Wow. 2020 was the year that ate my life. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to update my blog! Do people even blog anymore or is that an ancient practice by now? Either way, I’m compelled to write, so write I shall! Last year I was moderately depressed. After I graduated from Aspen University with my Master’s degree, I had grown so used to scrambling to meet deadlines, research papers, cramming, rushing, checking off one thing after the next. No matter what, always achieving.
After graduation, I intended to take a few months to decompress, but only a few. I graduated in April, but by June I was still exhaling. I had become so tightly wound as a student, for 10 long years, it literally took me the rest of the year to unwind. Not to mention, the pandemic. Once that $#!+show began, it snowballed, eating every good thing in its path.
I’ve decided to make 2021 “The Year of Preparation”, and 2022, “The Year of Transformation”. Yep, I’ve absolutely got the next two years of my life mapped out, per the usual. For the longest time I’ve quizzically arranged and rearranged the pieces of my life in quasi -interesting patterns. I continually tossed around multiple career paths, blindly grabbing at whatever seemed to work itself into the mix. I had never settled on any one career though. I went from being a possible business major, to sociologist, to social worker, to criminologist, to forensic anthropologist, to psychologist – dear God, you name it, I entertained it!
It’s funny how we have our own ideas of how our lives will be, and then God has HIS ideas of how our lives will be. My Dad taught me something that I carry daily in my life; he said, “listen to the whistle in the wind.” At first I didn’t understand what that meant. But after he explained it, I got it. He said you need to be very quiet and very still to be able to hear that “little whistle” that is carried in the wind. Not a natural wind, of course, a Spiritual one. If we’re too loud or too busy with our own ideas, thoughts, and plans, we won’t be able to hear that ever-soft whistle, or, God’s voice, basically. I love that. Out of all of my siblings, I spent more time with my Dad than anybody. I will always be so grateful for that! I was his life student, and he taught me so much. As I grow older, I can see that I’m more like my Dad than anyone else, and for that I’m grateful too.
I feel like I was floating through 2020, aimlessly- free falling. No ambition, no direction. Just cryogenically in a state of artificial existence. An automaton, going through the motions; content to just simply be. Now that it’s a new year, I’m excited to have gained my direction once again. This year, I’ll prepare for all of the changes that will come in 2022. I’m so excited! I’ve always seen myself working with children, as a teacher. Not a grade school teacher or a standard school teacher. I’ve always seen me working with multicultural children in a foreign land, like Africa, or South America. I didn’t know how I could make that happen though. I thought perhaps I’d end up volunteering at a run down school in a third world country. Now I see the picture crystal clear.
Last year, I purchased a top TEFL program. TEFL means “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”. It’s also known as TESOL- Teaching English as a Second Language. There are other names that are used, but those are the two main ones. Once the program is completed, a certification is granted which allows the certificate-holder to begin teaching English to foreign students, either online or by traveling to their country. Understandably, this is a highly sought after career plan. Who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and experience the culture, cuisine, art scene and familial lifestyles? I’m giddy just thinking about it. 🙂 It’s possible to begin teaching with a TEFL certification only, and the pay is pretty good at that level. But, if you have a bachelor’s degree also, you jump up to another tier entirely, by which the pay is much better, as are the career opportunities. So, it gives me great pleasure to know that my hard work in academia will pay off in more ways than one.
So, I’ve had this program for 8 months now. As I said, I needed to take additional time to decompress. Now that I have, I’m excited to begin my TEFL studies. It usually takes a person 6 to 8 months to complete the necessary courses to become TEFL/TESOL certified. Naturally, I would be teaching students on my laptop, and online, at first, given the state of things with the pandemic. At some point down the road, however, I indent to do a bit of traveling to other countries, here and there, to really soak up the experience.
At some point, I plan on incorporating my children’s book, Peanut Butter Soup, into the curriculum. I also have major plans of developing a music program, and using my acoustic guitar to teach the children basic chord progressions. It doesn’t take much to teach basic chords and songwriting methodologies to children. Children are so eager to learn and therefore make excellent music students. Although we won’t speak the same language, we’ll be able to share a universal language, which is music.
