Tag Archives: sadness

Watching my mouth

If you know me, you’re probably expecting a post about my struggle to control my tendency to use colorful language or to share stories that may not always be appreciated by those mentioned. But, no, that’s not quite what this is about. This isn’t about what may come out of my mouth, but instead it is about what goes in.

But, first some history. I’m sure I’ve written before about the recurring dream I had for years. I must have, it was pretty profound for me. The dream is set in a rural area I lived in for a couple of crucial elementary school years. It was a place that had left me with idyllic memories, but in my dream the entire area had been poorly developed and settled with over-sized houses replacing blueberry bushes, fields and trees. The wildness that I had loved was gone.

I always woke up sad from that dream until the day I recognized that I only had that dream when I was faced with change or a decision. Once I had that realization, I never had the dream again.

The point of the preceding, is this: when we recognize why or how something exerts power over us, often it loses its hold. So, about my mouth…

I’ve come to understand that there are times in my life when my eating practices become a form of exerting control. It’s like I’ve been disappointed by the connection between my actions and the results in some personal situation, so I limit my eating to be able to observe the numbers on the scale going down, sort of as proof of the positive relationship between effort and reward.

Without exception, this only occurs when I’m feeling emotionally beaten up and it never really lasts for very long. After a week or two, my body demands more food if I’m going to make it run or bike or walk or paddle board or ski. I remember again that I’m more of an “indulge myself” girl than a “deny myself” lady and eat some ice cream, maybe even with hot fudge, and the scale goes back up a few pounds.

I don’t even know if it’s a bad thing, this temporary curtailing of my consumption. It seems to only make me eventually more appreciative of food than I had been, more thoughtful about what I ingest, which seems ok. There’s nothing wrong with paying more attention to what you’re interested and willing to swallow.

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Filed under aging, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, stress

Listen

Some people find it odd that “my” library is at the end of the wing where the music department has some of their classrooms. When the air conditioning is on we close the doors, but for much of the year sounds from the band room make their way to my desk and I love it. Wednesday afternoons the jazz band plays and it’s my favorite day of the week to listen. Our teachers are so good at what they do – exposing students to music, cultivating their talents, inspiring their efforts. It truly never ceases to amaze me.

This time of year, our students are working hard to prepare for various concerts and performances and the song selections include graduation favorites such as Pomp and Circumstance, a tune that never fails to make me feel nostalgic. Hearing this song is an audible reminder that the school year is almost over, that it’s time to mark both an ending and a beginning, and it is music to my ears.

The clear delineation of the calendar is one the greatest perks of teaching for me. I’m the kind of person who appreciates a new academic year, a new semester, a new quarter, a new week and a new day because each of these milestones comes with an opportunity to start anew. I’ve always loved flipping a calendar to an entirely new month of days and a brand new notebook never failed to inspire me to attempt to do my best work. There’s always a fresh beginning for which to look forward, something different coming our way.

In the past couple of days two people whom I’ve admired and been inspired by, found themselves unable to survive the thought of another day of living. They were in a place so dark and so sad that they couldn’t see that the next day, or even the very next moment, provided another chance to start again.

As we get ready to witness the commencement of another class of students and send them off to their next life chapter, I worry that we’re creating a culture where music and books aren’t thought to belong together, but success, depression and suicide are. What are we teaching these kids? When do they get to connect – with one another and not the WiFi network? We have dozens of devices designed to facilitate conversation but no one’s really communicating.

We need to slow it down and start listening better. This is a health crisis and we can do better. Listen.

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Filed under aging, beauty, Education, Europe, Events, favorites, France, friends, musings, NYC, Observations, politics

Crying with a “purpose” and laughing when “life is beautiful”

9FFEF99C-3B5B-4088-8289-19E0167F6853A Dog’s Purpose” crushed me. I knew it was a bad idea to watch this movie, yet cuddled on the couch with my boy, I thought I’d make it through ok. I didn’t. It’s probably time for me to accept the fact that I can’t tolerate watching animals or humans, particularly children, being mistreated and dying. It guts me. It probably started with “Old Yeller,” a classic book turned movie that ended, for me, with a horrific gunshot. I understand that the movie actually ends with a new puppy and some happiness, but, by the time that final scene occurred, I was already in my room crying into my pillow.

