Pandemic, A Poem

Today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

Today, in my sleep, I went back to yesterday, and felt a little relief for tomorrow.

From my worn mattress and the heavy load

in the flaps of my overloaded BMI screaming for a life renewed.

Today, in my sleep, I escaped back to yesterday

Before the quarantine grind.

I went back and told myself that I was living in an unknown paradise.

Yesterday,

There was a storm, but I could breathe easily without a mask.

There was  a fall, but I could hug and hold the injured hand.

There was a circumstance that required not a bit of sanitizer.

There was a school with students hiding phones under their desks.

There,  electronics were the constant battle

And when I said, “zoom,”

it meant to hurry to the bathroom and back,

not a series of technical difficulties followed by thirty emails full of “my internet.”

There was a town hall where people could see the color of one another’s eyes

and make decisions that considered everyone.

There was a church meeting held in the chapel down the street instead of in the Bible on the couch.

There was a run to the store at midnight for the project poster,

and, believe it or not, the doors were open and the lights were on.

There was that longest line at the DMV where people crowded the entire room

and someone coughed and no one noticed.

There was a last minute meet-up with a friend

for two cups of something while laughing at the same table and sharing just a taste.

We could pick up our own straws, and not worry if our skin accidentally touched the plastic.

There was a run for pizza without a dousing of Purel on the drive home

before reaching in the bag for a breadstick.

There was a thing unknown in today’s new normal called 

baking and cooking for neighbors just to say I care.

There were visitors crowding the halls and living spaces 

of the elderlies’ homes to show solidarity 

instead of the touching of hands through glass windows. And no use of doors. 

There were sports on the fields and courts

while also running on the bedroom TV while the husband ignored the kids.

There were dog-walkers who dared to chit about the weather

on the same stretch of sidewalk 

while their animals sniffed one another’s butts.

There was empty space in the fridge full of possibility

Instead of mediocre produce

 bought only every other week or in as few trips as possible.

And on those trips, one could wander, 

and they didn’t get a dirty eye-stare when 

Accidentally venturing down the one-way aisle in the wrong direction.</p>

And they didn’t have to imagine the look of the scolding at the mouth, 

because it wasn’t covered.

When there was a smile,

It wasn’t accompanied by an oral declaration of, “I just smiled at you.”

At the bank counter there were suckers and dog biscuits,

not plexiglass or a “drive-thru only” service sign.

There were students hiding phones under their desks.

There, electronics were in constant battle with learning

Instead of the only means for  learning.

No one was muted

And when the teacher said, “zoom”

She meant hurry back from the bathroom,

Not show me your pajamas

And email me excuses.

There were teachers at classroom doors 

with hands outstretched for a five, a ten, a special handshake, 

and sometimes even a hug.

There were busy restaurants where no one wore gloves.

There were gyms and pools 

and bars and cars 

packed to capacity with complete strangers.

There was an old lady at Target 

writing a check on an ancient and sterile book 

and a man behind her 

with an equally sterile wad of bills 

followed by millennial 

Who, unlike me,

always knows just when to swipe or insert.

There were stadiums full of tearful parents 

and so many simultaneous parties for hopping.

Caps and gowns were waiting to be shed

 instead of just photographed.

The caps could be hurled and exchanged 

without a worry at all by either the findersor the keepers.

There was international travel 

To wherever you wanted to go

and many hotels without vacancies.

“No room in the inn” meant

hoards of people were paying a pilgrimage

not makeshift tents as a place for people to die 

at an otherwise verboten and patrolled Central Park.

Those annoying celebrities 

used to embrace and compare designer clothes 

instead of chanting, “we’re all in this together”

From their annoying vacation homes

Transformed into makeshift studios.

And seriously, who picked out that horrible wallpaper?

Even us poor people wouldn’t have that wallpaper.

Sorry, you’re not more relatable.

There, doctor friends were in the Bahamas three times a year

Instead of selling off their VRBO’s 

And taking skipped mortgage payments on their mansions.

Temple worship was the sharing of holy water before its possible contamination.

There. A hot flash didn’t require a thermometer 

And a walk on the beach didn’t require 6 feet.

