Prologue

Before I understood the welcome and freeing feeling of sand between my toes, I only understood the annoyance of sand in my socks.

Before I understood mud-stained smiles and victories, I only understood stain removal tools and their efficacy in removing those smudges from my possessions.

Before I understood the taste of a warm, fresh picked cucumber grown with the collective hard work of a community, I only understood sunburns and Miracle Gro that barricaded my success and ushered me to super markets.

Understanding changes. Growth occurs.

Perspective dramatically shifts.

I watch her from above, the breeze picking up softly and sending whispers through the high grasses. I wipe the hair from my face and absent-mindedly adjust my hair in its crude tie. Squinting a little more helps me see that she is almost there.

A couple more strokes and adjustments of sails and she will clear the reef.

I can only let out a deep sigh and simultaneously try to adjust my posture to seem braver and stronger than the tears on my face.

Before understanding the unselfish sacrifice of the action that is leaving behind all that matters for the greater end, I only understood the selfish acts of leaving at the end of a romance novel. Sacrifices made me mad. I fought them. There had to be a better way.

But understanding changes. Growth occurs.

Sacrifice is necessary. It is messy.

How did I get here? Standing on a cliff, facing the sea, a silent sentinel watching the sacrifice of my new people. Watching the one I love disappear over high waves, treacherous reefs, and a setting sun. How did I get here?

I suppose we never see the path until has been tread.

 

 

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Feeling stuck

Sometimes you get stuck. Things aren’t all that bad- I have a job, money saved up, a house to live in, etc. Physically, things are doing ok except for my face being attacked by god knows what. But emotionally….it just sucks right now.

I am on an island, alone. There are tons of people around me but no one I love. And no one loves me. I have acquaintances. I have friends. But I do not have family. I have no support. My gf is deployed to a desert. My family is 6 time zones and a thousand dollar flight away. The school I work out is a place I don’t fit in. I am on the learning curve of teaching with no one to mentor me. I have my dogs and that is about it. So it’s not the end of the world…but I am just so sick of being lonely. And I want to go home.

Change Is Always The Hardest Part

A few years ago, I lie crumpled on the floor of our laundry room. I was a sobbing heap, a tangled mess. I can’t remember now if this was over a heartbreak that was once devastating or if this was over losing a friend, but I was sitting there crying about the world ending. To be fair, I was probably 16. My world was school and my gf and my friends- and band. I can admit this.

As I lay there, I remember asking my mother questions. Why it was so hard to lose someone or something? Why did people have to go away, anyways? Why could we not just reinvent the relationship and make it work in some other way?

I feel like, at 24, I still ask these questions.

My mother said to me all the best things that mentors do. She said that person wasn’t meant to be in my life. If they were they would find me again. She said that I was most worried about the change and that I didn’t do well with it, anyways. She said a lot. None of it really sunk in. I was 16 and a high school relationship was ruining my universe.

She would repeat these words often.

Flash forward about 8 years. I had just moved to Hawaii. My fiancee from a relationship of 4 years had skyped me from Afghanistan to tell me that she had not loved me in a long time and would just like to end things.

End things….while I was sitting on her laptop on our bed with our dogs in our house while she was 14.5 hours time difference away……

And I had SUCH a hard time letting go.

Again, my mother said: “You are just hating the change, Sarah. That’s the hardest part. I think you know, deep down, you were not meant to be. The hardest part is moving out and moving on. Once you get that down…you will be ok.”

And it was. It took me a few months to be able to afford a place and move out. I moved to another side of the island and started a new life. Change is the hardest part.

This was true of losing lovers, graduating college, moving to new places, starting new jobs.

Half of me embraces change so much. I can’t sit still. I love adventure! I was somewhat surprised when my mother told me that I did not handle change well.

But she was right.

I handle adventure just fine and I love it.

But change…REAL change. Christ I am terrible at that. I protest it with every fiber of my being. I shove it aside in mass quantities as if I am trying to bail it out of my lifeboat to keep me from sinking.

I love routine and security and home.

So now, here I am facing change again. This time, I at least realize and observe why I am feeling like a churning bag of emotions with a killer anxiety headache.

My current gf is deploying to Afghanistan. We spent all of two months together before she left and then a week of pass she had in Texas. It should be no surprise that things are a little rough, but there is still this part of me that clings to security and wants it. I over analyze text messages and mood changes trying to look for reasons behind everything.

