Category Archives: Personal growth

Dear Nemesis…

I’m writing you a letter today. Granted, it’s an open letter. But hey, any letter is better than none. And I really just need to clear the air here. I’ve let you bug me far too much and it’s time to let it go.
Of course, you’re never going to read this. That’s OK. Even if you happened to read it, you probably wouldn’t catch on that it’s you I’m writing about. That’s OK too. I’m not writing this letter for you. I’m writing it for me.
See, I’ve really resented you. A lot. And I’ve held grudges, held them in, and let them simmer. Until I finally exploded. And you know what? I’ve realized something. By sitting on that negativity and letting it simmer I was giving you power over me. That’s done. I’m a wife, a professional, a woman, a working mom. I don’t have time to spare on you.
Why did I even let you bother me? I guess because you embody so many of my pet peeves. It’s amazing, really, that almost ALL of my pet peeves can exist together in one body. You should pat yourself on the back for that one. It’s quite an achievement.
So, what are they? The pet peeves I mean. Aren’t you curious? If you’re not I don’t really care. You’re going to hear them anyway. Here we go.
• Your self-importance. In casual conversation, you refer to yourself as ‘generally average.’ But that’s not what you really think. I’ve heard you praise your vast intelligence, superiority over other women, and even taste in reading material many times. You’ve even gone so far as to say that people can become ‘an annoyance.’ Just the superior tone of that one comment makes me bristle. Who do you think you are? Obviously Someone.
• Your (again) self-professed Grammar Nazism. That actually could be a good thing. I can be a bit of a Grammar Nazi too. But what gets me is that you feel the need to brag about your habit of correcting others’ grammar (yes, adults’) when your own writing tends to be full of grammatical errors and typos. Walk the Talk, Chiquita!
• Your intentional over-use of British-isms. Come on, honey. You grew up in Texas and the Midwest. Not the UK. Yes, I love Downton Abbey and Dr. Who as much as the next Anglophile, but I don’t make an effort to substitute good ol’ American words. On this side of the pond, it’s ‘math.’ Not maths. We drive people ‘crazy.’ Not mad. Etc. Etc. Etc.
• The way you tend to flaunt your lifestyle, as if you are somehow more privileged than, as you put it, ‘people who work.’ Your Spouse works countless hours to enable you to sit home eating bonbons and handcrafting various items while your offspring educate take care of themselves. Remember, these are the kids who told me that they love being homeschooled because, “Mom forgets a lot and we don’t have to do school every day.” That’s the choice you made – great. But the rest of us don’t need our noses rubbed in your superiority.
• The fact that you’ve got your family snowed. Convinced that your college degree is ‘unmarketable’ in the job world. Um, it’s a college degree. That means that, with any small degree of effort and a measure of work ethic, you could find a job. Even a part time one.
Do I sound jealous here? I admit it – I used to be. But the more I thought about it, the more I started feeling sad for you. Why? Because I’ve spent enough time working on me over the last year to recognize some patterns here.
It’s obvious that you are incredibly insecure. Why else (unless you truly are a More Evolved Specimen of Humanity) would you constantly feel the need to talk yourself up? Affect fake ways of speaking? Remind the rest of us of your innate abilities? Correct others? Rationalize your choice to be a SAHM? Heck, you wanted to be a professor and aren’t. Maybe this is your way of making yourself feel better about not achieving that particular goal. I don’t know. And it’s not my job to try and find out. But I feel sorry for you. And I’m REALLY working on not getting irked at all of the little things.
So what’s next? Well, since I’m working on cleaning my side of the street, I need to let all of my pet peeves go. And pray for you. Yep, that’s right. I’m going to start praying for you. And no, I’m not going to start praying that someone really tells you off or that you suddenly realize how annoying your habits are. That would be totally missing the point.
No, I’m going to pray for peace, enlightenment, and open-mindedness for you. Among other things. But that’s a start.
And you know what? I feel better already.

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Filed under honesty, Personal growth, Relationships

It’s a Party – and I’m Not There

It’s that week again. The ONE week of the year that makes me miss teaching, and specifically miss teaching music, more than any other.

Music Educators’ Convention Week.

While that may sound like a snoozefest to some, I read an old Funky Winkerbean comic the other day that describes it best. Ready?

‘It’s like Spring Break for band directors.’

And not just band directors. Choir, orchestra and elementary music teachers converge by the thousands. From all over Texas. From out of state. It’s huge. There are not one, but TWO huge exhibit halls full of enough instruments and sheet music to bonfire New York – as well as enough fundraising cookies, sausages, candies and chocolates to feed a small country. Seriously. You can just walk the exhibits and eat samples all day without spending a dime. I’ve done it.

