How to Cope when people think you’re “ish”

I’ve returned to teaching elementary school this year after a 3 year hiatus of staying at home, and then another 3 year stint at an alternative high school (which is nothing like an elementary school, in case you’re wondering). I am teaching part-time in a rural school district that is home to a total of 50 students, kindergarten through 6th grade. My job is grand. I am the FUN teacher, at least I try to be. I am the PE and Fine Arts teacher. I teach 3 classes a day, 2 PE and one Fine Arts. How much more fun can it get right? We play games, we dance, we create, we paint, we sing, we drama…. um, dramatize……um, are very dramatic, some much more than others. It’s a great gig and I am loving it.

One of these little love cups in my charge happens to be my 6-year-old daughter. I don’t make her call me Mrs. Wheeler either. Am I wrong for that? I watch her expressions a lot during class and I know when she is loving the lessons, games, and activities. I also know when she thinks it is lame, or when I am totally embarrassing her. Which doesn’t make me stop, by the way.

The other evening she and I were in the kitchen and she told me a little story. She said that while in PE, a student asked a question of her and she replied, “I don’t know, go ask my mom.” The other student replied, “That’s your mom?” And when EK told her yes, the little girl  turned up her nose, and said “ISH.”

EK looked up at me in the kitchen and said, “But you’re not ish.” However, the way she said it left me questioning if she believed it. She didn’t say it emphatically, like “But you’re NOT ISH!” Rather, it ended in a bit of a question, “But, you’re not ish.” Like she wanted to add, “Are you?” Of course what is she going to say? She’s my daughter and right now she’s at the age where she thinks I hung the moon. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t tell me I’m the best. I know these times won’t last, but I certainly don’t want her opinion of me to change because of some snotty nosed brat in PE. Uh, I mean little love cup. (kidding, I’m kidding).

I didn’t easily dismiss this conversation. I may have thought about it over and over. I’m fun. I’m not ish. I wonder who else thinks I’m ish?  In truth, this little story I was told truly got me thinking hard how others opinions of us shape and guide us, even in this seemingly trite example.

We all want to be liked. We all want to be liked all the time. But the cold, hard truth is, we aren’t going to be. We know this. It’s out there. Let’s think about what we’ve been told.

  • You can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  • Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.
  • You may be the juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches.

We can hear these expressions all day long and believe them all day long, but it still stings a little when you get negative feedback. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be ish, even to a seven-year old, maybe especially to a seven-year old. Children are brutally honest and when it’s coming from them it’s gospel, right?

No matter how badly I don’t want to be ish, others are going to think I am. It’s going to happen and it’s especially going to happen if you are putting yourself out there in any way.  When I began my LuLaRoe business, I had to put myself out there. I had to make phone calls, do Facebook Lives, talk to strangers and it wasn’t easy. I have always been a bit of a recluse, so putting myself out there doesn’t come natural for me. Maybe it doesn’t for you either, but what if you have a dream, a big one, that is going to require you to put yourself out there. You’re going to encounter some ish opinions.

Anyone who has their own sense of style, who wants to grow a blog (raises hand), who wants to write a book (raises hand), who wants to start a business, who wants to sing on broadway, who wants a million instagram followers, who wants to change the world, and a million other dreamers are putting themselves out there every single day. Do you think there are those who think they are ish? Of course there are. There are people who think they are worse than ish. In this day of cyber bullying and keyboard warriors, there are some who hide behind the protection of a screen and post ugly comments, bad reviews, and hateful emails.  Should these opinions leave us running to our beds, crying, and eating tubs of ice cream? Maybe for a little bit, but not forever.

Here’s what we can do when this happens to us.

**focus on the ones who don’t think you’re ish—There are people who love you. Focus on those. In my classes, I have others who are hugging me daily and telling me they love me.  I’m not going to let one little ish ruin it. There are people out there who love your bold sense of style, your writing, your singing, your dancing, your ideas, your everything…..maybe they haven’t found you yet but they are out there. One day they will find you and shower you with how awesome you are. Keep on.

**don’t dwell on it—-As hard as it may be to let it go, it is imperative to let it go. You can’t dwell on it. That will only cause depressing thoughts that will bog you down and possibly change your opinion of yourself. We are our own worst critic to begin with, we certainly don’t need anymore. Should we try to improve? Yes, always. We can take constructive criticism and improve, but don’t dwell on the negative. Think about the positive words and compliments that have been given to you. Keep on.