How Jeter and I slept after watching “A Dog’s Purpose.”

After watching “A Dog’s Purpose, “Old Yeller” seems almost  cloyingly sweet. You see, unlike the dog in the more recent movie, Old Yeller mercifully only had to die once. The only thing worse for me than watching the same dog die multiple times is my newfound and overwhelming feeling that Jeter is narrating our life together. Thanks to that damn movie I keep wondering if my dog is sharing his thoughts and experiences like Bailey did. If he is, I hope that it’s a good story he’s telling.

Speaking of good stories, the Italian film “Life is Beautiful” is one that will remain with you long after the final credits role. Although the movie is more than 20 years old, the impact of the story and the performances remains vivid and I strongly encourage you to watch it whether it’s your first time or your tenth. Humor and the holocaust don’t go together in a single sentence often, but this film manages to combine the two into a tour de force that touched me deeply.

If you’re not familiar with “Life is Beautiful” the movie, set in Italy during WW II, tells the story of a Jewish waiter, Guido, who works to hide the reality of concentration camp life to his young son by presenting their situation as a game they must try to win. His commitment to making the best of their circumstances to protect his child and assure his wife of their well being is inspiring. The depth of love he exhibits for his wife and child in many ways transcends the horrors of their circumstances and managed to lift my heart despite the film’s inherent sadness. I need to watch this movie more frequently. It is simply beautiful – watch it with your family over the holidays.

Have you seen either (or both) of these movies? What movie makes you cry?

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Filed under favorites, Movies, Observations, Recommendations

Lunar b*tches do Las Vegas

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The lunar b*tches ran tonight and it was blissful. The air felt damp in a delicious way and we ran well, loose and comfortable. With two miles left, I tossed out Las Vegas and the massacre which occurred there today. Like our pace, our thoughts were in synch.

We wondered why those kind of weapons were made available to civilians? Why? How is it possible for a person to take 10+ weapons into a hotel without attracting notice? We talked about how, for God’s sake, gun violence was something we could actually do something about as a country. If we wanted to.

This perpetual state of “worst mass shooting in modern times” we’re living in, needs to end. How does the ability of an individual to possess enough weaponary to kill 58 people and be responsible for injuring more than 500 more, make anyone in the United States feel safer? Enough.

We have the power to change this. We can take control, through the legislative process and education, of the number of weapons allowed in our society. If we cared enough about what’s important, that is.

The reason we don’t direct our attention and efforts towards eradicating the problem our country has with gun violence is that there’s too much money to be made selling weapons and war. We’d rather profit from death than prevent it.

Tell me I’m wrong.

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Filed under DelSo, Exercise, friends, moms, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, running, Uncategorized

Never to be forgotten

The sky was cloudless, the bluest of blues and, in the days following Tuesday, September 11, 2001, silent as if it too were in shock from what it had witnessed.

The highways were orderly as generators were pulled behind tractor trailers headed south to provide light for those searching for survivors.

Drivers were patient and kind, waving one another thoughtfully into the flow of traffic.

My oldest son asked why the buildings kept falling down and I had no words to explain how our world could be filled with so much intolerance and hatred.

Our country, out of the ashes of tragedy, became the finest version of it that I’ve ever witnessed.

It will always be, for me, the divider between before and after.

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Filed under Events, musings, NYC, Observations

The burgermeister

They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, however that hasn’t been my experience. When you don’t meet your first relative (other than your mother and brother) until you’re 22 years-old, having family is very much a choice. With complete honesty, I can say that finding and getting to know my family has been without exception the most personally gratifying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I think that’s why I’m so devastated by the loss of my uncle, the man I’ll always think of as the burgermeister

From the very first time we met, me an undergraduate student and the daughter of one of his oldest sisters kicking around Europe, he, in his midthirties and a father to two young children, he always made me know I was family. There was never an instant that wasn’t apparent in the subsequent years and the times we shared.
Between that initial introduction and his recent death we probably were together on a dozen different occasions. He and his wife visited Albany, we met in NYC on the very day my own cancer was determined to require additional treatment, we traveled together in Europe. Three of my last four trips to Europe involved spending time with him and those are some memories that I’ll take out and shine until they gleam gold.