And then there are the workshops. Pick and choose from hundreds on any topic from How to Get the Snotnosed Kid With an Attitude Problem to Love Music to Fundraising 101 to Folk Dances from Outer Mongolia. Seriously. And each one of them is led by an expert in the field, recorded for future reference and most actually have door prizes. Good ones. Score!

And the concerts! Invited groups from all over the state. All levels from elementary choir to university orchestra. Winners of the state Honor Band contests. Usually a professional group or two. And to top off the weekend, the All-State ensembles’ concerts. AND MOST OF THESE ARE FREE!! What more could a total music geek ask for?

I’ll tell you. I wanna go. The Spouse headed out this morning and I’m seriously green. So jealous I could spit. Not because I miss the tantrums, the puke, the public school schedule and issues with helicopter parents.

I miss the camaraderie. The networking. The sheer possibility of professional learning and personal brain-stretching that I always experienced at Convention. The idea that a group of grown adults actually gather on a Thursday night for two hours’ worth of folk dancing – for the fun of it – makes my music-historian-geek start to drool. I mean it.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this musical loveliness takes place in San Antonio? On the Riverwalk?

That’s where the Spring Break part comes in. Because in the midst of all the professional inspiration, you can walk steps to any one of the plethora of amazing restaurants and shops nearby. Take a break. Eat fabulous food. Hang out with old college friends, new acquaintances and colleagues. Network. And of course head down to Swig or Durty Nellie’s for some live music and/or a beverage if you’re so inclined. And the funniest part? You can spot all of the band directors a mile away – something about the briefcase, name badge and Dockers combo.

Can you tell I miss it? The idea of being kid-free with the Spouse, away from home, in San Antonio and getting professional inspiration all in one? Heaven. Nirvana. Whatever you want to call it.

But is it enough to make me want to go back there? To go back to teaching public school music to groups of up to 60 youngsters at once? No.

But I’m thinking a nice private school gig would suit me just fine. Now I just need to fit that into my day job and writing schedule.

What about you? What inspires you personally and professionally?

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Filed under Arts Education, Careers, Music, Music teachers, Performing Arts, Personal growth, Uncategorized

Dream Life Needs Advice! Mayday!

blogI’ve got a small problem. Just a teeny tiny itty bitty problem. The smallest of problems, really. And to most, it wouldn’t even seem like a problem. But it’s bugging me. The problem?

I have a Dream. Complete with a Dream Life.

Ok, that sentence doesn’t read exactly the way I want it to. What I meant to say was that I have this goal for a Dream Life in my head. Which isn’t bad – normally that would be good. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea how to get from point A to point B. At least, no idea that is grounded in reality instead of absolute fantasy. That causes my Type A personality piles and piles of stress, because my Type-A-ness likes to have a goal, set a timeline, take steps toward the goal and make it happen.

I’m totally out of my element here. What’s my Dream Life? In my Dream Life I’m a freelance writer. Correction – a Writer. With a capital W. Because the capital W makes a big difference. It does. Really. As a Writer I’d have much more control over my schedule, be able to express my creativity in my work, interact with fascinating people in interesting situations and – of course – do what I love. Reading and writing.

Of course, my Dream Life also has a Dream Office. Like the one in the picture, only looking over a tree-lined boulevard of New York brownstones – or perhaps an artsy Parisian neighborhood, complete with cafes.  What would the Dream Job be without a Dream Apartment in a Dream City, after all? If I’m gonna plan this out I may as well do it right, right??

But here’s the catch – I am completely spinning my wheels on this writing thing. I’m stuck. One problem is that I’m enough of a people-pleaser that I find myself trying to write what I think others will want to read. Bad Writer! Hand-slap! Throat-punch! I should be writing what I think, feel and experience – and to Heck with anyone who doesn’t like it! (Says my rational side that only pops its head out and about bimonthly or so…)

I started blogging. Check. Daily. Check. Switched platforms when I realized that a) most of the hits I was getting were spam, not legit readers and b) heard through the grapevine that people were having trouble commenting on my posts. That’s not cool.

But this new platform is intimidating. I feel like a really really tiny minnow in the Pacific Ocean. So many amazing writers – and who am I to think I have anything at all to contribute? It’s danged intimidating, y’all! And darn it – work keeps getting in the way of my writing time! I get most of my inspiration during my commute – and since I’m challenged behind the wheel on a good day, I’ve no chance at all of recording/writing any of these ideas down. I mean, honestly. I’m the one with the Find My Car app on my phone, remember? I’d end up in New Orleans if I tried to multitask behind the wheel, especially the way I get consumed when I write. And I’ve had a really good idea for an editorial in my head for months now – but spend my days editing others’ work instead of creating my own.

