Thursday, May 27, 2010

May Memories in the Moment of Teaching

Since the spring semester ended at Pitt, it has left me more time to pick up substitute teaching jobs before the end of the school year. I was in for a friend of mine that I met in one of my ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Then I found out that she was going to be out for several weeks and I was asked to cover her class teaching ESL! It has been a wonderful experience, especially since I just finished my training to teach ESL. It has felt like having my own class again by teaching the same group of kids for a consistent period of time. The kids are very sweet, hard working, and quite humorous. And I love that my friend trusts me with her kids to do the planning and teaching my way while she is away. We talk on the phone and I give her updates. Her stories are also ten times funnier because now I have gotten to know her kids and can appreciate it more. It has been a dream to be in her classroom with her sweeties and I love that it is how I will spend most of my time closing out the school year.

  • Making a class book about animals. It has been a sort of research/writing project and the kids have taken it to the next level with their high interest and effort. Tomorrow we will read the finished project and hopefully the principal will pop in to see it, as well.
  • Getting to know the kids better to be able to have fun with them by listening to their stories and joking around with them. It is good to let them see you laugh. And it is great to see them open up, too.
  • Allowing room for the kids to be able to guide the direction of instruction by using their interests and suggestions. It is lovely when kids can be part of the process in their own learning. We have done this with the animal book project, recreating a book we've been reading into pop-up sets and puppets to practice the sequencing of events, and individualized book reports.
  • Smiling faces that greet me by name, sprinkled with hugs. As a sub, I can sometimes feel like I'm just another person coming and going. You need time to develop rapport with the kids.
  • Teachable moments--that individualized connection to learning that makes it so deliciously meaningful and magical. It is having a trusting relationship with the children to allow you to take them on a journey of learning--to be in that moment of thinking and creativity!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Not-So-Happy Mother's Day

I feel like crap and totally selfish. I was absolutely miserable on Mother's Day and wanted to crawl into a hole. It was worse than Valentine's Day. And I put off calling my own mother until the afternoon, which I felt completely guilty about because I love my mom dearly and she has been nothing but supportive...especially with enduring all of the crap that has been my life these past few years. She deserves more and she deserves better.

But I guess I just felt ticked off at the world with feeling like I was being dictated on when I should be expressing loving and heartfelt thank you's to mothers. I wanted to be stubborn, not have some day tell me when to share my appreciation to all the mothers out there and joining in the skipping rainbows and gushy moms are the best thing ever stuff surrounded by pink fluff and sweet flowery goodness. I even had someone wish me a happy mother's day on Friday as I left work. WTF? The first time I am wished a happy mother's day in my life and I am not even one year out of my divorce. Instead I was numb and just closed myself off.

When I talked to my mom, I wanted to tell her how I really felt on the inside. I wanted to tell her how much I appreciate her strength and unwavering support as I have gone through some of the very crappiest things in my life. I just wanted to get off of the phone because I knew I was doing a poor job of expressing any kind of genuine sentiment. I was so disappointed in myself.

And I felt crappy again when a friend of mine called to share in how terrible it was for her to deal with Mother's Day. I'm sorry, darling. I was numb and not doing a good job of supporting you in the way that I wanted. My heart aches for those who are not mothers and who so want to be mothers on this day. It is not even like Valentine's Day where you can be somewhat open about your anger. Who wants to be the jerk to openly vent about Mother's Day? It is again, one of those unspoken pains that many women carry as a burden for more reasons than I could imagine.

It wasn't until I talked to my mom today that I was able to really tell her how I feel. I told her when she comes into town that I would want celebrate her own Mother's Day. I told her I was sorry that I couldn't bring myself to really celebrate and thank her properly. She said she knew and it was why she called earlier in the week before Mother's Day. My mom had already thought it would be a real possibility the weekend could be difficult for me this year. She wanted to know how I was doing and if I was okay. (Humbly, with a gulp.) Wow. That's why I love my mom because she never stops loving me and she so often seems to be so aware and thoughtful. I don't know how she does it.

As much as I hate to admit it, this Mother's Day was just another reminder that I am not a mother and so very far away from that dream. It is just another reminder that I don't even have that someone special to share my life with to even begin to dream that dream again.

Which, that brings me to a little green sleeper and two teddy bear onesies.

I knew I was ready to give away the adoption books I had when I could look at them an not cry. I felt ready when I threw away all of the informational pamphlets from the various adoption agencies. With a deep breath and courage I knew it was time when I put the paperwork I completed from the chosen agency into the shredder. Although, I did cry when I returned the rest of the baby things I bought from the store. I was grateful for the lady behind the counter when she stopped herself from asking the reason for the returns or if there was anything wrong with the merchandise.

But I could not bring myself to return the little green sleeper and the two teddy bear onesies. I don't bring them out to look at them much. And with each rare time that I do, it hurts less. But for some reason I just cannot let them go just yet. I almost feel like if I give them up, that I am giving up on my dream of one day being a mother. When I bought them, I imagined putting them on my own Jamie baby and holding my little one. They almost represent a kind of hope, and it is a hope I am not ready to let go of yet.

