Poem: Sometimes I Forget


Sometimes I forget

when I am writing on the

steamy bathroom mirror

about happiness and joy

–my daily prayers

because life feels lacking

And I forget

when my wants

walk in front of my needs

I forget and I forget–

Until I remember

how close it was

the demon snapping at your heels

And every phone call feeling like dread

Or the day I looked in your window

and saw you lying on your mattress

on the floor

too still

Or when you first told me about

the problem

But then

I stop forgetting

and remember

and know that my life

has really been fine

since the moment

your life

got OK

 

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It Takes Kids


If we are lucky, we end up getting more than we expect from something we undertake. So has been the case with the job I started back in December. Just a very part-time and simple one as a lunch room monitor in a very small Charter school, something I honestly felt might not fulfill me as much as my career as a paramedic, but took because of logistical reasons. As it turns out, this non-career position may end up being one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever had in some important ways.

I was asked a month or so ago by a co-worker if I would be interested in participating in a 5K race that a bunch of kids and staff members were doing. This race was a two-part thing: one a regular 5K to benefit the Girl Scouts, but the other was called Girls On The Run to get local girls to get psyched and get out there and see what they could do. My co-worker knew I worked out, so approached me and I said: of course! Not really knowing what I was supposed to do though, I registered for the Girl Scout part, which was timed.

Meanwhile, the girls at my school trained, and in the lunch room, we all talked about the upcoming day which happened to be today.

It was held in a lovely park right as the sun was coming up. I haven’t raced in years and planned to just speed walk. The girls were excited and it was great to see some of the teachers out of work.

When the race started, I held to my plan for a bit, but since I had been having a pretty good work out regimen lately (and I’m way too competitive), I thought I’d try jogging just a bit. The paved trail in the park was surrounded by grass, so I was able to jog on it for much of the time. Since the Girls On The Run race started 5 minutes later, a few of the kids passed me and we cheered each other on. One teacher (who had planned to walk too, but was running), passed me also as did a friend’s son. I ended up jogging slowly almost the whole way. It was a miracle.

At the finish line, we all had fun cheering the school in (and collecting thin mints). And it was really crazy when we found out some of us actually placed in our age groups; including me! I was second in mine! Pays to be old. Of course I was 10 minutes behind the first woman, but hey: as a famous woman runner once said, “A win is a win!”

But the really best part was having the girls calling out my name along the way and saying hi, having one teacher telling me how much she loved me (I actually thought she never noticed me), having the kindergarten teacher introduce me to her Mom telling her about how I’m in her class and just hearing from folks how the kids love me (I was asked to be one of the coaches next year).

I worked for 20 years as a medic and rarely got warm fuzzies. Maybe it just takes children and their natural ability for giving joy and love to finally make someone like me feel good in my place of employment!

Poem: Failing


Young boy young boy

how we fail you

Blurry world blows by

brushing busy nonsense

between dark-colored lines

What do you see

when you look off into air

giant pink butterflies

fluttering near

whispering closely into your ear

please listen please listen

I’ve got something to say

But teachers just get angry

so it flies away

Why can’t you sit and be quiet

you twitch and squirm

and touch other kids

waving your arms

run around run around

you’ll never learn

Pupils are huge

you don’t seem to care

you’re sitting all wrong

with your feet through the chair

you talk too much

or you sit and stare

Young boy young boy

what will we do

we’re tired of trying

but it doesn’t seem fair

If we can’t help you

then how will you grow

Into a man

facing issues

I know

 

 

Reality Check


It is always interesting when we can have a moment where we can look at ourselves and see some aspect differently.

At work it feels like I am surrounded by many disgruntled co-workers. Or at least folks who are not really into what they are doing; or maybe they are just exhausted? They work with kids in a school, which can be tiring, especially these days for sure–but somehow I figured there would be more passion in the people there.

Instead I find a group of (mostly) frustrated, cranky, unhappy people who seem like they would rather be anywhere be where they are…and I suddenly realized yesterday, after hearing my immediate co-worker complain and whine, that oh my goodness: this was me for so many years in my last career!

How miserable it must have been to be around me! To hear me complain all the time and see my grouchy face. And to hardly ever hear anything nice come out of my mouth. Yikes. It stopped me cold when I realized how it must have been to be work with me all the time.

