Archives

Resolved: No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

2017 New Year's Resolutions

No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions for me: I’m doing what I did last year. Find what makes you happy and do more of it.

Resolved: Make No 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of this New Year I am making no new 2017 New Year’s resolutions. Except maybe that I will continue doing what I’m already doing.

I know  2016 was a rotten year for many people. But it was a pretty good personal one for me even though Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election. Now my stoic old heart is broken and the whole country is DOOMED. (I’m STILL With Her, by the way.)

Last year I stopped caring about a lot of things that had hindered me ‘lo these many years…61 to be exact.

I stopped worrying about what other people think of me. I finally like me…and really…isn’t that enough?

So, if I were to make some 2017  New Year’s resolutions, I would just stick with what is working for me.

  • I stopped putting myself down. No, I didn’t suddenly become an arrogant asshole. I merely stopped saying self-deprecating things, trying to make other people feel OK by pointing out all my flaws. I finally learned that when I do that, all they can see is my flaws.  And they think less of me for them. I still tell funny stories about myself, but not to make other people feel better.  I no longer spill the beans on all my insecurities.
  • Ironically, I also stopped telling other people the “great things” I have done. I stopped being so insecure that I had to point out that I also might, maybe, possibly be worthy of their attention.as-far-as-i-know-im-delightful
  • I stopped worrying about how I look. Yes…I still shower and wash my hair and occasionally wear make-up. I quit reading articles about how to look younger. I am 61 years old and I am quite fine with that, thank you very much. I look like I’m 61…and I am fine with that as well.
  • I stopped focusing on how fat I am.  I bought some larger pants that feel good when I wear them. Yes, they have elastic in the waist and I am grateful for that. It leaves my mind open to think about things I like to think about, like:

falling leaves,

happiness,

how good the winter sun feels on my face,

planning a doll house and making the furniture,

illustrating a book,

taking a walk,

reading a good book,

and hanging out with my grandkids.

I no longer focus on my uncomfortable britches. 🙂 🙂  🙂 Whew!

  • I stopped making excuses. If I don’t want to do something and I’m questioned about it, I say “Because I don’t want to.” If I want to do something…and someone questions me about my choices, I answer “Because I want to.” Next Question.
  • In 2016 I spent a lot of time thinking, laughing, working at things I enjoyed, writing, pursuing what is really important to me, traveling to places I’d never been, and looking at eagles and stars in the sky. It made me happy. Very happy indeed.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heeded is this: Find what makes you happy and do more of that.

I did. I am. And in 2017, I think I’ll just keep on doing that.

 

 

The Worst Christmas Presents Ever

The Worst Christmas Presents Ever

by Peggy Browning

worst Christmas presents ever

Life is good. Live, laugh, love…and enjoy it. But don’t give this cup as a Christmas gift.

 

Ho ho ho. So here it is…that most jolly of seasons when everyone is merrily skittering around…filling their shopping baskets with gifts for giving to others. They are happy and excited, trying to choose just the right gift. Unlike me, they are not giving the worst Christmas presents ever.

They’re choosing presents for people they love, people they like, and probably for a few people they don’t even like, but feel obligated to buy a gift for.

They are buying wrapping paper and tape…ribbons and bows…and festive Zip-Loc bags to wrap up all those precious presents they are sure the recipients will love…or at least like…or not exchange for a gift card.

I don’t like gift giving season. In fact, I kind of hate it. I suck at gift giving.

I’m serious. I am a terrible gift giver. Nobody wants to get a gift from me. Because I give the worst Christmas presents ever.

No one wants me to draw their name from the Christmas hat. No one want s me to be their Secret Santa. Even my kids don’t like to get gifts from me.

I am notorious for giving bad gifts. I have no excuse for it. I’m just truly bad at it.

One year, I gave my grandson a huge package of various sized batteries, a battery organizer, and a big orange box to store his other junk in. He loves batteries…he needs batteries for many of his toys…he loves to put stuff in boxes…orange is his favorite color.

So that’s what I gave him. I was so pleased with myself for finding that battery organizer and the orange box.

Needless to say, the gift was less than impressive. My present was questionable among all the other packages. The faces of the adults present said “What the hell, Grandma?”

OK…so I give the worst Christmas presents ever!Whaddya want me to do about it?

Last year, the same kid won an award in Cub Scouts for baking cupcakes or something. I was so proud of him!

