Sweet Will of God

Today I had a friend ask me about what brought me to Mexico.  She and I have known each other for two years, but for some reason, the topic never came up.  She asked, “Did the thought ever cross your mind that you would find a boyfriend in Mexico?”

Whoa.

Talk about a major trip down Memory Lane! As I began telling her the story of coming to Mexico, something occurred to me: this year and last year line up perfectly with the days matching the dates for the year I left the States and moved to Mexico.  That means the day I quit my job (FIVE YEARS AGO?!?!) fell on the same day of the week this year.

Which means that this day, this time five years ago I was having a really hard realization that a relationship with a man I loved was coming to an end.

Which means that it was this month five years ago that I took a trip to West Virginia with some dear friends where I received renewing and encouragement I didn’t believe I needed.

Which means that it was five years ago that I sat in a Sunday morning meeting and cried throughout the hymn that said, “I worship thee, sweet will of God…”

Five years.  A lot can happen in five years.  Thankfully, God’s will for our lives will always be the best.  And when we allow him to have control of present, he can make something spectacular for our future.

So tonight I sit in my home in Mexico–five years later.  My baby is gnawing on my toes and pulling at my skirt-tail.  My daughter just yelled at me to come help her from the other room.  The four of us just got back from walking to the store to buy tamales and burritos from the street vendor.  And tomorrow I will (hopefully) go to Sunday morning meeting and we can sing the words of this hymn.  The words in English still have such great meaning for me!  I worship thee, sweet will of God, and all thy ways adore–and every day I live I seem to love thee more and more.  Perhaps  it’s the third verse means the most to me in Spanish–because the others are practically translated the same:

  I have no regrets today–I trust in your goodness.  I enjoy now the blessing of pleasant freedom. 

 

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Wow… Happy Birthday to Me!

I’m a little embarrassed. 

I am a little embarrassed, as it has been nearly ONE month since I last posted.  I feel like this is the difference between being a student and a teacher.  I am always there to remind my students to write every day.  Who’s been around to remind me?

It is, however, a rather important day.  I turn 30 today!  It’s even nationally recognized, and we don’t have school today.  Just kidding.  It’s a Mexican holiday–but not one of the really important holidays (so we’re agreeing to pretend that we have no school due to the nation-wide recognition of my birth.

I can’t believe I am thirty.

I am really going to milk this one for all it’s worth:

1)  I started the day with a chocolate doughnut, chocolate milk, and then a Chocolate Covered Cherry Green Smoothie.  (The last item is actually pretty healthy–but all the health benefits were cancelled out today by the previous two items…)

2)  I woke up at my regular 4:30 to have my “Me Time.” “Me time” is usually spent working, but this morning I’ve used it wisely watching Harry Potter.

3)  I washed the dishes this morning because we got back too late last night (so they were actually yesterday’s dishes), but I won’ be washing any more today.  That means that I will probably have to wash them tomorrow, in case you were wondering…

4)  I will be eating at a restaurant today.  I will also be drinking coffee in leisure with my family.  (Can I just say something about family time?  Everyone always talks about taking dates without their kids.  Maybe it hasn’t been long enough, but we don’t really see the point.  I mean, I waited 30 years to become a mom.  Why would I let someone else watch her so that we can do something without her?)

5)  I will spend an itty-bitty teensy-weensy amount of time working.  This is actually pleasurable, as it is in preparation for my soon-to-be job as literacy coach.  My mentor and vice-principal and I will be conducting a training this Friday on Early Childhood language development.  

6)  I will look for an excuse to have people sing Las Mañanitas to me–and I won’t even feel bad about it.  I’ve waited a long time to have someone sing that to me.  I will be hoping for a mariachi for future birthdays.  

7)  I will celebrate what God has given and I am oh-so-grateful for:  life, love, and family.

Thirty will be great–I just know it!  I don’t feel the least bit sad to leave my twenties behind.  Here’s a little recap though, just for old-time’s sake:  

When I was 20 I moved to Minnesota.  When I was 21 I started college.  When I was 22 I made it a point to watch as many mid-day movies as possible. When I was 23 I graduated and moved to Florida.  When I was 24 I moved to Virginia.  When I was 25 I learned to accept myself.  When I was 26 I lived by myself for the first time.  When I was 27 I quit my job and moved to Mexico.  When I was 28 I met my husband.  When I was 29 I had my precious pichita (“baby” in Chiapas).  