I was so happy to see her in Texas. We had so much fun….and then it ends, you know. The last two days start to fill with more apprehension. The plane ride back is brutal. 9 months is seeming so much longer.

And I have one hand clinging to hope and security and one hand trying to bail out the rising water.

Because change is the hardest part and that’s what my whole world is doing right now.

Best friends moved away. I am far from family. I am starting a new school year. My gf is deploying. I am alone in this for the first time ever.

So here I am half thinking this is a great chance to learn and grow and half thinking I should run home on the next flight and just live at home.

But you gotta stick it out. You never know what could happen when the dust settles.

It’s just change.

But change is the hardest part.

 

I am that state…

I am that state of in-between
where consequences lie in either direction of suspended belief
where I hold dearly, tooth and nail, to the side of the metaphorical mountain of safety
where I am terrified of your rejecting words
but
also
of your silence

I am
that state
between the cliff of liking someone
and that deep ocean of all-consuming love
where my feet are on the edge, making ten miniature craters in the soil from the anxiety of letting go

To have control over my pounding heart
would be this difficult thing

wrestling sticky words and leaking soul onto the ground
so I can get a better look at my heart
panting and breathing hard
until I can pack it up in a box
Because it,
I
won’t fight back in exhaustion

I want the words I say to pour out
and cause that small increasing smile on your face
lips that curl up
eyes that do not blink because they are filled with happiness at what I have delivered to you

but I am that state
of in between
where I want desperately to run straight out the door and down the street with wild abandon
or
where I breathe deeply
and open the door slowly
convincing myself
That any reaction by you
is exactly what is supposed to happen

but I am that state
of in between

The Teaching Magic Formula

Growing up, I would always judge all my teachers. Some were boring. Some were fun. Some were stupid. Some were mean and strict. Everyone had a category and everyone talked about these teachers at lunch or after school. I swore I would never be like those crappy teachers I had and was convinced I could always do better. I never understood why they couldn’t see the error of their ways.

Flash forward to being in my twenties and having a class full of middle schoolers. My first year, I chalked it up to inexperience and the fact that I looked about as old as my students. My second year, I blamed it on being a SpEd teacher who the kids all thought was an EA.

This year, with multiple classes of 7th and 8th graders, I still have inexperience but I also have less excuses altogether.

 

My biggest class is 30 7th graders who are all in the low to mid range according to tests and performance data. 30 kids in a classroom with no AC after lunch is a challenge no teacher would ever willingly choose but I can’t seem to think that I am royally screwing up in the realm of classroom management. I can’t seem to get control of that class without being as strict as I can be. I have so many rules and routines! And yet, they keep talking and zoning out.

Maybe I can make it more fun! Maybe I can be super super nice (think Miss Honey in Matilda)! Maybe I can be super super strict and then lenient later! I think I am too much of a pushover. I think I am too mean. I think all these things constantly.

 

What my students see is probably some strange bipolar teacher. They probably say I don’t know what I am doing. They probably talk about this at lunch.

And they will do this like I did and never say a word to me about what I can change and what they need……

So maybe I will figure this out. My 8th graders are so good that it barely takes ANY effort to have a calm and focused class.

What is the magic formula? And does it even exist?

They don’t ever talk about young adult angst…..

Well, at least they don’t have a word for it.

What career path is this? Am I supposed to be married? What happened to all my best friends? Why do I suddenly miss my family when I used to hate them? Why does feel like I am straddling a crack between responsibility and young wanderlust?!

This is not quite as bad as middle or high school but, damn, it is quite awkward and brutal at times.

I am 24. In the grand scheme of my life, this is young (I hope) . A few years ago, I would have argued with you if you called me young! I would have been annoyed if you told me that I did not know anything yet!

I really thought that I knew it all because I had become an “adult”.

But here I am on a Sunday,  feeling one part bored, one big part lonely from missing family, and two parts guilty over not going to church – still, even though I left my parent’s religion a decade ago. Good ole Catholic Guilt!

When you graduate college, there is the general stress of getting a good job. However, there is also this buzz of excitement that seems to quell some of the fears. You get pretty excited about a steady income and the ability to buy and rent this and that.

