Saturday, August 29, 2009

Teaching, Football, and A Little Something New...

It is that time again....teachers go back to work and spend the week preparing their classrooms for the arrival of students the Tuesday after Labor Day. Also football season is starting...large men bashing into each other just makes me smile. Last year at this time there was a sense of excitement because I was starting a project of sorts at school...I even had another blog that I started writing...that, and Sundays were filled watching football on a big fancy television...good times....

While I am REALLY glad to be starting at a new school, I am proceeding with caution. I have discovered that they do things much differently than I am used to. They "track" students and they are big fans of "pulling out"...If you are a teacher you completely understand what I am talking about...if you are not, well basically they put students into low, medium, high, and learning disability groups that rarely change. I feel all students should be included in the classroom and student "groups" change all them time, and are not only based on ability levels. So, my philosophical approach to teaching is very different, and I am not sure how to deal with that.

The Gracie of the last school year would fight, kick, and scream to get her point across...and her way. The Gracie of today is not sure what to do. Do I express my views hopefully finding words that will not give the perception that I am NOT, for lack of a better word....a bitch? Do I just keep my mouth shut? This is really bugging me...I am trying to do things differently...I'm just not sure how...I keep reminding myself to just surrender, the answers will come...

As far as football goes...there will still be Sunday games....I don't have a big fancy television...we will see if it is the same...

As for my something new... I have decided to improve my Spanish. So I will be more prepared when I go back to Spain next summer. I posted a request for a tandem language partner on Couch Surfing....and you know what? Someone I will follow up and hopefully find a friend to meet with once a week where we will speak English for a while then Spanish for a know TANDEM...we both learn a language...kinda cool, huh? Even more cool is that by next summer I will be speaking great Spanish for my return trip....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just Surrender...

Thinking about my new life that I'm walking towards I am realizing that there is a word that must now be included in my vocabulary: surrender. My way has always been to work, fight, or push my way into getting what I want. Now I am finding, much to my discomfort, that fighting and pushing is not going to get me where I want to be.

Just surrender. That is what the voice in my head keeps telling me...just surrender, Gracie. Have faith that you will find the contentment and peace you are looking for. I am all for faith and for listening to that inner voice. So why am I having such a rough time coming to terms with this just surrender concept?

This started when I found a condo I wanted to buy. I put an offer in all seemed good. Then, I find out that there are all these obstacles: the seller wants to wait to approve, it is in short sale so I need to wait for the seller's bank to give an approval, my agent doesn't want to push the listing agent. All the while I'm thinking to myself, "Hey people, I made the decision to buy a place, this is part of the plan of my life...will you just make it WORK OUT for flips sake?"

So woman makes plans and God laughs. I've heard this a million times over...nice joke...thanks. Now what? That voice again, "Just surrender..." The old Gracie wants to fight kicking and screaming...the new Gracie knows this will only bring sadness and stress. But the old Gracie is screaming at me, "Only WIMPS are no WIMP!"

I know that there is strength to be found in surrendering. I just cannot see it yet. I think that is what is troubling me most. I cannot see what is on the other side. I KNOW this is where the faith comes in...knowing that the other side will be wonderful. Can't I just get a peek? Come on what do you say?

All this is making me very closed off. I do not want to talk to anyone. I definitely do not want to go look at more houses with my real estate agent. Just the desperate look on his face and his voice telling me that condo X is a great doesn't matter that you can get mugged as you're going home or that you have to go to the basement to share a community laundry room, it's perfect for you, Gracie...I just cannot do this anymore.

Buying or not buying my own place is just a catalyst or a crossroads or a fork in the road, maybe even a test. The important thing is how I handle this situation will determine how my new life will proceed. I do not know how I know this...I just know. I am not sure how to just surrender. I want to think it doesn't mean to just give up...because even the new Gracie is not a quitter.

I'm sitting here and I realize that I am totally and completely afraid to just let go and surrender. The thought of just going on faith at this time is terrifying me...So much so that I have stopped momentarily and that is even more scary...this is a problem...

I am a person of solutions...there's a problem I want to immediately find a solution and put it into action. Trouble is I cannot exactly find a solution...I know just surrender...but what does that mean? Once I figure that out I'll let you know....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Does Matter???

For the last week I've had so many thoughts floating around in my head. Sometimes this is good because it is a sign that I need to write, and I usually end up writing things that I like. I tried writing the last two days, and it just was not happening. I couldn't stay focused and my random thoughts had no I sent them to the delete pile. So here I go again...let's see what happens...