Whew!

I can’t wait to see what the thirties have in store!

A Longfellow Moment

Ahh! How good it feels!  The hand of an old friend!

You know, the best friends on earth are the friends that you can see–and things just click back into place.  CLICK!

I feel so blessed to have you in my life, sweet friends.  You have been so patient–I know it isn’t easy to have a friend whose head is in the clouds.  Whose dreams of traveling have kept her away from home for so long.  Whose current lifestyle only allows for little snatches of time here and there.

And yet, no matter how long we go without phone calls, letters, or visits it seems like yesterday…

It seems like yesterday that we sang every Harry Chapin song we could remember.

It seems like yesterday that we pretended Mama was an evil old stepmother who only gave us saltines and water to eat.

It seems like yesterday that we tried to steal cookies from the dining shed find a cup to get some water in the middle of the night.

It seems like yesterday that we made fun of Mr. Sage for everything under the sun.

It seems like yesterday that Mama read us How to Eat Fried Worms while we laid on the floor.

It seems like yesterday that we made it to almost every Friday Night Midnight Movie.

It seems like yesterday that we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking.

It seems like yesterday that we followed our sisters around.

It seems like yesterday that we played ball, ran to the concession stand, and ordered suicides (ick).

It seems like yesterday when boy problems were our actual biggest problems that we delt with.

It seems like yesterday that we swam in the lake–letting the fish nibble at our fingers and toes.

It seems like yesterday that we went to Friday Night Football Games together singing “Oh, McGee, you’re so fine...”

It seems like yesterday…

Where did the time go, old friend?  And why haven’t we taken more time to write, call, and visit?  Has living in a Facebook world made us closer or are we more displaced?  Because like always, we part promising to get together, write, and Skype more.

Will I be writing a blog in ten years talking about the good memories of today?  I hope so–but let’s make a point to make some good memories, eh?   Because before we know it, we’ll be watching grandchildren play while we reminisce about the good times we had.

Ah! How wrinkly it feels! The hand of an old friend!

Blessed Beyond Belief

Tonight I feel so blessed. I lay here in bed thinking of my stressful day–anticipating tomorrow’s sure-to-be stressful day. But that’s life.

I can say that with a smile right now. That wasn’t the case this time last year.

In fact, today one year ago, I was laying in bed crying over my stressful day–anticipating a year of stress to come. I talked to the people who love me most, and I went to bed that night crying and praying simultaneously. My first day back to work, and I already felt like someone had dropped a pile of bricks on me.

The next day, it was as if a weight was lifted as I went to talk to my administrator. I listened to her twist my words and blame me for my unhappiness. I replied with respectful–yet hard to hear, I’m sure– observations of the problems that were tearing apart a great community school. I know now that I was given peace and wisdom–and calmly, I (with help from my friends) moved out of my classroom. My apartment was loaded down with boxes of books, puppets, an easel, and more. Most of those boxes are still untouched at my Dad’s apartment.

Some people have a hard time understanding how my family has supported my wild-and-seemingly-irrational choices of the last year. I could have never imagined the journey that has been my life this past year. Some things are bigger than we can dream.

So, here I am: in Mexico. Teaching again–when I swore a year ago that it wasn’t the profession for me. Here I am: lying in bed smiling over my stressful day. A lot has changed in one year.

Oh, I know the heart that planneth–naught but good for me…

What Kind of Relationship Do You Have?

At school we often sit around talking about our experiences in other schools. The foreign staff is diverse(ish)–at least if we look at the places that we’ve taught. As soon as they start school bashing (or student bashing) I speak up. At least I used to–now they pretty much know where I stand…

I always say the same thing: This is nothing. I’ve had worse.

Recently, a foreign teacher that I really enjoy being around said, “You know what–you were in an abusive relationship before. That’s why you’re happy with anything better.” I can’t seem to get that analogy out of my mind–as it is true! Jobs are so much like relationships!

