Thursday, August 10, 2017

Letting Go vs. Hanging On

Sometimes it is comfortable to hang on to that which we know.

Today, on my first day of freedom in 29 years (not returning to school), God gifted me with a phone call from North Carolina--a student from 29 years ago.  We chatted on his way to work, but he left me with these pearls:

          "It's funny how we hold on to the very things we've been freed from."

God sent through ---'s mouth to my ears.

Thanks, God, for remembering me today.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Seamless Transition

Some people may get sick of hearing this, and if so, they can move on to the next blog.  But, I am amazed at how seamless my transition to retirement has been.  First, there is the miracle of it at all.  There are a handful of people who know why it is a miracle, and it will stay that way.  They know that, given the facts, it is only through Him that it happened.

So, I should not be surprised at how easy the transition has been.  My NC friend always says, "He's got it," or "He's already worked it out."  The thing that sorta-kinda surprised me is that I don't miss school.at.all. At.all.

I was always one who was chained to the work email, and I had one boss for a very long time who expected it.  Our fabulous tech person told me my email account would be closed in July; well, I was locked out the last week of June.  At first, I thought I made a mistake; I kept trying for about three days.  Then, reality sunk in:  Ginger, you're out.  

And, for this recovering work email addict, I didn't need rehab.  

I still can't believe I am free at 54 years-old.  I can do whatever-I-want-whenever-I-want-without-asking-permission-or-forgiveness.  I have so many projects around the house when this summer is over and cool weather comes.  I have to power wash the house and finally get fifteen years plus of yard debris from areas of the yard that have yet to be revealed.  Then, there are painting projects.  Oh, and my crocheting ministry that I have joined.  All of these along with my other ventures will keep me busy---*my* kind of busy.

I can not begin to express what freedom feels like.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Thankful

Sometimes, I think we just need to stop--really stop--and count our blessings.  I tend to be a worrier, though I am SO much better than I was twenty years ago.  God has done so much in my life that I could fill many blog posts. In fact,  I have written many about what he has done, but today I was struck again by his faithfulness to the point I was almost in tears.  And, I do need to journal about it tonight.  I won't go into specific details here, but let's just say yesterday and last night were not good for me. He knew I needed encouragement, and he sent two people via Facebook Messenger to do just that; one lives an hour away, but the other is in Sweden or Finland right now with his son's soccer.  Well, that's pretty close to Russia, so he couldn't be much further; yet, God uses the power of the internet.  How awesome is that that God is tech-saavy?  Anyway, I *KNEW* beyond a shadow of any doubt that those messengers were godly-sent.  So, today, I am taking time out to count my blessings.  These are simply as they come to me; they are not ranked in any order at all:

1.  my health and my family's health
2.  my son's job and volunteerism
3.  my retirement (that itself is a miracle)
4.  opportunities He has opened
5.  provisions He has made
6.  a really, really good friend in the form of a former student who is God's mouthpiece to me (quite often)
7.  ability to "be there" for my parents when needed
8.  a dependable friend who is more like a sister from "another muther" who has been with me through all my cancer surgeries and tests
9.  pets' health (even my poor Miles in kidney failure is still pretty active for 20)
10.  plenty of food and a roof over my head
11.  the ability to do for P
12.  the calling for another service, but it seems to have been spurned.  This needs prayer.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Rebirth








If you read my last blog post, you know I have been battling the demons my entire life.  I have been damaged by nasty comments about my weight and appearance (STATURE) since childhood.  I have to throw God in here with this post because I truly feel He is leading me to healing.  If you have time, pull up a chair and keep reading.

So, if you know me in real life, you probably know I am retiring this summer (this month) after 29 years of teaching. To those who taught with me or whom I taught, I probably came across as loud and self-assured, and perhaps even brash.  The classroom was *my* domain; it was comfortable, and I was in charge.  Most of my former students will admit that about me if nothing else.

However, in my personal life, at the core of who I am, I am an introvert and very shy.  I know now it stems from being damaged from a lifetime of being bullied about my weight and stature, from family, colleagues, and even strangers.  God's timing is everything.  Forgive me if I ramble, but I'm writing as I think with this post.

Yesterday, as I was leaving the house to go to my parents' house, I felt God speak to me and say, "You're not going to spend the rest of your life in the house."  My parents are 86 and 89, so if the world keeps spinning, I could live another 30 years or so, based on my genetic pool.  Many people have asked me, "What are you going to do when you retire?  Won't you get bored?"