That excitement, of course, then turns to stress and “too-late”-realizations that you should have done more research on interest rates…

But then you are suddenly in your third of fourth year out of school. Time seems to pass more quickly as you get older, doesn’t it?

You have settled in a new place. You’re doing pretty good, sure. But you are also thousands of miles away from family. The one adventurous spirit is now being put in check by wanting that unconditional love within arm’s reach. You are also starting to realize that all your friends have their own lives. No one is held together in one place by school or family anymore. You start to run out of similar things to talk about with some people. Many of them move all over the globe. You stay in touch but you don’t have them here. Suddenly, you are in a brand new place with new beginnings and the frightening possibility that you have to GO FIND FRIENDS BY YOURSELF in this vast place.

and that is happening right about the same time that you are realizing that you actually know jack crap about the world. All your strong opinions about the world start to take on a new, interconnected light. Things aren’t as simple.

Don’t forget the part where you start to realize you aren’t who you thought either!

“You mean to say that I am a loud-mouthed, opinionated, self-conscious space cadet?!”

And with that comes the realization that you are at an age where you cannot blame it on being young anymore. You gotta step up and start doing the right things for yourself, by yourself.

Which leads you to the new realization that you now have to be responsible for everything in a much bigger way. You must choose your words carefully and your actions with as much wisdom as you can dig out of your still young self.

This angst reminds me of being an adolescent but it is riddled with even more responsibility and self-realization. These are two things you can no longer hide from behind the cloak of “being young and stupid”.

This is all necessary, I know. One day I will look back and think something completely different about this time period, I’m sure.

For now, I am going to try and do the same thing I did when I was teen: write about it and then go watch TV…

Practical Things I Have Learned in Hawaii

When I moved here, I had spent a total of five years as an independent adult. Four of those were in college where three were spent enjoying my newfound freedom in the form of blue mountain dew and hot pockets. The last year was my realization that I had let my body go. I could not run, I was having huge health problems, and I had gained at least 30 pounds. I was  a big mess.

The fifth year, I was living with my partner in Alabama as she attended flight school. We finally had enough money to not be clipping coupons and living week to week. I ate pretty well and kept up my healthiness.
I could run 6 miles and I lost all the extra weight.

I am still on this journey of healthiness and Hawaii is a great place for that. One, it is too expensive here to just buy whatever you want. Secondly, it is easy to fall in love with the veggies, fruits, and plentiful farmer’s markets. I also happened to be surrounded by some healthy vegetarians who were into self-improvement, yoga, and nature. When my fiancee broke my heart and left, it was these people and this life that built me back up to being a very close version of who I really want to be. I am only 24 and I still have much to grow with….but here are some cool things I have learned practically.

Acne

When I moved here, I all of a sudden got a raging case of acne. I have NEVER had this before. People used to envy my face. Now I had a rash on it and every pore was either a pimple or some hardened mess. Gross. I tried salicylic acid, benzyl peroxide, and tea tree oil. Nothing worked. I had just about given in when my current gf, along with my very close friend, suggested I try some natural cures. I am not sure why I had not thought of this before! After research, I made a mask that got rid of this acne a whole lot in a week….when I stopped using it to compare, I broke out again.

This is less than one week of just the mask.

This is less than one week of just the mask.

Basically, this mask is a powerful antibacterial and cleanser. Apply a natural moisturizer like jojoba oil or aloe lotion later.

Put this mask on in the morning after you rinse your face with water. Pat dry and apply for fifteen minutes.

1)A bunch of yogurt

2) a couple shakes of turmeric

3) one or two garlic cloves all mashed up

4) a bunch of raw honey (BTW, raw honey, at least the local kind…is DELICIOUS. I am not a sweet tooth kind of person but holy crap, I could eat a jar of this stuff)

All of these things are superfoods. I bought all local, organic versions except the turmeric, which came bottled. I do this because I believe in supporting all the amazing farmers I have met out here and because I disagree with what Monsanto is doing, personally. That’s just my little soapbox moment.

Laundry Detergent

I found this recipe online and it works wonders. I chose to use Dr. Bronner’s Lavender bar soap and it smells quite wonderful. It actually keeps my clothes really clean and does the best I have ever seen at removing pesky dog hair from my items. I have two beagles and they are adorable…yet hairy.

IMG_4316

See? Adorable and hairy!