The First Love
You think this will last. After all, it is the first time you’ve had the perfect mate with no flaws! People try to tell you to shop around, but you know better. You were made for each other–and as soon as they realize it, you can plan your future. This will not end well. Your heart us broken–your dreams shattered. You will be more careful next time.

The Needy One
A relationship where someone needs to be with you all the time is so unhealthy. You end up feeling smothered–and tend to forget all the things you enjoyed about them in the first place. You usually are hesitant to leave. After all, how can they survive without you?

The Selfish One
This isn’t too different then a needy relationship. It is all about what you can do for them. No concern on the place of the other party exists for what you need to be happy. Your time is their time. And heaven forbid if you dare think of something else that makes you happy. You may not spend any energy or time with that endeavor.

The Abusive One
While I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship, I have been in relationships where I ended up feeling unworthy. That’s emotionally abusive! The abusive one builds you up to tear you down. It tears you down to make you feel small. Once you’re small, you are easier to control… It doesn’t compliment you or care how you feel–not genuinely. The only time you get to hear the good things about you is when they hurt you. And when you leave–you have to sneak away, run fast, and never look back. Unfortunately, just when you think you’re safe, they find a way to exert power over you…

The Summer Romance
You only are allowed one or two of these. Naivety is a must–and you can’t become jaded. My Minnesota experience was a summer romance. We both knew it wasn’t going to last–although we tried to keep it going longer. It was exciting, new, and full of surprise. When it was over, we promised to keep in touch. I think of my summer romance with fondness and longing for the same spirit of carefreeness.

The Fling
This is where you try out a new taste. It’s not going to last. You know it from the beginning. You don’t even think of introducing your family and friends to this one. Most likely, something is a little off anyway…

The Rebound
You know this won’t last too, but your friends say, “Just have fun! You just got out of a realtionship! You don’t need anything serious!” It is different than what you’ve had. You’ve intentionally looked for something different to give yourself a break. You might flirt with the idea that it is lasting, but you probably will just use it to compare with the Ex. After all, look what you have now!

The Fixer-Upper
This is the one where you knowingly enter an unbalanced relationship. You know that what you have to offer is going to make the other party better off in the long run. You willingly give advice and support, but more than likely, it won’t be accepted. Fixer-uppers need more than what you can give. They need to believe in themselves–not have a savior.

The Keeper
This is what everyone wants. It’s a partnership of give and take. In this relationship, someone is trying to please you. You are special and valued. In return, you are more than willing to please them. Your visions and values are enough alike, a future is easy to imagine. The Keeper is one you hang onto–you can’t let this one get away.

Another One Bites The Dust

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Well, it has begun. Again…

I’ve been applying for jobs in Virginia and Tennessee in my valid effort to come back. I was so excited when I got word that a school wanted to interview me via Skype. This is mainly because my efforts to attract the attention of schools in East Tennessee are falling flat.

Well, not just Tennessee.

I am again preparing myself for an onslaught of rejection. Not having jobs that are not a good fit for me–that I can handle. Being rejected is a bit harder.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I was feeling a bit spotty about the whole situation to begin with. I would have loved being with my friend (and an amazing teacher) again. The population is the one I want. The opportunities are endless.

But it leads down the career path. (You Virginia-ers know what I mean, right?)

I think I’m looking for a smaller community. The kind I can teach in for years. The kind I’d like my children to grow up in.

And still… Rejection is not an easy pill to swallow. I need a shot of faith to help it go down.

What to do?

We were skyping with Mama yesterday (this is seriously the greatest invention ever…), and she was counseling Victor about his future.  For those of you who know my mom, you know this is totally not abnormal.  Some parents may do this to their children’s significant others because they want to make sure they have good plans.  My mom is just one of those counselors without an off switch.  I think that is how it must be with the good ones…their job is so much more than a job, therefore it never ends.

We are already making When We Go to the United States plans.  I can’t help it.  And neither can he.  Chiapas is wonderful–don’t get me wrong.  I love it here.  I hate to say that I am being driven strictly by the promise of more money.  I know that when I work now in the States, it will be different.  I make so much money there (especially compared to here), and I can’t help but think of the bills I can pay.  The people I can help.  The investments I can make in my future.  When I go home, it will be with the sole desire to pay my bills and save my money.  Therefore, parents, be prepared:  I am moving in with one of you.

