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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

backhanded compliments

It is the first week of back to school for me, and I have mixed emotions because my roles at school are mixed. But my word of the year accommodate urges me to find all the joy.

Not sure how much I've said on the topic already, but the fact is that I'm not an English teacher this school year, and it has been a challenging mental transition for me after working so diligently to achieve that role. I have loved teaching English. It suits me and all my nerdy inclinations along with my desire to teach.  However, the private school where I work needed my social media and editing expertise more and offered me a social media director position as well as being the Digital Journalism teacher, and I simply had to accept. I love where I work. It feels less like working and more like living true to myself, so I know it has been the best path for me. Accommodating space for change and flexibility this year has shown me that my word of the year was no accident.

Both of my positions entail teaching, writing, and shaping young minds, so that's why I say it has only been challenging and not earth shattering for me to stop teaching English for a time. Part of the Digital Journalism course is creating the school's yearbook, and I taught Yearbook last year, so having that constant has been comforting as I break into this new field of social media directorship. And I am enjoying what I do. Not many people can say that about their work.

There is something that happened on the first day that I want to share though, something that made me feel grateful and gladdened and even quite emphatically appreciated as a teacher:

While working in my new office, a student dropped by between classes. Several students have done so to say hello, talk about how excited they are for school to be back in session, and so forth. It has been a very happy time to have these small interruptions as I work. But this particular student came in and said something that stands out from the rest.

He began with something to the effect of I didn't really enjoy your class all the time. It was great, but I didn't always like it. And then some more stumbling over other words of that tone. And so, I was confused as to why he'd come into my office to share that, but I kept on listening intently, and I'm glad I waited for the turn for the better.

After mildly assaulting my pride, he added how sometimes we don't realize what we had until it's gone, that sometimes we have to have something not be there for us to appreciate it, and a few other generous yet indirect compliments. And then my mind connected it all, and I felt my joy overflow. I understand about not appreciating people and circumstances fully until things change or they are no longer part of my life. I understand too well. And now I understand how it feels to know when someone has realized what you gave to help them—how you gave your heart to help them learn.

This school year will be another big year of learning and growth for me, and I intend to remember this situation to remind me to appreciate people and my circumstances in the moment. It is good to finally appreciate, going through a gratitude process, but I believe it will serve me better to recognize how my gifts and talents make a difference despite who is or isn't appreciating them in the moment too. I will make room for every opportunity even if it means things get mixed up because in the mixing maybe there will be surprises like I had on my first day of school of not being an English teacher.

Side note: I have learned in my time as a teacher that when teenaged boy students begin with almost insulting points but have a kind smile on their face while doing so, you must wait for the compliment—or even find it hiding between the lines, beneath the surface.

three years past

Imperfection in all its glory
Has paved a path for me and you
Lain with care and blessed forgiveness
As the sun has proved itself in our view

To have seen ahead would prove nothing
For disbelief and doubt would reign
There would be no way of knowing
How many treasures we would gain

In the shadows of our sorrows
We shine a light in turn
In the furrows of our brokenness
We are salve against the burn

In disbelief I hold fast
To what has come and what has been
In disbelief I purvey
An open door to what may be seen

Upon the ever changing horizon
I place my hope and happy notion
A seed of this joyful past
To be watered with kind devotion

The Best Things Come from Texas

crushed hearts

Looking all around in the middle of the day
I see myself and those I love trying to make our way.
I see us doing what we can to find our joy,
Seeking peace with every effort to employ.

The days wear on, trials rage on, and friends do lend support.
We reach and care and give as we can
Until it's time to take our turn to borrow,
Scraping at time from the bottom of the barrel with import.

Failing hearts dropping all around
To be surrounded
To be mourned
Crushed into a formless mound

How, in these treacherous waters, can I hope
To find someone who will brave the deep
To stay and promise our hearts to keep?
How can I, with this big heart, do anything but hope?

where I belong

Sometimes I wonder where I belong.

I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a sister-in-law. I've been a guardian, and I'm a pretty good friend (most of the time). I'm also a teacher, editor, writer, and countless other titles. So I know where I belong as far as these roles are concerned. But do you ever wonder where you stand with a particular person on a person-to-person level?

Not that it is essential to my role, but I wonder if my children actually like me. There are things that teach me that they do, like when we laugh at the sad things or when they say sorry for not realizing my humanity. I wonder about them every so often, but in the end, I believe that when they are all grown up we will continue to love each other and enjoy each other's company.

I wonder sometimes about who merely tolerates me but I can't tell that and inadvertently believe they actually like me. There have been times when I have felt so close with someone who ended up rejecting and recanting their affection for me in various ways. This occurrence has not been often, but it has happened enough that I trust I am not cared for by all who profess to care. And that is why I wonder where I belong at times.

