Wednesday, February 28, 2007

just thinking a little

had this beautiful conversation with a good friend last week. we sat on the deck of one of the coolest starbucks i've ever been to-- it's in a little house, sits right on a small lake-- and the wind blew our hair all around and the sun shone on us and we cried and laughed and it was one of those memories you save like a beautiful picture in your mind.

today, i ran into an old friend in a parking lot-- she nearly killed herself trying to turn her car around when she saw me. last time i saw her, i was two days from a doctor's visit, afraid that i might have breast cancer (i didn't and don't), and she's a survivor. we knew each other during the season just before i met don and was going through some of the most dramatic and wonderful changes of my entire adult life. i was just off the mission field, and she was working through some struggles of her own, and we used to walk and walk and walk, along with another friend of ours, just talking. one of the richest seasons of my life.

but i didn't know it then.

i think about all the longing that accompanies tough seasons, and it occurs to me that all of those seemingly trite sayings are true-- that that which does not kill us makes us stronger (thanks to Steel Magnolias, it's always Dolly Parton that said that), that the tough times are like seasoning in life, that they're like tenderizers, etc. but what i know is this: we are in the moment right now. right this second. my friend today said to me that chemotherapy made her different from her mad-cap, always-a-little-freaked-out self. today she just breathes deep in the hard times and is just plain happy to be alive. i was sort of feeling that last week when my friend and i were sitting on that deck-- what a nice moment this minute right now is.

but there is still residual longing. when i mentioned to someone today that i would be "finished with my masters" in may, it flashed through my head how much pain i had felt before i went back to school to get my bachelor's. there is no shame in not having a degree in anything-- we all need to do what is right for each of us. for me, it was right to have a degree. or two. or even three, one day. i knew it was what i had to do- what i was meant to do--and i had put it off (while doing some very, very good things) for a long time. i became so emotional at the thought that it was happening... the thing i longed for, even ached for for some reason.... happening.

i think back on things, things which i do not think about often, but are triggered by weather or a certain color or fragrance of perfume or cologne, and wonder what might have been. i wouldn't change a stone in the path that has brought me to where i am, to the husband i am married to, or the things that i have learned, but i do wonder... would i, had i had the things i thought i wanted a lifetime ago, have come to this place? would other paths i longed to travel have brought me to this spot of fulfillment and rightness? my husband would say yes-- he's of the school that believes that what is meant to be will be... but i'm not so sure, though i am very glad he feels that way :). but sometimes i still feel that tug of longing and i wonder, why is that seed still there? why, when i know that there would have been no life in that path? it's not regret that i chose this path. it's not wishing i'd chosen another. it's wondering (when i say path, i mean career choices, travel choices-- not spouse choices. he's the one, bottome line. it was him or no one, in my mind).

i don't know. too many thoughts. too many thoughts that hold deep, private other thoughts.

but it always comes back to the fact that this, today, is right. and i can't believe the gift of it. i can't believe it. and i want to be like my friend who learned through sitting still at the door of death for many long weeks to enjoy today. i guess the longing of wondering brings an added richness--- maybe that's what the color orange is to me... a vibrant, hot, gorgeous ray of sunshine, but far removed from me. a color i can't wear-- it clashes with my hair-- but which i would put everwhere just to see.

ramblings. it's fun to pretend to be a not-so-teacherly doogie howser, md sometimes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

home stretch

so, i have only a handful of days left teaching my home-made unit, and i think it's going to be good. i hope. it's so funny-- so much of what i come up with is only as successful as the students i am working with are willing to buy it. it makes the planning of it tricky. my charisma and plucky personality can only take me so far when it comes to this. the reality is, if Girl A (a frightful ...angel...who, it seemed, attempted to humiliate me in front of my evaluating professor by throwing a-- yes, from an 8th grader-- tantrum on the way into class. she actually glanced at him before she started crying foul play for something i am still unclear about, but which happened before she got to class...) doesn't feel like doing what i think would be great fun, she will do everything short of throwing herself on the floor, banging her head and hands and crying, "it's not faaaaair". oh my.

my thought here is that i have begun to join the ranks of the "deeply-mystified-by-middle-schoolers" teachers. i'm open to suggestions helping them sort through their deep, dark behavior issues. it's not like this in youth group. there's a whole other way of dealing with the monster that is middlus schoolus kiddie-poous at youth group. and you have the strength of the high schoolers on your side there. sigh.

back to work.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

here's something i like

Here's something I like:
I like that no matter how screwy things get in my head, there is One who likes me a lot. One who is not concerned with the failures and successes that get me so entangled and pinched. Not those failures and successes. One who looks on me with love-- who asks me to look with my heart and not my eyes, and who whispers back, "Look-- I'll show you how. Like this," He says," just the way I am looking at you now-- with my heart, not my eyes." This One, He sees me as the fruit of His fingers. That crack there-- He designed me to be able to withstand it. My ear? He tuned my ears perfectly, He adjusted my hearing to detect just...that...note... and to sigh at the sweetest minor chord (sweet? you say, that's not sweet-- but your ears were tuned differently).

A boy asked me last week, trying to pull me off topic (any student of mine would inform the child that he should not think himself so talented to succeed in this area within which many, many students have succeeded in many and varied spactacular ways), "Mrs Swaney, do you think that people see red all different ways? I don't mean color blindness-- shut up, Denise, that's not what I mean-- no, I mean, there's no way to know, is there? How you see red, that is, and how I see it. But somehow, we both figured out that whatever that is, we both call it 'red'. That's weird isn't it?"

It is. Every part of me was made by an Intelligent One who had the creative ambition to wire me in such a way that certain jumbles of words make my eyes burn with tears. There's a trigger in me that loves oranges and doesn't know what to do with it-- it hardly ever works in my painting, but there was this one time with one of my prints... that orange teapot that my colleagues know so well. And you and I see things...even the Him that sends every chord in my musician's heart into heartbreaking loveache... so differently. You and I see red differently. I suppose we hear Him differently, too, then. Hm.

I don't know. Just thinking about how glad I am to have His friendship. Sitting in front of an assignment that I am struggling to conquer, I want to bloom here, to blossom out, and to feel-- really know-- that sense of being liked by my Muse/Creator-- not just loved, but truly, honestly liked the way my best friends like me. It breathes inspiration and confidence into my fingers and eyes, and opens up pools of creativity that seem to sometimes lie locked up in dungeons inside me-- He leads me with a lamp, down mossy, wet steps toward a locked-away place where ideas I had no idea about are waiting to be released...

Melodrama, thy name is Samantha, but still. Sometimes His presence just sends me and I can't help but want to write it down.

**I thought I should share that i have this amazing candle: soy pumpkin and spice from Target-- these candles are pretty amazing. and it's orange. which is nice.