Because I know what it’s like to be around these folks day in and out. It’s a downer. And how must it be for the kids? We’re suppose to be models for them after all, eh? Was I able to fake it for my patients on the ambulance, because I know these educators aren’t hiding anything from these children.

It really made me ashamed of myself, that I had put everyone I worked with through all my stuff. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter if it had cause or not; I should have left it at home. Work is not a place to drag your baggage. It’s not fair to anyone around you, yet I did it for a long, long time.

These folks may have what they feel are ‘good excuses’, but really none are when you get down to it. If you’re unhappy, find something else to do. It’s hard to find other work, yes that’s true. But if you’re heart not in what you’re doing, we all can tell.

If you can fix the things at work that’s the best solution. Or maybe you can learn to suck it up and push your way through things (not let things bother you as much)…but the ultimate solution may simply be to move on…. That’s the sad truth. I finally left a career I loved because of the extraneous stuff that bugged me too much.

So, in the end, I am very regretful for all those I drove crazy with my unhappiness. It’s clear now as I can see it in others (and it’s hard to take). In payment, I’m trying to be as upbeat as I can to make this place a little brighter…

And I know at least the kids appreciate it.

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You???


Some of you may be surprised to know that I am taking a 9 week course in my town that is a Citizen Police Academy. No, this doesn’t mean I will walk around with a gun or even a taser when I’m done. But it is giving me a close up perspective on what the women and men do on my city police force.

The idea behind this Academy is to build community between the citizens and the police department. Of course, the folks who show up for the course aren’t necessarily the ones they need to preach to–we are their choir already. But we’re also tax payers and some of us are future police officers, and it’s a good show they put on.

They give us all the bells and whistles; or at least dogs and flash bombs. Every section of their department gives a presentation from the marine unit to the SWAT team to dog officers. We’re up close and personal with equipment, loud noises…and maybe not too close to the German Shepards.  Not only do they present the history of this department, but of how certain units came to be initially; like SWAT units started during the race riots in the 60’s.

Having been a paramedic I’m used to working near the police, so some of the stuff is familiar. But I admit, this is a medium city and this department has some pretty big advantages. This also means different types (and more) crime. In some ways being in the class gives me the willies knowing what goes on around me, like the gang violence for instance. Who knew they are high school kids? But in other ways in is comforting to know these people are quite dedicated to serve and protect in some extremely dangerous situations.

An interesting thing I have noted is how many women work in this department; the Chief is currently a woman and one Assistance Chief too. Even one of the SWAT members is and the program is incredibly rigorous. It’s also a very culturally ethnic department.

This department does other community events like Coffee with A Cop where they meet the public at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts just to have open dialogue. Not a bad idea in these troubling times.

We get to sign up for two ride-alongs with an officer on duty. I’m looking forward to that one. Hopefully I’ll get some action that night. Maybe we’ll catch some bad guys? It might bring me back to my ambulance days…sigh. One (silly) man asked if he could bring his gun that night if he had a concealed weapon license; the answer was a resounding NO. Really?!

Anyway, a lot of effort goes into this course, and I know it’s really a bunch of PR for them, but they do have a hard job. My cop friends would tell me over and over that all they saw was bad stuff and bad people. It got old for them and some were pretty bitter. Maybe this is a way for these guys to do something good for a change? And to get a good rap for once? It’s not an easy job by any means; trying uphold the law when there’s so much negative stuff in our world these days. I don’t envy them.

And some of these Officers do this stuff on a voluntary basis simply because they love what they do and are committed to it. There are certain teams (like SWAT) that are voluntary to be on call until you’re called.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. And yet they train constantly! These Officers were not folks I would want to meet up with at any time! Yikes.

So, I’m learning some interesting and new things. And trying to look with an open perspective. Even though there are some police that don’t exercise good judgement , I wonder what it would like without any of them?

Lofty


I’ve decided to start a project–a lofty project one might say. Someone gave me the idea this summer, but I didn’t think much of it then, but recently the idea settled in the back of my mind like a little ember and has been burning ever since.

My poetry is by no means award-winning, nor will it ever be found next to the likes of Oliver, Angelou or Plath, but in looking back, I’ve realized it has been somewhat prolific. Over the years of my blog I’ve written over 400 poems. 400! 400? I was quite amazed, and pleased with my writing self.

Some, of course, I like better than others; some are a mere silliness and some just bubble forth to lie down hard. But, none-the-less, they all exist in their own right. The thing is: they exist in the world of the internet and nowhere else. And this, recently, has become unsettling to me.