I have two weeks until I go back to work. I see this time as the calm before the storm. Please do not take this as a negative statement. This is truly a gift of time that allows me to continue taking charge of my life...putting into action the decisions I talked about in my last posting. However, as I am taking action my brain goes on overload with thoughts and ideas of what exactly I am accomplishing here..and the new life that I am about to begin...yes folks, I am about to begin a brand new life.

My trip to Spain sent me on a spectacular adventure, one that will stay with me forever. More importantly, my trip allowed a new person to emerge - a new and improved Gracie, if you will. However, for this new Gracie to thrive I must let go of the old Gracie - the girl that is no longer needed in my new life.

So my thoughts over the last week have been consumed with letting go of parts of my life that are no longer necessary. You see, the old Gracie is a person who has never been comfortable when it comes to opening her heart up. The old Gracie is very good at "faking" and appearing like she is open - the reality is that there is a wall around that girl that very few have ever penetrated.

In Spain the wall crumbled into dust. This was not anything I did just happened...and to my surprise I liked the girl behind that wall better...she glows...she is lovely...and she is who I really am. Right now the only thing on my mind is keeping her alive.

You may think this is easy, trust me it is not - it is really flippin' hard. Old Gracie is very strong, and very comforting in times of stress. She can manipulate and justify every negative action that comes to mind or out of my mouth. Old Gracie is afraid of the person that I discovered while in Spain. Afraid because as the new Gracie grows a piece of the old must die in order to make space. I know this sounds like I am a crazy person fighting with my multiple personalities - OK I get that...and you are sort of right in that regard.

I'm looking at the death of old Gracie as an ending, but also a beginning of a great journey. So you can see why these two weeks before school starts - this calm before the storm - are so important. Each day I am joyfully letting go of Old her lots of love, light and thanks because she has been or rather is someone that has been so good to me, protected me, and been my friend when I felt I didn't have a friend in the world. These two weeks are giving me the time and space to say good-bye.

This path that I am on is truly fascinating. As get to know new Gracie, I am beginning to understand that the "stuff" that was so disturbing in my life before I went to Spain really do not hold the same value. For example, it is no longer a terrible thing that I don't really "fit" in Virginia. Or that I do not have as many friends as I had in California. Not to sound like a clique, but I've found some peace in both of those aspects of my life. In the big picture of where I'm going those things do not really matter.

So what does matter? How I treat others matters. How I treat myself matters. Sending love and light out into the world matters. Allowing the new Gracie to become the most beautiful person she know how to be matters. Those other things...those worries are the things that will keep new Gracie from taking the amazing journey she is about to take.

Look, I am human and I love having people in my life...I am truly blessed by the people who are my friends. However, don't you think it is a bit silly to put all my focus on trying "fit in", or searching endlessly for new friends. or even looking for a boyfriend. Isn't it better to focus on this new amazing person I see myself becoming? The new Gracie is turning out to be a truly great person...doesn't it make sense to have faith that truly great things will come her way?

The calm before the storm...a gift I must remember as I start the school year and the things that don't really matter start creeping their way into my soul...and you know they
will. I am curious about what my reaction will be when those little "things" tap my soul on the shoulder. How interesting this journey will be....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking Charge

I have two "best friends" in this world. My best girlfriend lives in Los Angeles and I call her "the wife", and my best guy friend is traveling the world. I call him my "gay husband". These two people have seen me through thick and thin over the last 20 years. They have loved me unconditionally as I've been good, bad, and even ugly. Before we even get started here, let me say that I cannot imagine life without "the wife" or my "gay husband".

Last week I received an email from the wife. It was a Daily Kabbalah Tune Up titled "Take Charge" and said:

You are the only one who will make your life different.
Your personal growth and betterment is related to how much you want to lead in your own life. That is how much you will manifest. Today take charge in those areas where you have given your power over to others.

A day later my gay husband sends me a link to an article he wrote for Matador Travel, a travel and lifestyle web site. In his article he mentioned me and how after going to Spain I've discovered that a new way of life is not only possible, but within my reach...all I need to do is TAKE CHARGE.

In the two weeks since I've returned from Spain have been, dare I say...extremely challenging. I've been walking around in a state of sadness, confusion, and self destructiveness. I'm not proud of this, but to be honest I have not been TAKING CHARGE OF MY LIFE! Although I haven't really shared much about these last two weeks with my wife or my gay husband, they both instinctively and separately sent me these messages as a way to kick my ass into gear...thanks, guys...

