Lessons learned: a reminder

I am a pessimist by nature. Left to my own devises, I will wallow away in a seething swamp of negativity. Of all my personality flaws – and there are many – this is the one that plagues me most. I like to think that it goes hand in hand with my introversion and tendency to turn inward. Of course, that could just be a total bullshit lie that I tell myself in order to roll out of bed every morning. I choose not to peer too deep into the abyss, just in case.

We all have an internal monologue. Well, if we are to be honest, it’s more akin to conversation than soliloquy. At least for me. My head is filled with warring voices that do their best to dictate my narrative. I refer to them as my rebellious-self, my realistic-self, my narcissistic-self, my prideful-self, my fearful-self, my obsessive-self, my naive-self, my are-you-kidding-me-with-this-shit-right-now-self. They’re like squabbling siblings – always at odds and constantly vying for my attention. It takes a great deal of effort to find an enduring balance and avoid being swallowed whole by all their noise. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I think I’ve won the battle only to find out I couldn’t be more wrong.

I wrote in a previous post about my struggle to let go and move on from my booster board position. It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was no longer a relevant party. Again, I am well aware of how that sounds and I make no apology for it. For my own sanity, and in an effort to hinder my proclivity for obsession over things which I have no control, I distanced myself from the entire program. I choose the “ignorance is bliss” route and proceeded to stick my head in the sand.

Seems like a solid plan, right? Totally rational. Completely reasonable. The only problem – I failed to take into consideration my evolving resentment. The end of my tenure was fraught with conflict. I felt marginalized and discounted. It’s never easy to sit on the sidelines and watch everything you worked so hard to achieve burn to the ground on the whim of others. I was pretty pissed off about it.

The negative voice in my head is like that bully on the playground – big-mouthed and obnoxious. A real dick. I try not to feed into his rhetoric, but in moments of weakness it’s easy to fall prey. And that’s exactly what happened here. I gave rise to my anger and resentment, and in doing so, allowed that negativity to define my experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing in line at a local burrito shop when a a little voice said, “Hi, Mrs. Isaacs.” I looked up and on the other side of the counter was the sweet face of one my band kids. I was surprised to see her; thrilled to see her. We chatted for a few minutes, catching up a bit before she took my order: burrito bowl, brown rice, extra veggies, no beans with steak. I watched her meticulously go through the motions. When we got to the steak, she portion out the allotted amount, paused, then looked up at me with a shy smile. She said, “because I love you, Mrs. Isaacs,” and scooped out a little bit extra.

A simple gesture, but one that afforded me a flash of profound clarity. It brought tears to my eyes and a rush of warmth to my heart. In that moment, I realized that my negativity was a product of a damaged ego and wounded pride; and, by no means, representative of my true feelings. I gave four years of my life to the band program and I have a lot to show for it – great friends, beautiful memories, a new appreciation for “team building” and drinking establishments that stay open late.

But most of all, I have a full heart. I was blessed with the privilege of serving a fantastic group of kids for four years. The impact they have had on my life is beyond measure and something that I will always treasure. In my need to nurse my wounded pride, I forgot why I said yes in the first place; and why I kept saying yes – year after year.

I have been reminded.

Things I learned this week

Learn we may be with another man’s learning:  we can only be wise with wisdom of our own. – Michele de Montaigne

I learned this week…

…that a simple thing like a hair color touch up and a trim is enough to ease the sting of a trying week.  It won’t make up for the B (very low B) I earned on that Geology exam, and it won’t erase the craptastic essay exam (worse heap of horse manure I’ve ever produced) in my African-American History class, but at least I will feel pretty as I go forward into the aftermath.  I can weather anything life throws at me, as long as I have perfectly coiffed hair.

