fortygirl

Forty Girl…that's me! I am a recently divorced woman in my 40s, and am now a single mother with a career. Join me as I start this exciting new chapter in my life. Let's chat!

Life Changes and More

It is has been awhile since I have visited my blog and written. I have missed it, and good grief how things have changed in my life. I have to say this year has pushed me to reflection, and has run me through a vast variety of emotions. The reflection has been beneficial, but I have also found it to become my very own “beat up on me fest.” I know you know what I am talking about, because I even read one of my friend’s posts on Facebook and she, too, was beating herself up and had promised God she would “be better.” It was while reading that post that I truly took pause.

God does NOT want us to beat up on ourselves. That is not who God is. I am, by no means, an aficionado of the Bible, quite the contrary. I, admittedly, have not read the Bible cover to cover, and believe me I am flawed, humanly flawed. That being said, I know God does not want us to tear ourselves apart when we make a mistake. He is a loving God who wants us to recognize what we need to change, and make changes to better serve him, but that does not mean beating ourselves up with negative self-talk and comparisons of our life to others. Believe me, the image that people put out there on social media and in public is very different in many ways to what their lives are really like, so why do we continue to compare?

I have been a Christian all of my life, but a baptized Christian at 16, and quite frankly, baptism was quite premature at that time, because I truly did not recognize what it truly (emphasis on truly) meant to be baptized. So, after the dunk in the water, I pretty much continued my wild ways. It was not until my 30s that I was really ready to make the commitment, thus I was baptized again. That being said, I have still tripped, fallen, and made my share of mistakes, but here is the beauty of God’s grace…I can ask and be forgiven.

This morning, I woke up in  state of melancholy. I have so much to be thankful for: a beautiful and healthy son, my parents are healthy and live close by, have a home I like, a career I love at a place I love, small circle of true friends I can count on, and old friends far away that I keep in touch with, I am healthy, and on and on. Yet, there I was, sitting on my bed, thinking about who, I think,  may not like me, why certain people are behaving the way they are, what I need to do differently in my life, what I need to be better at, the state of my life in general, and…seriously, Forty Girl, seriously. Enough!

So, my point to those of you graciously reading my blog…quit thinking you are not enough, because you are enough! Not everyone is meant to be in our circle, and not everyone IS going to like you, but have you really found someone that did not like you that you truly cared for either? I mean something to ponder, right? The difference…you are not out to be rude, malicious, mean spirited, etc. You simply are not a part of each other’s lives, and that is ok.

My blog is all over the map today, but it has been awhile and with the life changes I have experienced in the past 6 months, reflection is the name of the game. Would you like to know exactly what the life changes are? Well, in June my husband and I of 16 years separated. I freed him to go find the life he wanted, and in the meantime freed myself to do the same. I pray for him to find happiness. In August our divorce was final. The hardest part of the process…we have an 8 year old son. That being said, I truly believe that had it not been for our son, I would never have left, but when you have an audience as you argue and debate, a different perspective sets in.

A family member went to prison around the same time as my separation. It is devastating. Poor choices, and continued poor choices, combined with poor choices in friends and lifestyle choices and well…they are in prison. Any more to say?

In August, my nephew left for Navy boot camp. I was there the day he was born. Now, he is a man starting a new adventure. I am so excited for him, but watching him leave that day was still terribly hard.

In October, my dog of 14 years passed away…so difficult to say good-bye. While I know he is frolicking on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, it is still tough. Shortly after the passing of my dog, my sweet son needed to have his tonsils removed. Who knew tonsils being removed would be such a tough recovery, but it is no joke! So, those are my recent life changes, oh, how can I forget Irma…you got it…Hurricane Irma hit as well.

Life…we were not promised an easy road, and I refuse to be defeated, for I know that God is with me every step of the way, every challenge of the way, every celebration of the way. He is with me, and He is with you…if you let him. We can’t beat ourselves up about our shortcomings though. We just regroup, have a conversation with God and let him guide us, allow him to work in our lives. He is there always…even during our life changes. I am praying for every reader of this blog. Say a prayer for me, if you will. After all, you can never have enough prayer.

My blog will be different going forward as I will share my experiences as a recently divorced woman, who became a single mother overnight, who is a mere mortal with lots of flaws, but I am loved, loved, loved by a gracious and loving God. My adventure, your adventure, awaits…

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What Do You Mean I Am Just a Human?

