Saturday, August 13, 2011

You vs. Me...Who REALLY Wins?

Mr. Right and I were having a serious conversation the other day after seriously getting on each other's nerves. He said to me, "Why does it always seem like a power struggle in our relationship?"


Well, I got to thinking about various "power struggles" that I have witnessed in the lives of those around me. I've actually been thinking about this for awhile, and to be honest, it feels good to have an opportunity to get these thoughts out.

What is it about human nature that conditions people to think that they always have things worse than others? I hear people having these conversations all.the.time. It seems as if people often want someone else to acknowledge that yes, your situation IS worse than mine, or that yes, you do have more stress in your life than I do in mine.

It seem as if people are always trying to "one-up" one another with the degrees of how bad things in their life are. While I'm guilty of this in my closest, most intimate relationships, I am trying to become more aware of how I treat others. If someone I love has had a difficult day (or a string of difficult days), I am going to try my hardest to show some compassion to that person instead of rambling on about how stressful things are in my life. I often find that personally, I have very little to complain about. After a year of reality checks and reminders of things that can truly change a life, I've realized that it's more important to focus on the things in life that really make ME happy. I tend to be way too much of a people-pleaser, typically giving up parts of myself to ensure the comfort of particular loved ones, which is something that is about to change, but that's for a different post. :)

Anyway, why can't people just support each other's difficulties and acknowledge that yes, we all face struggles and triumphs? I don't think that a little compassion ever hurt anyone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Early Morning Wake-Up Call

(Image found on Photobucket)

This morning, I woke up to the message that I've dreaded for sometime. Mr. Right had text messaged me and said that he had been in an accident on his way to work this morning. My phone was on silent all night and when I woke up 3 hours after he sent the message, I panicked in my fuzzy-eyed-just-waking-up state.

The few minutes it took me to contact him after waking up were gut-wrenching. In his text, he had said that he was okay. However, Mr. Right tends to downplay issues for my sake. I wondered if he was hurt and how bad he might be hurt. I felt the same terrifying feelings that he must've felt when I was in a car accident 4 months ago. Anyway, when I spoke with Mr. Right, he had gone on to work and said everything was fine. Huge sigh of relief there!

Anyway, I got to thinking for a few brief seconds about what my world would be like without him. A few years ago, I almost found out. Mr. Right had been complaining about pains in his side for several days, but we assumed that he had pulled a muscle because his job involves heavy lifting. However, he had appendicitis. By the time we finally got him to the ER, his appendix had ruptured, gangrene had set in, and he had to have emergency surgery. (Remember, I said that he tends to downplay things...) A doctor later told me how close I was to losing him and that thought stays with me in the very deepest corners of my mind.

Isn't it funny that sometimes you read something applicable to your own life exactly when you need it? In Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

"Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy grows like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody - so utterly wellknown and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?"

While Mr. Right and I are not married - yet - we have been together for almost 8 years. Even now, he has become one of those "invisible necessities" for me. As sappy and cliche as it sounds, he truly makes everything in my life better. When I think of my favorite memories of us, it's not the big, exciting events that come to mind, but a mental collage of some of our simple, every-day moments. Whether we have the next 50 years or 5 months to spend together is unknown to me. What I do know
is that I look forward to those thousands of indistinguishable moments because
they are what really count.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaching Made Easy.

Since I became a teacher, I've heard and read many negative thoughts about my beloved profession. You know, the regular "teachers only work 9 months of out the year" philosophy. My goal here is not to discount that ideology. I know when I work and I know how hard I work. So do my students. That is enough for me.

Anyway, time to stop babbling. I just read a very interesting blog on the Scholastic Teachers site. The author of the blog, Jeremy Rinkel, makes a point that noone can argue with:

"What do a lawyer, doctor, astronaut and mechanic all have in common? They all have teachers."

Who can argue with that?

Read the rest of his blog. It's good stuff! http://http//

Monday, August 8, 2011

Technology Overload!

Today, I made a major life change.

For the past year, my Android powered smartphone has been attached to my hip 99% of the time allowing me to check our friendly social networking site, Facebook, my personal email account, and anything else that I wanted to search online with just a simple touch of my finger. I've thought a lot lately about the purpose of a gadget that allows me to do so many things so easily and I decided that it's something that I really do not need in my day-to-day life.

Today, I made a major life change and downgraded my semi-fancy smartphone to the regular old talk and text phone that I had before I allied myself with the addictive LG Ally.

Since I'm in the minority with this decision, I'm going to justify it to myself (and anyone who happens to read this blog).

It's occurred to me several times in the past few months that I spend way too much time connected to my cell phone, computer, etc. in lieu of spending time living life. After really thinking about what's important to me, I decided that I need to be spending time with the people I love doing the things that I love. I don't need to check Facebook 75 times a day to find real happiness.

When I think back to my dependence on this phone, I disgust myself. How many conversations have I missed out on with Mr. Right and my family because I was glued to the phone. (How many arguments has the aforementioned behavior caused?) While my new/old phone also has Internet capability, I opted out of my old data package. When I calculated the annual cost of data that Mr. Right and I have spent, I was astonished. We paid HUNDREDS of dollars for Internet access on our phones when we didn't really need it. I can think of plenty of places where that extra cash can fill in now...

I guess what this really boils down to is what I really want out of life. I've thought a lot lately about the things that truly make me happy, and when it comes down to it, it's not some silly phone or the disgruntled ramblings on Facebook that fulfill me. While I'll still use Facebook to stay connected with people (and let's be honest - there are some people with whom we'd never communicate with if it weren't for Facebook), but it won't be to the extent of my former Facebook Fanaticism.