There was my sister who was always playing taxi  

instead of complaining about not being allowed across the Idaho border 

to go out to eat 

because literally everything is closed in Washington

And those potato farmers don’t want her bacteria

Yesterday, quarantine was something for sci-fi novels and The Pentagon, 

not a daily reality.


Social distancing was something only introverts did

And it was called being a couch potato

Or “netflix and chill.”

It never lasted more than a few days

Unless it was Spring or Winter Break

Or you were a thirty-something living in your dad’s basement

Because people were actually required to go to work. 

.Corona that was a beer

and COVID sounded like something that maybe two people did on YouYube

instead of the excuse I use to justify my kids are watching YouTube 

all day every day.

Back then, whenever it was, 

Last February

Or five years ago

The unemployment rate was the best it had ever been,

and China was the place where we got cheap goods 

instead of conspiring germs or gauged medical supplies.

Today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

And today is the first today ever

that I want yesterday instead of tomorrow.

Stay Gold, Knights.

Stay gold.

 

 

 

To my very first students:

I’d like to leave you with a story. It’s a short and simple one.

Once upon a time, a great American poet named Robert Frost penned a poem.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Years later another great author named S.E. Hinton wrote a book titled The Outsiders, one of my favorite novels of all time. I never got a chance to talk to you about The Outsiders, just as I never got a chance to tell you a lot of other magical literary things I would have liked to stuff into our last two months of school. However, I do have high hopes that maybe you were introduced to this great American classic in junior high. To jog your memory it’s about a bunch of American boys stuck in the socially-constructed life of violence. Read the book. You won’t regret it. Then, watch the awesome movie.

In Chapter 9, while struggling to breathe (that’s all I will say because you know how I hate spoilers) Johnny turns to Pony Boy and admonishes, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold…” In his dying state, the one message Johnny has for Ponyboy is to “stay gold.” Here S.E. Hinton is making specific reference to Robert Frost’s poem. You should go back and read and analyze the poem to contrive so many meanings packed into these two words. Meanings such as:

  • Life is short.
  • Change is inevitable.
  • Carpe diem.
  • Accept what is.
  • Cherish the early experiences that shape you.
  • Shine to your fullest.
  • Everyone’s time will be up eventually.

My students, my last words to you are “stay gold.” Not just because I am Mrs. Gold, but because the message packed into the two words include everything I want you to know, everything I hope for you in  your lives.

Stay gold.

I love you. I love each and every one of you. Thanks for sharing your lives with me. Thanks for teaching me. Thanks for giving me one of your golden school years. I’ve loved almost every minute I’ve spent with each of you and the minutes that weren’t so hot, I still will cherish in my heart forever. You are all some of the best people that ever happened to me.

S.E. Hinton started writing The Outsiders when she was fifteen. That is younger than most of you. I challenge you to really think about that. Some of you might not bloom until later. I hope I can write just one mediocre novel before I die. I don’t know why some people can do things at fifteen that I am still working towards, but I will never stop trying to play catch up. And neither should any of you. You all have miracles to create of your very own. It might not be in writing. It might not even be in reading or speaking, but it will be from our three class principles: listening, learning, and loving. Your miracles will be something that comes from your heart. Teaching you all was a labor from my heart. I know I wasn’t perfect. In fact, I know I was far from perfect, but I am better because of each of you. Every one of you has shaped me into more of an S.E. Hinton than when I started as your brand new teacher. And, that is a miracle that I will never EVER forget. If any of us exist after this life, I will look for you. I will always be looking for you to tell you I love you and I believe in you, no matter what.

Stay gold.

The Riptide Otherwise Known as Teaching

sea turtleAs you all know, my blogging has taken a BIG back burner to my new adventure as a first-year high-school  English teacher. WOW. Do I have so many stories to tell someday! Like, only after I retire, so no one can sue me for privacy infringement. If I had to describe this year, I would say it’s been like learning to surf. So much sea-water has jammed its way down my throat into my digestive system that I lost count.

