Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crocuses, spring sun, and my girl

I am feeling better today. We have made it through March, and April brings the promise of sun, spring, flowers, warmth, and holidays. I am almost finished teaching Chemistry to a bunch of 'astral' 12/13 year olds, and it is not as scary afterall.
One week today I will be on my way to a workshop, and then embark on a 4 week break. Two, compliments of my school's spring break schedule, and two compliments of the HR department that granted me extra leave to see my girl graduate.

She is graduating from university. How did that happen? How is it I am old enough to have a university graduate for a daughter. I am so proud of her. She worked so hard, she persevered through bad professors, bad boyfriends, bad break-ups, and found herself. She is surrounded by wonderful, inspiring people. She has good supportive friends. She has a loving partner. She is active, and inspirational, whether it is planning 'take back the night' events, or open mikes, or attending conferences to present her thesis project. 50 pages? I have never written 50 pages about anything. I think the longest essay I ever wrote was ten pages, so 50? I can't even imagine.

She is beautiful, inside and out. She is kind, and empathetic, and she trusts, even though life has sometimes given her reasons not to. She is head-strong, and opinionated, and also lovely, and gentle, and sweet. She is the best of me, and the best of her dad.

She writes songs, plays guitar, and sings with conviction and oh, so much talent. She is learning to cook, and loving it.

Her whole life lies before her. I am so glad to be part of it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grand nephews, husband, and son. Yup, it was that kind of weekend. Laughter, and admiration for musical gifts. Joy in watching another generation discover the contents of the box of lego. Spontaneous hug from a 5 year old. How great is that?
A phone date from my girl, so far from home, made the weekend complete. And still the marking got done, and the prep, more or less. The sleep? Not so much, but there will be time for that.
I met a young man from Germany, a friend of my son's. A punk fan, and a political science eclectic is that? Oh, yeah, and he has in the recent past held the world record for cup-stacking. Don't ask, watch
Family isn't just those you are born with, or into, or adopt. They are also those that you choose, to share your highs, and lows, and laughs, and tears. Family, may, or may not, be friends, and friends may, or may not, be family, but there are those in our life we know we can count on, we know they love us, despite of, or maybe because of our failings, our humanity.
I have suffered in my life because I have loved and trusted people too much, and I have suffered in my life because I have not loved and trusted people enough.
My mother always said that I wear my heart on my sleeve. She always said it as if it were a bad thing. I think that more people should wear their heart on their sleeve. What is the point in hiding our hearts? Because if we really met each other heart to heart, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ok, really, it is enough now

Earthquake, tsunami, funerals, hospital visits, and what is next?

It is enough, God, really it is. I get it. Life is fleeting. We should count each day as a blessing and make sure we tell the people that we love that we love them.

I get that we should do this today. I get that I should reach out, and overlook old hurts and move on. I get it. I really do.

So, can you just lay off for a while? Can you just allow everyone to catch their breath? Can you just give us a minute to collect ourselves for the next on-slaught? Just a minute.

Is it so much to ask?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

blowing stuff up

I love teaching chemistry. I get to play with matches, and pour methanol on counter tops,and burn holes in the asphalt of the basketball court (you would think I would have learned from 8 years ago when I burned through the asphalt of the new driveway at school).

I love the look on a 13 year old's face, a look of wonder and awe, when you surprise them. And, it is possible to surprise a 13 year old. Even yet.

I love how they applauded spontaneously after I poured alcohol onto the palm of my hand, and then lit it! It was worthy of applause, but still, they are 13, and I am no Justin Bieber.

I love prepping for chemistry experiments, creating 6 foot high blue flames, alone in my classroom, in the quiet after hours of the school day.

I love the questions they ask, and the poems they write about something as 'ordinary' as a wood fire.

I love playing with candles, and discovering new things for myself, and then sharing them with the class.

I love hearing from their parents the discussions that ensue around the dining room table as they describe their chemistry lessons.