I know, the question in your mind is: Why have I been allowing LIFE to take charge of ME instead of the other way around? I'm not sure. Coming back from Spain did make me sad...I loved it there more than I thought was possible. I discovered a new life is possible and right there in front of me, but I'm not sure how to incorporate it into my current life here in Virginia....that's where the confusion comes in. The self-destructive piece of this puzzle just appears when I'm either sad or confused about how to make my next move in life...sort of my little way of punishing myself...why I think I deserve to be punished...I have no fucking clue...that is one of those little secrets about myself that most don't know about...guess I've let that cat out of the bag haven't I?

Just to clarify my self-destructive behaviors...they manifest themselves in different ways...this time it's not exercising, eating anything that can make me fat, and smoking cigarettes. I know you are like, "Big deal, Gracie. Those things are not SO bad." Well...YES they ARE, because they are my way of alienating myself from know keeping others away from me...very healthy!

So here I sit, five pound heavier since I've returned from Spain, my muscle mass depleting, and smelling like an ashtray...not an attractive picture, I know...and not one I am very proud of. So you can see how important it is that I TAKE CHARGE before two weeks becomes two months, or two get the picture.

For me, TAKING CHARGE comes in stages. First, I figure out why this has started in the first place. I have this part covered: before going to Spain I was looking for a home to buy, psyched to start a new school, and in a place where I had let HIM go....A nice little safe package. I come back from Spain and I do not know if buying my own home is the right thing to do, I'm ambivalent about starting a new school, and HE has responded to my writing like a jealous, left out boyfriend, who supposedly wants to be my friend, which is not only confusing, but sort of pisses me off. I can hear the wife now, "Gracie, you've given your power away!" I KNOW this...that is what I'm trying to resolve here.

The second stage is to start DOING. For me this means I exercise even though I don't want to. I eat food that doesn't contain complex carbohydrates - they not only make me fat, they make me a bit depressed. I also, make sure I don't smoke cigarettes. The second stage is critical and the most difficult to achieve...but I know taking it one day at a time is the only way...can you guess I've been down this road many times before.

Third and final stage of TAKING CHARGE is to make decisions. So decision number one: I will buy my own place. Doing this gives me a home base, and a VERY LARGE tax deduction that will give me the funds to travel all summer if I choose. Some may look at me owning a home as a chain that will keep me in Virginia. I'm seeing it as the vehicle that will enable me continue exploring that new life I discovered in Spain.

Decision number two: I know going to a new school is a GREAT thing. I do have FAITH that it will be a wonderfully productive and peaceful school year. My experiences at my old school are a thing of the past that I will stomp on whenever they rear their disgusting head. Again, teaching in Virginia will give much needed security that will allow me to continue delve deeper into a new life. One more year and I am eligible to take a year off, teach overseas, and come back still having a job.

Decision number three: HIM...I am not sure he knows how to be my friend...especially now that I've returned from Spain. I keep asking myself, do I really care anymore if he is my friend or not? I mean, what is it exactly that I'm getting out of this "friendship"? I do not mean to sound callus, but after a while it just becomes boring. In this case I know my thoughts are better served elsewhere....Can you guess what my decision is?
I know...I have shared a lot with this posting, but I think it was necessary. Remember this blog is mostly for ME. Who knows, maybe there are others who have similar situations....and are trying to figure out for themselves how to TAKE CHARGE.....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Are You There, God? It's Me, Gracie...

Do you remember that Judy Blume book, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret? When I was 12 years old it was THE book that all the girls read. If you are female you may remember reading this book as you entered puberty. If you are a dude, well...I'd be a bit concerned if you read this book as you were going through puberty.

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret is about a young girl as she enters that confusing time just before she gets her period. Confusing is putting it mildly; and yes, I even wondered if God was around during that time of my life. Everything changes for a young girl during this time...her body, her thoughts, her wants, her needs, and definitely her mood. Everything comes into question. I know, you're asking yourself, "Gracie, why are you bringing up puberty?" Well, my friends, what I'm going through now with this friggin' perimenopause is a lot like going through puberty.

Everything is changing. My body, my thoughts, my wants, my needs, my flipping mood. The only difference is that I'm no longer an innocent 12 year old. I have years of experience to add to this crazy mix. So...Are you there, God? It's me, Gracie...what the hell is going on here???

The books I've read about menopause say this is normal during the 5-7 years before the BIG M hits me in the face. Women question their choices in life during this time. You know, things like, Did I make the right choices? Is my life going where I want it to go? I MUST make DRASTIC changes NOW or I will just die. So God...It's me, Gracie...what's the flippin' deal here?? I'm feeling like a nut case.

