expressing myself. Granted people don't typically know that and assume they have some understanding of me from what I shared. They aren't entirely wrong, but it is an exceptionally small piece of who I am.

It isn't because I don't want people to know me, but that in my experience they are unable to handle the emotional intensity with which I feel every single thing. It isn't a wave, it is a vast tempest at all times raging under the placid surface of an ocean. It isn't a fault either; it is simply who I am. Life has always been a vibrant vivid experience for me.

But even as I had this conversation, I found myself wanting to joke and focus on the positive. Perhaps that is one of the biggest conflicts in some of my current situations...that intent on the positive may appear that I am unable to see the negative. That isn't the case, but I don't see the point in focusing on the negative as it does not change it to positive by dwelling on what was. I am future oriented and I live my life by regretting as few of my decisions as possible; rather I seek to learn from them as I move forward. If that means I piss you off because I'm not beating myself up with regret, I'm really not apologetic. Why would I waste my life and time regretting what I can't change rather than letting it fuel my energy to change the future?

I think the biggest way to sum it up is, I want to bring hope to the world around me and hope is not found by looking into the past. So I will walk forward into 2017 with hope and with the belief that we create what we believe, think, and feel. I am not perfect but I will always strive to create as beautiful a world as the one I see when I look into the night sky or the forest; when I feel the soft warmth of my cats fuzzy purrs; when I hear the innocent laughter of young children; when my students come to the edge and start to take flight towards their potential; and when I speak the truth of someone's strengths at a time when they have forgotten.

2017 is a year of Hope.


My Power, My Success

Posted on 2016.12.29 at 21:21
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What is more important: the destination or the journey? At what point does destination matter more than the path you take to get there? Or when the destination ceases to be achieved because the path went so far astray? Maybe when it comes down to it, there are only three types of people; those who ultimately value the destination, those who ultimately value the journey, and those who are afraid to make a decision.

I value the journey and no end will justify the means if it is achieved by hurt, deceit, or arrogance. I would rather never reach my destination but stay true to myself than to finally have the results I am seeking and lose myself in the process. It is fundamental to who I am and I'm not sure people can change this aspect of their personality...nor do I have any desire to change it. Maybe this is a root in all miscommunication.

We all want the same thing--to achieve desired results while minimally compromising our integrity, but ultimately I think people fall into one of these three categories when really tested. I can no more care more about the result than I can stand by and not act. The fire within me is too great to contain, but it will also be spent focused on how I am moving forward. Everything I have built has been because of this aspect of myself...my students, my friends, my family...

It is every step and every person along the way that matters and demands attention. To look at the goal and devise a plan is such a small part of life and, at least to me, of reaching the goal. If I reach the goal at the expense of the steps or the people, I cannot consider it success because they ARE my success.

Perhaps that is more what this is about; some people build connections with ideas but I do it with people. That is my strength. I keep getting shoved into a box of "making such good connections" and "attention to detail" and "thorough" and whatever else people say. But in reality, I am good at uniting people with each other. I'm not even that great at making connections with other people, but when I'm uniting them for a cause or a goal, that is where my true strength lies.

And this is what I must harness to regain my power.


Grief's Touch

Posted on 2016.12.22 at 13:37
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Sometimes the human heart amazes me. It seems capable of so holding so much without breaking and even then, it finds ways to move forward.

Grief is no stranger to me. The problem comes when the nightmare you are living never ends. People don't know how to handle that or respond or offer support. So they blame you instead. They stop believing you, they stop trying to support, they stop reaching out with positivity; they give up on you.

And you are left more alone than before, having once felt their support, with the grief that will never leave. I'm not talking about depression; I'm talking about living nightmares. Tragedies that have no closure, that change your life forever, and no medicine or doctor can help you navigate unless you want to numb yourself from life and lose who you are in the haze of mood-stabalizers.