So I made him an apron and bought some cake mixes and cans of icing and mailed them to him so he could bake cupcakes in style. Little did I know that the Cub Scout thing was a one-time activity to earn a cooking badge.  He’s not that fond of cooking and the gift of that manly-looking apron elicited another look of, “What the hell, Grandma?”

So that apron landed on the list of one of the worst Christmas presents ever.

One Christmas, my son Ben asked me, “Are you giving us more of that home-made crap this year?” He was about 19. So…no…there was no home-made crap that year. Honestly, until that time, I had thought my hand-crafted gifts were appreciated. . C’est la vie…you never can tell.

Fewer people are traumatized by my presents these days because I have stopped giving Xmas gifts to people who are not my grandchildren.  I do still try to give them something that makes them smile.

So I give them what I loved as a kid. They get a new pair of pajamas, a new Christmas tree ornament, and a flashlight.

I loved my warm pajamas. Our house was always cold because we had open flame butane heaters and my mother was afraid we would die of carbon monoxide poisoning if the fires burned after we went to bed. Flannel pajamas were greatly appreciated. (and lots of heavy quilts.)

I loved our Christmas tree as well as the old glass ornaments. We didn’t buy new ornaments every year, nor did we decorate with a theme. Our tree had ornaments that had weathered many a Christmas season. Each one was unpacked and hung on the tree with a child’s wonder. I still have my very favorite one…the one with Silent Night and a frosty old church inscribed on it.

I loved flashlights. We lived in the country, where the nights were dark and the stars shone bright and the Milky Way was visible. We didn’t have mercury vapor lights way back then…or at least we didn’t. So if you needed to check on a sound outside, or walk to the barn to check on a cow, or make shadow figures on the ceiling…a flashlight was a necessary part of life.

Here’s my wish for everyone on my very small gift list: Be warm…Be happy and filled with wonder…and Let your light Shine.

So that’s what my four favorite people get. Warmth, Wonder, and Light.

Everybody else gets…well…nothing. Settle down…I’m saving you from experiencing the worst Christmas gifts ever. Don’t be disappointed.  At least you didn’t get any home-made crap from me this year!

2016 Election, Air Pollution, & My Mental Health

My Rosy Outlook is being disrupted by the 2016 Election.

women over 50

stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

Breathe, Peggy, just breathe…

I’m having a grouchy day today. To be more accurate, I should add that I’ve also had a grouchy week. And probably 15 months of grouchiness. How long can this damn 2016 Election last?

I have no personal reason to be grouchy. My life right now (and I emphasize right now because experience tells me that it could change tomorrow) is pretty great.

I live in a nice-enough apartment with a comfortable bed, food, water, and heat & cooling. I am well-clothed. I have good health; my cholesterol and glucose are well within the normal limits. My grandchildren live within easy visiting distance.

I am pursuing one of my life’s idealistic dreams of serving in Americorps/VISTA. I work with people I like and respect and I am proud to be a part of that enterprise that serves my country.

I exercise daily and take my anti-depressants and vitamins religiously. I meditate and pray and count my blessings. I laugh and smile A LOT. I tell jokes. I hug people…even the 20 second hug that is supposed to be life-changing and affirming.

And yet…I can’t shake this underlying vague anger and anxiety that’s bothered me now for a week or longer.

The only thing I can blame this grouchy demeanor on is this: election fatigue.

The 2016 Election has gone on way too long.

I know we’re all tired of hearing about this election and  all the ugliness that is hurled outwardly through the media by sparring campaigners.

  • The accusing rhetoric
  • The threats
  • The Rebel flags
  • The white hoods
  • The racism
  • The out and out lies
  • FBI, Russia, email hacks

I am having trouble breathing with all this BS floating around in the air.

All of it is toxic air pollution, as deadly as any smog, smoke, exhaust fumes, or burning coal could ever be. It makes it hard for me to breathe and I seriously need to breathe…in with the good…out with the bad. In with the happy…out with the grouchy.

It feels too late to ask people to talk about the issues. I’m pretty sure that all the real issues of this campaign have been forsaken to make the point that America is not great, that America is in the shitter, that America…Land That I Love…is doomed. Doomed, I say.