I’ve been sore on the daily from the mental and emotional anguish called teaching. I’ve laid in the shallow water with sand all up in all my body parts just rubbing me raw like I was some kind of beached whale — the bathing suit crotch pocket was loaded with at least two pounds of sand and rocks. Every. Single. Day. [If you don’t get this crotch-pocket reference, it’s because you’ve never been a female who lived on the beach.] Every day, as a teacher, I would show up at 7 AM hoping to learn to surf and pray to go home by 7 PM, but it rarely happened. The only thing I could ever count on was the water, the sun, and the sand. And, the only thing I couldn’t count on was actually riding a wave. I can say that surfing happened very rarely. Being a rookie teacher is a lot like being a novice surfer. It’s all work, and very very very little euphoria. In fact, this year, I had just a few rare moments of euphoria, but compared to the surfing experience I had in the 80’s with my former boyfriend, Travis Parker, teaching was much of the same: I never even was able to paddle out to the really good waves much less own a single newsworthy ride. I barely even got up for more than 20 seconds. Why? Because it was my first time! And teaching is as hard as hell. The kind of hell that only a teacher knows. Surfers don’t even know this kind of hell. Even after they’ve been bitten by a great white and lost an arm.

Teaching has a lot in common with the trauma I experienced just last November. You see, I went to Hawaii with my husband. On our last day of our 22-year-delayed honeymoon, before flying back home, I went out in the water to get one last snorkel session in. I was alone, and I knew the riptide was dangerous.  But, I thought I could handle it. I didn’t even take fins out. I think I had a mental lapse assuring myself that I could still swim as a native Californian. Except I haven’t lived in California since 1995. I planned to stay close to the shore, as my husband was napping. I knew there was no one around to save me.

All was going well until that damn huge sea turtle. I was enamored. I followed it away out. I watched it in awe. Then I saw another. And another. Was I in heaven? How did I get so lucky? Then, before you  know it, I had a sickening realization — the coral was way too far underneath me. I pulled my head out of the water searching for the shoreline, and I almost died of an immediate panic attack. Or was it a heart attack? I’m not sure. I was probably at least half a mile from the deserted shore. I started paddling and kicking for my life. My CA girl instincts kicked in. “Go with the shore diagonally. Don’t try to go straight in. Don’t panic. Use the waves.” I got about halfway in, and my body that hadn’t had any serious exercise in years (unless you count childbirth) succumbed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do it. I started to scream. Louder than I have ever screamed. And, I’m a screamer. Just ask my kids. My entire life flashed before my eyes. I thought about my perplexed husband wondering why I never woke him for our missed flight home. My younger-year threats about trying out homelessness for the adventure would be ringing in his ears. Except I wouldn’t be homeless, I would be at home to whatever existence my spirit earned. My body would be devoured by sharks. My five children would go the rest of their lives wondering if I had been seduced by Jack Sparrow.  Yes, all these thoughts and 37 million more went through my head during that 45 seconds of screaming.

So, what am I really trying to say here? Back to teaching. Teaching is a B$#(^. The only people who sign up for the gig are 30% insane, 30% masochistic, and 40% passionate dreamers. The pay sucks. You all already know this. As an intern teacher this year, the pay was half of suck. I thought being 46 and having five kids would have prepared me to be a rock-star teacher. I thought being a recent college graduate with the latest theories and pedagogies stamped into me by some of the best college professors would make me 500 times better than any other new teachers. I thought being hired by one of the most prestigious high schools in the state of Utah with amazing capable colleagues would fill in the gaps. But, none of any of these things made my job easier. Every day, I was half out to sea with just myself to save me. This year, it felt like the only thing I had going for me was my willingness to show up day after day to be pounded. And, my sheer stubbornness that wasn’t going to let ANYONE (and by anyone I mean tyrannical teenagers) pull my dream of inspiring a generation out from under me. I mean, I might have lost the board many times every day, but lucky for me it was always tethered to my ankle. There was no way I would ever give up and untie the board. Also, lucky for me, I never drowned. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” And swim I did. I swam a lot, but I only got up on the board a few times. For less than twenty seconds. I might have done better than that. In fact, I probably did, but I was too tired to really notice or acknowledge it because another riptide was coming.