**don’t let the fear of other’s ishy opinions stop you—-Your dreams are inside of you for a reason. If you want to go big, then go big. Don’t let the fear and worry of other’s opinions keep you from going for it, whatever it is. If you don’t, you will remain where you are. Fearing failure will hold us back. Later sometimes becomes never. Understand that those people with the ish opinions are out there, but don’t let them dictate your path. Take steps forward. Be brave. Keep on.
**to thine own self be true—Didn’t Fancy’s mama give her this same advice in that heart-shaped locket? (please tell me you get this reference). But seriously, be true to your self. I have spent a whole lot of years trying to discover myself while all the time worrying about what other people are thinking of me and following the crowd. We will reach an age when we realize we really don’t care. I want you to find that age sooner than later. Stop comparing yourself to the latest and greatest. Do what makes your heart sing. What makes your soul happy. You will find your tribe. Keep on.
**bullying is not okay—As a disclaimer, I want to say that this post is about people who think you’re ish, not about people who may be harming you or bullying you. That is not okay. Get help and tell someone if something serious and repetitive is happening.

When people say your ish,
You may feel sad and blue
But your crown, straighten and polish,
To thine own self be true.

Inside you is a wish,
A dream that’s big and bold
Only you hold the power,
To turn those ishes into gold.

So focus on your goals,
Don’t listen to that ish,
You may not be a peach,
But you’re a pretty tasty dish!

Y’all go out and turn that ish into something delish.

 

 

 

 

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Late Bloomers

I love how nature speaks to me. I received a great lesson today, and I wanted to share it with you.

At the beginning of summer I planted a garden. Granted, I may have been a tad tardy with my planting, but my garden has been a flop. I attempted a new method this year, hoping to avoid weeding, avoid tilling, and freshen up the soil. Instead of planting directly into the ground, I planted a pallet garden.

If you’re unfamiliar with this technique, it’s a simple concept. At least for me, which may have been the reason for my poor results. I basically tossed a pallet on the ground, filled it with soil, and sewed my seed in the rows of pallets.

My garden took off……..in the beginning. It sprouted. It blossomed. It flourished.  I was so excited, eagerly awaiting the results. The delicious food that I could bless my family with. But it never produced fruit. While others posted pictures of their bounty all summer long on social media, I chalked my garden up to a big ol’ dud. The plants were large. The leaves were green, the blossoms were oh so many. But no veggies were to be had.

J-Dub and I assessed the situation and decided that perhaps it was a little too crowded in that pallet. No, I didn’t thin the little saplings like the seed packet told me to….I just can’t stand to pull up potential. Each of those seeds has within it the potential to provide life nourishing food. I just figure I’d probably pull up the wrong one, that every little seed deserves a chance, and that the strong would win out. Wasn’t true. There crowded conditions kept any of them from producing. Anyway, we continued to water, it continued to grow, but when I realized my mistake, I decided what I’ll do differently next year. More room, less plants.

Today is Sept. 13. Here it is on the cusp of fall, and I got the surprise of the day when I discovered little bitty baby veggies growing in my garden. I laughed out loud, bending down to move the big leaves to see what else was hiding underneath. Quite a few little babies were there. Yes they are tiny. Yes they may not make it full grown, but they are there just the same.

 

“You’re just a late bloomer, aren’t you?” I spoke to my lovely little garden. “Just like me.”

I realized then and there, it’s okay. How often are we constantly comparing our lives to others who are posting their bounty on social media? How often do we think we should already have accomplished, achieved, experienced so much in our life by now?

We are so much like this little pallet garden of mine. We have within us so much potential. We are the seeds, full of possibility to give life nourishing fruit to others. But we sometimes get crowded out. Others outshine us. We may even look at the ones around us and believe that they have it all and there’s no way we can bear our fruit. Maybe we even believe it’s too hard, or there’s not enough to go around and those other guys already got it all. It’s never a good feeling when we feel like we are competing with the ones next to us.

We should never give up. Yes, it’s the oldest cliche’ in the world, but it’s more than a cliche’. It’s truth.  Just as I didn’t give up on this little garden. Even when we thought it might be a dud, we didn’t abandon it. We kept on watering it. There was always a little glimmer of hope that it might become what it was intended to. That is exactly why I checked on it today. In the hope that the fruit would be there. Same as us. We all have our dreams inside of us. Don’t give up on them. Don’t give up on yourself. You aren’t a dud. Keep your hope alive.

When I saw those little baby veggies, it brought me joy, and I quickly got the hose to give it more of what it needed. And like you and like me, our small baby fruits, that we think don’t make a difference, do bring others joy. Give yourself what you need. Whatever that may be. You are important and your needs shouldn’t go unmet. Take some time to reflect on what you need, and love yourself enough to tend your own garden.

My takeaways from this lesson in nature:

1) You have great potential and possibility inside you.

2) You may not be planted in the optimal place, but you can still bear fruit.

3) Don’t let others crowd you out. Stop comparing your bounty to everyone else’s. They have weeds too, you just aren’t seeing them.