You learn to embrace the little things. You learn to be true to who you are. You learn to value authenticity and honesty over fake pleasantries. You learn to feel guilty for sharing your life. You learn to hate when you become overwhelmed and have to speak or vent. You learn to feel the pain of those who have turned their backs on you through the anger and hurt. You learn there is no such thing as closure, only the choice of standing still or moving forward. You learn sometimes it's okay to stand still--sometimes it's necessary if you want to move forward later. You learn that despite how amazing the human heart can be, many mistakenly believe that you are the exception and different, and push you away.

When I recede from society, it is not a depression. It is to heal myself because no one else can re-establish the balance within me but myself. And I don't wish to talk to those who really don't want to know. Please, though you mean well, if you aren't willing to be there for the long haul, just don't step into my path. You see, I am used to solitude and strife. In fact I don't know anything else. You being there confuses me...and about the time I start to feel safe enough to expose who I really am, you cast me away.

Living nightmares exist. It's not always violent crime, and it doesn't always exist for just the one it happens to. You have not walked in my shoes and you know so little of me, but you judge anyway. You say hurtful thoughtless things meant to help, not even realizing how wrong and misguided your words are. But I can't tell you...I smile and accept them, hide my tears and pain of what could have been. And you will never know because you will never ask why, although you might wonder.

What motivates you? Making this world a better place. What inspires you? Being needed, being believed in, and knowing I am making a difference. While I don't think my answers are exceptional or unusual, I wonder if they surprised you. I am not motivated by things, money, or recognition. Nor are my goals linked to material gain or power. In fact, I do not want power...and therein lies the difference between us. Stop treating me like you would treat yourself. If I didn't trust my intuition I wouldn't even be fighting with you believing you might actually care underneath all this.

Hidden illness, lurking beneath a mask of choices, takes its toll on a person. To not have that diagnosis to wave in front of someone, to explain, to give hope that it will get better. People don't know how to deal with that. Or with health that continues to deteriorate and the doctors can do nothing but wait until you show signs of what the disease is. An organic pathology that escapes modern diagnostic testing until the symptoms are obvious. It isn't a choice that led me here, nor is it one that keeps me here. But here is still where I am and where I will remain until my body gives more information. It isn't in my head, the oncologist was adamant that it wasn't just my normal--something was wrong and will come to light as the condition progressed. He is not the only doctor to say that.

My family, devastated by tragedy sparked by the spiteful and hateful in this country. The ignorant who are so quick to blame and get riled up that they don't even question if they are right or the logic of their words and laws. And when tragedy happens, it affects the lives of many not one. You don't understand until it happens to you, and it isn't something I would wish on anyone. The lost futures, joyous memories turn to shattered dreams, the pain of what could have been, the reality of what will never be...not everyone feels like celebrating holidays. Restrictions left and right, and people mean well when they make suggestions...they don't understand the limitations of your situation and you can't tell them. Either out of fear of more judgement, of not wanting to bring someone else down, or of simple protection from making a bad situation worse. After all, people leave and that hits a bit too close to home to share. The risk is too great so you smile and nod, swallowing the pain and frustration, and return to your solitude...letting them think what they will.

You see your life foiled by so many around you. You smile and delight in holding your friend's child, and feel the horrible loss more acutely of what has been taken from your life as you watch him run to his parents. Yet you are just happy that in a room full of people, he chose you to interact with other than his parents. He came to you, gave you his toys...and as you smile and feel that joy, you are hit with the pain of the son you wanted so badly but will never have.

You hear stories of grandparents and families, having just buried your own. Having just witnessed who people really are...how in a time of strife they bickered and argued rather than rallied together for support. You and your brother felt out of place for shedding tears while the rest acted like it was a party. To approach death so casually, is alien to me but this is also how they approached any challenge in life...and why they never really moved past them.