So, yeah, I like blowing stuff up. I like the blue, red, green and white flames. I like the smells, even the noxious ones.

So, when a student once asked me "Mrs. Taylor, are you a scientist?", I thought, well, no, not really.

But actually, I think I am, cause I like blowing stuff up! And that's a start.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shell Shock

It is a type of shell shock. I look at the videos of the tsunami, the devastation, and I read the stories about the potential nuclear disasters, and I feel nothing. I listen to people I work with talking about watching the videos and sobbing, or being so very upset, and I can't relate to it. I feel like an awful person, because I can't 'connect' with this event.

Maybe it is because of the anti-depressants I have been on for ten plus years. My doctor says that feeling 'flat' is one of the side effects. But, I don't think that is it.

Maybe it is because I am attending a funeral tomorrow. For a young man, who died far too young. For a young man that had the best possible parents, sisters, opportunities, and in the end, it didn't keep him safe, didn't keep him here.

No parent should have to bury a child. This is not how it is suppose to be. This is not the first funeral of a child I have been to. One was a few months old, another in grade three, and another young man killed on another winter highway. My son's dear violin teacher, died at 33, of meningitis. My grandmother, buried her youngest son, my father. That is not how it is supposed to be.

But this young man - I knew his mother when she was pregnant with him. He played with my son at my house. My son played with him at theirs. There were birthday parties, and camping at Okanagan Lake, and Christmas parties.

Although the boys' friendship did not continue, I kept abreast on his life through his mother's eyes. Through his father's eyes. Through the eyes of parents that loved him so powerfully. It wasn't enough to keep him safe. Not in the end.

We like to believe that a mother's love, father's love is all-powerful. But it isn't. It can't prevent date-rape. It can't prevent suicide attempts. It can't prevent deep, deep sadness. It can't prevent illness. It can't prevent accidents. It can't prevent those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It wants to, but it can't. And, when those awful things happen, even though we think it isn't possible, we get through it. We get through it.

My friend's love for her son is huge. Huge like her heart. Huge like her strength. My friend's love for her son can see all the pieces of the puzzle that have come together to see the 'rightness' of this moment in time. There is a 'rightness' in each moment in time. Sometimes we are just too close to see it.

I believe the funeral will help. Help snap me out of this shell shock. But then I am afraid that once I begin to cry, I won't be able to stop. Because, it seems, at this moment in time, there is so much to cry for.

Monday, March 14, 2011

never enough

To be a teacher is to never be enough. One successful event, but don't rest on your laurels, don't enjoy the high, move on to the next 'event'.
Finish one block, begin another. Finish one grade, begin another. Finish one concert, start preparing for another.
Sit in meetings where parents get to infer, intrinsically, or extrinsically that you are not enough. Not for their child. You disappoint. You misunderstand. You make mistakes. You, are not enough. You are just never enough.

So, I give up. At least for this one child, for this one family, in this moment in time. I give up. Perhaps they are right. I am clearly not the right teacher for this child, not for this family, not at this time.

I have been the right teacher for dozens upon dozens of children. But, not for this one.

I cannot win. There is nothing to win. I want them to see that I did my best, but I truly believe they did not do their best. So we are even really. Because I am sure they think just the same. They did their best, but I did not do my best.

Sometime in the future they will 'get' that actually I was a good teacher for their child. Someday, or maybe in our next meeting in another lifetime, they will 'get' that for five years I was the right teacher for their child.

But soon it will end. It has to end. I cannot do this anymore. And there are still dozens of students that need me, and dozens of parents that want me to be their child's teacher.

Sometime enough is enough.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

what do you say?

My dear friend's son died on Monday. I found out last night. She called me this morning. I saw her number on my call display, and answered the phone already in tears. It was a real conversation. The kind she and I have been having for 33 years. She is a woman I can talk to, have deep conversations with, even when a year has passed between seeing each other. And her 25 year old son has died.