4) Blossom in your own time, even if it seems too late. It is never too late.

5) You and your gifts bring others joy. Keep on. You never know when you are affecting another.

XOXO,

Angel

 

Paper or Plastic?

I know you’ve seen that meme floating around facebook that says something along the lines of “I’m so glad it’s Saturday, so I can run errands, clean house, do laundry, grocery shop…..etc. etc. etc.”

How true it is. Funny that my Saturday to-do list matches that meme verbatim. Funny, not funny.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m beginning to believe a tell-tale sign that you’ve hit a certain age is when you start griping about how the 17-year-old kid is sacking your groceries at the store. I can’t help but wonder if there is a training for this or if they just let them at it.

My dad once said, “Sacking groceries used to be an art form. Now they just throw them in there any old way.” I dismissed this comment and chalked it up to being a grouchy old man remembering days gone by with paper bags and orderly groceries. Fresh faced boys with a little too much Bryl cream gingerly placing eggs in paper bags. We all have those images from sitcoms or movies where ladies walk from the grocery store carrying one paper bag with a loaf of french bread sticking out of the top. Paper bags have a structure and can be artfully filled with great precision. But nowadays we don’t always get the choice for paper or plastic. We get what we get, which around here is plastic.

I went to The Walmarts today and quite almost bought out the store since we literally had NOTHING to eat at our house. We’ve been living on Saltines and grape jelly over here. So my basket was overloaded. You know, to the point I had to change my stance and engage my quads in order to turn the corners. Now, a younger me used to not care about how the groceries were placed in the basket or how they went on the conveyor belt. A younger me put the groceries up and let the checker/sacker who is one in the same, sort it out. But the older me, she has a system. I strategically unpack my cart onto the belt so that items can go together in the sack making it easier on me to
a) fit them all in my basket
b) carry them in from the car
and c) put them away.

Today, didn’t really go so strategically, and as I placed my sacked groceries into my cart, I couldn’t help and think of my dad and his comment. When you have an already overloaded cart, you’re operating on limited space. A large grocery bill ends up being about 976 plastic bags full of groceries that you have to fit in your basket, carry in from the car, and put away.

This is where a little art of sacking would come in handy. I honestly don’t understand why they put one item in a sack. Why? My checker/sacker put every kind of meat that I purchased in its own sack. No need to mix pork and beef. And of course cleaners need their own sack, and then the tiny package of sewing needles go in their own plastic sack on the off-chance they may bust out of their packaging and puncture the OJ. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

So many items in their own sack. Except of course the can goods. They all go together, all 22 of them. Don’t mind this permanent indented red mark on the crook of my elbow from my 70 lb sack of green beans.

I couldn’t help but do a little combining right there in the checkout line. It was that, or have a rigor. It’s okay if bread and eggs go in the same sack, it really is. And paper towels don’t really need their own sack. It’s okay, throw a container or two of yogurt in there. It will be fine.

Even with own combining, I still made a gazillion trips into the house. By this time, my quads were truly burning and of course, I was starving, my Saturday was half gone and the second half will be my date with laundry, and by the time I got all my groceries in my little kitchen, there was no where left to step and I was exhausted. Walmart Grocery Shopping should be the new Olympic Sport, especially when you’re down to nothing but saltines and grape jelly. It’s quite a feat.

But ode to joy! I now have a kitchen stocked to the brim, and Pizza Hut on speed dial. You know the drill.

 

 

 

My Grits, but please don’t kiss them

The other day at work, a couple of us started talking about grits. I was left out of the convo, because all I had to say was, “I’ve never had grits.” And, “what is a grit anyway?” The others began to tell me what I was missing out on, how they fixed theirs, and how often they ate them. Granted, I was curious.

That afternoon around 4:15 (my optimal binge eating time), which just so happened to be the day before Valentine’s day, I just so happened to be at The Walmarts getting all the things that I just so happened to have procrastinated buying earlier. Mom stuff. Party stuff.  Valentine’s stuff. Stuff like: party refreshments for EK’s Valentine party, Valentine cards for EK’s party, crafts for making EK’s Valentine box, candy for EK, candy for J-Dub, a card for J-Dub, and all the other things.  Do you see a pattern here?

A few things to note:
1) The Walmarts has recently been rearranged completely. So trying to find anything is enough to drive a sane person stark-raving, run-down-the-street-naked, pull-your-hair-out, crazy. Can I get an Amen?
2) The Walmarts before Valentine’s Day is probably second in crazy only to Black Friday shopping, especially the candy and card aisle; both of which I had to maneuver.
3) 4:15 is when I am really hungry . On the verge of Hangry. You’ve been warned.
4) I should never go to The Walmarts at 4:15 (during my optimal binge eating time) the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s a dumb idea. Neither should you.