You hear people talk of their lives and find it difficult at times because of the pathological abuse you have suffered, seen, and bear as the first generation after. You hold the secrets in because no one can know, and watch as your loved ones are unable to break free from it and witness the destruction it can have on a person, all the while vowing to not continue in the same cycles of negative thinking of yourself that you now understand. You see loved ones on the edge of death, trying to offer support and kind words and love, even when it is not what they have offered you because you have stood on that edge and looked into the abyss.

Grief doesn't leave you; it becomes a part of you. It doesn't mean you don't move forward, grow, or that you hold on to the severity of the pain, but it does mean it leaves its mark on you. Someone showing or experiencing grief doesn't make them weak or depressed; it makes them human. It can become your strength or it can become your kryptonite. We can transform our grief into strength and compassion rather than let it harden us and break our spirit, but we have to embrace it first. Or perhaps it is that we must let it break us so we can be reborn from the ashes into who we were afraid to be.

I was once told my soul was like a light and that the darkness would be attracted to it...that person was right. At the time I was thinking in terms of people, but I see now what they meant. It is not our job to fight the darkness; it is our job to be the light.



Posted on 2016.12.13 at 00:20
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My paternal grandfather passed away today. At the end of the day I found myself just wanting to be around people but they needed me. So I listened and answered their questions. And when they were tired I let them go to rest...only one knew what had happened.

I'm at that stage where I feel but don't feel. Where you cry but laugh. And it frustrated me to say I have a concert so I can't be at the wake. Watching my maternal grandmother die over three weeks was horrific, but this...I was watching my grandfather lose himself. I couldn't go see him at Thanksgiving because I was ill but now, I can't see him again. I'll not hear him talk about me to me when he doesn't recognize me, or hear his stories from his past. So much is lost.

I don't want to go to school. I want to sleep. My body is shutting down--physically, mentally, emotionally. I have concerts to prepare for, but I don't have any interest. I'm a level of exhausted only grief can evoke. Yet I still smile and laugh with those around me.

I can be such a liar. I've held this in from most and have freaked people out when they found out how serious something was later because they had no idea. I don't like to wear the facade because it's too convincing and I do not want to believe in it rather than myself. But I've put on a smiley face button and taken the words said to me to heart so the façade will be up...except with my students. I can't hide this from them.

Really, I just don't want to be alone. It isn't a conversation or anything in particular that I am looking for, I just want to feel connected to life and humanity; to feel somewhere I matter. If I matter, my grandfather's life mattered for it influenced me.

I just want someone to ask if I'm okay, to be close and to want to be by my side. I need someone to tell me it's okay to sleep.



Posted on 2016.10.29 at 23:34
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Do you believe in destiny? Or is destiny what we create? Are we alone in this universe or is there life waiting for us to be ready to accept it? How do you know if the choices you make are the right ones? Do you feel a sense of wonder and awe when you look into the night sky and think of how far away the twinkling star is...and how insignificant all our problems are? To be honest, what really matters in life?

I don't have answers to life's questions, but I believe perhaps the answers are unimportant; the point is the search for the answer. We are told from so many angles to look at the end of the journey, results, outcomes...but are those truly what is the essence of our humanity? Are those the things we really should be focusing on? And will those things aid us the most in our efforts to make the world a better place?

I really don't think so. There is a time and place of course...without a goal there is no focus to drive us forward, but whether we reach that goal or not isn't the purpose of the goal. Maybe it is my age or maybe it is my life experience that has brought me here. As a perfectionist it feels odd to say such a thing, but as I say it I also know it is true.

Two conversations stick out in my mind. One was when a person told me if I lost weight I might have an easier time finding a date, that basically people were judgmental and would be willing to get to know me if I was thinner. To which my response was if they are going to judge me based on my weight they aren't the type of person I'm looking for anyway. The second was someone telling me she wanted me to have my masters before she retired, that it was the only way to get a raise in my profession. I didn't have much of a response because in my mind I wanted to tell her I just need enough money to pay for what I need and a little extra...I don't need a lot of money as I don't place a lot of value in things.