We were pregnant with our sons together. Mine born in September, hers a few months later. This was her third, my first. I confided in her one day "I don't know how to be a mother." It's ok, she assured me, your baby doesn't know that!

We have holidayed together, eaten meals together, cooked for each other, sat over many, many cups of coffee, or glasses of wine. We have laughed and laughed together. We have cried together. We cried together this morning.

But, really, what do you say? What can you say? She is a strong, empathic, powerful, intuitive woman. And, I am in awe of her strength and how completely her faith in the spiritual realm comforts her in this devastating moment of her life. Of her husband's, and her daughters' lives. Of all the countless people who knew, and loved her son. She will get through this, because she is destined to get through this. She knows, truly knows that all of it, all of this, is part of some much bigger plan. She knows.

All I know, is that I wish I could do something, say something, be something for her and her family right now.

I don't know what to say. But, I do know that I will go and see her, and we will have coffee, or tea, and we will sit and we will cry, and life will go on. Because it has to. Because all of it is happening for a reason, a reason that I cannot fathom.

I can't say anything. I can't do anything. I can just be. She can just be. We can all just be. And, life will go on. And, it will be different. It will never be the same. But, it will go on.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

and the password is.....

OMG! I recently had to change my password on my facebook account because I had been hacked. Then my son informed me I should also change the password on my email, because, yes, I admit it, they were the same password. I use the same password for everything I can get away with....which of course I realize is dumb. So I changed my old familiar for two much more complicated and much less familiar code words.
So now I have a password for
school email
atm card
visa card
other visa card get the message and I am sure it is just the same for you.

The problem is...some days I just sit in front of the password prompt paralyzed. Early onset Alzheimer's? Maybe.
And when you get your password wrong they always seem to reply in RED, and often CAPITAL letters (I may be exaggerating about the capitals, but they feel like capitals). "Password incorrect, please re-enter." So, I re-enter, and ack! "password incorrect, please re-enter." I can't tell you how many times I have to send an email to some nameless machine to request a new password. I am such a dork.

And why do I have to feel like a dork? Because people are dishonest. Let's face it. The reason we need all these passwords is because people are dishonest. There it is, a huge, sweeping generalization. People are dishonest. Maybe not you, and maybe not me, but 'people' are. hmph!

I remember, and this is how old I am, when the only password I had to remember was my mother's maiden name. Of course, I could only reply to this verbally, because I have never been altogether sure how it is spelt. spelt - not the grain. Should I have said spelled? Well, that sounds dumb, and kindy dorky. But, you get my point.

So back to passwords. Don't use your profession, or pet's name, or kid's name, or your favourite wine (ok, that's my husband's, and his favourite wine is really complicated to spell). Use a password, 'they' say with a number, a lower case letter, and upper case letter, and a special character, and make sure it is at least 8 letters long. Really, how am I going to remember &gi9RY06!

Recently we all were assigned new passwords at work. Clearly it was felt we were not capable of coming up with our own. So, each person was assigned a word, with a special character plus their photocopying code.

My 'word' was a rather chubby, slow, animal. My colleagues, I discovered by sleuthing, were given their previous professions, or current professions. I was given a chubby, slow, blind animal. What's up with that? And how do I go to the IT guy and say wtf?

If I could have my perfect password it would be [space bar]. That would work because in my perfect world everyone would be honest.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

whose destiny are we following

Over the years I have taken a number of biography courses. During these courses the lives of well known politicians, authors, or painters are looked at and different milestones are observed that seem to be common one to another.
At 9, that first brush with mortality, at 14 that first hint of vocation, at 18, 37, and 56 a moment of awareness of destiny questions....well, you get the idea.

Whenever I listen to the biography of an individual, I am always struck about their life partner's biography. Whenever a large life event occurs, I always thought - "what about the destiny of their wife, or husband" Whose destiny gets played out? Which one takes precedence? Once you are two is it that your destinies are so inter-twined they become one.