I am disappointed that all these ugly accusations have clouded the real issues of this campaign. I am incredibly disappointed that we have sunk so low that we resort to fear-mongering and name-calling. And I am immeasurably disappointed that so many people seem to have such little grasp of history.

I am so tired. I can’t wait until November 9…I plan to sleep late and I pray the pollution will have cleared when I awake.

I need to breathe again. And I’d really like to lose the grouchy attitude and anger and anxiety.

 

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies and Real Life Consequences

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies and Real Life Consequences

 

By Peggy Browning

 

Transgender bathroom policies have real life consequences.

I need to pee. Where can I go? Not here, not there, not anywhere.
Public School Transgender bathroom policies have real life consequences.

Please allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you about the real life consequences of public school transgender bathroom policies.

I taught for 16 years in Texas public schools. The last two years were spent as home-bound education coordinator for a school system with an enrollment of 14,000+ students.  My job was to teach students who were unable to attend school due to health reasons including cancer, mononucleosis, surgery, broken bones, bone marrow transplants, mental health issues, and various other causes. A physician prescribed placement to home-bound instruction if the illness was determined to impede the student’s ability to attend school on campus.

In 2010, the Texas Education Agency allowed students up to four hours per week of home-bound instruction. A teacher goes to the student’s home or to an appointed meeting place and provides four hours of direct instruction. Usually that instruction time was divided in two 2-hour periods two times per week.

It is the home-bound teacher’s responsibility to gather all work from other teachers and the child’s campus and help the student do the assigned work. The teacher then acts as a liaison between the campus and the student and returns the work, etc. to the original teacher who then grades and records the result and assigns grades for the time period whether it is a semester, a six weeks period, nine weeks or whatever.

So…a student was assigned to me for home-bound services. A junior high student…with problems other than physical ailments. This student was transgender and was causing a kerfuffle about using the restroom.

The student, who I will call Charlie, had other issues, like an un-diagnosed learning disability, anxiety, and being a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Those issues alone were enough to create problems for the kid. Unfortunately, lots of kids have those same issues.

However, the one issue that set Charlie apart and adrift from the public school system was being transgender.

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies

Public School Transgender bathroom policies

Charlie wore skirts, cute shoes, make-up and had a really cute hair-do. (Image purchased from canstockphoto.com)

 

Charlie was in 8th grade and wore skirts, cute shoes, and make-up and had a great hair-do. Charlie identified in every way as a female, except one: genitalia.  Charlie had a penis, so was expected to use the boys’ restroom.

And that, along with other things, caused a shit storm at the junior high.

Charlie was assigned to the special school for emotionally disturbed kids where students received counseling and attended small classes with specially trained teachers. But Charlie couldn’t stay there forever due to funding and insurance and budget cuts and all that stuff.

And Charlie couldn’t return to the junior high campus because the tide had already turned there and Charlie wasn’t really welcome any more. There were too many problems with bullying and bathrooms and dress code violations.

 

 

So, Charlie became my student and we had a great time twice a week trying to learn basic geometry and the fricking Pythagorean theorem. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but we talked a lot about life. And about being different. And about being OK with yourself. And about God loving you for who you are…because if you believe in God, you have to believe that God made you that way.

And if you believe only in DNA, then you have to believe your DNA made you that way. Either way, you have to accept yourself whether other people accept you or not.

But here is another major issue that Charlie and I faced…

You don’t get a lot of education in four hours per week… even with a fantastic teacher like me. 

 

The Consequences of Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies

The consequences of the public school transgender bathroom policies brouhaha at the school district resulted in Charlie basically being denied a FAPE … a Free Appropriate Public Education, which is the legal right of every student who is attending a public school in every single state in the United States.

That is the law. That is Title IX. That is the legal right of every public school student.

So, school districts across ‘Mureca…get your act together and decide how everyone on campus can use the bathroom in peace and harmony.

It is your legal obligation to provide the Free Appropriate Public Education that is due each and every child no matter whether they sit down or stand up to pee.

And while you’re looking at those requirements, you need to examine the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, too. No matter how you classify a student, everyone has the right to use the restroom at school.

And for my dear friend and lovely human being, Charlie…this one is just for you. I believe that United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch is looking out for your best interests.

The horrifying experience in a Target bathroom that I won’t soon forget

We all knew something terrible could happen in those Target restrooms, now didn’t we? 

This is an article by Ellie DeLano, a SheKnows Expert from SheKnows.com. She was way more kind than I think I would have been.

