After stormy weather in Miami, the petals of its flowers for us to walk through.
See the textures.
After stormy weather in Miami, the petals of its flowers for us to walk through.
See the textures.
Tossing the clothes in the dryer after an extremely long day at the beach, an excursion meant to make our summer feel like summer vacation. It felt more like hell.
It was burning hot, crowded, and smelly. So, when my beautiful Ray-Bans emerged in a twisted mess, the screams of terror and the ensuing tears amplified my established upset.
Those shiny, metallic-blue Ray-Bans landed in my hands when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California last summer. My mother insisted on buying them for me even though I told her they were too expensive and I didn’t need them. I don’t wear them often because I don’t want to break them or scratch them, but this summer, they’ve been keeping me together and there they were.
Everything broke out of me, not just tears and mucus, a wild river of what had been left behind, nearly forgotten.
I missed JetBlue. I really missed LA. I fully missed my sister. I missed the other side of the country where mountains sprout from the ground and majestically watch over everyone. I missed the cool air at night, so cool you need a jacket.
I missed Elvis walking down the street to go to work. I missed the Pier. I missed the $30 Asian massages. I even missed the nausea of twirling up and down a mountain in my sister’s car. I especially missed the excitement of preparing and going there.
I usually take off to Los Angeles to visit my sister every summer. This summer it didn’t happen mainly because money became an issue.
Money, where are you?
So I’ve made the best of a disappointing situation and pretended I’ve been traveling. I put on these Ray-Bans and think of the fresh air on Catalina Island.
The minute I walk outside I’m reminded with a heavy hit of humid heat that “No, Lisa, you are still in Miami.”
I drive to Starbucks and pretend I have to have a cappuccino there because my sister doesn’t have an espresso machine like I do at my house. When I walk back outside, my skin sizzles worse than ever now that my body is warmed from the inside as well.
“Still here,” the Miami heat proclaims.
I swerve on over to Nordstrom Rack and think I’m in LA across from the Beverly Center. It works out pretty well until a pinch on my arm turns to an itch and I realize I’ve just been bit by a mosquito.
I stand at the door watching the sudden burst of rain pour buckets. Thunder trembling against the glass and lightning cracking its whip. I can’t wait any longer so I rush to my car, only about 10 feet away but I’m completely soaked when I get in the car.
A mosquito zips around my head.
Pinched again, I drive home.
I open my computer to find that instead of writing or working, I’m looking for flights on JetBlue: Too expensive, Too many stops. Bad timing. No one to take us. Need to save money.
I call JetBlue to ask about points and I’m met with the nicest voice. She’ll help with whatever she can. She has a fifteen-year-old daughter too. She knows what it’s like to stay when you want to leave.
Then I really miss LA, more than ever.
The Joy of JetBlue
You see, I’ve flown on JetBlue ever since my daughter turned two and a half and I have only flown on one other airline, Virgin America, but it didn’t even come close to my experience on JetBlue so I never went back.
I knew when they helped me take her out of the stroller and folded it for me, smiled patiently, not the snarky kind, and waited for us to gather everything up that I was in love.
They forgave us when she screamed for a half hour during a landing. They cleaned up our vomit when both kids puked during a red-eye flight.
And, to top it off, they gave me brand-new beautiful suitcases on the spot when mine were damaged after the flight.
If there was a delay even for five minutes, JetBlue gave us free movies.
I miss watching movies, asking for too many popcorn chips, and even drinking the bitter coffee when we take the red-eye flights.
I miss that so much more than my Ray-Bans.
I miss where JetBlue can take us.
It took us to San Francisco also. The magic of wearing a coat in summertime. The bread bowls. The tea bars. The crazy hills and crazier trollies.
And I’m here. And I know.
I really do know.
…that, really, when I look around me as I type on an Apple laptop and am feeling sorry for myself, I can’t really feel sorry at all. I watch my son falling asleep on the couch as we watch E.T. because he said that I should choose a movie.
I think of my daughter already asleep growing into a young woman who can be fierce and challenging but still she rests her head on my shoulder and often holds my hand.
How can I feel bad in my air-conditioned house full of comforts I couldn’t have dreamed up when I was little and lived in a tiny house with one bathroom.
I feel the deep appreciation for everything I have and have had and even what I will have.
That kind of pleasure sends surges of joy traveling through me so much so that I know JetBlue will be there for us on another vacation and sunglasses can be replaced.
Written By Lisa Chesser
There’s a new law I found out about recently and I’m fascinated by it., sometimes horrified by it.
I believe it exists but I’m not sure that I’ve embraced it. The world I live in for the time being.
This world of education tends to shout otherwise. We teachers demand that students perform the way we want them to. No, actually, we demand that students perform the way the Department of Education wants them to. My only solace in following through with those demands is to often make fun of the DOE and then twist everything around and show the students how they can use education to get what they want.
