Am I Too Old For This?

I’ve signed up to take an exam.

It’s the Praxis exam, and it is required to become certified to teach English as a second language in Virginia public schools.

Now, I’m no newbie when it comes to teaching English. While I am by no means an experienced teacher, I have done some teaching, both in groups and one-on-one.

I also completed a CELTA certification back in September 2016, exactly four years ago, now! That was an intensive, full-time four week training, and I came away from that feeling pretty confident.

But Holy Crap…

When I started to read over the prep materials for this exam, I nearly flipped out.

I mean, we’re talking about foundations of linguistics, of language learning… All stuff I’ve learned, but haven’t really thought about in four years.

(Plus, this being an American program vs a British program, terminology varies quite a bit!)

Then, I realized that people usually take this exam after completing a bachelor’s degree in education, or even a master’s.

But if I want to try and qualify as an ESOL teacher in VA public schools, I have to take this test in order to apply for a place in a career switcher program!

That seems unfair.

Or maybe I’m just scared…

Scared of failure. Scared I don’t know how to study anymore. Scared I’m not making the right choice.

Maybe, instead of taking this route, I should just look into a TEFL or TOEFL certification? With that, I’d be perfectly qualified to teach in private schools or other private settings.

But is that what I want?

Honestly, I don’t know.

In the meantime, though, I’ve signed up and paid for the exam, so I’d better get cracking.

Terrified

65. Telephone: Write about a phone call you recently received.

ThinkWritten.com

Most of the phone calls I get are spam bots. But I have been making a lot of phone calls recently.

Mostly to doctor’s offices. The pediatrician, the GP, the dentist.

The gynecologist.

Yup, that’s right! I’m writing about the gynecologist!

(Don’t worry, there won’t be any gory details.)

Tomorrow, I have my first gynecologist appointment in nearly three years. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have left it that long!

The last time I saw the lady doctor was six months after our Bear was born. When the following year rolled around, life was crazy. We were planning our move from Germany, and I just never got around to it.

And since then? I’ve been putting it off, I’m not going to lie.

My mother died of metastasized breast cancer.

So did my maternal grandmother. Another maternal family member has been diagnosed.

Yeah. I know.

I’m 35. It’s time I at least started getting mammograms. And, as my very best friend (who is a physician) has told me more than once, I should get the genetic test done.

But honestly?

I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that I will learn to feel afraid of my own body.

In moments of extreme worry, I think of Angelina Jolie and wonder if a doctor is going to recommend I do the same.

So, if I’m honest, I don’t think about it.

I push it away from me and call it “living in the present.” I’ve even been known to go long months without doing a quick self breast exam.

I know.

It’s probably not something I should be worrying about. But it is something I should be monitoring.

Which I have not done up until now.

I’m pretty good at living in denial. (It ain’t just a river in Egypt!) But continuing to do so would be irresponsible. I have a family. I need to be proactive and take whatever preventative measures the doctor suggests.

But I’m still scared.

And if I’m honest?

I miss my mother most at these times. Though God knows she’d administer the dope slap and tell me to get to the gynecologist.

I can just hear her. “Jane. Get over it. Go to the doctor.”

Okay, Mom, okay. I’m going.

Monday Got Me Like…

64. Sing a New Song: Take a popular song off the radio and rewrite it as a poem in your own words.

ThinkWritten.com

The following has nothing to do with a popular song on the radio. But this is what the prompt made me think of.

The alarm goes off but I hit snooze.
I want to go back to sleep but my bladder’s too full.
Might as well get up.

I stretch out the stiffness, coax my body to life.
I tiptoe to the bathroom–
Trying not to wake the boys.
Please let them sleep a little longer, I think.

After a splash of cold water on the face
Autopilot kicks in.
Monday. Right. Change the sheets.

I strip the bed, change our sheets,
Moving mechanically through the process.
My mind is far away.
Not sure where, really.

Then, I’m staring in bewilderment
At an empty laundry basket.
It was full last night… Where did the…?
Then it dawns on me.

Where is my husband?

He’s usually up before me.
I think back and remember:

After my alarm:
A quick kiss and Buenos días.
Clattering in the kitchen downstairs.
Water filling in the washer.

He comes upstairs.
The fog has finally cleared from my brain.
Hola, he says. I’ve started the chores.
Figured we’d kick-start the day.

Monday.
It can be such a bitch.

But not this Monday.

Drama

61. Drama: Write about a time when you got stuck in between two parties fighting with each other.

-Think Written

Clowns to the Left…

Though I suppose “clowns” is not a fair description of Kamala Harris. Thank GOD she’s Biden’s VP pick, because maybe–just maybe–she’ll bring a little sanity and maturity to this presidential race.

Finally, there’s a grown up in the room!

Now now now, I know there are lots of Biden fans. And I’m not anti-Biden by any means.

But I’m not so terribly pro-Biden either. I see him as more of the same ol’ same ol’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to do my best to get him elected in November in the hopes that he will prove me wrong.