This week was the week I found out that I am a just (sigh)…a human. If you have read some of my recent blog posts you already know I wrote about a surgery that I recently had. The surgery was a complete hysterectomy, ovaries and all. Needless to say, pretty major on the list of surgeries. The recovery period is 6-8 weeks and that is just the overall physical healing part. That does not include the stamina recovery and hormone balancing aspect. They say it is months before you truly feel like yourself. Which brings me to the profound truth that has recently come to me…

I was told when I had my surgery that there were restrictions…no lifting of anything as heavy as a gallon of milk, no pushing and pulling, lots of rest, limited work, if any, you get the picture. Well, how do I word this…I pushed myself thinking…”I am a superhuman!”…I guess in my mind I was (drums play)…”Super Forty-girl”!!!

Then last week, I feel a little pain, it continues over the next couple of days, and by Saturday night I am miserable! I immediately panic because no matter what I do I cannot get rid of the pain and discomfort. My mind races…blockage? Complication? What is going on? Needless to say, I ended up in the ER. The minute I stated to the doctor that I had surgery as recent as four weeks ago, I knew I was in for the long haul. This was not going to be a simple evaluate and discharge. Now, I am an educator, and I am sitting in the ER the night before the first day of school. Now, not only was it the first day of school for my school, but for my son as he starts First grade, so…emotions set in as I was told I was being admitted. The more frustrating part was that I put myself here. I pushed and pushed myself working to get ready for the school year, did not get enough rest after the first couple of weeks, because I began to feel better. I did not eat a bland diet…so, yes, I am responsible. Goodness, is that hard to admit!

As the doctors came in to visit me, and the tests were run, the message I was being given was one I simply could not process…what do you mean I can’t do it all? What do you mean I need more rest? What do you mean I can’t work ten hour days yet? What to you mean I can’t eat just whatever I want? What! I can’t leap tall buildings in a single-bound? You can’t be serious? UMMMM…they were serious! I also found out that I don’t control anything…God is always in control, and in this situation my body had a big say in the situation as well. My body was telling me “I need a break, a rest, a chance to fully heal, and you are pushing it”. I got the message…I am not superhuman (long sigh).

As I laid in my hospital bed and pondered my situation, I realized that my health, your health, is so valuable. To not take care of our body is simply put…dumb. I also realized that not taking care of ourselves does not just impact us. It impacts those around us. My family was worried, my son especially did not like visiting his mommy in a hospital. My husband and parents worried, and lectured me I might add. The folks at my school were concerned, and stated “we need you, so you better take care of yourself!”. I realized I impact a lot of people; therefore, I needed to take care of me, not just for me, but for the people around me. Does that make sense? I also realized that yes, I am a human, and humans need rest, nutrition, and as much as we don’t like it…to follow doctor’s orders. I am listening from here on out.  So, my message to you is to take care of yourself, because YOU matter to so many! YOU matter to more people than you even know. Oh, and by the way, you are not superhuman either! Does that surprise you? It sure surprised me!

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Social Media…blessing and a curse?

Now, I am not unaware of the irony of my title considering I am writing a blog that I will tweet out soon, thus using social media. That being said, social media has been a super resource for me professionally. I love utilizing Twitter to connect with people all over the world. I obtain some great information and ideas through my connections on Twitter. Pinterest has given me some great DIY projects for my home, and ideas for my son’s birthday party. Facebook has allowed be to reconnect with friends I have not seen or heard from in years. I love seeing how my high school friend’s children have grown, and what my college friends are up to. I find social media to be so positive!

The flip side of that is, some people truly believe that social media is a forum for their therapy.They express everything and anything on social media thinking there should not ever be consequences. I am amazed at people who post on a social media site, which is public, but then are surprised when everyone “knows their business”, really? I have even had people say that they are entitled to freedom of speech. Well, that is true, we all have freedom of speech; however, freedom of speech does not mean without consequences.

I also wonder about the people who must post their every waking thought or movement on social media. Are people really interested in your date night, or the latest batch of cookies someone made, or the song lyrics going through someone’s head, and on and on. Truly, if you are on a date night with your spouse, maybe turning off the phone and spending the date night with them would be better. I imagine it would be appreciated by their date!