Some people know I have side jobs; I'm Nanny G to Charlie the doodle and kitties Harper and Radley (from To Kill a Mockingbird), plus a yet-to-be-acquired lab pup; I'm also a tutor and mentor with an online tutoring company.  So, technically I have three part-time jobs.  Mentoring requires specific work, but when I want within certain time frames; tutoring is optional, so I can do as much or as little as I want, up to a total of 28 hours a week for both jobs.  The thing is, all of these jobs are done alone, wherever I have an internet connection.

But, the title of this post is "Rebirth," so let me get to that.  Back in March or April I was following one of my favorite bloggers, (well, she doesn't blog any longer) on Instagram and FB.  She is the young woman who made all my poppy headbands years ago.  But, we had never met.  Anyway, I found out she was a distributor for this amazing lipstick called LipSense through the SeneGence company.  It's an international company, but it's not well-known in SC because it's still in its growth stage.  Anyway, to say I got hooked is an understatement.



                                                        (6 colors and 5 glosses)

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend.  I think I placed my last order with Ilene this weekend because we finally met after all these years when she delivered the product.  (Her parents live about 5 minutes from me.)  I got to thinking.  It is ridiculously low cost ($55) to join the company for the distributor discount.  I could either keep paying her full price, or I could join for the distributor discount.  To me, it was a no-brainer.  I knew I was going to join; I just didn't know when.




Fast forward to last week.  Again, God is funny about timing.  I had the feeling early last week that I should give it a shot at selling LipSense because I love it so much, and it would be great fun to play with makeup and get paid.  Yet......there was that DEMON of self-doubt that kept cropping its ugly head up (the devil, actually, because fear is not of the Lord).  I prayed about it, and I asked others to pray.

I "went to" online training one day after God opened that day up to me to do so.  This is not about the money for me; yes, the money will be nice; however, more important than that are these goals God has put on my heart:

     1.  Get OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, GINGER!  This is WAYYYY out of my comfort                   zone.  I even went live in my FB group GingerLips for the first time this weekend.
     2.  HELP other women who may be having the same self-confidence issues I have dealt
           with my entire life.

So, if you are reading this, and think you want to hear more about this incredible lipstick that stays on for up to 18 hours (I even slept in it to test it.), or if you are dealing with self-esteem issues, look up my FB group, GingerLips.  I'd be glad to add you.

So, back to what God told me yesterday:  I am NOT going to spend the rest of my life in the house. It is no coincidence that I am retiring now, and He presented this opportunity to me now. (If I had discovered this last year, I would never have considered it.)  There is still teaching to do, and this cocoon is breaking open.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Battling my demon

Life is a journey filled with lessons and trials; we never "arrive" at our destination.  We are meant to grow, stumble, grow some more, stumble some more...... It doesn't matter what our goals are.  For me, the biggest challenge I have had throughout the course of my life is my weight.  That is my #1 demon.  

Recently, a high school/college friend commented on Facebook I was going to be nothing but bones.  What she can't see is my body fat.  Truly, weight and fitness are one's personal issues.   Bottom line:  I"m not happy with what I see in the mirror.   My entire life I have been made to think I was not good enough, not thin enough to fit someone else's idea of what I should look like--family, school mates, ex-, society.  My mind has battled all those put-downs.  Don't tell me words don't hurt; they do.  Even though my rational mind tells me, "It's none of their damn, fricking business," it has impacted everything about my life.  

When I look back at school pictures, there was a dramatic change between first and second grade.  I don't know what caused it, but it's there.  Fast forward to 6th grade when my parents put me in private school.  A vivid memory I have of that time is being bullied--yes, bullying has been around since the beginning of time, I'm sure.  Some of the boys gave me the nickname "Butterball," as in Butterball turkey, thought to be the biggest.  When I would recount this story to my students decades later, they listened with rapt attention; their teacher could relate to their being bullied.

In my senior year of high school,  I remember walking all around Forest Hills.  I had a regiment where I would eat dinner between 4 and 4:30 and walk.  I lost quite a bit of weight by doing so.  Fast forward to having my son.  I knew I needed to get the weight off, so my husband agreed to help me do Weight Watchers.  I excitedly brought a lot of diet food home, and then he announced, "I'm not eating diet food!"  I had to cook two meals, one for him and one for me, so fried food it was:  fried chicken, fried round steak and gravy.  It was horrible.  There was no support at all from his end; in fact, there was the opposite.