Jokers to the Right…

But writing Trump off as a “joker” has proved dangerous.

(As anyone with half a brain and an ounce of integrity knows.)

The thought of four more years of this maniac terrifies me. But what really frightens me the people who are willing to keep him in office.

Who are these people? Any conversation about Trump I’ve had, with strangers, friends and family alike, has yet to reveal anyone who actually voted for him.

They’re out there, obviously. But they’re as elusive as unicorns.

Tired of the Drama

I want this year to be over. I want to know the result. I want to be out of this melodramatic mess.

But it seems like we won’t get off that easy. Trump is already vowing to continue the drama after the election if he loses.

So here’s what I’ll be doing: volunteering, getting out the vote, donating money to organizations dedicated to getting out the vote, and reminding all and sundry to register to vote by mail.

That, and breathing a short prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

The Perfect Weekend

There was nothing special about this weekend. And it was perfect.

You know how it goes.

Weekends are supposed to be relaxing, but they can often be stressful. Whether it’s an activity to get to, a get-together that requires cooking something, or just the pressures we put on ourselves to get stuff done.

No Pressure

This weekend we had absolutely nothing on schedule.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

On Saturday morning I had to fight the urge to plan something for us. It was a struggle. I often feel the need to fill up our time with outings, activities, whatever.

It was a beautiful morning; would have been perfect for a bike ride. It was cooler, overcast but not raining. An ideal summer day for cycling.

But instead, we didn’t.

Instead, I slept in. We lingered over breakfast. The boys played. I made a picnic.

We went to a park, ate, threw the frisbee, blew bubbles, and then parked ourselves on a playground. Saturday night we had pizza and watched a silly movie.

Today, Sunday, was even more low-key. We didn’t get out of our pyjamas until the afternoon. Pancakes, knitting, reading, trampoline, paddling pool… We had our big meal of the day mid-afternoon.

We did manage to do the things we needed to. We tidied the house, put on a little laundry. I did my hair. Chico struck a couple things off his to-do list.

It was so relaxed.

I feel more refreshed after this weekend than a whole week of vacation. Perhaps it was the good book I started and finished in 24 hours. Perhaps it was the weather.

But I think most of all it was the fact that I wasn’t putting pressure on myself or anyone else to do anything in particular.

With no agenda, nowhere to be, no obligations, neither Chico nor I had any stress about this weekend.

And our extremely sensitive children felt that. They sensed zero anxiety from either of us, and as a result they were totally relaxed.

It feels so delicious, I don’t want it to end.

But let’s not mess with perfection.

So: Bring it on, Monday!

PS I also FINALLY finished the sweater I was knitting. Damn. It really was the perfect weekend.

Is It Okay to Feel Like Crap?

We all have those days, right?

It might be an isolated day, or it might be a couple of them back-to-back.

Where you just feel crappy.

Sometimes you feel physically crappy, like when you’re sick or injured. Sometimes you’re just mentally pooped: tired of everything.

And let’s not even talk about how emotionally drained we all feel with this pandemic.

Unproductive Thoughts

When I have days like this, I often feel like I should “snap out of it.” Like my failure to make myself feel better is somehow a personal failing.

I also start to make a mountain out of a molehill. If I feel this bad more than one day, what does this mean? Am I always going to feel this way? Will I ever feel better?

These thoughts, as you can imagine, do not help.

So… What to do?

Why do I have to do anything?

Why do I need to change the fact that I feel like crap?

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just let yourself feel crappy for a day or two. Usually, for me, it passes soon enough. (If it doesn’t pass, that’s another kettle of fish.)

After a couple of days, I’ll wake up and feel like getting out of bed. Maybe I’ll even feel motivated to do something I know will help me feel better.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember in the fog of a bad day, but when the fog starts to clear, I try to remind myself:

This too shall pass.

Handle with Care

60. Handle With Care: Write about a very fragile or delicate object.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

OUCH!

Having children under the age of five can be exhausting.

Our three-year-old is especially… Physical.

We’re pretty sure he’s at least bruised (if not broken) Chico’s ribs. The other day, after spending an afternoon in the play room with him, I felt like I’d been in a full-out brawl.

He doesn’t stop jumping on me, climbing on me, and otherwise being ALL-OUT ON ME.

The Kato to my Inspector Clouseau

The other day, when describing this state of affairs to my friends, one of them said,

“So, he’s the Kato to your Inspector Clouseau?”

It took me a second, because it’s been years and years since I’ve seen any of the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. Then I started laughing until I had tears in my eyes.

Yes! That is EXACTLY IT!

Yup. This is pretty much how it goes in our house.

Mama is Fragile!

I feel this is very true today.

I had a dermatologist appointment, and different parts of me were frozen, sliced, prodded, pressed, scraped, squeezed and sewn up.

The last time I had any kind of anesthetic was in childbirth three years ago, and everyone feels pretty drained after giving birth.