Again, social media has so many positives, it is the use of social media by some, or maybe not just some, that leaves me scratching my head. As I think about it, maybe it isn’t what is being said, but who people are “friends” with? I am pretty selective about who I am “friends” with, and definitely careful and cautious about what I post. I am always aware of my profession, and the perception of what I say, and how that can be perceived. Who we socialize with and the comments we make are forever out in social media space. They can even keep us from advancing, getting a new position or job, and can affect personal relationships and professional ones. I guess, with everything, one must consider the consequences, and truly be responsible in all of their actions, social media included. Oh, one last thing…selfies in a bathroom mirror are less than impressive…please pick a different location to show off your latest hair style!

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Who Gets The Reward? YOU!

We, as a culture, tend to be focused on getting more. You know it’s true! As a matter of fact marketing strategies are set on that human feeling of comparison and having more. Have you ever thought the following…I will be happier if I looked like that person, had that car, was able to buy that or go there? Sad to say, but these thoughts have crossed my mind a time to two, well, maybe three or four…you get the picture!

Well, yesterday my husband and son had just finished with soccer practice, and we were on our way to dinner with my parents. As we were leaving the soccer park we saw an elderly lady pulled over on the side of the road. She looked distressed, so my husband pulled over to check on her. She had gotten lost trying to find her church. Normally the church bus picked her up, but tonight they had not. My husband sought more information as to where her church was, and sure enough she was headed in the opposite direction. It was a that point whatever decision we made was going to make a difference…we could have just given her directions and started on our way to dinner, or we could make a better choice that would curtail our plans a tad. We made the better choice…I knew where the church was, and we were heading that direction for dinner. I am so proud of my husband because he cared enough to stop and check on the lady, and he offered to drive her vehicle and follow me to the church.  When we arrived at the church, another lady in the parking lot came over to check on the lady. I am sure it had to do with some stranger driving the woman’s car, being led by another car with strangers in it. Both ladies were so apprciative…truly appreciative.

It was in that moment that I felt a great feeling…we had made a difference in another person’s life by changing our plans and taking time to help someone else…someone in need. I was proud of my husband for his caring, proud that we had taken the time, and I also realized we had just set an example for our 6-year-old son watching from the backseat. While the lady we helped was thankful…WE got the reward! Our evening was made better because we took the time to help someone else. The focus was not on us, it was on someone else.

That right there, my friends, is the key…helping others. Taking the time to be aware of what is happening around you, and offering to help someone else. In other words, take the focus off of yourself for a while. The bonus? Our son was able to witness his parents showing care and concern for another human being, in a safe environment, of course.

Last night the reward was ours…simply because we agreed to take time to help someone else. Who will you help today? The reward can be yours…I guarantee you will feel great!

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Stepping into a new realm…stay young…learn something new

Well, I am currently attending a conference to become a better educator…it has been amazing….inspiring in so many ways with a focus on what education is all about…the students!!!!  At this conference, I, too, have become a student. I am now tweeting!!!  I have attempted to tweet in the past, but I must say have been a little unsure…kind of like a student being presented with a new skill. Well, not kind of like, EXACTLY like! I am now on Twitter and I am loving it. I have learned a new skill and it has made me feel younger and more a part of what is going on. Isn’t it funny how learning something new can make you feel renewed? 

With Twitter I am connecting with people I will more than  likely never meet, but seeing their ideas and thoughts…so interesting. It is like a clinical study on human behavior!  So, as I blog on and on…the lesson here…is step out of your comfort zone, be a lifelong learner…after all, it really is the fountain of youth.  Learning something new and feeling unsure can really make us feel confident and young again. What are you going to learn today?

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Education…Just my opinion

I am an educator…that being said I go to work each day with the goal of being the best educator that I can be. I pray everyday on my way to work for guidance and strength. I believe in public education! That being said, it is difficult to continually listen to the comparisons that are reported comparing our public education system with that of other countries.  Do we need to make improvements to our system…YES! That being said, what makes this country great is that we educate EVERYONE. Sorry for the emphasis on everyone, but not every country that we are compared to does educate everyone. Public educators in this country are more than just teachers…they are counselors, advocates, surrogate parents, they buy clothes, they feed, they nurture, and then they educate. Let’s face it, when a student is hungry or surviving they do not care about “fact families”.

