the healthy option

it’d been several months that i had been mad at myself, coming home from work, from a day filled with the energy of 10 year olds. i’d walk in, drop my gear on the kitchen table, turn on the television, and lounge on the couch with the intent to calm my mind for a bit. the problem was i’d feel myself sink lower and lower, and before i knew it, i was falling asleep.

so.

i made a statement, not only to myself but to rudy as well. ‘i want this tv gone, out of the house.’ by the next day i had moved it into the garage, where it sat unused. and then i transferred my after school activities to the kitchen table. the hard chair and tabletop  worked, for a while, until i reminded myself that while working on teacher work i could use my computer to watch… whatever.

bad.

several more months passed when i made another statement. ‘all i do is sit here and watch shows on Netflix. i’m kidding myself. i am losing it. not taking care of myself. i need a stand up table.’

‘huh?’ rudy grunted.

‘well, a desk. a desk i stand at instead of sit. it’s a healthy option.’

the thing is, as a teacher i walk around the classroom all day long. checking students work here, checking behavior there, and guiding lessons everywhere. by the time i get home, the steps i’d taken at work, about 6500, made me feel i’d earn sit-down time. but, i’d mistakenly believed sitting for the rest of the night made up for all the walking i did during the day.

wrong. i was feeling bloated.

so, i did a quick search of desks that you can work at while standing.

and boy, did i find a beauty. it’s called an UPLIFT DESK, made in austin, tx. the tabletop is made from reclaimed fir wood and comes with a controller (attached to the desk) to automatically adjust its height.

i’m in love.

plus, a new puzzle obsession has occurred, an activity that (both figuratively and literally) keeps me on my toes.

and.

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to add to all the joy i am feeling, i have set up the room in my house, the one with the wall full of windows and, more importantly, the light filled room surrounded by items given to me by my sister and my mom, two people who are on my mind daily, two people who continue to guide me and remind me about what’s important in life.

What’s so Difficult About Staying Organized?

Long, long, long ago when I was a wee child I used to clean without being asked. It wasn’t a chore. It wasn’t mandatory. It wasn’t expected of me. Yet, I cleaned. Organized, Put things in their place. And the result? Boy, did I feel invincible, as if I could do anything. Cleaning and organizing are my go-to activities whenever I need a boost of contentment. Once completed, I can relax.

Of course, as that small, youthful girl I had no clue the benefits I’d gain, nor did I recognize any joyous feelings I may have experienced during those early years. I mean, really, I was only about 5 years old, I think, when it all began. When cleaning and organizing became as common to me as did writing with my dominant left hand. I still can vividly see myself in that small bedroom, making beds, arranging shoes, folding clothes, and sweeping the floor. Or being in the kitchen. Putting hand-washed dishes in their place and organizing the lower cupboards, the ones I could reach, stacking pots and pans. Did anyone notice? I don’t know and I didn’t seem to be concerned whether my work was recognized or not. I simply enjoyed the task.

As the years progressed, I have continued to keep my spaces [mostly] in an orderly manner. I prefer an organized household – or classroom, for that matter, simply because it’s so much easier to find what I’m looking for. But, that’s not to say that, seriously, sometimes a bit of disarray is fine and dandy, and ironically can be very comforting and soothing. Just not to the point where chaos begins to take over. Because, then, my mood takes a dive.

Fast forward to today. There is a teenage boy – young adult, actually – in the house who finds it very difficult to stay organized. I can’t recall how many times over the years that I have gone into his bedroom, cleaned up, created places for cherished items, and walked out feeling content. Clutter be gone! Yet, within days, somehow, somewhere all is lost, under a pile of clothes, both dirty and clean.

And he doesn’t understand what the problem is.

I get it, I do, we’re all individuals, good at certain things and great at others; and, we all have something we are lacking, things we can improve.

In the end, I do have to say, my lacking in trying not to eat “junk food” for the betterment of my health takes a backseat to having a clean and organized space surrounding me.

Life

 

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Ups, downs, and all arounds.
That's life,
unexpected events and occurrences
mixed together with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good turns bad, which looks ugly, and feels never-ending.
Yet,
life is a journey.
Nothing should be the same except for deep-rooted feelings,
and the love for one another.
So,
when things seem impossible
remember, look around, and embrace what's possible,
what can be.
The bad and the ugly
are reminders not to take life for granted,
Rather,
grab hold of the good,
ride with it,
embrace it,
and remember it, always,
and forever.

 

Here’s a Love Story for You

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Rudy was about 16 or 17 years old, living in Honduras, (long before he met California). He was a senior in high school, a star basketball player, and an overall good guy. A nice guy. Friendly. Sometimes observant, sometimes talkative.

There he was one evening, walking across the only bridge in town, when he sees her walking in the opposite direction. Her green eyes look at him, casually. Her long dark hair rustles in the breeze.

The most beautiful girl in the world.

She’s Honduran with mix of her dad’s Australian.

Rudy gazes at her, shyly, unable to speak.

Unfortunately.

He doesn’t see her for a few days. And then he does. Again. Crossing the bridge.

“Hola,” he says.

“Hi,” she responds.

And off they go, heading in the opposite direction, passing without another word.

He asks friends about her. Asking them about the beautiful girl who speaks English.

“Oh, her? She’s been around. Where have you been?” they say, playfully shoving him.

One night, not too long later, he goes to a party and sees her there. He feels his heart pound, excitedly. Feeling confident, Rudy introduces himself and asks her to dance.

She told him she used to have a boyfriend with the same last name. “Yo tenía un novio con el mismo apellido.”

