Who am I?…Who am I REALLY?

Who am I? Who am I really?

Hello. I’m Lisa…begins the conversation. Introductions about who I’m with, why I’m here, what I do. These are pretty standard conversation starters. But now…

I’ve just retired from my teaching career. It held and supported my idea of “self” for the past 30 years. It has defined who I am. “Teacher” was a comfortable cloak that provided a sort of “shorthand code” about me and the kind of person I am. What is a teacher? A teacher is a humble, patient, empathetic, enthusiastic, lifelong learner! (Does anyone see a seed for a Lifetime Original made-for-tv movie here?)

You see, my career wasn’t me. It was just my job. It was a tool for me to use my talents and skills to earn money, to serve others, and feel fulfilled. But it was also a label.

Now, while I was a teacher, I got divorced, remarried, and adopted three kids. In my free time, I battled weeds as a gardener. I regularly wrote in my journals and ran a marathon.  I took yoga classes and even worked to get my yoga teaching certification. I’m a Gardener, a Writer, a Runner, a Yogi (more labels).

Are these labels ME? I think not.

You see, as I move out of my role as teacher, I don’t feel smaller,  lost, depressed, or sad that that time is over. Instead, I feel expansive, full, and expectant.

I believe that “me” is inside. Perhaps it is a soul or energy that is for a time being carried around by this body called “Lisa”. I am not my thoughts either because with my thoughts I can talk to “me”. I am a force with a purpose.

Many people are confused about WHO they really are. And others wonder WHAT they are on this earth to DO…

Here are the three simple routines that I use to begin to remedy this uncertainty…

1. Walk

I walk every day. It is always the first thing I do in the morning. Right after getting out of bed, Islip on my walking pants/and shirt. Quickly, I grab a quick sip of water and leave the bathroom. I always wear a neon yellow vest and attach Stella’s leash to a belt around my waist. Then I walk. No music.

Just like when I go to sleep at night, the first few breaths are long and full. Sometimes I’ll stretch and twist from side-to-side, or jog, but the purpose of this time is to connect back to me. Grass, trees, and clouds. I notice the wind and the temperature.Scents waft from a nearby dairy farm. Cars hum in the distance.

This is not my worry time. It’s not even a time of prayer. It is the connection of me with my body.

2. Journal

The street sewer in my old neighborhood would often get blocked and clogged by leaves in the fall. When a good storm would flood the road since the water had nowhere to go. City crews would eventually come and remove the debris which resulted in the water quickly draining away. In the same way, morning pages (3 pages, stream of consciousness in a 6×8 inch notebook moves the crap out of my brain and leaves me feeling…fresh.

Sometimes I write letters to people. Sometimes I pur out my worries or frustrations. I occasionally, but rarely, recopy these writing into an email or card. Writing mostly to get my ideas, lists, or notes out so I don’t get bogged down. It seems to free up some bandwidth in my brain and make space for “me”.

3. Meditate

Just sit. I love to use the InsightTimer app. I’ve heard people say that the best time to meditate is first thing in the morning. But hands down, more sleep always wins over getting up early to meditate (do nothing).

Late morning or e is prime time for me to meditate. I have energy to sit and not want to nap. I’ve never meditated for more than a half hour. 10-15 minutes is my usual. Sit. Breathe. When the time goes off…the janglies are gone. I can hear myself think again.

3 1/2. Nap

If I can’t meditate (I’m just too tired) then I take a cat nap. But I still set. a. timer! As long as its not longer than 20 minutes, I’m good. I LOVE naps! This one recharges me much like meditating. I’m not sure that you can actually meditate if you’re not regularly sleeping eight hours a night. Once again, this activity serves to clear out the cobwebs and get rid of the janglies.  I know that I can’t have that feeling of connection with my SELF when I’ve got the crazies.

My goal is always to do all three EVERY day. But. Be. Real. That’s not gonna happen. So then, you do what you can.

Who am I? Who am I really? Where am I going? What should I be doing? are questions that need to be asked and answered many times throughout my life.

Who are YOU? Who are you…really?

Who is Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Time to Jump Ship?