…that Andy Williams has died at the age of 84.  He is best known as the crooner of the classic Moon River, but to me, he will always be the voice of Christmas.  I’m not a big fan of Christmas – never have been.  It’s nothing personal, I’m not a holiday advocate, in general.  You can read more about that here and here.   My mother, however, loves the holidays and one of her prized possessions was an Andy Williams Christmas album (circa 1963) – on vinyl, of course.  From December 1st until December 26th, that record played ad nauseum.  It took a little time, but it grew on me.  I don’t listen to it very often anymore, but sometimes, when the moon is full and the stars are aligned just so, I add it to my playlist and dream of sugar plums, sleigh bells, and snow covered hills.  RIP Andy Williams.

…that football, at the middle and high school level, is serious business in my neck of the woods.  As a Texan, however transplanted, I should understand this, accept this, and even relish in the glory of the Friday night lights.  I, however, do not.  I’m not a fan of the game and, under normal circumstances, would never entertain the thought of spending my evenings sitting on a cold, hard metal bleacher, in the chilly night air, watching kids try to plow over one another in their quest to get an oblong ball from one end of the field to the other.   It’s really sort of barbaric, if you ask me.  And boring.  This year, however, I have a middle school age daughter in the band.  The band plays at the football games.  Ergo, I am spending a good deal of time sitting on a cold, hard metal bleacher watching a game I do not like.  Of course, if you know me, you know that I’m not really paying much attention to the action on field.  Instead, I prefer to watch the parents sitting around me.  I am treated to an extra special dose of crazy at these things because not only do I get to watch the football dads freak out over an erroneous off side’s call (I’m not even sure what that is), I get to observe my favorite exotic beast, the Cheer Mom, in her natural habitat.   That right there, makes it all worth it.

***Side note:  My daughter’s middle school band rocks!

that Alias has arrived on streaming Netflix.   Score.

…that after years of boycott, I am going to put aside my grudge against Ben Affleck and see his new movie.   Yes, I know this goes against my longstanding vow to loathe him for all eternity.  However, in the infinite wisdom that comes with age, I have found it is unrealistic to stringently adhere to such limiting assertions.  Sometimes, for reasons beyond my control, I must adapt and evolve, especially when it is most self-serving.  I love a good spy thriller – one that is smart, well-written, and keeps me on the edge of my seat from the opening frame until the closing credit.  By all accounts, his new film, Argo, will do just that.  I have thought it over most carefully and have come to the conclusion that I would not forgive myself if I were to allow this work to pass me by simply for the sake of a grudge – a very worthy grudge, but one I readily admit falls slightly to the right of juvenile.   Of course, this does not mean that I am going to abandon my feelings.  I will allow Mr. Affleck to wow me with his directorial (and acting) genius and then it’s back to business as usual.  My rationality and goodwill only go so far.

…that I have to participate in a group project/presentation for a political science class I am taking this semester.  At first, I was pissed off about this.  It seems to be a growing trend among professors, even though it really is not representative of workplace reality.  At least, not in my workplace.  I can’t tell you the last time I had to work in conjunction with a colleague on a project.  I am largely a solitary worker, responsible for my own successes and failures.   I like it that way.  It keeps me from committing acts that might be construed as felonies under the current rule of law.  Having said that…this week my group had its first meeting.  They’re an interesting lot – young and energetic, full of misinformed ideology and false hope.   I sit and watch them through the eyes of the cynic I have grown to be, wondering how they will make it out in the wilds of the real world.  This week, however, I realized that all of my fears were unfounded after one member of our six-man team failed to make an appearance at our little get together.  Group participation is key to our success and as such, any weak link will be detrimental to our overall grade.  My fellow classmates took it upon themselves to nip a potential problem in the bud, and informed our absentee member that if she didn’t produce her part of the project by the next meeting, she was out.  Period.  No excuses.  End of discussion.  Please pack you knives and go.

Alright, then.  I think they are going to be just fine.  And perhaps this group project will not complete suck, after all.

…that school is putting a damper on my creative endeavors.   I apologize for the neglect this blog has suffered since the beginning of September.  I fear it will not get better until December when I can finally put this hellish semester behind me.  The lesson to be learned here – Geology is an evil best endured solo without the added distraction and pressure of…well…everything else.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Underdog and the Chick-fila cow sharing an intimate moment during a recent football game.  Heartwarming, isn’t it?

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