The stress of teaching and some work situations in particular would set me off.  I'm an emotional eater and stress eater.  I've never had an eating disorder, but I would often run for the snack machine at work,  I can remember occasions where I would get 3 or 4 bags of chips and eat them within minutes.  It got to the point where I could not carry cash to work.  It was not better at home with my son.  I bought him the snack size box of chips for his lunches or snacks, and you guessed it; I ate more of them than he did.  There were times when he went to them and asked what happened to them.  I know my triggers and just can't have unhealthy food in the house.  A few months ago I craved chips, so on my way home I stopped at the Dollar Tree.  Their bags are relatively small, so how much damage could I do?  Well, that bag ended up being my dinner.  While it didn't put weight on me, the next day or two I felt awful--sluggish and "yucky."

Fast forward to my current situation.  I have lived alone for two years now, and there is no excuse for me NOT to get healthy.  The worst food I have in the house is almond butter. (I can't keep peanut butter because I would eat spoonfuls right out of the jar.)  I literally have to leave the house and go seek any "bad" food.  Now, that does not mean I won't indulge when I want.  It just means I am more deliberate about my choices.  I will grab a burger and fries about once a month with a friend.  I will have off days.  That's ok because this is a journey; my goal is to eat healthy about 80-90% of the time.  Oh, and abs and biceps---I know I have them somewhere, and I'm on a journey to find them.

 Now that I am retiring this summer, I have made it a conscious decision to focus on ME.  I no longer have the stress of the job.  My part-time tutoring/mentoring work is keeping me as busy as I want, and my pet nanny job is gearing up as the humans prepare to make their annual trek to Cozumel.  That is looking busier into the fall as the mom has a work trip to Dubai planned, her normal travel for business,  and perhaps other countries with the hubby.   I am busy between those part-time jobs and visiting/doing for my parents.  I am getting my mind in a healthy place, and I am keeping it busy.  Fitness truly does begin in the mind.  I have told someone that her mind truly has to be in the right place.  Mine has been off and on for years; right now, it's focused.  I workout almost every single day, sometimes twice a day (when I feel extra-motivated).  My food is on point.  I am keeping stress to the minimum, and I am dealing with this demon head-on.

(Ha!  If you made it this far, I know it's due to the title.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad's Kindness

My dad is one of a kind...and a true saint on earth.    When I am with him, he makes me want to be a better person.  Today we started round 2 of his Keytruda immunotherapy treatments.  The longest part is waiting to see the oncologist or nursing assistant and waiting on the drug to be prepared; the infusion itself is 30 minutes.  Every step of the way, when he leaves the nurses, he thanks them.  We normally see Amy to do his vitals and put the needle in.  Dad cuts jokes with her every time....and I noticed today he thanked her for what she does for him.  Then, we now have to go to the hospital plaza where they have moved the cancer infusion/chemo because Keyserling is going to be undergoing renovations to expand it.  The rest of his treatments will involve giving his blood/getting vitals/seeing the doctor at Keyserling and then driving to the hospital complex.

Today, as he left the hospital, he thanked the nurse who had hooked up the bag and later removed the needle.  She didn't do that much, but that's how Dad is; he appreciates everything.

Last night on the phone I told him how for the first time in my life--and the first time in the 15 years I have lived here--my neighbor offered to cut my weeds at the street when he was mowing his yard yesterday.  Let me say that due to the oak trees, weeds at the street are about all that are growing, so that's all that needed mowing.  I was blown away.  Dad's response? 

          "That's what the world needs--more people being nice to each other."

That is so Dad.  He has never known a stranger.  When he retired in December of '93, he toyed with the idea of being a Walmart greeter, but Mother didn't want him to.  In fact, when they used to go to Walmart when he was driving, she admitted to being jealous when he would talk to people.  "Who was that???"  she demanded to know.  Sometimes he told her the name; other times he didn't know the name.  He.would.strike.a.conversation.with.anyone.  He has never cared the person's color, religion, or anything else we use to JUDGE people.

It would not surprise me to get to heaven one day and find that Dad is a greeter.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Paw Prints on Our Hearts

Decoy came home this weekend.  He was one of the pets I pet sit for.  I think I've been his family's sitter for almost 7 years; I lose track of time.  His dad is an EMT, and his mom travels the globe as an educational consultant.  When they are both away, I am their pets' sitter.  I think when I began there was Lady, a black lab; Jake, a chocolate who passed away last June; Decoy, this lab; and Emma, a man-loving cat.  None are left now except Charlie, the golden doodle seen in some of these pictures.