Everything we decide to do, or not do, affects other people. Everything. To be human is to be in relationship with the other. So, is it destiny that my destiny becomes intertwined with another?

When I was 21 I graduated from university. My then boyfriend, (now husband), had chosen to stay in Vancouver while I finished university. Maybe it was his destiny to go outside of Vancouver and teach somewhere, but he stayed and subbed to be close to me.

Once I graduated we applied for teaching jobs together. I was offered three jobs - one in Arrow Lakes school district, one in Qualicum beach school district, and one in MacKenzie with the Prince George School District. My boyfriend was also offered a job in MacKenzie. So, we went to MacKenzie, but sometimes I think how different my life might have been, our life might have been, if we had moved to Qualicum, or Nakusp.

But, them, I met a very dear friend during that year in MacKenzie, a friendship I still value 34 years later. There was clearly destiny in that meeting, in that friendship.

There were decisions I made about working, or not working, when my children were little. There were decisions I made, or didn't make, about moving with my husband to the deep south. Whose destiny was in play?

I watch the politicians negotiate public life and private life. The sacrafices for a politician's family must be huge. Whose destiny?

Maybe, all in all, it doesn't matter. We make choices, and by chosing A, we can't have B. We can't see our life being played out along the alternate track. We can only imagine, and sometimes in the thick of some cruddy experience, or other, we think...if only..., or,....I should have....or, I shouldn't have.

Sometimes we can't second guess anything, because our vision is so limited. We can't imagine looking back at our life at 80, when someone looks at our biography and realizing oh....that is why that happened like that. Of course! It makes perfect sense!

But when the day to day of it all is unfolding in its messy way, when things happen one way no matter how much planning we did for another outcome, when we second guess another's motive, or doubt our own, then it is just hard.

But ultimately, I believe, there is a plan. It may not be the plan I made, or the one I want, but there is a plan, and I have to trust it is all unfolding as it should. As long as I listen to my inner voice, and stay true to the person I want to be, I have faith it will all work out. I have faith that I am following my destiny. That we are following our destiny.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Being scared doesn't mean I am not brave

It is everywhere. Fear mongering. Gas Prices. Genetically modified foods. Pirates. Thugs. Car accidents. Plane crashes. Bombs. Police brutality. Loss of CPP. Interest rates. Inflation. It is everywhere.
Television, radio, newsprint, billboards, conversations in the faculty room. Everywhere.
So, I berate myself for not being brave, for fearing for my husband, my children, my sister, my loved ones. Fearing for all my loved ones.
Isn't that what 'they' want. To keep us afraid. To keep us from venturing outside of our comfort zone. To keep us pondering the 27 varieties of olive oil, or dish soap, or, well, anything really. More choice involves more choosing, and then we don't have the time, or energy, to fret about the 'real' issues.
But, here is the real issue. At least for me.

In Grade Seven I have been teaching about the Protestant movement during that period of History called the Reformation. Re form.
Martin Luther believed we are saved by Faith alone, by Grace alone, by Scripture alone. Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura. I don't know about the Scriptures, because how do we really find the truth there within all the translations, and omissions.
But Faith and Grace? I can go there.
To live in this world, as a human being trying to be in relationship with other human beings needs a large amount, for me, of Faith and Grace. I can have one, I can be granted the other.
To be in another's 'Good Graces'. This is a interesting concept. But, I know, in my life, the times I have really moved on is when I have played the card of Grace. It isn't about forgiveness necessarily, nor about forgetting. It is about believing that sometimes you just have to play the card. To grant something to someone else, that, I believe, every day God grants to me.
To be in the Grace of God. It doesn't stop the fears I have in my day to day life, but it does ally the fear I have in what will come in my life after death.
I live by Faith. Faith that I will die in the Grace of God.
So, yes, I am still scared, but as someone once said "It isn't brave if you're not scared."