Education also makes it difficult to work with this law because it demands that I enforce consequences on a regular basis. I must be strict. I must enforce silence when students prefer to talk. I must look angry, more often than not. I must make sure that they understand how to behave and do so because they fear me.
It does work. Teachers who don’t offer a significant amount of fear face the consequences of chaos and in middle school, chaos is scary. Students don’t just throw paper airplanes. They can really hurt one another.
We all know that if we’ve heard anything about school shootings or even students using social media.
The law I’m referring to is the Law of Attraction. I’d heard about it many years ago and I gave it a nod then went about my business. I heard about it again a few years ago and again nodded and again went about my business.
Then, a few strange, seemingly unconnected events juggled me around to this law once again.
I watched a Netflix documentary on Tony Robbins and actually liked it.
What a strange person: I liked him but didn’t trust what he had to say.
I found myself driving my teenage daughter to school in the mornings.
She became increasingly distant and downright rude.
I started looking for inspirational videos to listen to after I dropped my daughter off.
Most of them started with Tony Robbins, then I listened to some of his radio interviews with took me to Deepak Chopra then to Dr. Wayne Dyer then to Oprah Winfrey then to Esther Hicks who I eventually learned was the one of the original speakers of the Law of Attraction.
I then looked at my phone and saw that my sister had given me a copy of the Law of Attraction and I remembered what she said, “This is weird but just listen to it when you feel frustrated, while you clean, stick it in your pocket, put your earphones in your ears and listen.”
I did, but it made no sense to me.
However, with my daughter’s distance even when we were sitting next to each other, even when I didn’t talk except to say I love you, this law became increasingly important to me.
I had also lost my grandmother a few years ago and it left me hating myself for not being able to do more, wanting to tell her how much I loved her and how sorry I was for having acted like my daughter was and is acting. I didn’t act that way all the time but I did act that way in my teenage years and then later I became distant because of work and her difficulties with dementia/Alzheimer’s.
So, these mornings of listening to Esther who speaks as Abraham who delivers the message of the Law of Attraction has changed my view of death, regret, love, and hate. Really, it’s changed my view of everything, even education.
We are magnets according to Abraham, according to the Law. But, we are not magnets in the traditional sense or the common understanding of a magnets capabilities. Opposites do not attract. The Law of Attraction tells us we “Like” attracts “Like.”
So, even if we don’t want something and we scream that we don’t want it, If we push against it, we will just get more of it.
This made sense to me because everything negative in my life seemed to fly toward me with the intensity of electromagnetic force.
But, understanding this sometimes makes everything more frustrating, especially when you tell someone you love them and a door is slammed in your face.
The idea is that you attracted the door slamming in your face. If like attracts like, then what the hell? Why not love in return?
Maybe the anger was stronger than the love, for both of us.
So, little by little, one day at a time, I attempt to work within the Law of Attraction. I meditate every morning or as many mornings as I can. I look for things to appreciate. And, more often than not, I lose my patience and restart the next day.
Being a teacher, a parent, a wife, and a writer, gives me a lot to consider when walking through life under the Law of Attraction.
What are your thoughts? Have you heard of this law?
© Lisa Chesser
Four eyes hit me with judgment and love.
Dark lashes fan the flecks of green and yellow floating in a sea of amber.
Striking out of a pool of black.
But, as they grow I forget that they were always doing this.
Waves of black and brown frame her face instead of pigtails.
Wisps of brown float across his forehead, one eye squinting.
Glaring at me.
Hit me with a pinch then a sting.
I know every crinkle in their skin, still plump, even now, at fourteen and ten.
They remind me that I’m just like them.
Not above, not below them.
We dance this dance together.
Written by Lisa Chesser
When I wrote about how my grandmother had suffered through Alzheimer’s disease and my struggle with losing her both mentally and physically, the response from fellow bloggers warmed my soul almost as if they were sitting right next to me allowing me to rest my head on their shoulders.
Blogging, changed my life because the connections I made became even more meaningful than some long-time friendships and brought other people with similar depth and interests closer to me.
When I write, I connect to a place hidden from the me who I think I am or the me who I want to be or the me who everyone wants me to be. I may start with an idea or a purpose, but within a minute or so, I find the me who I really am and sometimes that secret me connects to another hidden being, someone I never knew existed.
I know other bloggers feel the same.
When I first started blogging, it was here at WordPress. I really knew nothing else. I just knew that I wanted to write and connect with other writers. I’d been busy teaching after being a full-time mom and my relationships with the working world and friendships in general felt stunted and, well, disconnected.
So when I read through all different kinds of blogs, I found myself laughing, nodding, and often-enough crying. So I thought about the idea of creating my own blog and just knew that I had to open up as well.
Four years ago, I was Freshly Pressed with a post about my children’s “Refrigerator Art” Refrigerator Art Changed My Life and the connections I made have lasted to this day. Even the talented Cheri Lucas Rowland liked my post, and here I am writing inspired by one of her discover challenges.