I don't see the world through that lens. To me what matters is the stories, the emotions, the memories... Those are the things that make me, me. Those are the things that I hold dear--not my car, the size of my house, or what new electronics I possess. I just don't live in that world and I don't think I can...and I'm not ashamed or sad about it. In fact, what pains me is that other people seem trapped in that world.

On another note...it's okay. I'm used to proving people wrong and I'm used to having to shut the door and transform the pain into compassion. I have more important things to attend to...and my only real regret is having taken so long to get to this point. Perhaps it was necessary to finally walk forward without looking back, but still.

My grandfather was placed in a nursing home, refusing to acknowledge a problem. I visited him this week...most of the time he recognized me. Other times he lapsed into the past. When it was the more recent past he would speak of me...when it was the distant past he spoke of his wife and baby. I wonder, is it scary for him? Is it confusing or does his brain just switch time periods with ease? Does it cause him a lot of frustration when he is in the present day? Is he aware of what is happening or is he truly oblivious of it?

I almost hope he is unaware, unable to feel pain or regret about what he cannot control. My maternal grandfather's body deteriorated, but he went quickly. My maternal grandmother I watched die in hospice for three weeks unable to really communicate anything except pain. Now I am watching as my paternal grandfather loses himself--his memories, his reality, his thoughts. And in doing so I watch my paternal grandmother break admitting what she can no longer do.

And I see and hear so many who choose to look the other way or walk past, focusing on their results and their careers...not even realizing what is slipping through their fingers. I have seen so much death, seen the awful regret in eyes young and old alike...our time here is so terribly limited. We must not waste it chasing after things that are strictly constructs of the material world. We are so much more than what we can hold in our hands and touch.

Our hopes, our dreams, our thoughts...that is who we are; not what we have. What we feel is so much more important than if we agree...when you look out at the sunrise, what do you see? How do you feel? We are part of something so much bigger than merely this life, our awards, our deeds, or our bank account. What matters is who you are, and who you are is determined by something much deeper than grades, evaluations, words, and achievements. You cannot purchase the soul anymore than you can purchase the sky, neither can you limit it.

So often we forget ourselves and allow the world to place limits upon us. We begin to believe that because they are more than me alone, that they must be more correct. How wrong we are...we determine who we are. We do not need them to take flight, for the air is already there to support us if we only spread our wings and believe in ourselves.

I teach, not to teach music, not to have some awesome orchestra, not to create amazing musicians, not to gain recognition or awards; I teach so that others will believe in themselves and take that risk to jump from the safety branch to discover who they really are and fly to their dreams and beyond.



Posted on 2016.10.22 at 15:13
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Step by step, we walk and create our own path through the forest of life. Some people are content to follow in the paths of others and contribute to the road while others forge new paths for others to follow. I suppose most people do a combination of both.

Sometimes you have brief glimpses of clarity, if you are lucky enough to pay attention. Since I was placed at the middle school, I have been compensating and cleaning up after someone else and it has damn near cost me my enjoyment of my career. She's gone now, but the price was very high and I think perhaps part of me is angry about it. I asked for help for so long, begging for change, and it fell on deaf ears. While yes, I am the one in control of myself, but to just dismis is infuriating. I think someone people are so afraid you will use it as an excuse they forget that in order to move on it must sometimes be recognized.

I know that I have to pull myself out of that. Not for you, but for me. The weight I shouldered for so many years has caught up with me and still no one has any support to offer. I'm overflowing with the grief, anger, and frustration from the past. And I'm still dealing with it...it's easy to think that since the person is gone, everything is suddenly changed but it isn't. I'm still cleaning up her mess and compensating. And I'm so tired; the price is so terribly high. I simply don't have the energy to do all you ask AND pay the price for her AND present a joyous façade to the world.

I really don't care anymore if people don't understand. I very much want someone to, but they don't. Fuck it. I'm making my own path again, because I want to enjoy my students and I can't do that if I'm so busy trying to meet all these demands. Your demands aren't why I'm here. And to be frank, I don't feel I owe you an explanation. Particularly if you aren't giving me one.