I want to stay in Mexico.  I want to learn Spanish, and keep my happy stress-free streak going.  I am thinking another year, then perhaps a couple in the States.  Oh, why do I like plans?

Anyway, during Mama’s counseling session, she mentioned that maybe Victor should take this interest inventory and see where his interests lie.  I, of course, immediately went to the website, http://www.collegefortn.org/ , and completed the survey.  Warning to potential survey takers: that sucker is long.  I discovered several things:

*  Apparently, I should have been a dentist.  Those guys make a lot of money.  I wonder if I would enjoy being in everyone’s’ mouths all day.  Also, everyone would hate me.  Do I need to be needed/loved to find fulfillment in a job?

*  Why are all the important jobs (therapists, counselors, teachers) low paying?  Why do they cap out under six digits?  Note: It isn’t solely school.

*  All my potential careers are either medical or educational.  Why didn’t I listen to Mrs. Carson when she said I should do something other than teaching?  I would not be in this current (broke) position…

Not By The Hair Of My Chinny-Chin-Chin

I did it today.  I plucked the hair in my chinny-chin-chin.

This is how you know that you’re getting old.  You have chin hair.  I remember when I was younger Mamaw had this mole on the side of her chin.  She would clip the hairs that grew there occasionally.  I, on the other hand, remember playing with them.  I find myself doing the same thing–and that is when I know that I need to pluck.

I can also tell I am getting old other ways:

  • Today I watched this kid on the Ellen Show who is a skateboarder.  I actually felt sick at my stomach watching him flying in the air.  Being aware that I can and will die if I do something stupid makes me old.  I ALMOST had that in high school when we decided to roll down the hill in the huge metal pipe.  I though, “Hmmm, this will not turn out well…” a minute too late.
  • I am getting wrinkly.  They are on my forehead–and I blame that totally on my students.  I have to give them that “mom” look.  They are also all around my eyes and mouth.  I blame that on my students too.  Those suckers can really make me laugh.
  • I get indigestion.  And I know what causes it.  We used to make fun of one of our friends (and still do), because she would complain about indigestion.  Now, I know what foods I should avoid.  I know that when my tummy aches and I have gas, I ate something that really “didn’t agree with me.”
  • I use phrases like “that didn’t agree with me.”
  • I am dreadfully aware that everyone is having babies.  But for the first time in fifteen years, it actually is a little scary to think of having a baby.  Yet again, I know what can go wrong.  Plus, I live in Mexico, and I saw what that hospital looked like the other day.  I have been told that the baby-having hospital is better off.
  • I sometimes have to make people unhappy.  This is usually because I WANT to spend time with my family.  That’s right, you heard me.  I want to spend time with my family.  If that isn’t a sign of aging, I don’t know what is.  The thing is, my friends are getting old too.  They understand that because I haven’t been in town for a while, I might want to spend time with my family.  Weird.  Wonder if they realize it?

I sometimes have aches and pains when I wake up.  My knees creak.  I forget things.  I want to eat vegetables.  I haven’t played at the park across the street yet, and I’ve lived here a week.  I found a gray hair the other day.  I like antiques.  I wear sunscreen.  I take vitamins by choice.  I think about the future.  I lock the door when I go to bed.  I turn out the lights to save electricity.  I save random things that I think I might use again.

I have chin hair.

Estoy Contenta

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I love that word contenta. I think I’m using it correctly… I have been thinking of this all day, so some of you have already heard my thoughts on the matter.

People use the contenta/contento word like we would happy.. When I first began teaching my class of wild animals angels, the Real Housewives would tell me that their child was contento. I feel like it is more than being happy; it is like being satisfied and happy rolled into one.

I think of what a blessing it has been for me to escape move to Mexico. Life is so different here, and I can’t imagine returning to my old life. You know, the mentality in the States is More-Bigger-Becoming-the-Best. It is no wonder that other cultures call us infidels, because it is a life of vanity. Don’t get me wrong: I understand that it is a necessity to become driven in the States. It’s the norm! The problem (one of many) is that you push yourself, and work really hard–for nothing. Rarely is the payoff worth it.