I do have big plans for 2022! I’m so ready for this new stage in my life. Because I’ll probably end up in South America at some point down the line, I’m also beginning to study Spanish in earnest, in tandem with my TEFL studies. It’s important to be bilingual in this line of work. It’s not exactly necessary, but complimentary.
It’s good to be back in the saddle!
It’s going to be a good year. ❤
Self portrait/Ohio River/Jeffersonville, Indiana
I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂
Welp- it’s official. Josh and I are going to see his family! He hasn’t been there (apart from two times, shortly) in about 7 years. Losing both parents at an early age and then being shuffled through foster homes, he had all of the odds stacked against him in life, and like me, should have ended up a statistic. But he’s kind, strong, loving, and highly intelligent (I know you’re reading this Brianna, and I know you’re laughing!) but he really is. He’s overcome great odds; it ripped my heart out of my chest to see him writhing on the floor last night, wailing and crying out for his Mother.
So, after pulling a few strings today, I’ve managed to coordinate a road trip. The house is stocked with $300 of groceries- Bob’s got his smokes- Brianna’s got her Carl back (he had escaped earlier) and after fueling up, we’re headed out to Huber’s Winery to pick up a couple of bottles of Catawba Rose to go with Josh’s Aunt’s “Wild Gypsy” candle we bought for her. I’ve heard about his family for so long now, I feel like I know them already, and I love them all truly. I’ve been missing his sister, Kat, lately. I feel sad in my heart for her and I just can’t put my finger on it, but when my fall aid is finalized, we’re going to take a trip to see her too.
I had an odd dream last night. I dreamed that I was walking in the snow but it was warm, like a mild summer day. (I usually dream in monochrome and sepia tones, much like my photography.) But last night, the palette was explosive! Wild, vivid colours. I walked into a patch of sunshine: I could tell by the grass’s shadows that it was about 6:00 p.m.- just when the shadows are stretched to their peak (and the best time for photographing them if you want dramatic photos). As I stepped into a triangular area of bright sunlight, the snow became mingled with dollar bills. It was literally “snowing money”. I walked with my eyes closed and a bizarre smile plastered on my face, and when I woke up, there was a warm glow all around me. Is that…is that what happiness feels like?!
I suppose it was a bit prophetic in a way- I was able to access $500 for groceries and a road trip- last minute. Josh is strangely tense. I know there are a lot of emotions he feels right now. It’s like being around a brooding storm without thunder- but a very quiet one just the same. I understand.
I adore Einstein. And so, I redecorated my living room wall. It’s my “happy place”. I drink tea there, watch “Chopped” there, (study there) and really, just stare off at the pretty colours and lament that Einstein is dead.
He was a good one.
I’ve decided that after I graduate (later this year, or perhaps as early as 2014) I’m interested in transferring over to a B.A. in Sociology. I entertained the notion of a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and I think I’d make an excellent parole officer, but my heart is in sociology. Plus, I’d like to travel extensively. We’ll see how that works out.
I’ve decided to learn Swahili. Why? Because I’ve been overwhelmed lately. When I’m overwhelmed, I don’t like to taper down. Rather, I jack it up. I study something new or hone my skills in a new craft, talent, or ambition (such as gourmet cooking, a musical instrument, or new medium in art) and I can’t think of anything that I want to do more right now than learn Swahili.
Ok. I can think of about nine other things. But Swahili is pretty high on the list. Besides, I have dreams of going to Africa one day and volunteering some time in an orphanage or two. I can choose to be lazy and let somebody interpret our communications, or actually learn Swahili. I choose the latter.
There are a few “eligible bachelors” who are doing very well for themselves who have let me know that they’re interested in me. But I would have to completely put my dreams and ambitions on the back burner, yet again, to foster my energies on somebody else and darn it- I’m just not going to do that.
Sorry, gentlemen. I am OFF the market.
I’m going to learn Swahili and travel and make a CD of my songs and do all sorts of things that I’ve never done before. Now I’m off to study for an exam in metamorphic rocks and make Swedish meatballs just for me.