In our ever-changing world, ever unreliable and unpredictable–it seemed a novel and maybe even prudent idea to save these precious thoughts of mine in a more mundane and old-fashioned way–just in case. In case the internet collapses and goes away. Or, maybe even something less dramatic, that someday my kids just run across my journal where these poems are kept, and are stunned by the notions their mother had in her head.

So I have begun to transcribe all these words into a journal. Sure, I could have simply printed them out. But I wanted to wrap myself around them; taste them with my being as I write; re-live them. I feel like a medieval scribe, hunched over my parchment, cup of tea and sunflower seeds, scribbling, scribbling…

And some I read aloud. I close my eyes. Before me is a cushioned room and other poets such as myself, clutching their poems and listening intently as I share. They will be next to speak their truths, bring their gifts to the small group of unknown writers. Here we feel safe.

For no matter who we are or what we write, good or bad, it is a love of words and the joy of weaving them that unites us all.

Thank you for letting me share mine with you.

 

Just A Wee One


 

Finally I have landed a wee job that fits in perfectly with the criteria I had listed in my head (I hope). It’s been a long and interesting year experimenting with various things while waiting to find something, but hopefully this will work.

It’s nothing much really, but that’s part of my plan. Just a little PT position in a very small Charter school working as a lunch monitor.

So here’s how it fit the bill and my way of thinking:

  • It’s Part time: It’s in the middle of the day so allows me my workout in the am and the ability to get home for the pets in the afternoon or any chores/appointments.
  • It’s a no-brainer: After 20 years of the stress of being a paramedic, I didn’t want to do anything too difficult. Yes, I know, maybe I’m being lazy, but for now, this is the case.
  • It’s NOT in healthcare: I had made a distinct decision that I was pulling out of working in healthcare altogether. This is why I’ve had such a hard time finding something I reckon. With my resume reflecting 20 years in the business, not many folks were interested in taking a chance on me for something new.
  • It’s something new!: This is the very reason it seemed cool. While it’s not some deep, difficult task, at least it’s different.
  • It’s fun: The kids are great (albeit VERY noisy) and it will be a great new challenge to work closely with this population for a change. I’ve had my own of course, but now I have 300!
  • It has potential for more: I’ve been assured it has growth potential should I want it at some point. But for now I am quite content with the hours.
  • It’s close to home: After commuting 40 minutes each way (in ice storms) for so many years, having a job very close is a blessing.
  • I’m in ‘the system’: Once I’m within the public school system (yes, Charter schools are publicly funded), there can be potential for movement.
  • I can handle just about anything for a few hours: Even if there are difficulties, it’s only a few hours a day and plenty of vacations!

So all in all, I hope this works out. My fellow employees in the lunch room seem nice too. I have no idea how I will begin to memorize the names of all these children, but hey, I’ll figure it out.

And I’ve already ordered special ear plugs that will hopefully block out some of the major noise, but allow me to still hear them when they talk to me. (I mean it is REALLY loud in this tiny room!)

But I have to say, we never lose parts of ourselves… Because as I look around at all these kids eating and talking, and eating and laughing, and eating and being silly— the paramedic in me can’t help but think:

Just keep chewing, swallowing and breathing… NO CHOKING allowed!!

 

Blink


There are moments when time is on my mind…I mean BIG time, the passing of time, forward time and backward time. And I sit in this middle of this time contemplating it.

Often, while I am waiting for time to pass because it may appear to be dragging along, I suddenly snap awake and realize this is a foolish notion. The reality will be that the present will be gone and become the past so quickly, that I will end up wondering in those present moments why I wanted those moments to be over in the first place.

It’s quite clear now that once certain things are gone, they are gone. The moments cannot be replaced in a future moment. Yes, the future may hold some new contortion of the past, but not what we may have wished away or that time simply left behind.

Yet ‘being present’ is almost an impossibility as time is not static. It is forever slipping on before us. So while we may stand still in the this second, time doesn’t wait for us. This struck me then: if it keeps loyally moving forward, and appears to at break neck speed as I look back–that I should probably stop encouraging it even more.

Instead, it may be best to just settle into time and let it do its thing. Don’t fight it anymore, because it’s a losing battle anyway. If changing my perspective and understanding that it really is all relative anyway will help me through challenging times, then so be it.