We stayed in the town where he lived twice in recent years and it was truly wonderful to witness the affection with which he was greeted everywhere we went. It was so obvious that he was a beloved member of his community – from the bakery to the Italian restaurant where he still occasionally worked when they needed a hand, he was met with humor and warmth and I was honored to claim him as my uncle. I always felt safe with him and I’m convinced there was nothing in this world with which he couldn’t contend. Except cancer.

As I was proud of him, he was proud of the life he had created. He had been a competitive athlete representing his country in the biathlon. Since learning that part of his history, I’ve loved cross country skiing even more, like it’s our family’s sport. During our visit in April he shared the medals he had won and his unabating love for winter sports was apparent. His home actually overlooks a ski jump used in international competitions, (which he helped with, of course) and we toured a local museum dedicated to the history of Nordic skiing.

My uncle, the unofficial burgermeister, was a great man and the loss of him, despite the thousands of miles between us, feels almost unbearable. How incredibly lucky was I to have seen him so recently? How kind of the universe to have cooperated by putting so much of my family in one place to celebrate Easter just two months ago. I know the ache in my heart will dull and the tears will dry but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. As the marker on his final resting place states, he was a gift from Heaven.

Hug your dads, uncles, husbands and sons and know how fortunate you are.

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Filed under aging, cancer, Europe, family, Germany, love, Uncategorized, x-country skiing

Are your ducks all in a row?

IMG_2019Have you ever chaperoned a field trip? At this point in my life, I’ve accompanied quite a few bus loads of students to destinations like NYC, Montreal and, as of today, Boston. I take the responsibility pretty seriously and spend an inordinate amount of time counting my charges, hoping to consistently arrive at the same number. Today my magic number was four.

It was a beautiful day for a field trip to Boston. We left before the sun came up knowing we were in for a long day. After contending with typically hideous traffic as we approached the city, we arrived at our first destination, the Museum of Science. I’d never been there before and my small posse was a great group. We had fun exploring the hands on exhibits, checking out the dinosaurs and stumbling upon the lightning storm demonstration as a perfect finale to our visit. On to the next stop – the Duck Tour.

I herded my group, feeling like Mrs. Mallard from Make Way for Ducklings, to our meeting point and we boarded our amphibious vehicle to learn about Boston’s history and get into the river. I checked my email as we sat at yet another red light and gasped at what I read. There had been a very unexpected death in my family. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. The day changed and memories washed over me in waves larger than any we would see on the Charles.

The uncle I lost was the relative, other than my brother, to whom I felt most connected. He was the first member of my German family that I met, years ago when he arrived at the Hauptbanhof to pick me up and bring me into the mountains where my family lived. He was the youngest of my mother’s brothers, closer in age to me than her, and from that very day he was never less than kind, generous and thoughtful to me and, eventually, my own family. Losing him has shocked me into sadness.

I have memories of him holding my babies, walking with us across the Brooklyn Bridge, sharing meals together in a half dozen countries, hosting us in his home…He and his wife had a marriage that never failed to make me smile. Their love for one another was evident and they enjoyed more adventures in their nearly 20 years as husband and wife than many couples will ever know. That’s the consolation, right? To have loved with passion, lived with spirit, taken advantage of the time given?

Our most recent trip together was less than two months ago. My youngest son and I spent nearly 10 days traveling around Germany with my uncle and aunt. We had what I’m convinced was the best Easter I’ll ever have, eating and drinking with five of my mother’s siblings and nearly a dozen cousins. I never imagined that he’d be gone just weeks later. Our last night together was in Berlin. We had dinner and then reconnected later in the night to have our final drink of vacation together in a little bar popular with the theater crowd. It was quiet and, as always, I felt a little sad to know that our time together was coming to a close, until next time, next year.

A day that began with counting my charges became an evening of gathering memories. I’m really going to miss being able to make more of those with him. Ensuring that all of my ducks are in a row may be something that will always require attention and work, but I’ll take some comfort in knowing that my efforts to know and spend time with my family have been the greatest use of my time, money and energy. Rest In Peace, WM.

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Filed under aging, cancer, family, Germany