So here’s the thing. I need advice. Lots and lots of it. Preferably of good quality. What steps should an aspiring Writer take to get on the right path? Where do I start? Any and all advice is welcome – I’m begging here! Take a look around this blog, read some of my stuff, and tell me what you honestly think! No Ponzi schemes please – I’ve already weeded through a few of those. I’m talking legit Writing Business Advice here! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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Filed under Career path, Personal growth, Reading, Uncategorized, writing

Kick in the Teeth

So, I came back from my weekend retreat refreshed, relaxed and inspired. My brain was literally overflowing with ideas and plans. I got my groove back and had a new outlook on life.

Guess what? Life happened. My pink cloud didn’t last much past 9 AM yesterday morning. I got seriously bummed at having to spend the day in the office working – which had absolutely nothing to do with my new attitude for self-fulfillment and personal growth. Didn’t help that it was a nasty, humid, rainy 76 degrees outside either. Even my hair rebelled, which is nothing strange. But it didn’t help my mood. And by the time I got home last night – exhausted – I just wanted to crawl into bed. No reading, Zumba, journal writing or thinking of any kind. To tell the truth, I fell asleep in front of Pawn Stars.

This morning, determined to find the groove I worked so hard to get back, I shut myself away for some quiet time. Reflecting and surfing. Which always solves the problem, right? A little Facebook makes everything better. Ha. Usually those types of days are the ones where my news feed is stacked with everyone’s vaca photos from Costa Rica or a SAHM’s latest Pinterest project.

But not today. The first thing that popped up was a link to a new post on Legacyunleashed.org. And if you haven’t checked out her stuff, it’s fantastic. Motivational, thoughtful and spiritual. So I clicked. and read. And what she had to say was a wakeup call for me.

Boy, was I glad I did. Today’s post is all about keeping your vision alive. Keeping the groove. Keeping the spring in your step while living life on life’s terms. It was truly a God thing. Given my current state of mind, it was a reminder that He hasn’t just given me these ideas and plans for nothing. There is a plan. And I need to keep the joy and remember that things don’t happen on my schedule.

While I was reading her post, the minions were playing some new app in the other room. Some bike racing thing. And I heard minion 1 say, ‘Man, I hate the bumps in the road.’

Son, I do too. And what I felt yesterday was one of those bumps. But there’s always level ground after a bump and sometimes a hill or two. I wrote down a quote from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn over the weekend. It totally fits here, I just need to remember it. So do you. Ready? Here it is:

All of us are what we have to be and everyone lives the kind of life it’s in him to live.

Profound, huh? But I also need to remember that I have some choice in what kind of person I am. That’s my challenge this afternoon. Well, that and having enough energy to put plans into action tonight!

Riker – I just don’t like the bumps in the road.

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Filed under Attitude, goals, Personal growth, Perspective, Plans, working moms

Decluttering…

Wow! I just looked at the blog and realized it’s been over two months since I posted. Not good. Not good at all. What’s the deal? Well, between looking for, finding and training at a new job my time has been seriously strapped. Not to mention that the minions are out of school, so when I get home they tend to occupy the little time left in the day – after which I drop down exhausted. But it’s all good.

So in the interim, my teacher-spouse has become Mr. Mom for the summer. He’s on a mission to declutter the house (specifically his game room, but the enthusiasm is spilling over to the garage, kitchen, etc.) He even moved the boxes that used to contain my desk stuff out into the dining room so that I could go through them. Thoughtful guy. I actually dug through part of one the other day. It was pretty interesting. Those boxes are a holdover from a couple of years ago when I was inspired by Oprah. Yes, one of the few episodes I actually watched. It was called ‘Declutter Your Life.’ After that episode, I went through my stuff with a vengeance. Yes, my name is Amy and I could possibly be considered a borderline hoarder. Is there a 12-step program for that? There should be. So I was interested to see what I had actually kept during my mad sweep to clean up and clear out.

What was left? Lots of pictures – which I will NOT scan onto Facebook, since most of them are from long-past TTBOC days. Big hair, NKOTB clothes and teenage acne. Not public material, but some good memories there. My student ID from my freshman year at UNT. Part of a corsage. Thumb tacks (??!) Wedding invitations from dear friends and some letters from band camp buddies back in the day. Student planners from college. That one was interesting. Now I can access any number of old to-do lists, as well as remember important events should I so desire. What happened on April 11, 1992, for instance? Well, with the flip of a few pages I could give you that information in two shakes. Boxes of stuff that, to the casual observer, would be considered junk but are indelible snapshots of my life. Huh.