What matters?

Not the grade level of literature, but that we move forward.
Not that every last kid is 100% amazing musician, but that they are confident and competent.
Not that I am some star teacher, but that I am the best teacher I can be for my students.
Not that I am liked or agreed with, but that I am honest and have integrity in what I say and do.
Not the words adults say, but the specific impact students come back to tell me I had on them.

My family.
My students.
My friends.

Being a good person.
Being happy.
Seeing the beauty and wonder this life has to offer.
Being compassionate, particularly to the suffering of others--and recognizing and acting on it.
Helping others realize they are not alone.
Appreciating the good in others.
Listening to the meaning behind the words.
Taking care of myself.
Laughing often.
Allowing myself to cry.

It doesn't really matter if someone agrees or not, because I'm not asking permission. This is my life and you don't get to judge it. Your opinion is not me; it is you. I believe. In this world, in love, in laughter, in joy, in wonder, in magic, in life, in the possibilities, that things will work out, in my students, in you, in me...no matter how dark it seems or how upset I appear, this is my truth.

I believe. Always.


The Stars Rise for You

Posted on 2016.09.15 at 23:56
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Three quotes by Carl Sagan stood out to me today: "Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception." "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." "If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?"

I have said in previous posts, that I am a survivor. That I don't know how to be anything but a survivor; I always move forward. Last year and this year that has felt like a fault, to always be future oriented. Granted too much of anything is bad. However, it is not a fault as some people see it. I may not always have the words to explain myself well, but I always move forward and try to embrace growth.

It's not that I'm missing social cues. It's that I override them if I'm overwhelmed enough, which can easily happen when your social cues do not line up with your words.  I get verbose when I'm trying to figure you out or when I'm trying to make a connection with you to make sure you understand.  It's really not that complex...  But in this situation, I will survive it because I know nothing else.  Extinction for me is never an option--life taught me to always look ahead rather than back.  My grandfather was a survivor or war and the .  He always looked ahead...I didn't realize how alike we were until I thought about it.

As a survivor I always seek the truth even when it hurts.  That is how I am able to listen and not react and how I am able to channel my energy into more important things and grow.  Yes, I talk about things--that is how I process.  Again, not a fault but just who I am.  Aside from  helping people, seeking the truth is my calling in life.  That is also why I gravitated toward Zen Buddhism.  It is about finding the truth through your eyes, but as the world really is.

If more people sought the truth rather than hiding behind their perceptions, the world would be a very different place and there would be a lot more understanding and communication.  But in general, people are afraid of the truth.  And they assume you are because they are.  Sometimes I don't feel very human...other times I feel like I'm the only real one.  Life isn't about your perceptions--it's about truth, love, hope, relationships,  communication, and effort.  That is why I study Buddhism; it helps me stay centered on what I believe amidst all the distractions and it always leads me back to my self when others have me questioning my sanity.

A lot of people perfer lies so they can live in their world of black and white.  But the world isn't black and white.  It's not even gray--it's full of vibrant colors all across the spectrum, just like people's personalities.  Which leads into the quote of self-centered arrogance.

What would the world be like if instead of judging everyone through how we would respond or how they inconvenienced us, we looked at each other with acceptance and understanding?  How many of us would thrive in an environment like that?  Unfortunately we are too caught up in our own convenience--myself included.  It's so easy to get caught up in it but we must be mindful to hold true to what really matters and see others as they are and encourage all that they could be rather than see them for what they are not and how we think they should be.  It's very difficult, but if we do so together, we will bring that out of each other.

I believe this is who we really are as human.  We have so much more power than we realize but it's up to us to take it.  We have the power to create, to shape the world and change it.  We need each other.  If we have any hope as a species we must get over this conceited perspective of the world and start looking for understanding.  The truth is, we are already shaping the world and making a difference in each other's lives.  The question is what kind of change and difference are we making.

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