Decoy battled a tumor for the last 14 months or so, and he was on and off medication.  Last Tuesday night, the night AFTER I was last with him, was brutal; his parents knew the time had come.  I remember when his parents got him over 12 years ago.  Here he was as a pup:


Decoy was trained to be a duck hunting dog, and he truly loved to do that in his heyday.  Here are some more pictures of him with Lady and Madison, his sisters, and then Emma, his feline sister:




And, here he was when I pet-sat for him:



And treat time may be the way I best remember him:

Run free, Decoy, with Lady and Madison.  Say hello to all my kitties for me!  Nanny G loved you!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sparkles is home.

When I love, I love deeply, and my cats are no exception.  This never gets easier, and some people may ask why I do it then.  Why do I have pets?  I would save them all if I could.  I believe every animal should have the chance at a good life where he or she is loved and pampered. One day I will blog about what started my love for cats, but it's still too painful after all these years.  

This is my second urn in almost 7 months.  Sparkles is on the right; Lovie is on the left.  She really loved him in the few short months they were together before he passed.





 And here she is in happy times with her siblings:





In spite of what a minister once said, I firmly believe I will see all my pets in heaven one day.  God is God.  Nothing is too hard for him; why would He give these animals to us on earth to love and care for, only to take them away from us forever?  That makes no sense to me.  I will see Sparkles, along with Prissy Mae, Fluffy Marie, Fluffer Andrew, Royena, Baby, Mollianne, Snowy, Thumper, and Lovie.  I have had 15 cats in 42 years, and I remember every name and every circumstance surrounding their passings.  They have left huge paw prints on my heart that remain almost 27 years after the first one passed away.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

God Restores


God brings some people into our lives for a season; He brought this woman into my life for several reasons, but I will share just one here publicly.  She is my most immediate former principal, and even though I retired, I still cried yesterday when we as a faculty told her goodbye as well as on my way home.....and I cry now as I type this.   I cried because I could have returned to visit her, but she is leaving the area.  As I told her yesterday, words can not express what she has meant to me.    In the last three years, she brought me out of the desert  and restored everything in my teaching life that had been ripped away:  my dignity, my worth, my value, my autonomy....literally everything.

In my 29 years, I have worked for 8 principals.  As my bff would say, "Most were not worth two dead flies."  In fact, only two of the 8 were what principals should be:  Roger Hudson (an interim at Ruffin High) and Nicole Thomas Holloman.  When Ms. Holloman came to my school, she had to straighten out one helluva mess....That is the best, most succinct way to express it.  AND, this is telling; the then-new Superintendent changed the leadership of my school before any other.  There is a MAJOR problem when year after year, the average number of teachers who leave a 6-8 school is 18 or so.  Ms. Holloman  had to rebuild the culture in the school from one that was oppressive, disheartening, and tyrannical, ( and I am being kind).   She led by giving teachers autonomy (as opposed to micromanaging every move out of distrust) and treating them with the respect they deserve to make decisions for what they knew to be best.  A dark cloud lifted when God put her there.  That's the best way to sum it up.  And.....make no mistake......God put her there.  I know that beyond any doubt.

I will always be grateful for what she has done for me in these last three years.  May God give her grace, wisdom, and protection in her coming assignment.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Passing the torch




I think the girl who gave this to me in the 6th grade is now going into the 10th; it was hard for me to keep track once they left my school. Of all the things I was given over the years, this is the one I will keep. I never thought much about what it said until recently.

Today, I got a message from a former student from around 1990; He is retiring from the army and going to become a teacher. Here is part of our conversation:

""You are part of the reason I want to teach you know. You impacted my entire life! Years and years from that desk in front of the room. If I am blessed to grow old, my success will have your DNA. Who wouldnt want that job?"



Man, I loved this "kid" back in the day. I clearly remember him front and center in my English class, though I don't recall what year. Jervie was contemplative back then, and I'm sure he still is. He always had a serious look on his face, and really thought before he spoke....and what usually came out was profound. Now, he wants to teach. More power to him; he spent 23 years in the army, so he can handle whatever education throws at him. He wants to "make a difference." God bless him.



This is Kakeshia, another Ruffin alum.  She says I influenced her to be a teacher (not on purpose!).  She is a Gifted and Talented teacher in the Atlanta area and has been a Teacher of the Year.  She and her hubby, also a Ruffin alum, have adopted a brother and sister.  I will always remember Kakeshia's big smile and gorgeous, big eyes.


This inset picture is of me and Dr. Wanda Boatwright, yet another Ruffin alum who says she became a teacher because of me, at least in part.  Wanda has also been a Teacher of the Year in the Atlanta area.  (The guy in the big picture is yet another story.)  

Ruffin High was a Title One, high poverty school.  In spite of that, it has many success stories.  These are just the ones I know of who went/will go into teaching.  For more of good ol' Ruffin High, go here:  here