But I also know that if I ever did have a child, I would not want to dress my child in those items. I know that one day I will donate them to someone in need. And maybe I will be able to detach my hope from them without having to give up on the dream. Sometimes it feels so foolish and silly to dream for a child when I don't even have the relationship to share in the dream. (And please do not tell me that I can be a mother without a husband...I don't want to do the single mother thing.)

Pittsburgh Half-Marathon

Okay, this post is running a little late, but it is because I wanted to upload a photo to go along with my accomplishment!

So, I am very proud of myself for having run in the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon. I had started my training in January with the help of a friend from volunteering at the hospital, Becca. She suggested the race and I was a little nervous to do it wondering if I could be ready in time. But then I thought, why wait? When would I have another opportunity to plunge into this before my classes get more intense? Becca was great in giving me her training schedule so that I could mesh it with the one I had to make something work for me. We ran together on a couple of weekends, but it was mostly checking in with each other to hold ourselves accountable to reach the goal. Now I can say that I have run in a 5K, 10K, and now a half-marathon. I can't wait to run another one or to try for a full marathon! I love running and it is even better when training for a race.

As for race day, I was not able to run with Becca. We tried to meet up, but I should have known better when there were 16,000 people in the race! Even leading up to the day of the Marathon, someone commented that it seemed like everyone in Pittsburgh or someone they knew was running in the race. My friend, Michele (in the photo above), drove down with me to the race, leaving my place around 5:45 am. It was great to run with Michele and as I was driving there, she had looked at the race map for the first time. She giggled in awe, "Oh my gosh, Jamie, this is a really long course!" I agreed and said that I didn't realize just how long 13.1 miles could be either. I had been training with running twice around a small lake* and then a little more. But when it was mapped out over the city, it looked a lot longer! The course started downtown by the Heinz Historical Center. Then it went into the Strip District and back up again and across the 16th Street Bridge. Then it went down East Ohio Street and did a loop before coming across the West End Bridge and along Station Square. From there it continued into part of the Southside on Carson Street before looping back into downtown. It was a great run through the city and across so many bridges!

As Michele and I found our starting spot around 7:00 am, we were both feeling nervous and excited. The energy from the crowd was great as there was this feeling of unity before undertaking something big. Runners were full of happy chatter and smiling ear to ear with the excitement of it all. Then we listened to someone sing the national anthem and waited for the signal for the race to start. It took us five minutes to get to the starting line once the race had officially began. It was crowed for the first two miles or so as runners fell into their pace. There was a bit of a drizzle just as we finished the first mile, which made the air humid and heavy. Then it began to rain fairly heavily for the second and part of the third mile, which made it difficult to see. But it didn't matter because everyone was just so pumped up with energy and there were so many people lining the streets to cheer on the runners. And there were bands playing music all along the route of the race. It was better than running with an MP3 player! Slowly, the rain tapered off to a steady light rain. If it was going to rain, this was the best kind of rain to be running in, at least. Michele and I kept in check with each other to see how the other was doing. Michele lead the way when it was time to pass other runners and I kept a watch out for the clocks along the course to calculate our pace to keep us on track for our goal. Running with the rain could be tough, mostly because my shoes got wet and made them heavier for running. Around half-way through the course, I was feeling the challenge of the slow incline up the West End Bridge as it was kicking my arse--in more ways than one. But just as it was getting tough, there would be a crowd of people cheering on the runners with such positive support or the can-do music of a band or a pace leader yelling words of encouragement. And I just kept telling myself, "You can do this James!" It was amazing to see so many people running, especially from certain vantage points where you could see the seemingly endless stream of runners ahead packing the streets. I told Michele, "So this is what 16,000 people running looks like!" At this point in the race, the marathon runners were going to continue up Carson Street and the half-marathon runners were turning back into the city. There was no easy mile for me in this race, as I had to keep focused and give it my all, but I also did it with a big old smile. When running a race of this distance, it is not a matter of just running, it becomes a mental challenge to endure and come out on the other side.

As I crossed the finish line, I had a great feeling of accomplishment with a huge payout of personal satisfaction after four months of intense training. It wasn't until after the race that I could really step back and appreciate the hard work and dedication I put towards building to this moment. To top it off, I got a finisher's medal! That was a fun surprise--not to mention, that we were also given Gatorade, bananas, and smiley cookies!

Goals Accomplished: run the whole half-marathon, keep at a 10 minute mile pace or less, have fun, and be awesome

Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes, 12 seconds

(*small lake--I say this with a slight eye-roll. In Pittsburgh, people consider the "lake" at North Park, well, a lake. I think of it as a large pond. Having grown up in Cleveland along one of the Great Lakes, a lake is not something you can see across to the other side, let alone be able to run completely around in an hour. I am a lake snob.)

Rotten Tomatoes

In another installment of my boy crazy life...

I can greater appreciate patience and allowing for life to unfold so that it may reveal certain truths. So, there was another guy that I had been dating, nicknamed by a dear friend as Ruben from the movie Along Came Polly. Although, he isn't like the character in the movie. But when I mention his job, several people have jumped at asking me if it is the same as the dude from that movie. Any who...not the point.