But, next year. Next year, I will get up on that board at least twice as much. And, in five more years, I expect to sign a contract as a Pro. I just have to make it that far. Did you know that 50% of teachers leave the profession in the first five years?

“Why do I plan to stay?” you ask. Because I broke up with Travis Parker before I ever learned how to really surf. And, I always wonder what could have been. With the surfing, not with Travis. {Hi Travis!! I still love you, but, you know, as well, as I do, that we weren’t meant to be. I hope you are loving your job as a more-seasoned teacher. Will you send me some advice if you get a second?}

So, back to the riptide. I kept swimming and kicking and praying. I would dead-man float every little bit and scream, but I couldn’t afford to scream long because the tide would pull me back out. After what seemed like the longest ten minutes of my life, a young girl appeared ashore. She was about twelve. The palm trees split and she arrived from the park on the other side with a lovely sun-shining conduit straight from heaven ushering her to the sand. I have never been so relieved to see another person in my entire life. She looked a lot like myself at twelve. She was overweight with a great tan and long dark hair. It was as if God was giving me a moment to observe myself as a totally unconfident but capable twelve-year-old watching my totally uncofindent but capable 46-year-old self. He was telling me that I was alright. Then. And now. Right as she waved and hollered asking if I needed help, I felt my feet hit the rocky bottom of the great Pacific. I rode a tiny wave in, and hugged the sand as the wave pulled my bathing suit off my top. I laid flat modestly only lifting my head and said, “Thank you so much. I’m okay. I’m okay.” She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “You idiot! What have you gotten yourself into now?” I was too tired to answer her, but a sentiment screamed from my cerebellum, “Aw. C’mon. Give me a break. I know I’m not a native, but I’m fine. I don’t need you anymore. I’ve got this totally under control. I made it this far, didn’t I?”

And then I went and woke my husband, drove to the airport, flew home, and went back to school the next day. I stood in front of that one class that was out to get me all year long and thought the same thoughts as they exchanged texts of ugly memes about me under their desks, “Aw. C’mon. Give me a break. I know I’m not a native, but I’m fine. I don’t need you anymore. I’ve got this totally under control. I made it this far didn’t I?” But, it felt like more of a lie than that silent conversation in Hawaii. I couldn’t feel my feet on the rocks. But, this lie was at least a little familiar. Why?  Because I had told myself the same thing daily for the last 200+ days. That lie was the only way to survive the humiliation of first-year teaching, the humiliation we call figuring things out as you go.

Here were some pieces of hope along the way. Straight from the sea turtles:

Mrs. Gold, I know I didn’t attend your class too often but I really wish I had. You are one of my favorite teachers for lots of reasons, you’re funny, you’re kind, and you were always willing to help me with whatever I needed… you made it a safe place for me…and I really really appreciate everything you have done for my family.

Hi Mrs. Gold, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all that you’ve done this year for us… As this was your first year of teaching, you did very well. If there was a rating system for teachers, I’d give you 10/10 for organization, 3/10 for staying on task (but that’s fine because it was mostly hilarious experiences that won’t be forgotten quickly), 10/10 for keeping teenagers entertained and interested, and finally 10/10 for being an amazing teacher overall. So, thank you for helping me with assignments when needed, thank you for making class a little more fun, and thank you for being a great teacher overall.

Hi Mrs Gold,  I just want to say thank you for being the most amazing teacher! You definitely were my favorite and always knew what to say to make everyone around you laughing, feel loved, and happy. Thank you for always listening to me and especially the one time when I walked into class and you just saw me and knew instantly to ask if I was okay after I had gone through a heartbreak. Thank you again, I will miss you very much!!