The documentary Waiting For Superman exposed (and dramatized) the American teaching profession. I love that I don’t have to be Superman here. I can accept help–and even ask for it–without being viewed as someone who isn’t putting enough time into my job. In Virginia, I went to work at 6:45-7:00. I worked an average of 60 hours a week. It was never enough. (When will America’s Education Pendulum swing again?)

I realize that I’m lucky. I had the privilege of packing my bags and heading to Mexico when my Quarter Life Crisis hit. I am so glad that I trusted God enough to lead me. If I had known the bessings that were in store for me, I may have been a little less depressed during my struggles–although honestly, I don’t know that I would appreciate the view so much if I didn’t have to hike the mountain. That’s the nice thing about hiking: you know that you won’t have to go up forever. Eventually, you get to go down again.

It’s when we get to rest and recover that we have the strength for the next obstacle. I realize that my struggles in life aren’t over. I know that more problems, stress, and heartache will come. I am glad that I know the source of comfort and strength. I’m glad I know that those problems don’t matter in the end outcome.

I remember being sad and confused about where life was leading me. My friend said, “Soon we’ll know where Nino belongs.” At the time I felt very dissatisfied with that comment. I mean, after all, confusion is never in my plans. I have always liked clear choices and clean decisions. I’ve always liked planning tomorrow. But when what you plan doesn’t work out–do you have a Plan B?

Now here I am: Contenta in Mexico. Gone are the societal pressures that made me feel inadequate and unsatisfied. Gone are all the things that filled my room(s). Gone is the expectation of what my relationships should look like.
Who would have known that life would be so grand?

Necessary Precautions

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When I quit my job last August, it was a necessity. Over the next few months I learned a lot about myself and what I should do to alleviate stress in my life. In his management course, Zack also learned that it is “the number one killer.” I believe it–as my body was slowly falling apart!

So, what do you do when life throws you a curve ball? Or in my case, when the balls keep coming and you are standing on home-plate? Sssswing! Batter, batter, batter!

This is what I am learning to do:
1). Read the signs.

When I finally calmed down this fall, I realized that my body no longer ached. This was amazing! When I get stressed, not only am I irritable, but my muscles in my neck tense up. When this happens now, I know I should “take a break.”

2). Be satisfied.

There are a lot of things that I want for myself: 1) To be able to pay the bills. 2). To be “the best” at everything I do. 3). To have a social life. I am finally learning what my Mama has said all along, “Just do your best. That’s all you can do.” So instead of stressing because my school loans are 30 days late–I am [not so patiently] waiting for either an awesome tutoring job or my income tax money. Instead of comparing my rascals to other classes, I am trying to enjoy what they do have to offer. And to understand that teaching boys requires different strategies. Instead of worrying about saying “Yes!” every-time my friends go away for a trip or on vacation, I’m learning to say “No.”

3). Save a little time for me.

This is important. Yesterday, I taught. Left school for one tutoring job. Tutored. Rode a convey home. Walked about a mile before I asked for a taxi. Took a taxi to another job. Tutored. Took a taxi home. Sat down to eat with my roommates. By the time I went to sleep, I barely have a recollection of it. I knew last night as I stared at my GRE books that I needed to make a change before it was too late.

4). Secure my own oxygen mask before helping others.

This is super important. I had my friend call the first tutoring job and see if she can come to me. I felt really bad about it! The thing is, I want to help her! I believe in what she is doing, and I support anyone who is working hard towards a personal goal. I also know that if I am tired, moody, and less-than-my-best, I won’t be much of a help!

5). Have healthy habits.

One of the things I love the most about living here is that I walk everywhere. This is great when you need some endorphins! I also am trying to eat healthy. I realized while I don’t eat a lot–I’m not eating as many veggies as I did in Tennessee. I’ve also been drinking soda again, although it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup here. I still don’t need the sugar. I need to bring some Lipton or Luzianne tea back from the states next time. The tea bags I bought were (are) weak.

Entonces, ahora necesito cambiar para mi. I need to change for me. (Disclaimer: my Spanish is improving, but I still have a lot to learn! Please don’t hesitate to correct me!) I want to keep enjoying my Mexico trip without becoming worn out like I was in Fairfax County! So, here is my wish for you: When life pitches you something ugly, and you forgot your helmet at home–just swing away! It’s better to go down trying!