It looks like I'm going to have more time to spend with my family, to take walks and really enjoy the scenery, to soak in the conversations that Mr. Right and I have on long car rides, to read a good book, to read the Good Book, to enjoying long heart-to-hearts with good friends...the list is endless.

What I do know is that I'm looking for easy ways to simplify my crazy-busy, hectic lifestyle. If downgrading my phone is the first baby-step, I'm all for it. Who knows? I might be forced to actually have a conversation with someone face to face instead of through a virtual world.

And you know what?

I'm totally okay with that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Advice to Our 20-Year-Old-Selves

Recently, Reader's Digest posted the following question to its Facebook followers:

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old-self?

Here are some of my favorites:

*Make mistakes. There's no greater thing that prepares you for life.

*Save for the future, when it really matters.

*Take a pass on that tattoo!

*Be a glass half full kind of person.

*Be tolerant of other people's opinions, and you will learn a lot!

*Some things you'll figure out. Some you won't. That's life.

As someone who isn't too far past twenty, some of these words of wisdom made me think. The older I get, I realize how important it is to make every moment count. True, it sounds cliche, but I have chosen to live my life as a glass half full person. Am I always bubbly and cheerful? No. However, when things are going wrong, I am quick to remind myself that things could always be worse. I've found that a little optimism goes a long way....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You Never Know When You're Making a Difference.

Let me preface this post with a little background information. I teach 8th grade English, which may or may not be relevant to many of my future posts.

J. transferred into my class about a month after school started. He was a very quiet, reserved young man who only spoke to me if I spoke to him first. This same behavior continued throughout the school year. J. was so quiet that I found it difficult to build the kind of relationship with him that I had with my other students. There were a couple of instances when some of the other boys in his class provoked him to the point of extreme anger. Obviously, I stepped in and forced all of the boys to calm down. J. was always very respectful toward me, even when I was reprimanding his behavior, but I always got the feeling that he just didn't like me.

On the last day of school, before J. walked out of my classroom, he slipped a folded-up piece of notebook paper into my hand. I wondered what the paper was, but I just put it into my pocket because I had some other things to do.

Finally, after the last bell of the year rang, I sat down at my desk to reflect over the end of my first year of teaching. I remembered the note in my pocket and decided this would be a good time to read it. I opened the note and was stunned by the words in front of me:

"Miss G,

I will miss you next year. Thank you for helping me when I was about to make a bad decision. You're like a second mom to me.


Wow. Tears flooded to my eyes. Out of all of the students who had proclaimed the impact I had made in their lives, I had never expected these words from J., which made them all the more meaningful.

We never know when we're making a difference, do we?

Friday, July 29, 2011


Recently, my best friend suggested that I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed, the follow-up to her wildly successful Eat, Pray, Love. As an engaged girl who has dated the same guy for almost 8 years, I have found some excellent advice about marriage from reading Committed. I must say, reading this book has not only taught me about the history of marriage, but it has made me really consider the importance of marriage before I say "I do."

Gilbert recounts a conversation she had with her fiance (at the time), Felipe. Felipe says, "It's the same with relationships, I think. People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other's personalities. Who wouldn't? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that's not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner's faults honestly and say, 'I can work around that. I can make something out of that.' Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it's always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you" (Gilbert 130).

After digesting that thought for a few moments, I started to think about my own relationship. Let me just begin by saying that my fiance is a pretty amazing man. For some reason, he loves me unconditionally, which either makes him a saint or a glutton for punishment. We are high school sweethearts in a non-traditional sense, in my opinion. Most people assumed that we would be the first couple married out of high school, but surprise (!), we will be one of the last. Let me regress for a moment here. Mr. Right and I met when I was only 15. He was 16, almost 17. After a dramatic year of dating, breaking up, and getting back together, we got back together when I was a junior in high school and have not broken up since (I'm now 2 years out of college). While I knew that I loved this man and I wanted to marry him - someday - I also knew that I wanted more out of life, and apparently, he felt the same way. Since high school, we have both done everything that we have wanted to do to further our different educational pursuits. We have taken our time, giving ourselves time and space to grow up, blazing our own paths in life.

People sometimes ask how Mr. Right and I have maintained such a "perfect" relationship. This comment brings me back to my connection with the above passage from Committed. Sure, it's easy to love another person at the beginning of a relationship (when BOTH people are still on their "good behavior"). It's easy to love your significant other when things are going well. However, I think of the famous Marilyn Monroe quotation where she says, "If you can't handle me at my worst, you sure don't deserve me at my best." The true test of a relationship is how both people respond to each other over the course of time, how they weather a variety of storms. Do they draw closer to each other during the tough times, or do they let the outside world tear them apart? No matter how people handle good or bad situations, no relationship is perfect. In the case of Mr. Right and me, we learned at a young age that communication is key. Instead of airing our dirty laundry, we talk about our frustrations - with each other. We have learned to give each other space when one of us starts getting on the other's nerves. It's the little things that you learn about another person that help you to stay committed.

To maintain a long, healthy, committed relationship, you have to learn to love the good, the bad and the ugly. Gilbert writes, "There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves" (130). Isn't this the truth? Not a person on this earth can claim perfection in a relationship. We have all had our fair share of "ugly" moments where we have been less than kind or fair or respectful (or you keep filling in the blank here....) to our partner. Personally, I believe that Mr. Right has shown me enough mercy in my times of being utterly selfish and stupid that it's only fair that I do the same for him. Gilbert continues, "To be fully seen by somebody, then, and to be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on the miraculous" (131). Amen, Gilbert! So what if Mr. Right is occasionally annoying? So what if he sometimes tells embarrassing stories to my friends? So what if he can't read my mind? He has fully seen me, and loves me anyway.

What better form of committment is there?