Because as I look back on so many of these times in my life, I am simply amazed now how far in the past they are and how it all felt like just a blink of an eye.

Reality Shootings


It’s not surprising (to me anyway), that our society is crumbling under an opioid crisis, people suffering from mental illness or comfort eating and heart disease, plus all the many other myriad diseases and problems afflicting us nationally.

One answer seems obvious to me, part of it anyway. Many of us are suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt.

With all the horrible events that have been going on now for years, and I repeat, years—our brains are inundated from the media and our devices by the trauma of seeing the scenes of these events. Many years ago, we rarely would experience the raw horror that we do now–first hand (sometimes from a phone of someone right there): the noise, the blood, the screams, the carnage. And not just once, but over and over. How much can the brain  handle, day after day, year after year, without going over the edge? Mine is certainly on overload.

What is PTSD? It is caused by the triggering of traumatic events: disasters, abuse or any kind of trauma. It can happen when someone you love has been harmed also. Normally we don’t experience it ourselves unless we have been through the event, but what about now? Do you think it’s possible seeing footage from the phone of someone who was actually there during a shooting, would this do the same thing to us? How do these ‘pictures’ stay in our minds: people falling from buildings, human blood everywhere, kids running from a school or actually watching someone being shot…

Let’s face it people, if you are at all caring about your fellow human being, this can’t be good. We are pretty much experiencing these things as though we are there. It’s like reality shootings. Maybe they’ll make a new TV series. They might as well for as much as they play the stuff–and we watch.

What does all this watching do to us anyway?  How does it make you feel when you go out somewhere (or maybe you don’t even want to)? Do you check where the exits are now? Does your heart rate go up if you hear something weird? Are you simply numb to this stuff now? Are you mistrustful of others? Do you feel sad a lot?  Can you sleep at night or have your dreams changed? I know I have been greatly effected by the heinous crimes crushing our country.

Even if we weren’t at these places, we can’t help but feel: why these people? As we pour through their stories, it makes our story feel somewhat meaningless. When it’s a kid… there’s a collective: why so young and what if was my child? It’s so chilling.

And the roulette guilt of: I’m here, they’re not. I’m enjoying my life, those poor people aren’t anymore. My feelings of gratitude just get ruined by the extreme senselessness of it all. It’s just hard to hold those two feelings in the same space.

It’s all this nation wide secondary guilt because nothing is being done about it. We all just sit around waiting for the next one to happen, because we know it will, while law-makers tell us now isn’t the time to talk about any changes in the laws. It’s all so frustrating! So we just wait…holding our breath and wonder where will be next. What venue? How many? What city? Is there a person out there now contemplating it…?

How’s that for your health, while we think: will it be me next time or my kid? That makes my heart thump. This is why I don’t sleep. What about you?

So I ask: do we really need to see this stuff so much? Is it only me that thinks the perpetrators may sometimes do these things because they understand they will be glorified by the media? And all of us watching and watching and watching… Their sick moment of fame.

I’ve made a promise to myself: I will watch no more (or listen or read). What if none of us did? What if we heard about these awful things and said prayers for those dead (and their families), but didn’t pick up our phones, or look on our computers, or shut off our TV and radios? What if we refused? Could we demand from our media sources to stop flooding our minds with such gruesome images and sounds? Instead just report the facts and move on.

Sadly, I can’t seem to create change to laws by my vote, but I can do this one thing instead. It’s something that I do have control over: to reduce the bombardment of the grisly media show to my brain. And by doing this, allowing more space in there for good energy.

It’s ultimately up to us. I’m not saying we can stop people from killing, but maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming a more ill society than we already are, and if we do, maybe this in turn will help in the long run.

Happy Birthday Mom 


It has not been an easy year but this amazing woman reached this incredible milestone with the strength and dignity I’ve always admired in her. Facing tough setbacks in her nearly perfect health, she was undaunted by the changes in her. Her ever positive outlook on life has kept her moving and healing, but mostly is an inspiration to all of those who know her.

From the time I was small she taught me that I could be anything I wanted, something I have passed on to my daughters. Her help has allowed me to figure out my path and feel a sense of security. 

This time living near my Mother has been a blessing after spending  so many years apart. She has given me more than I can really express. And really without her decision so many years ago, when she knew adopting a little girl was something she needed to do, I’m not sure where I would be today. 

Happy 90th Mama. I love you.