We are always compared to how much we are behind other countries in education. Well, I do not believe that some of the behaviors public school educators face everyday would even be allowed to go on in other countries. I do not think a student would be allowed to go into a fit of rage, throw a chair and level a classroom in say, Japan, and return a day later. More and more we have students sitting in our classrooms with mood disorders, medical conditions that are classed as fragile, and we are still expected to educate, and we do. 

Now, are there some folks that do not need to be in the teaching profession, absolutely…are there folks that don’t need to be in the medical profession, or sales, etc.? Absolutely.

My point in this rant, sorry, a little fired up here, is we seem to be blamed for anything wrong with the system.  Again, do we need to work to fix our system? Yes. Do legislators and the public really need to know a little more about what is expected of educators and what we really do everyday? Yes. 

The amount of testing, so teachers can be held accountable, is unbelievable…if you tally up how much the students at my school are tested over the course of a year, it is close to a 4 week period. Teachers are not against accountability; however, they need time to teach and the freedom to teach. They also cannot be held accountable for what a child goes home to every day or whether or not that child is getting the appropriate medical treatment. I have students who do not know whose home they are going home to each day, or even how they are going home.

I think honest dialogue amongst educators, legislators and the public needs to take place.  A willingness to listen…is imperative in order to make our public school system what it needs to be. Everyone must do their part. Continual comparisons of apples to oranges doesn’t help either. We are not Japan, we are not China, we are not India, we are not any other country but the proud and great United States. I would not want to be an educator anywhere else!

 

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Blessings…

As I sit here drinking coffee, watching my son play on the floor, hubby sitting nearby, beautiful red Cardinal perched outside on the patio, I am reminded of the blessings of God.  My job is a stressful one, but one that I truly love. I must say that with the stress of the job many times I can get stuck looking at the negative and missing the blessings in front of me. Today, I am trying to take a moment to truly focus on the positives.  Yes, there are people in this world that drive us crazy, the economic situation of our country is a mess, but that being said, the world around us  still has so much beauty.  There are beautiful people in the world still too, and I do not mean in a Hollywood sense, by any means.  There are people that still hold the door open, allow you to go ahead of them in line, give you a smile, and on and on.  I have found that if I give positives I tend to get them back.  I am sure most of us already know that to be true, so it is not as if I am saying anything profound.  But, do we really stop and think about it?  When I leave the house I try to send positives into the world.  If I am going to wear a cross around my neck, then I should live by  His principles, right? People should see Him in me, right? 

In the scope of my job, I have tried to make sure I lead by His example. I have prayed for my staff, prayed for my school, prayed for my students, prayed for their parents. Many say that prayer in not allowed in schools, I disagree!  Prayer is alive and well.  It may not be directed over the PA system, but I can guarantee you prayer takes place in classrooms.  I pray on my way to work for guidance and to make the right decisions for the greater good of my school and community.  Do I fall short still?  Of course, after all, I am human and making mistakes still happens and always will, but I will not give up. 

I hear people comment about the demise of society, and I have even made the comment, but then again, I imagine everybody at some time or another felt the same way.  I do believe that we must focus on interacting with each other in a positive way, and become a blessing to the world. One person can make a difference, and I am determined to make a difference.

 I sent an email to my staff yesterday, simple telling them how hard I know they are working, and that while they are not always thanked for their hard work and sacrifice, I have noticed. I also asked them to lift one another up, because we had members of our community that were struggling personally.  I had no idea that my staff needed to hear that as much as they did.  I had responses from them saying “I needed that” and many more. We highly underestimate the power we have as individuals.

 Imagine if each person, or the majority of people had the attitude they are going to go out and be a blessing to the world?  Our world would begin to improve drastically!  So, let’s get out there and become a beauty and blessing to the world! That smile you give just may be the smile that keeps someone going!

 

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Struggle…

Here is my current struggle as a Christian…how to not let other people affect me.  I admittedly am an outgoing, yet shy person. Let me explain…when I am in my comfort zone…lookout, I am outgoing, funny and relaxed.  When I am out of my comfort zone, or in a setting where I do not know many people I am rather reserved.  Some people have seen my reserved side as even arrogant, which could not be further from the truth.  The struggle is that I am amazed at how many people in this world, who do not even really know me, can make snap judgments about me…or anyone for that matter.  I really am working hard to make sure that I am not judgmental.  I do not think you ever really KNOW someone, so I try to put myself in their place and think about why people are the way they are, and do the things they do.  So, I guess it is just frustrating when I think people are very quick to make judgments based upon little information, if any.