When the dermatologist told me this morning that I might feel tired and woozy after having a local anesthetic, I mentally brushed her off.

By noon, however, I had realized what she meant.

It’s probably age catching up with me (like it’s been doing for a while, now), but man! I feel completely drained.

Handle With Care

I’m lucky to have natural strength. I’m no delicate flower. But I’ve been particularly struck in the last few weeks at how my body, while still incredibly strong, experiences stresses differently.

Whether it’s the stress of lack of sleep, an attack-child, or a local anesthetic. My body feels these more acutely, and seems more sensitive than in former years.

This is why I am that much more grateful that I have taken the step of adding exercise to my routine.

With this small change of 30 minutes every couple of days, I feel more equal to the physical demands of parenthood, and of life in general.

My body is naturally powerful. Now, it feels like that power can be sustained. And it feels amazing.

Refreshed

59. Refreshed: Write a poem about a time you really felt refreshed and renewed. Maybe it was a dip into a pool on a hot summer day, a drink of lemonade, or other situation that helped you relax and start again.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

A cool drink of water;
A hot cup of tea.

A long night’s sleep;
A short power nap.

A long-distance phone call;
A cosy tête-à-tête.

An intense workout;
A lazy afternoon on the couch.

A noisy family gathering;
Silent companionship.

Engaging in creativity;
Completing mindless busywork.

However it comes,
Enjoying the delicious feeling of being
Refreshed.

Accursed Alarm Clock

57. Alarm Clock: Write about waking up.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Every. Damn. Day.

Every day it is just so hard to wake up.

Even the days I get to sleep in. It’s always a battle to drag this ol’ bag of bones out of bed.

I’ve Tried Everything

Going to bed early (that is also really hard). No screen time before bed. No coffee or tea too late in the day. Exercise earlier in the day, rather than later…

And yet, no matter what I do to ensure a good night’s sleep, it’s a struggle to wake up in the morning.

The Snooze Game

When the alarm goes off at six, I immediately smash the snooze button. Ten more blissful minutes.

The radio turns on again at 6:10 and WHAM! Snooze again.

By 6:20 I’m starting to feel a bit guilty, so this time I leave the radio on, but turn the volume way down.

Now I start to have some really weird dreams. Snippets of the radio come through and suddenly I’m having trippy dreams about the news stories.

I’m only startled out of these strange half-dreams at 6:45 when my kids run in and jump on the bed.

Nothing Helps

I’ve tried a simple buzzing alarm, bird song, wind chimes, classical music…

Waking up still sucks.

It’s not like I’m a night owl, either. It’s just that I could easily sleep 10 hours a night and still feel like I’m not getting enough.

What To Do?

I dunno. Any suggestions?

A change of diet perhaps? Or am I simply not a morning person and never will be?

Whatever the case, man. Waking up is hard to do.

Challenge Accepted

56. Photograph: Write a story or journal entry influenced by a photograph you see online or in a magazine.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Wait, What Challenge?

What is challenging about taking a selfie and posting it online?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve posted mine. But how many of the black and white “Challenge Accepted” Instagram photos you’ve seen in the last few days really say anything?

There is nothing challenging about putting a selfie on Instagram and writing some feel-good words about the women we love. It is just that: feel-good. It’s nice to see.

It’s not a challenge.

The Challenge is Facing Reality: Femicide

Why are these photos in black and white? It stems from a practice in Turkish media of publishing black and white photos of murder victims.

https://twitter.com/imaann_patel/status/1288080743198068736?s=21

The rate of femicide in Turkey, according to an article published in the Guardian, is shockingly high.

Most of these women have been murdered by a close male relative or acquaintance (husband, father, ex-boyfriend). Several individual, community and societal factors contribute to this high rate of femicide and violence against women.

This Problem Isn’t Just in Turkey

It might be easy for someone reading this in Europe or North America to think that this isn’t a problem here.

That is absolutely wrong.

According to the UN, rates of violence against women and girls have increased the world over since the beginning of the pandemic.

This isn’t just happening in Turkey, or in some other faraway country.

It’s happening in your home town.

A New Challenge

I’m no influencer. No celebrity. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and participated in these largely meaningless “challenges” before (anyone remember the black square from a couple months ago?).

But I do have this modest platform, and so I am challenging all the strong, beautiful, intelligent and wonderful women I know and love who read this to take action.

Donate to your local women’s shelter. Take food. Do some research into your area. Volunteer (where it’s safe, what with covid and all).

Also, if you buy frequently on Amazon, consider shopping at smile.amazon.com. There are hundreds of charities listed through smile.amazon and you can choose from national to local groups to support. Each time you purchase on through the smile.amazon url, a portion of your purchase is donated to the charity you select.

But Don’t Forget the Pics

I do love seeing the photos of the women I know and love.

Please keep ’em coming!

I’m just asking we add substance to the feel-good nature of the exercise.