I have been told that I am too difficult. I have been told through words and actions that I am not invited or that I am unwanted. I have seen and perceived times when I do not belong.

Understanding these things about myself, when I have a persistent sense that I do belong, I find it easy to push through obstacles that try to keep me from where I know I am at home. It is not easy for me to be confident about where I belong until it is. There is nothing quite like feeling justified in your intuition and sense of belonging. I hope to prove myself right time and again, yet it feels even better when others provide the evidence to back it up.

Wondering where I belong is natural when life has been so harsh and continues on as per usual, so I hope in all my wondering you realize how much I hope that I actually do.

Seeking to Become - August 2016

I've been doing this thing for five years now. When I set out with an idea to help myself navigate the treacherous waters of separation and divorce, I never thought about the long term effects of setting this type of spiritual goal.

Seeking out scriptures each month to focus on for personal improvement and reflection has grounded me when chaos could have reigned (or even when it did and I was holding on for dear life). I have been able to find solace when there seemed to be none. I have been able to root out my weaknesses to see what I might do to overcome them. And all of it has led me to uplifting conversations with others as well.

I don't know if this sharing of my scripture study each month has helped anyone else, but it has helped me in immeasurable ways.

Here are some of the past years' posts. I hope you might join me in reflecting on them and learning maybe just a little bit more about seeking to become more like the Savior in doing so:

The Very First One: August 2011

The First Year: Condensed

Year Two

October 2014: Self Doubt

August 2015: Keeping It Real

February 2016: Gratitude

sweet summer

Sunshine in My Pocket

The days are fading into autumn quickly, but until it has to settle in, I will sing about summer.

It has been another transition time, another set of months where I have realized I can't make plans for the future. I have to take my days and weeks one at a time with my eyes looking toward the future, but I cannot be too bold about any of it. Boldness is insupportable. However, happiness is.

I've been focusing on making time to step back and enjoy the days without allowing the worries to wreck them too much. Severe difficulties continue to rain down, and somehow I keep on making the best of things. There is hope in all of that. There is a power in it too. Learning how to breathe despite the water's depth is an accomplishment in my mind. So much balance has been achieved. My children and I have had small and large-sized adventures. We've had misery and joy in equal portion too. It has been a mix of everything. Such a better summer than last year.

One thing that tips the scales to better than just balanced is that I had a delightful adventure to top off the summer. It has refueled my heart. There's not much that can compare with spending nearly carefree time laughing and gallivanting around town with someone who accepts you, forgives you, and genuinely cares about you. True balm for the weary soul. Photographs for days and swimming and talking and movies and chocolate and walking and smiling…I've decided that I need this occurrence to happen more often. It is vital to my existence.

This summer has been a sweet mix of happy and sad, joyful and learning. It has been so very good.

I am not a guy

Love and friendship intertwine . . .

The way I take care of you
By remembering who you are, your heart
How I consider your hopes and dreams
As far as you let me in to see
By hoping, praying, giving what I can
For all that you hold dear
To make it out better than alive

The way that I let you take care of me
By asking you for sound advice
How I let you in to see
My hopes and dreams and fears
Even if it means I feel insecure
By hoping, praying, receiving what I can
For all that I hold dear
To live better by living true to me

The way we take care of us
By saying what we need
How we allow space to breathe
Yet keep the ties that could bind
Within fingertips' reach
Through hoping, praying, sharing all we can
For all that we hold dear
To find our home within reality

. . . Because I am not a guy.

healing heart

I'm skipping to number eight on the list even though, in the process of number eight, I hope to experience all ten . . .

I'm going adventuring soon (if you couldn't tell), but I'm not quite sure yet how much, if any, that I'll want to share of it. I've come round a bend that has taught me that maybe sharing what I perceive of my experiences hurts me more than letting it settle back into the recesses of my memory. That sentence breaks my heart a little, but at the same time, it also gives my heart courage, so I believe it is a good thing to ponder and reconsider my current practices.

There is something delicious about the anticipation of an upcoming adventure. Plans made and set into motion cause a pleasant nervousness that lifts spirits and enlivens hearts. It is all just so good. With expressing that, I hope to find a balance of sharing and saving just for me that helps me with healing this heart of mine. Because when all is said and done, all of these things that I love should lead me to feeling loved and whole.

never the same

I did this funny thing
Called making a wish.
I wished so very hard
Nothing was the same again.

I didn't quite realize
How making certain wishes
Changes the very air you breathe,
And nothing can be the same again.

I said aloud what my heart already knew,
I'm tired of kissing people I don't love.
And in the very next moment,
Life would never be the same again.

I remember where I stood.
I remember how it felt
To say those words aloud to you
To let myself be myself and share.

I'll never forget how it changed me
Inside my head and heart,
To give voice to truth.
And I'm glad things aren't the same.