How do you know when it is time to leave…

to retire…

to change jobs…

to jump ship and switch careers?

Maybe you are looking for an “aha” moment to point you in the right direction.

A signal that shows it.  is.  time…

unnamedI am a teacher. I have been a teacher for more than 20 years. I’ve always known that my passion is dreaming…

learning…

teaching.

That was until the beginning of November 2015.

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Rock Your Hairstyle (for Women Over 50)

hairI got my hair cut–I mean CUT–right before 2nd grade. I was 7 years old. My mom had just gotten her 1960’s shoulder-length locks updated into the iconic 70’s shag. I loved her new do and wanted to be a grown-up who could make choices about my hair. So after much begging and pleading, mom relented. Thus was the beginning with my love/hate relationship with my hair.

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Bra Shopping – The Perfect 6 Step How-To Guide

I recently needed a change. I was feeling blah and stale. When I looked in the mirror, my middle-aged face, clothes, and body all looked tired. I smoothed my hands over my face. I ran my fingers through my hair. I looked at my self straight on and sideways. Then I saw it. The “girls” could use a lift. They were looking rather blobby and rounded. I think the terminology is “uni-boob”.   I decided that I would begin a mini-makeover from the inside out. That is, clothing-wise, with my undergarments–my bra.

I come from a long like of conservative, modest, and frugal women. My mom has never seen a new bra that can compete with the dingy, ancient one that’s held together with safety pins. Arghhhh.

Now, I have recently been intrigued by some interesting new styles and brands of bras out there on Pinterest and on Facebook ads.  But how do you buy a bra without trying it on first? (I have also never been able to buy a swimsuit–that I actually wore–without first trying it on in a store.) After analyzing strategy from the experts (my fellow Sidetracked Sisters) here are my 6 tips for a successful hunt!

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How to be a (Worst) Friend

I am well well-suited to write this post for I fulfill the top three qualifications to be the worst friend…

I’ve always loved being with friends, laughing and hanging with great women, drinking and sharing memories with others who appreciate a self-deprecating story.

family friends

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Be Unplugged!

Be unpluggedI have a love/hate relationship with technology…specifically with cell phones and how people use them. It’s time for us all to sit back and see how our gadgets are also complicating our lives and putting up barriers between us and the people we love.

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It’s the Little Things

I need to call Mom!

IMG_4890 2

I want to be the mom who has kids, that when they mess up, never think “mom’s gonna kill me”. I want their first thought to be “I need to call my mom”.  Where did I hear that recently???  It makes me wonder…What builds that kind of relationship? Perhaps the following three events would qualify.

Number one…I pick up Aubrey from her dance class. She is now big enough to sit in the front seat. She holds my hand as we crank the music to the Broadway musical “Mama Mia”. We sing along to “Dancing Queen” at the top of our voices.

Two…I  sit on the couch in the living room. My laptop rests between us, our feet resting on the coffee table. We share the 20-year-old crocheted afghan my grandma made for me when I moved into my first apartment after college. Kadon made us “extra butter” microwave popcorn and we are watching a movie he thought I would like…”Wine Country”. (Amy Poehler directs menopausal friends on an eventful  and emotional weekend trip).) It was the perfect Netflix choice for a mom and her 14-year-old son!?!

And three…Luka struggles in school. He would rather clean crusty bathroom toilets than go over flashcards for a Global Studies test. But as it gets late, I grab the cards that we made together. He lays on his bed. I read the questions as I scratch his back. He gives the answer and flips the card to check the correctness. As we finish the last card, he sleepily says, “Thanks…I love you mom.”

It’s the small stuff. I think I am building relationships with my kids, block by block, one happy moment at a time.

Who is Lisa

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Time – Lisa

Where does the time go?

Some of us are working hard, head down, getting stuff done..others, not so much.

So often when I look back at days, weeks, months…or years, it feels like I just put my head down and plowed through my life. Accomplishing tasks. Meeting needs. Moving kids from point A to point B. Cooking. Cleaning.

I recently took a yoga teacher training where I learned about svadhyaya. In Sanskrit, it means studying yourself. I love to use journaling to do that. As I look back, I can break my life into several “times”.