God...there's an interesting subject during this time of my life. I have never been very religious, never went to church as a kid. However, I've always believed that there's something bigger than us out there. My Christain friends will cringe as I say this, but I'm not sure that "God" is just Jesus. I think God is whatever you perceive him/her to be. For some, God is the Buddah, Allah, Vishnu, or Mother Earth. I ask you, does it really matter how we perceive God? Isn't having faith the important thing? Is God listening to me as I go through this crazy time? I truly believe he/she does listen, at least I sure as hell hope so.

The question I propose is: does God answer us back? I have always talked to God...even as a kid...but my conversations are not really formal prayers...they are just conversations. I have always talked to God like he/she was just a person hanging out with me...again the Christians are freaking out...relax people...I mean no disrespect. I ask again...does God answer back? I think so...that is if we REALLY listen and pay attention.

Music has always played an important role in my life. Whatever, right? Many people like music, Gracie, you are getting off topic. Let me explain. For me music has always been the way God talked to know, got the messages I needed to hear through my thick skull. You know that song by Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing In The Dark" from Born in the USA? That record (yes, I mean RECORD ALBUM) came out in 1984. That song spoke to me in such a way that at age 20 I packed my bags and moved by myself to Los Angeles with a dream of being in the music business. That song was God's way of telling me that all would be OK...that I would make my dreams come true...and you know what? All was OK...and I made many dreams come true during my 20 years in Los Angeles.

What is totally freaking me out is that same song, "Dancing In The Dark" keeps coming up. The radio, my IPod when it is on shuffle, in the mall, in elevators. I'm laying at the pool today and there's Bruce singing,

"There's something happening somewhere, baby I just know there can't start a fire sitting around crying from a broken can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart..."

OK, God, it is me, Gracie...I get the "sitting around crying about a broken heart and worrying" stuff, and you are right....that gets me nowhere. But Bruce Springsteen is just one example. As I was laying there in the hot sun, songs just kept coming up, Semisonic's, "If I Run", Sarah McLachlan's "Surrender", David Gray's, "This Year's Love", Smashing Pumpkins' "Mayonnaise". I understand those songs may not mean squat to you people out there, but for me they have always had a certain significance. Take a listen, maybe you will get where I am coming from. Now God, that play list has over 400 songs on it and THOSE come up? What the freak? What are you trying to tell me??

Since I came back from Spain my brain has been spinning with so many thoughts and questions about what I'm doing here, how to finally fix "things" in my life, and the biggie, what do I really want for my "what's next"? See, I do ask that sometimes...I do not always live in the moment.

I do know that the answers to my questions or my "what's next" are not going to be found outside. This is all about me. It is not about moving to another place, whether I want HIM as a friend or not, making friends, or even a boyfriend. Those things will be the icing on the cake as I find my answers. I also know that the answers will be shown to me when the time is right. God, it's me, Gracie...have I got that part right at least?

I remember when I was 18 and I had my first real boyfriend. I could have wrangled my way into a marriage with this guy...really, I could have. Even though seeing me married off would have made my mother very happy, I just knew that there was so much more for me to experience. So much more for me to do, you know? I have had many, many experiences in my 44 years; yet I keep thinking there's so much more out there...Spain really showed me that.

I want my future mean something and not just be this empty vessel of cities I've visited or lived in, men I've fucked, jobs I've had, or people who have come and gone. I can hear the people in my life, "Gracie, you have accomplished so much. You've reinvented yourself a couple times over and have been successful, you teach children and impact their lives, blah blah blah." I know all this, but I am feeling that is not enough, you know? That there has GOT to be more for me...I do not mean to sound like an ego maniac or a narcissist, but I want, maybe even need my "what's next" to have a larger impact on the world than my experiences in the past have had. God, it's me, Gracie...are you getting my drift?

So here I sit faced with a new school year that starts in a month. Wondering what my "what's next" is. Do I stay in Virginia and buy my first home? Is it time to move on and reinvent myself again? Is going to Spain the answer or was that just the catalyst for what is going to happen in my future? I do know that I do not want to lose the woman I became while in Spain. I love her and think it would kill me if I allowed her to die as I get back into the grind of life.

I have well meaning people in my life who tell me to leave Virginia, that this is not the place for me. I have also been told, "If you go, I will follow you on the computer, keep in touch, etc." Before Spain these things would have influenced my decisions, but decisions are only about ME...that's the narcissist talking. The confusion I am going through is part of growing up and I just need to find some comfort in it all so it does not become too overwhelming and make me crazy. God, it's me, Gracie...I'm listening. You WILL give the answers when I need them, won't you?