Air kisses dahling…
There is a heck of a lot of chaos going on behind the scenes in my family right now, and I don’t mean my immediate family (altogether), but outside of my four walls. I live an interesting life for sure. Because of my walk that I’ve walked, there are those few family members that will always want to dig up bones in my graveyard.
I say go dig your own graveyard and leave my bones alone. I’ve made peace with much of what’s happened to me in my life. Some things, caused by my own stupidity- others, caused by those who cannot let go of their pasts. Sadly, I know many people who live in their pasts. It’s true that I rarely visit mine. I have memories, sure. Good ones, and lots of them. But I don’t hang on to the things that hurt me, and I certainly don’t invite others to a bitter banquet so they can feast on my rags. I’ve given all my rags away, to people who are much worse off than me.
I really do not understand how people can think they’ve got it so bad. And if you think I haven’t lived through some wicked stuff, you can read my Bio. We all go through trauma, disease, famine, humiliation, and other facts of life, but to grovel in a pool of your own vomit, and to stay in it by choice, so that others can pity you?
Moving on. I’ve sadly had to block several of my family members (again) because they simply cannot stop hating. Hate! Hate! Hate! It blows my mind.
I blocked them because I believe you have to put the negativity out of your life. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But you don’t have to sit down and have tea with it either. I take my cue from Jesus, yet again. He was asked to come to the house of distraught parents. Their daughter had died. When He came to them, He told them that she was only sleeping. (I love that part.) They laughed him to scorn, the Bible says. Can you imagine? People wailing and grieving and seriously hurting, and then there are those who take pleasure to mock and laugh at such a time.
What did he do? He didn’t tolerate it one bit. That’s what. He tossed them out of the house, and he “shut the door”. I know when to shut my door. It may seem that I’m angry, but don’t mistake my strong stand in life for anger- I am grounded, completely, and pretty unshakable in my faith.
I have to regroup quickly when people are gnashing on me so viciously. I’m only human. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t have anger and all of those other things. If you punch me in my face, I may punch you back and just say I’ll repent later. I’m still working on that “turning the other cheek” thing.
But on that note, I do know when to walk away from people who claim this or that, but cannot stop devouring you. I do know how to shut my door- Jesus taught me that one.
When I feel these things in my life, I choose to do things that are constructive. It does no good to sit around and stew in it, and really, you have to act quickly, because rage is like a cancer. It will eat away at every cell of your soul, and it feels so good to pay them back, but you’re only hurting yourself in the end. Every arrow that flies out returns to you. Make sure you send good arrows.
I choose photography. When I go out into a scene, I compose my surroundings. Photography forces me to change the way I see the world. I have to choose a focal point. (That takes your mind off of the wrong focal point.) No matter what you’re feeling, you can go out and capture a view of the world that is altogether different than the way you feel.
Bitter people chewing on my back has been my catalyst for change many times, to do good for others. It gets me out of that dark place, and pushes me toward my art- singing, writing songs, playing my guitar/keyboard and, photography- all of which allow me to see and feel beauty. I can choose to be happy, no matter what.
And so I am. 🙂
I’m not one to toss around rose petals (like Joel Osteen, no offense to him, love him truly, but he’s happy like…….10000% of the time. Sorry Joe, my car breaks down routinely and we’re scrimping for toilet paper half the time- it’s REAL up in this household if ya know what I mean…).
And so, I take pictures. Not in spite of, but because of all of the family chaos lately, I went out and shot this sunset. I’ve never been a landscape photographer and I’ve never been fond of “sunset shots”. It’s not that they’re not beautiful, I’ve never had the necessary growth as an artist to appreciate them, that’s all. I do now.
Who knew that the cruelty of my enemies would be the very thing to help me see beauty?
Thank you enemies.
And that is how I turn things around.
When I first met J, he had long hair well past his shoulders. He was a total stoner, just as I was, and was fresh out of a foster home: he was 18. My brother had brought him over one night, looking for some Klonopin (of which I had plenty at the time) and sort of left him on my doorstep. My brother was inebriated and wandered off into the night, having left his friend behind.