In the midst of decluttering, it occurred to me that decluttering my head might be beneficial too. Now THAT’s a major undertaking. There’s WAY too much floating around in there on a normal day, let alone an eventful one. So the other day at lunch (still can’t believe I get a whole HOUR – and most days I don’t know what to do with it) I sat down and wrote a blog entry. Yes, I did. On paper. A really long one. Even typed it up during a slow moment in the Big World of Commercial Real Estate with intentions of just copying and pasting it in here.

And then a minor miracle happened. I reread it. More than once. And I DIDN’T POST IT. That’s a first here. I realized that my post was the equivalent of that time when you really want to say something so you write a letter to someone (your boss, a co-worker, that evil guy who cut you off on the highway) just to say exactly what’s on your mind. What do the ‘experts’ always say about these letters? DON’T MAIL THEM. So I put it away. Yes, I got some pretty good insight from it, but I revised my usual routine of ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ when it comes to my mouth (or in this case, my typing.) I put the filter on  – which is difficult for me – and pondered my thoughts. Yes, Pinky, I was pondering. For a long time. And I remembered the advice of a very wise man: “Identify the issue. Plan a solution. Take action.” Wow. That’s pretty easy to read. Makes sense, too. I planned and I acted. My brain feels much less full. And – insert gasp here – I feel better. Decluttering the mind is a good thing. Now, I’m still waiting to see the end result of ‘taking action,’ but you know what? To me the journey is just as important as the destination.

Go ahead. Declutter something today. That pile of clothes hangers, boxes or the nagging thoughts in the back of your mind. Just do it!

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Filed under family, Life Changes, organization, Personal growth, planning, work

I (Thought I) Need(ed) a Do-Over

So I have been off my game lately. I admit, my little trip last month has really thrown me off my game. Things like daily routing, blogging and writing have taken a back seat to the job hunt. But I’m really trying to get back into things that bring me joy – like writing and blogging. And for the three of you who actually read this, I hope you enjoy.

We all have days when we feel like a do-over. Whether it’s a bad hair day, hindsight about a fashion choice (or, like me, you busy moms who notice halfway through the day that you’re wearing mismatched shoes, socks or earrings – it happens more than you may think) or words that you watch coming out of your mouth like a cartoon bubble, we’ve all had those moments. Trust me, I’ve definitely had more than my share. And the other day, in a fit of frustration, I found myself thinking, ‘It would be nice to be back in high school – when I only thought I had responsibilities and stress.’

WHAT WAS I THINKING?? To put it mildly, I didn’t love high school. Nope. Mainly because I was afraid of people. Not just shy – literally afraid of people. Agoraphobia is probably a gentle word for it. I tried to hide it by submerging myself in the band world. It’s really hard to talk to people when you’re either shouting commands at them or have an instrument or whistle crammed to your face at all times. Try it – you can’t. It was perfect. In fact, I’ve since heard that (apparently) most people thought I was snobby and stuck-up. If you are reading this and you were one of those people – trust me, that wasn’t it. I was just afraid of you. Seriously. Not that I didn’t have friends. My small handful of trusted peeps (yes, you – Jill, Janine, Dez, Kristen…) got me through most social situations. And I can’t forget Greg and Siobhan, without whom I would undoubtedly still be stuck in Chemistry.

So in the midst of these mixed-up musings I came across this article on Facebook. Ironically, posted by a couple of fellow classmates. Interesting. Not only does it perfectly describe me (both then and now) but it got me thinking. I used to hate group work, particularly in our two-hour history and English block class. I always felt like no one listened to my ideas. Well, duh – I would have actually had to share them for people to ignore them… Who knew? And that class was full of intimidating people – or so I thought. It’s funny, but this article made me realize that we were basically a room full of introverts. Define irony – roomful of introverts forced to work cooperatively. No wonder Babs Taylor and little Mrs. Brown got so irritated when we failed to produce ‘in a timely manner.’

Ok, here’s a thought. I could just tattoo the basics of that article on my forehead and go about my days. No? Maybe not. And I’ve come a long way with people. Heck, I taught school. For a long time. No longer do eight- and nine-year-olds frighten me. Now, the parents… Just kidding. Granted, the sales job I was offered a few weeks ago wasn’t the best fit for me. I might be able to sell a fish some water – but I wouldn’t like it. So I am trying to embrace my inner introvert (say that five times fast.) Embrace it, but not use it as an excuse. I’m just glad to know there are others like me. So I don’t need (or want) to go back to high school to avoid responsibility. After all, I’m in charge of my own decisions now and could never give that up. Nope. I’m happy the way I am – with improvements along the way, of course.

And you extroverts? Slow down, take a deep breath and hug an introvert today. Well, maybe not hug them. That could be scary. Personal space and all that. Virtually hug them while giving them their space. Ciao!

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Filed under Introverts, Moms, Personal growth, Personalities