Gold, Thank you for all that you have done for me. You have helped me have a confidence I didn’t even know I had. The memories that we have made will be with me forever. I have never had a teacher I have been so close to. You are such an amazing teacher and NEVER forget that!! You are practically perfect in every way (haha stole mary poppins line). I am going to miss you so so so much as a teacher. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed English as much as I did while you were my teacher.  HAHA you are hilarious and everyday I think of a joke or something you said, and I can’t help but laugh out loud!! I will always remember the things you have done for me and the big inspiration you have been. You are probably one of the biggest role models in my life. Thank you for supporting me in all the things that have happened in my life. You will be my twin forever. I love you!! …P.P.P.S MAMMA GOLDDD IN THE HOUSEEE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Gold, this year has been A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. All thanks to you. I remember the first day of your class I thought it was going to be the most fun adventure of my sophomore year….. and little did I know it would be so much more than that. From the very beginning you showed genuine care for each and every one of us. Each. And. Every. One. Through pushing your students, helping and caring, and opening your arms with love you have changed the lives of so many people this year. From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you, thank you for being the best teacher on the planet, thank you for being yourself, thank you for loving, thank you for caring, thank you for lifting others up, thank you for hosting karaoke , and lunchtime parties, thank you for investing in what you love, thank you for showing dreams can come true and thank you for who you are.  I truly believe I will never forget the amazing memories. The finger twerking, the karaoke, the pencil throwing, the messages on the white board, the Rick Astley memes, the off-key songs, the random videos we played in your room… the burnt popcorn smell, the walks, the unimaginable love, the genuine care, and the strength you have given all of us.

thank you! imma miss you!
Hi Mrs. Gold!
How are you? I miss your class!
Mrs. Gold, I watched your video tonight and you seriously made me cry! I love you so much and I can’t thank you enough for putting up with me and teaching me all that I have learned in English this year! I will for sure miss you and hope to get in contact with you after I graduate! I just owe you the biggest thanks! So thank you for everything!!!
Mrs. Gold, I just wanted to send a short letter to tell you thank you so much for all of your hard work on our behalf.  Teaching is such a hard profession!  My son … has loved being in your class!  He says you are one of his favorite teachers he has ever had!  … says out of all his teachers, you are the one that cares about the students and works so hard to prepare fun lessons that are interesting!  Warmest thanks!
Hey Gold, I just want to thank you for all that you are doing for me and for all of your students, you really are a great teacher.

The sea turtles are the real reason we teachers teach. If you don’t believe me, just look around the country right now during COVID-19. Remember that the sea turtles that are in your homes driving you crazy are so enamoring to the few, the proud, the educators. We see them for what they are: majestic beings full of unlimited endless potential. We care that we don’t get paid anywhere near what we are worth, but like the surfers, we just take it for what it is because that HUGE wave and the Pro Surfing tour is waiting on us. And the sea turtles wouldn’t get to the front pages of National Geographic without the humans who see them for what they are.

Even if every night, usually in the dark, I had to paddle away from my sea turtles, back to a dirty house to make dinner for my own full home, do homework with my own kids, and clean the mess to be ready for another early morning, I always did so with the hopes that tomorrow I could reach the ones I was supposed to and ignore the ones that shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders.
And thanks to the sea turtles that I taught how to write, I think I didn’t end up doing so terrible. I mean, I didn’t drown or die of a heart attack. I at least made it back to the shore. But, next year. Next year, I will be in way better shape, and I am going to have a way better surf board.   Bring on more sea turtles.

Hopelossness

Saber was his name.
My brother’s dog.
He belonged on the set of Sandlot.
Minus the growl.
Because he was a gentle giant
that wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Just like his human counterpart, Braxton.
My nephew had passed to the other side.
Too soon.
Paper angels filled their lawn.
What a shame it was that B was gone,
but his dog was there
laying, hanging his head on the stoop
waiting for his boy to come home.
The reunion never took place until Saber died, too.
I would have liked to have been there, Braxton
because in many ways I am still on that doorstep
my brain is reeling in the why.

Lucky was his name.
The little mutt with crazy wire whiskers.
He was a high-strung dog,
but how she loved him.
Her boyfriend relayed through sobs that he found Lucky
licking up her blood.
My hug that can’t be given is in that backyard fire
along with hers
among the coals and guts
wondering along with Lucky
where she went and why she went there.
Stephanie, my dear friend,
I’ll never stop
reliving the conversation
we had over messenger
a week before.
I told you there was hope.
You could still live a full life
even with a mental diagnosis.
I’m so sorry that I wasn’t convincing enough.