The same people who “liked” and “commented” on that post also comforted me when I wrote about struggles with Scoliosis Exercising My Scoliosis Demons and the loss of my grandmother .
At various times over the years, life became so overwhelming at certain points that I considered and reconsidered leaving WordPress behind. Being a teacher and a mother challenges the best of us, let alone being married and attempting to continue writing and educating yourself. Then throw into the mix health concerns and the death of someone who meant the world to you.
But, it was and is the connections I’ve experienced here that have kept and do keep me blogging. They keep me brave, smart, bold, and loved.
Here’s to laughter.
Plus, my sister and some other really awesome comedians along with a determined filmmaker are working night and day to make this happen.
Check it out and become a part of it before it ends.
People used to ask me, “What do you do?”
I’d say, “I’m a Publications Specialist.” Before that I’d say, “I’m an editor, writer, graphic artist, or copy editor.” They’d nod and smile in approval and ask more questions about it. I felt respected.
Now, when people ask that question, I say, “I’m a teacher.” Their eyes pop open, sometimes there’s a gasp or a grunt or even a hiss with a dramatic “Ouch” at the end. I was startled that at first. I stopped wanting to answer people. I avoided the question when we were meeting people. Sometimes I even told my husband that I would just say I’m a writer and editor because I still am so I’m not lying or anything. I’d just leave out what I do the majority of the time throughout the year.
But, I couldn’t avoid it completely. So as I started answering that question more and more, I realized people just felt sorry for me when I said I was a teacher and it didn’t have to be bad. So, I’d laugh and grunt with them. I’d agree and then unload my frustrations on them. It felt kind of good considering that I needed counseling after all the rough weeks of teaching.
However, the underlying problem of telling people that I am a teacher never seemed to change.
There’s a tangible lack of respect for teachers. We are jokes. We are servants. We are babysitters. We can’t do anything else. We are burps in a person’s life that they’d like to forget about.
Or, we are honored for being so special that we work for scraps thrown from the dinner table and educate the children who will someday rule over all of us and either save or destroy the world. This latter “honored” reaction, I’ve found, happens a lot less than the other negative ones.
Somewhere, far, far away
According to an article in The Guardian, How the job of teachers compares around the world, there’s respect for Chinese teachers and teachers in Finland receive the monetary rewards that make teaching worthwhile and transform it into a respected, even sought-after profession.
So, yes, asking “Does money matter to teachers?” is a loaded question, I know. Many teachers would say, “Sit down and let’s talk for at least two weeks about why teachers absolutely need to be paid more.” Still others would say, “It’s not about the money.”
Despite either reaction, let’s just say this, teachers deserve more money based on the fact that they work endless hours and hold the world’s future in their hands. And, of course, I’m talking about the good ones. Those who look like they’ve been through WW III after the first week of school and lug stacks of papers back and forth from the school to their homes.
There was a video I watched about a year ago about applying to a demanding job.
People who were applying for jobs were asked by their potential employers to do what moms do without knowing that it was actually a list of tasks that every mom does. And, we all know moms don’t get paid for what they do. The people interviewing for the jobs were horrified and immediately rejected the jobs. In the end, when they were told that they were really applying for the job that all moms do, their faces changed to a knowing, a deep appreciation, a realization that only mothers do something so insanely valuable for no pay whatsoever.
I would argue that good teachers come close to that idea. Is it the same? Absolutely not, just the same idea.
To say we as teachers don’t work for the money is quite true. To say we shouldn’t demand more pay is not fair and ridiculous.
We don’t work for the money because we’re paid nothing compared to the amount of hours we put into it. We grade stacks of papers at home throughout the week—if we are good teachers. We chase students around about homework, classwork, quizzes, and tests. We counsel them when they make mistakes and think they can’t go on. We care for them like they’re our own children. Then, we send them home to hopefully do homework, study, and sleep. We start over the next day even if we know they stayed up late playing video games and didn’t do homework.
Given that we are a world that runs on money, teachers need it not only to survive but to hope for more, to fuel their own fire if they’re giving so much of their energies to teaching.
It’s a profession with very raw, concrete value; yet, it’s treated as a volunteer opportunity offering little respect. Why would anyone with an ounce of respect want to teach or even continue to teach then?
We wouldn’t. In fact, any teacher worth their salt and willing to be honest will tell you that he or she contemplated leaving more than once. Many teachers make other plans and go as far as to pack their materials, but they remember their students, their lessons, the challenges that made them better human beings, and they think of the future without dedicated teachers.
We don’t do it for the money, but that’s precisely why teachers, good, hardworking, dedicated teachers, should be paid as much as any professional and respected equally or even more.
What’s interesting though, is that as a writer, editor, graphic artist, and publications specialist, I started out getting paid significantly less than an average public school teacher yet I got a whole lot more respect.