The struggle is that we are not supposed to even worry about what other people think, only focus on what we think God would want us to do.  This is my mission, but I must say, I still get bothered, no hurt, when people think they know me and they really do not.  It hurts when you are friendly to someone and you are met with less than friendly, if not downright rude. I don’t know maybe my issue is that I am too focused on other people and what they think? Who knows, but either way it is a struggle.  I wonder if this is a struggle that other people have?

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State of public education…

I have read all kinds of articles and watched all kinds of news programs talking about the state of public education.  I cannot be quiet any longer. Poverty seems to be a big reason for the challenges public education faces, more specifically the challenges that public educators face. As an educator, I agree that throwing money at education will not help our education system.  If we want to address poverty we MUST address the decline of the family unit.  A family unit can be made in many ways, but one thing it MUST be is POSITIVE.  Children must have stability, food, positive attention, safety, and love. Many times educators are looking forward to Christmas break or summer, and yet a number of our students are not, why? Because they do not want to spend time at home.  I have worked with students whose stories leave me haunted, and as an educator I do what I can to help fix the issue.  Educators are some of the most amazing humanitarians you will every encounter, but they are frustrated because they are not only charged with teaching children, they are faced with so much more…they know that a student’s basic needs must be met in order to engage them in learning.  Educators join the profession with the goal of making a difference in a child’s life, and let me tell you that is what they do. Not only do teacher’s academically work with children, but many times they feed them, clothe them, pay for their field trips, ensure they have food for the weekend, protect them, and provide them the much needed hugs and support…none of which can be measured on a standardized test.  Now I know there are some not so great teachers out there, and they need to leave the profession, but the majority come to school everyday working to make a difference. They attend sporting events, recitals, etc. so that the student knows how much they are valued. None of these can be measured by a test, and if you calculated all that an educator does and compared it to those in other fields you would definitely see they are underpaid. Educators did not get in to the profession for the pay, but a little respect would go a long way. Many educators I know have homes in foreclosure, cannot afford the insurance for their families, and qualify for government assistance, none of which they would want anyone to know.

Oh, and mandatory retention in third grade is NOT positive. I have sat in the room with teachers as they make the call to parents telling them that because their child did not make a certain score on the state assessment their child is being retained. I have heard parents cry on the phone after receiving the news, and I have watched teachers cry because a student was being retained due to the score on a test…oh, and that does not touch on what it does to the student.   Public education can use some tweaking, but so can the state of the family unit.

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What is the right thing to do?

As I move through my journey to become a better person, which ultimately means become a better Christian, I must admit it can be a tough journey when faced with certain situations.  Case in point…I had a tough decision to make regarding hiring an individual…if I hired the individual I was going to put another supervisor in a bind by essential taking that person at the last moment.  They would have then had to hurry advertise and interview, with time being of the essence.  After much thought, yes, much thought, I decided against hiring the person…the reason?  I had to be able to sleep at night, and know that I could face that other supervisor knowing I did the right thing.  I even had a couple people say, “It happens all the time, you have to do what you have to do”. Well, I disagree.  Just because other people “do it all the time that way”, doesn’t make it right. 

I have to say, it would have been easier just to move forward and push down those feelings telling me “you are not doing the right thing”, but I did not.  I listened to those feelings and did the right thing. I also slept well that night!

Another situation I encountered the next day, I am shopping in a well-known store, and a lady was looking at some items on the shelf, and, yes, she had her cart blocking the entire aisle.  No one was getting by her!  I pulled up and waited for just a moment, knowing she had to have seen me out of the corner of her eye.  When I realized she either hadn’t noticed me or wasn’t going to notice me, I politely said, “may I get by you, please?” and the reason I am writing this is because, yes, you guessed it…she got an attitude. It was as if I had truly asked her to move the entire shelf of items so I could get by.  It was at that time, I really had to stop and think “what is the right thing to do?” I have a pretty quick tongue and I had a few statements to come back with, but I remembered…I wear a cross and I am a Christian. My handling of the situation was going to be a billboard of me as a person, and more importantly, of a person who wears a cross. So, I have to constantly ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?”  The answer is not always the easiest to answer…sometimes the right decisions are the hardest to make.

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