I don’t know their names.
One was a fat chocolate lab
and the other was a bronze retriever.
He walked them every day.
Twice a day.
Like clockwork.
Early morning and right after rush hour.
They dragged him along
and he held on tight
to both of their leashes
and their bags of poo.
But his own life was slippier.
Hey you, we said hi in passing
for years, but you never
had many words.
You let go of your life
and your dogs are probably
still sitting at the window
with scrambling paws
tangled in the blinds
waiting for their walk.
When our neighbor texted
to report the news,
I cried
because I wanted to see
those bags of poo
one last time,
so I could tell you that
you mattered.
To your dogs,
and to me.
Even if we weren’t friends.
Even if I don’t even know your name.
Daily, since the news, I drive the streets
that never again will know your soles,
and my soul feels empty.

Chinchillas.
He loved them.
He tried to convince me
to love them, too.
I wouldn’t even look,
even though my kids said they
were the softest animal on the earth.
Caleb was the softest human on the earth.
His smile.
His laugh.
His love.
His open arms
and funny jokes.
Everyone’s friend.
Everyone’s cheerleader.
His love for cooking.
I want to buy a chinchilla
just for you, Caleb
because I didn’t listen last time when you told me to
and because maybe
just maybe
the chinchilla’s fur
in my hand
will bring back my ability to breathe.
But mostly I want to travel back
two weeks and embrace your face
and tell you how much you taught
instead of just remarking
on how handsome of a young man you had become.

Dear Dad,

It’s 4 days until Christmas. You’ve been gone for what feels like forever. I miss you so much, dad. You’ve been with me so much this month. In the Walgreen’s aisle with Almond Roca. In every bad dressed-up Santa. In the bicycle aisle at Wal-mart, and as I drove past the Harley store and heard your gut-busting laugh as I reminisced about running into the front door. With the Old Spice and the shaving cream I bought for Caroline’s slime. The rootbeer that I got just to think of you. In my feather pillow. In the measuring tape I needed at work and just happened to have in my car. When LG and I somehow managed to fix our own washing machine, the miracle belonged to you, and the moment wasn’t near what it could have been if I could have called you on the phone to hear your pride.

I wish I could see you just for a second. I want to see your smile. I want to feel your rough weathered hands. I want to smell you and feel the whiskers on your face when you try to give me a kiss and I turn my cheek to your greedy lips. One of the last things I said to you is that I don’t do kisses except for with LG and babies. I grew out of those a long time ago, but it never stopped you from trying. Ha. Unfortunately, as real as the memories are, because you aren’t actually here, I have to be satisfied with the memories making you alive in the sights, smells, and sounds that are here. When Mr. Bing Crosby whistles in “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I just pretend that you are right upstairs. And I know you are.

Last month I went to the temple. I prayed and pleaded with God that he would let me see you. I waited in the Celestial Room for a long time, but you never came. I didn’t understand. I forced myself to my feet and walked toward the door dejected and disappointed. Outside the Celestial Room, I threw my fifty tear-soaked tissues in the garbage and got a drink of water for my perched throat, and then I noticed a burly man in his prime wearing a white suit watching my every move from where he stood at the top of the stair-case across the breezeway.

As I walked straight toward him turning to ascend the stairs back to my stressful and crazy lifestyle, I felt a peace permeate me. The peace was a literal thing, and it pierced straight through my entire being. As I turned back to make sense of this feeling — this weapon of peace — that could entice me to do anything and everything to keep it, the man smiled and said “goodnight.” I returned with an automated “goodnight,” like a Walton’s episode, while also automatically turning back around to let the goodnight of peace propel me back to so much drudgery below. After two steps, I realized that this man (if it wasn’t you) represented you. You had chosen to offer me the greatest thing you had to offer — peace. And out of all the things you could say, you chose “goodnight.” As if you were really saying, “don’t fret, Alice. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Upon my recognition of what had transpired, I jolted my head back to catch you, dad, but all I got was the back of your suit headed back into God’s abyss. You had other stuff to do, and at that moment I knew you were just fine. Busy, but fine. You stole the moment for your grieving child. You stole it just for me because you are way more than fine. You are busy in a place of white. You will always be watching, but not necessarily 100% present except in memory. You didn’t even wait for me turn back because it would have been too hard to say goodbye instead of just a simple goodnight.