I had lost two of my children to the system some 14 years before, due to a series of tragedies, and so my heart really went out to the guy when he shared with me his story. His mother had been murdered when he was only 7. His Dad died of a heart attack when he was 14. He was sent to live with his grandmother afterwards, who treated him unkindly, and from there, he was placed in one foster home after the next. I was still fighting for the return of my own children at that time, and when we compared notes, we soon realized that our stories were strikingly similar, except he was “the kid from the foster homes” and I was “the parent fighting for mine to return”; nevertheless, we shared the same feelings, ideas, notions, beliefs, struggles, and hopes. It was obvious that there was an age gap- 18 years to be exact- and I thought, at best, we would become friends who shared a spectacular understanding of loss and life.
We talked for the next three days- without sleeping. We smoked a lot of weed and bonded entirely. We both knew that we had “found somebody” who could truly understand our paths, both past and present. We discovered that we were both Christians, and singers/songwriters/musicians. We were also both French and Indian (native American).
As I learned more about this amazing guy, I realized that he had a gift in the areas of endurance and overcoming tragedy. I hadn’t yet learned many lessons that he had learned, and at some an early age. I followed him like a shadow, studying his easygoing manner, his very slow and methodical way of speaking. I noticed that he never spoke without giving what he said much thought. I on the other hand, often stuttered and, especially in his presence, was tongue tied and gushed out any ole thing my brain was thinking at the time. I completely lacked finesse and grace.
I was also extremely hot-headed. If somebody pissed me off, I was ready to roll- and I do mean roll. J and I weren’t by any means “an item” but we grew close and formed a unique bond. I taught him the ropes in photography; how to compose a shot and the importance of exposure and lighting. He soon became my apprentice and model. I painted a huge set of butterfly wings on my wall and he became my living butterfly. (They made for very interesting pics. 🙂
The weeks turned into months, and the months years. I grew to love J with all of my heart, and have never known a love so strongly, apart from my children and parents, but this was a different kind of love altogether. I’ve learned so much from him, as he has from me. We quit smoking pot ( 5 years ago) together, and we quit smoking cigarettes together around the same time. We quit drinking whiskey together and somehow, we’ve worked the worst out of each other and have polished up our best parts.
When we first met, we were both aimless, bleeding wounds in life. He’s been able to comfort me, and repair some places in my heart and soul that were dying. I’ve been able to care for him and give him the nurturing and love that he’s craved for many years.
Although he was riddled with unspeakable horrors as a child, he was able to become an outstanding academic student, which has rubbed off on me entirely. We’re now both college students and can call each other a “life partner”. We’ve literally grown up together. Saying that J is a “boyfriend” is somewhat insulting. He’s so much more. If he were my husband, there would be labels and expectations and such. We share a unique friendship, but with a love and respect much stronger. I’ve often told him that I would rather be dirt poor, living in a cardboard box with him, under a bridge, than to have a fine mansion without him. And it’s true.
And that’s the funny thing about love. It’s such a precious thing in this world; when it comes to you, you must hold it like a child, cultivate it, and care for it like the most delicate of possessions. In five months, it will have been 7 years since J showed up at my door.
“I love this little pitty…and this little pitty….and this little pitty….” J says, grabbing my toes and smiling at me. I return the smile, my heart swelling and burning with love.
Who knew it would take an 18 year old kid to make a woman out of me?
(And such a trainwreck of a person to make a man out of him.)
We’re not the same people were were years ago. We’ve merged into the same being in a way. We can give each other one look and say so many things. He picks things out of my head almost constantly- verbatim- and that’s really freaky, but so very neat. I feel like the very threads of our souls are intertwined. I speak much slower now. 🙂 And I always think before I speak.
My little car is falling apart, and so I’ll be getting another soon. I told J that I will give him this one when I do- it can be his fixer upper. He just replaced the alternator and the battery, and I love the way he stands here, holding his prize (like a caveman) – the beast- conquered.
Life can change so quickly sometimes. One big earthquake can bring a nation to its knees and everything you have today can be gone tomorrow. I think of these things daily. I can’t speak for tomorrow, but today, love is not only in my life, but it rules it. I barely have two pennies that I can rub together, but J’s love has made me a rich woman.
And I’ll take love over money, any day…