I really liked this guy. I felt like we had several things in common, similarities in our background, and the more I learned about him, the more I liked. He is tall and has a presence in a crowed room that gets noticed--an understated confidence. And each time he kissed me, it felt like magic.

Sounds great...but I noticed some distancing and was not sure what it was about. It felt like he was guarded and there is only so much you can share with a person who is so protective of themselves before you are stuck and can't get to a deeper level. I wondered if he noticed this, too. I didn't know if he just was not aware or shy or maybe a quiet player. The last time we went out to dinner, he brought up this very thing, wondering if we click or fit. Long story short, it turns out that he is not in an emotional place to be dating right now. He needs some time to heal his heart. I give him credit for being open and honest about his situation. It makes me sad because I saw so much potential and I am not ready to say good-bye. But I will be respectful of his need for space and maybe when the time is right, he will know where to find me.

Just when I was about to write him off as a player, he finally opened up.

Did I mention he is a really good kisser??? (Sigh)

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Well, National Infertility Awareness Week is coming to a close. To be honest, I would not have known had I not been reading the blogs of my fellow IFers. I know, it may be weird to still think of myself as an IFer, but it will always be a part me. And it sucks, especially feeling left so very far behind or falling into an "other" category. But I try not to think about it too much, especially since there is no point in worrying about it since it may not apply to the future me. So, I just tuck it into the back of my mind in the way of honoring something important from my past, but not as something as part of my future.

As I was reading the posts from the ladies "on the other side" I felt better that they have not forgotten. Not that I would ever think they would forget for a moment. I think it takes strength for these women to reflect back on their experiences and to show their hearts, especially to those who have not yet become mothers. It is a window of hope--life continues on and it will be okay. It speaks to this place of being able to reflect back on a very difficult, dark period in your life, when it might have felt inconceivable that there could ever be any happiness or fulfillment, and to be grateful to be on the other side at last--to be able to believe in life's possibilities and to be able to dream again.

As for me, the most important thing that has come from the IF experience was meeting a wonderful, loving, supportive, strong community of women. We really created something beautiful from our group and I am proud to call these women my friends. These are women who will forever be a part of my life and I am eternally grateful for what they have done for me.

Cheers to Carli, Katie, Melissa G., Melissa P., Kerri, Ellie, Lau, Des, Trisha, HP08, Rose, Alie, Lee, Heather, and Ginny. I love you ladies!!!

J@miE's b0Y crAzy*~

Well, that was the text my sister sent when I was really getting back into dating. And it is true!

Okay, I've been holding back. I have been doing a lot more dating than what I have had the courage to admit. I've just kept myself open to the possibility these past few months and for whatever reason, guys have been come into my life from left, right, and center. It has been amazing and I have been having fun with really, truly dating for the first time in my life. And it is not to say it is always easy because it has its own ups and downs. But it is a roller coaster ride I am happier to be riding instead of sitting on the sidelines. Dude, I have a lot to learn.

I married young and to the first person in which I had a real relationship. It is not to say that I would have regretted the lack in prior dating had we been able to sustain the marriage as an equal, respectful, and loving partnership. But as this is not the case, I am embracing this opportunity to explore the world of dating. At times I feel weird for not having done this earlier, but I cannot change the past. And it can be a little scary, considering dating has changed a lot since I was an undergrad. I am grateful to have my own mini-dating guru--my younger sister who is in college and loves to poke fun at our age gap. It can be humbling to take advise from my little sister, as I can sometimes feel protective of her and feel like I am the one who should be looking out for her. But, I guess this is a form of giving back in the times that I helped her, so I will take this gift. As helpful as she is with her own take on dating advise, I think she is also finding my adventures amusing. But I have to say that she laughs with me and not at me! And I am happy to have friends who also will indulge me in listening to my silly stories and ramblings about dating, as I find better grounding in it all. Thank you!

Oh, and something else that ties into all of this exploring into the realm of dating...the class I was taking at Pitt was on adolescence this past semester. (It is also the reason why I have not posted recently...finishing up end of the semester projects.) Reading about the different domains of development could be difficult for me at times because it could hit so close to home. It made me really face some areas of my life that needed some hard reflection and it was not always easy. There were times when I would ask myself, really? REALLY? Could I really not read about this now?

Case in point, sex. Without going into a lot of details, Jamie did not have a whole lot of experience during adolescence with sexual exploration. And upon reading research, yep, it is developmentally appropriate for teens to do a certain amount of fooling around. Frick'n catholic guilt. No, it is not entirely fair to blame it on that. Stink'n goodie-goodie. Okay, I cannot be so hard on myself.

So, I have some catching up to do. And in addition, I have had to let go and allow myself permission to put myself out there. This is not to say that I am running around like a wild woman! It is all relative. But I want for me to be open to these experiences and to be in the moment and to enjoy them. Plus, I have put a lot of thought into where I would draw the line with lightening up and having some fun, but also staying true to myself and my values. Taking this time to define that for myself has been freeing and empowering because I know my limits and more importantly, I can enjoy the time I do have with someone in that magical moment.

I know, I know...I am so cheesy!