Oh dad, you are everywhere that I am. I take you with me wherever I go. I know you’re fine, but I sure wish I could feel that peace all of the time.

Social Media Fast

My Post (5)
I survived my ten-day social-media-fast. I accepted the challenge by the prophet, but I wasn’t perfect. If you went to that linked article at Washington Post, you will see how many women were perfectly justified in delaying their own fasts. I didn’t start mine until last Sunday because I wanted to have an actual fast for the extra boost of help. I know it would be hard for me. I’m a junkie, and I’ve not just allowed but invited social media to penetrate my daily life. In many ways, it’s the only adult connection I get on a daily. Sad, but true. My husband works out of town, and my teenage kids are busy.

I was one of the women with my doubts and worries. As you can see:

social media fast

Here is the transcript of my feelings:

 

  • alicewgold

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are unique from other world religions because we believe in a modern-day prophet. The current prophet is Russell M. Nelson. He challenged us all to fast (a lent of sorts) from social media for 10 days and to take inventory during the fast of how we can better use our time. My fast will happen from Sunday 10/14- Tuesday 10/23. I’m worried a bit because I rely on social media for so many forms of communication nowadays. If you need me, e-mail, call, text or snail mail. I have full faith that this difficult challenge will bless me in ways I don’t currently perceive. If it were Noah, I’d like to think I’d get in the ark, even if it seemed crazy before the rain started.

I had many friends tell me that they would love to hear my experiences with the fast once I got through. So, here they are.

 

  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I think that is basically because I’ve created my own boundaries with social media throughout the years. I’ve unfollowed everyone that is toxic to me. I rarely see any political posts, improve-your-body posts, and complaining-constantly/always looking for empathy posts.
  • I have a problem with driving and scrolling. This completely stopped in the last 10 days, and I hope to have totally broke the habit.
  • I really don’t waste that much time on social media even though I admit to checking my facebook/instagram many times a day. They are the only two platforms that I use consistently, and I think that helps me control my usage. I don’t use snapchat or MarcoPolo or many others. I rarely use Twitter unless I am trying to get a hold of JK Rowling. I usually only checked my linked in every month or two. I mostly check my insta and FB while in the bathroom or standing in lines, but I have wasted too much time hiding in the bathroom. I feel good about not wasting a lot of time, but bad about all the extra time I’ve been spending in the bathroom.
  • I will stop using my phone in bed. I have let social media steal my nightly reading time. I blame my nightly reading habits being broken on homework, but in honesty I could be doing some reading for pleasure if I wasn’t using social media as an escape.
  • There are some times that you just have to get on social media. I did some research for a local autistic group. I’ve been looking in to getting an adult diagnosis for someone I know. One of the first hits was an organization that helps adults and their facebook page was prime real estate for connecting with other locals who have been diagnosed. (That was cheat #1, but in my defense, I only sent one message. And, I have yet to read the response. Second, my daughter’s mother–in-law asked me to post about her dog so that she could win a year supply of dog food, and there was no way I wasn’t going to try and help. (Although most of my local friends weren’t on social media to see my post.) Fourth, I had to go back and look at an old message from a friend to recall a band name that I wanted to share with a co-worker. (Not vital, but what can I say? The flesh is weak, and in my old age I like to get things done when I think of them, so they won’t be forgotten. Lastly, I got an e-mail notification of a neighbor giving away a plastic filing system that I desperately need for my classroom next year. The photo was in my e-mail. I jumped on to snag that. Yes, I could have lived without all 4 of these cheats, and yes, once I jumped on for even a second, I felt the pull to stay there, but I resisted wasting any more time. That is a big takeaway for me. I need to be the ruler of the social media, not the other way around.
  • I  missed chronicling my life in photos every day. I have a phone full of pictures from the last 10 days, and I will be sharing them. I love love love how easy it is for me to store family memories in this format.
  • I found it easier to connect with my family, as I had completely removed one really big distraction.
  • I also found it easier to read my scriptures in the mornings because I just did it at my first possible chance without being drawn away by cute pictures of my friends’ children/dogs.
  • I just re-added instagram to my phone (to add all the missed photos.) I will probably take some time to re-add facebook. I really don’t enjoy it as much as insta.
  • I really think I know a lot of women in-particular that have gotten stuck in the social media trap. They are more negative, whiny, impressionable, and don’t seem to be doing a whole lot but sitting on their sites all day. I think this is a really easy trap for stay-home moms and I’ve allowed it to influence myself way too much in the past. I’m grateful I’ve been able to identify that for myself and altered my own usage previous to the challenge.