You probably know where this is going. I’m at The Walmarts at 4:15 the Day before Valentine’s Day and I’m pulling everything off the shelf whether I need it or not, because this is basically a high stress time and I need to get the holy crap out of there with my life. I tried to remain calm; going within, thinking happy thoughts, humming. Instead of calming me down, I was only annoying myself more. The only thing that was going to make this better was buying food items I never buy because it’s 4:15 at The Walmarts on the Day before Valentine’s Day, and eating is my Xanax.

Loading my basket with red yarn, googly eyes, Kool Aid Jammers, Cap’n’Crunch, Chex Mix, Pink and Red cookies, and you guessed it… Instant Grits, I arrived home fully intact but a bit disheveled. J-Dub remarked about my interesting choice of foods I’d purchased. Well yes, it’s 4:15 at The Walmarts the Day before Valentine’s Day. Need I say more?

Today I prepared some grits. I understand that instant grits isn’t going to measure up to (whatever the opposite of instant is)…..slow grits? But I’m an amateur. I have to begin somewhere, and “instant” is usually where I like to begin. I read the directions, prepared them like instant oatmeal, and tried a taste.  I got the cheese grits, so I thought they would have a nice taste, not really needed any extra, but I can only imagine what the un-cheese grits taste like. I added salt, that didn’t help. I added milk, that kind of helped. I added sugar, that really helped. Still, I don’t think I’m a fan.

Truthfully, I’m lost about grits. I don’t  know whether Grits are a breakfast food or a supper food. I don’t even really know how a grit is different from corn meal. And I really don’t know what the term “kiss my grits” means for sure. Anyone remember Alice? Flo? Any help would be appreciated. If you’ve got the answers, I need them.

From this experience, here are my take-aways . Besides learning when not to go to The Walmarts—(4:15 on the Day before Valentine’s Day; if you’ve not been paying attention), I also learned the best way to fix grits:

 

 

******* Throw them out, and pour a bowl of Cap’n Crunch********

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day #5

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. Just a bit. Not too much. Only when I want to be, really. But I do have a little tradition of blogging on certain celebratory occasions. My daughter’s b-day and Mother’s Day are the only 2 I really think of right now. Most of the time, this little blog is a ball of random. When the whim hits. Which hasn’t been hitting much lately.

Sunday past was Mother’s Day. My fifth one.  I’m not sure words can describe motherhood. There have been many people who have tried to put the words down, including myself. I think one of the best I’ve ever read is: #motherhood:

How true.

Motherhood is complete sacrifice, even when you adore pie.
Motherhood is seeing the tiniest, most minuscule, grain-of-sand-sized love God has for us.
Motherhood is a heart that is both broken and full to bursting often at the same time.
Motherhood is worry.
Motherhood is joy.
Motherhood is an exhaustion beyond what you ever thought possible.
Motherhood is sticky fingers and sweet kisses.
Motherhood is a million “I love yous” and a few teenage “I hate yous”.
Motherhood is handmade cards.
Motherhood is lots of laughs and plenty of tears from all parties involved.
Motherhood is eating lots of spaghetti.
Motherhood is late nights and early mornings and feet in your ribs when sleep does come.
Motherhood is thankless mostly, but worth every moment.

This Mother’s Day I was showered with little gifts. Gifts that will be put away in the bin with the other sweet gifts I’ve been given and the ones hopefully to come.

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18447353_10213478050932513_4614352799574924184_nEach moment is a true gift. A treasure to hold. Time passes so quickly. For some, motherhood never happens or sadly ends too soon.

My little daughter came into my life unexpectedly and the emotions I went through were paramount.  We are tight. This girl and I. We have a bond right now that I hope will outlast all the growing pains we still have to endure. The past five years have flown by, and I know the next 13 will zip past. And then she’ll soar on the wings that her dad and I have hopefully helped give her. So for now, I cherish every Eskimo kiss, every hug, every stick figure drawing stuck to the fridge, and even every melt down.

Every beautiful moment of motherhood for the past five years I have tried to store away, either in my memories or in this blog. I have been given such a remarkable little girl and I am so honored to be her mom.

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A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.

 

Desiderata “things desired”

I read the following poem on a stormy afternoon while lying in bed. The window was open and great gusts of wind carried in the smell of an approaching spring thunderstorm. Even as the sky darkened with ominous clouds, I felt at peace. A peace I wish you could know. A peace I wish everyone could know.

I happened upon this poem, not by chance I’m sure. It spoke so loudly to me, so clearly, as if it held all the answers.

I felt it needs to be shared.  It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, yet its words are timeless. Read it slow. Take it in. Roll it around in your mind. I personally plan to commit it to memory. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Strive to be happy.

Angel

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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