Bravely, innocently, and boyishly he responds, “¿Quieres otra novio llamado Romero?”

She laughs. As if he’s a joke.

Rudy wants to sink into the earth. He feels stupid. Why did he ask if she wanted another boyfriend with the same last name?

So, he turns, walks away, drags his feet. Feet that seem to take ten years to move to the other side of the room. His head hangs down. He starts to leave with friends. The party is over, for him at least. But, she runs after him, says she can see he’s feeling down and that she is sorry, she didn’t mean any harm. Didn’t mean to be rude.

Suddenly the air filled with music.

Rudy asks, “¿Quieres bailar?”

She grabs his hand and pulls him with her, back to where the party is.

 

 

Anger Strikes a Pose

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A few years ago a student of mine stated, “You’re so chill, so easy to talk to.” I smiled, happy I was making an impact with my low-key demeanor. Happy that just being me was important to someone else.

“You know what I also really like about you?” she added.

I made eye contact with her. “My blue Vans™ High Tops?” I joked.

“Well, yeah,” she laughed, “but I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal. Like, you don’t make me feel small. You make me feel I can accomplish anything.”

“Wow! That’s so great. That’s exactly what I am hoping I am doing.”

I must say, all that is awesome, great, the reason I wanted to be a teacher, a person who has an impact on these youngsters who cross my path, not only to educate them but just as important, to build their self-esteem.

BUT, this year, for the first time, no kid has ever said nice things about me, to me. (Not that I need the accolades) it’s just that I have questioned myself as to why I am allowing deep-set negative feelings about the world at large seep into my core and camouflage who I truly am. In other words, I feel what’s good about life has taken a backseat to what is wrong in our world. Thus, these feelings have had an impact on the kind of teacher I never thought I’d be.

Nothing dramatic, just not cool. Not chill. Not low-key.

“…I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal…”. 

I’m missing that. 

A few weeks ago, when I had a conversation with myself (yep, I do that, I talk to me because I know myself best) I realized my behavior was out-of-tune. Today, the old me, the chill me, stood if front of a group of relaxed,  smiling kids who seemed to enjoy being in my classroom.

The Arkansas Way

 

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Several years back I would spend my time off work relaxing in Arkansas. You see, during a three year stint Rudy was living and working there. Not by choice, rather because of necessity. It was the only job he could find when the economy was suffering. A time when choosing where to work wasn’t an option for him.  So, when Arkansas called he left. And, unbeknown to me, I fell in love with a true wonderland. Arkansas is beautiful. The landscape is breathtaking.

Though Rudy did come home for visits, I looked forward to flying out, hanging out, walking around and embracing the true meaning of relaxation. Instead of spending my week or a complete summer cleaning, organizing, painting, repairing, etc., like I always did (and still do) in California, I’d chill.

My daily routine in Arkansas was so simple, so basic, so enjoyable. After giving Rudy a ride to work in the early morning (I wanted the SUV during the day) I’d plop on the couch and begin writing. I’d spend a few hours spilling my thoughts, constantly editing and rereading until I felt a publishable story was complete. And then I’d walk. I’d take long walks through neighborhoods, walking down paved roads, admiring the architecture and the tall trees. Or, I’d walk the length of a complete hilly golf course. Walking along the golf-cart trail. Which never seemed to be an issue as the course was rarely being used by others – possibly due to either very cold or very hot weather. Not ideal for the players, yet perfect for me. And then, back home, after a shower, Brad would awaken, which meant we’d travel around town finding different scenarios to engage in for the remainder of the afternoon. (Did you know the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel is in the middle of the forest in Bella Vista? Or how about the Crystal Bridges Museum, a wonderful establishment full of modern art in Bentonville?) We’d explore places like this until it was time to pick up Rudy from work.

Which brings me to today. Day 1 of Spring Break, Orange County, CA. And how I’ve decided to spend the week. I’m taking the time to embrace relaxation. The Arkansas Way. I will not use the days to clean, organize, paint, repair, etc. This week my routine will be as carefree as possible. After enjoying a cup of hot coffee I will begin writing. I know I will spend a few hours honing in on what I feel is a piece of work that is worthy of publishing. And then I will walk. Whether it’s a walk in my neighborhood, the heights behind our house, or a stroll along the shoreline down south. My mood will guide me. Then I will attend to enjoyable extrusions, whether heading to the store to purchase ingredients for my baking experiments, cruising through a bookstore (just because I love the environment), or any other place that tickles my fancy. I will end my days with conversations with Rudy and, if I’m hungry, eat the food he prepares. Followed by a comfortable bed and a good read.

Walk 38

Walking is what we do best. Me. And my three.

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Roberto, Liz, and Brad

Well, me and Liz, for sure. Roberto occasionally. And Brad, not really. But on this day, this past Sunday, we walked. Together. Up some hills. And on the shore of Pacific Palisades. A beach town in California.

You see, I found this great book, 10,000 STEPS A DAY IN L.A. by Paul Haddad, so we decided to take ‘A Stroll for the Soul’.

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I parked up a hill, about half way, then we walked down the hill, turned left, and walked in the opposite direction of the beach. We headed to the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Oh, boy, what a beautiful, serene setting. You’d never know we were surrounded  by people people everywhere. All the greenery, the tall trees, blocked the outside activity, and provided the perfect spot to, seriously, self-reflect.

After balancing our minds, we walked back toward the beach, across Pacific Coast Highway, admiring the magnificent view. The ocean blue.

Nothing is better than walking while spending time with my kids. Kids who are not kids, but adults. Adults who enjoy the outside world. Like I do.