That’s it for now, but I will probably be back to add some more (and edit my own typos and errors) when I have some more time.

 

2018 Oct General Conference Printable

This post is for my friends the belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, if you aren’t one of those, feel free to play along. We watch eight hours of sermons here. Four hours Saturday and four hours on Sunday. Schedule is currently showing on the link and when it is going, live feed will be available at the same link.

It’s that time of the year, and because two new apostles were sustained in April, we needed a new printout for our treat schedule.  {AND HOW EXCITED ARE WE TO SEE SOME ETHNIC APOSTLES!!!}

Feel free to use my print-out instead of taking the half of an hour to create your own. Here is a screenshot and a direct link to the printable google doc.

Happy conference weekend, y’all! They really are my two favorite weekends of the year.

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General Conference

There are a lot of different ways that desperate parents try to engage antsy children for this bi-yearly event, and I have tried many of them. However, I finally found my perfect system for the simplistic mom about a decade ago. It has stuck and is always looked forward to, so it must be a winner. It’s super low-maintenance. Here is a photo of it being put to use a few years back. Thank you insta for making a photo easy to find.

I write numbers (chronologically) in sharpie next to each of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I then go to the store and buy 15 snacks and write the correlating numbers on the snacks. The kids have a snack bingo all weekend long. Beef jerky is always the favorite and for some reason it often correlates with another favorite, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

I know, I know. It’s kind of gluttonous, but aren’t all the best times of the year about hanging with family and over-eating? At least on these two weekends we are also deeply fed spiritually.

Enjoy! And feel free to share with your friends.

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Pole Creek

Twenty miles south from my home, there is a raging forest fire occurring. The other day, a neighbor put out a call for some donations to take to the firefighters. As usual, I started to ponder on which items I could donate and which items I should donate. I thought of my budget taking another hit. We’ve had several weddings this month, a totaled car, a friend whose home burned down, school fees, etc. etc. There is never enough to go around. I started to worry because I wanted to help, but I didn’t think I could. I thought of the baby wipes up on the shelf and some beef jerkey that I had bought with a coupon a few weeks ago, and I determined that those would be my personal pledges for support. I prayed to God and told Him I would do more if I could and that it was on my heart to serve however He saw fit.

A message came back loud and clear. It rang in my mind, “Alice, this is not one that you need to do this time.” I didn’t understand. Didn’t the firefighting heroes deserve some clean socks, protein, and water? I prayed again. I got the same message. I decided to go on with my day, but it kept itching at me. I wanted to help where I could, but I was determined to follow the prompting I had received even though I didn’t understand it. This was on Friday.

Imagine my surprise, when yesterday I read this news report:

Cannon also tweeted: “The American Red Cross is saying thanks to the generosity of local citizens they no longer need donations. There is a waiting list of people offering space in their home for evacuees. Thank you all.”

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox also tweeted: “Update from the Red Cross noting a few problems: 1) Big waiting list…of people that want to HELP and provide shelter for others. 2) TOO MANY donations. Please stop for now. 3) 6,000 people evacuated and no one staying at the shelter. Well done Utah. Well done.”

You guys, God is real. He speaks to us if we listen. He speaks about things that may seem inconsequential. He knows all.

Oh, and people are amazing. I am so glad that so many stepped up to provide what was needed. They all beat me to it, but my budget is grateful.

For the lovers of {fill in the blank with cat therapy}

My Post(1)If People Would Purr

we would know that our offering is accepted and appreciated,

we could feel the satisfaction of providing pleasure,

we would be secure in knowing that they want more of our touch,

and

when our purr spontaneously combusted, it would bond us to that space in time where we fell asleep to another’s purr humming beside us.