Way back, when I was married to my ex, I lived rather thoughtlessly. There were just the two of us, both working, no kids. We watched froreign films with subtitles and used a French press to make our coffee. We explored book stores and listened to jazz music. He played his guitar and I worked in my flower gardens.

Now I have a family…husband. three kids. My time for the past twelve years has revolved around teaching, books, kids, survival.

But I feel like this time is changing, wrapping up, and I am preparing for the next chapter. I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years. Now my kids are older. I’m not moving toward retirement…exactly, but another chapter in my life. One where I’m finding more joy and purpose in writing and creating.

Transitions take energy, focus, and dedication. That’s what I’m doing. But, on a daily level, I too often act like I have all the time in the world to accomplish my dreams. At the end of the day, I realize that there wasn’t enough time to even accomplish the mundane, everyday tasks that were on my plate.

So. Here’s what is helping me…

Being a teacher, I love that my time is organized into blocks everyday and those blocks have a solid beginning and end. Accomplishment is inevitable because all the goals for my class are given a little time EVERY day.

That works in my personal life too. Call it the First Grade system of time management. Everything in a block of time and a block of time for everything.

I’ve been planning the week. Food and shopping. Don’t you find that the energy that shopping and cooking meals consumes a huge amount of energy in the week?

What are my work/life goals?–lay it out. Put it down on paper, sticky notes or journal. Make time for work, sleep, writing, reading, and play.

‘Chelle and I during our weekly coffee meeting when we plan, support and encourage each other.

I schedule walking, yoga, meditation…my “self-care”. It’s not that there is no time for these things, rather, if I don’t value myself enough to honor and protect myself…well…no. one. else. will.

Where does time go?

There are large chunks of time in my day that are spoken for, parts that are committed. Then there are, of course, parts that I get to choose.

When I mindfully and thoughtfully choose, I make a commitment to myself and can create the life I want in the long run. But if I don’t plan for this ahead of time, it disappears…and MY time is a terrible thing to waste.

Soups, Casseroles, etc – Cooking Is Love To Me

In my mind, cooking equals love. The thinking goes this way…

If I love you, I take care of you.

If I take care of you, I want you to be healthy.

If I want you to be healthy, I want you to eat good food.

If I want you to eat good food, I have to cook.

If I cook, then you won’t get processed or fast food.

If you don’t get processed or fast food, you will be healthy.

If you are healthy, it means that I am doing a good job of taking care of you.

If I am taking care of you, then I love you.

There is only so much within the control of a mom. I can only make my kids do so much. I can grocery shop and feed my family. If I feed them something out of a box, I feel like I’ve failed. I have set them up for future obesity, heart disease, and a life of culinary incompetence.

(I know, I’m a bit over the top here.)

Ok…a lot over the top.

I have been teased about my cooking. I put together strange combinations. Leftovers aren’t leftovers, they are the starting point for the next day’s meal. I cook more “almost homemade” than organic, free-range, or “close-to-home grown”.

 

If it is soup…I LOVE it! My latest specialty is solid soup.

Salt and pepper? Yeah.

Make couscous in a saucepan according to instructions. (I add a handful of kale or spinach.)

Salt and pepper? Yeah.

Sauté sliced up onion, celery, and a carrot.

Put this into a baking dish and add some protein—I put in the meat from a couple of leftover pieces of chicken.Then mix in 2 eggs and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Almost sounds like “Midwest Hotdish” or a variation of tater-tot casserole.

Right.

Well, good idea. Let’s go with the mushroom theme—sauté and a carton of mushrooms with a pinch of salt and place them on top. Generously sprinkle a handful or two of shredded cheddar cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for about a half-hour (or so) and WA LAH….

…just call it LOVE Casserole.

Who is Lisa

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Divorce – Lisa

DivorceI recently read the book “All About Love” and connected with the author, bell hooks, when she said that “Women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget”.

I was married during college to a bright and passionate young man. We were married for 12 tumultuous years. During that time, I believed that everything must be done to save the relationship.

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