I am thinking now of what I would have done in this situation and kind of hoping something similar happens to me.

Because I know what I will do if it should happen to me.

I will peek back. 

News, email and search are just the beginning. Discover more every day. Find your yodel.

Source: The horrifying experience in a Target bathroom that I won’t soon forget

National Teacher’s Day: My Favorite Teacher

National Teacher's Day

National Teacher’s Day
Image by Paul Gooddy/freedigitalphotos.net

Most of us have a teacher who encouraged us to become our best. On National Teacher’s Day, I wish to honor my favorite teacher, Mrs. Wilma Skinner.

by Peggy Browning

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” — Carl Jung

National Teacher’s Day Tribute to Mrs. Wilma Skinner

I have no doubt that teachers make a difference in children’s lives. Mrs. Wilma Skinner was the teacher who made the biggest impact on my life. She died twenty years ago at the age of 68 from complications of a stroke.

Mrs. Skinner’s death  was properly noted in the obituary section of this newspaper. The notice named her loving children, the time of the funeral service and a few of the accomplishments she achieved during her lifetime.

When I read the announcement of Mrs. Skinner’s death, I could only feel that the obituary was incomplete. It correctly stated that she was a retired teacher who taught at Midway and Bellevue Schools and Midwestern State University but said nothing of what a wise and wonderful woman she was. It never mentioned the impact she had on the lives of at least two generations of students from the tiny country schools where she taught.

Perhaps that was because there isn’t enough room in an entire newspaper to tell what Mrs. Skinner gave her students. A few inches in the obituary section certainly couldn’t cover the importance of her influence in our lives.

To fully describe Mrs. Skinner would have required interviews with all the people who loved her. And there were many of us.

Simply put, Mrs. Skinner was the best teacher I have ever known. I had the good fortune to be her student for several years. Mrs. Skinner taught fifth and sixth grade reading, handwriting, and grammar at small, rural, Midway School situated between the communities of Joy and Bluegrove, Texas.

I loved my first grade teacher, my second grade teacher, and my third grade teacher. I was afraid of my fourth grade teacher. In fifth grade,  Mrs. Skinner became my most very favorite teacher ever and she remains so today. I mourned when I had to leave her class to go on to the  7th grade even though at Midway that meant that you only moved down the long hall to the other end of the school.

And then I rejoiced in 8th grade when Mrs. Skinner “graduated” to high school where she became the junior high and high school English teacher.

Mrs. Skinner had that rare ability to detect your hidden strengths and praise you for them. She challenged  us to do our very best, but never chastised us if we fell short of her expectations. She knew our talents and she had faith that eventually we would recognize them too..

I feel like Mrs. Skinner taught me almost every important thing that I know. She certainly gave me many of the skills that I use every day. She taught me everything I know about writing: correct usage of grammar and not to add a bunch of baloney to your story just to fill up space.

Mrs. Skinner shared her love of the written word with us and allowed us to develop our own love of it. She encouraged us to find words of our own and gave us the knowledge we needed to do it.

I have many beloved memories of Wilma Skinner.

I remember her patience while she tried to teach me the finer points of handwriting in 5th grade. I remember that she practiced with me after school to prepare for the district spelling bee. I also remember my pride when she reported in her current events section on the blackboard that I won 3rd place in that competition.

I even remember her amused expression when she explained that “motley” had meanings other than this little country girl’s definition of an “old, motley-faced cow.”

I remember her merrily singing “O, Henry “ at the top of her lungs on the school bus during annual class trips to Wichita Falls. And I remember her laughing after Junior Smothers told a ribald joke in the school hallway when he thought she was out of earshot.

Mrs. Skinner introduced us to Shakespeare and William Faulkner, Sara Teasdale and the Bronte’ sisters, Edgar Allen Poe and Christina Rosetti. She showed us a world beyond the dairy farms and ranches where we lived: a world of dreams where anything we aspired to was possible. She showed us our potential and gave us the belief that we could accomplish whatever we desired to do. And she did so with compassion and understanding.

12 book categories to read this year

Mrs. Skinner shared her love of the written word with us.
image by freedigitalphotos.net

Mrs. Skinner understood that we needed to know more about life skills than about language skills and she proceeded to tell us some of the lessons she had learned.

National Teacher’s Day

When I had a mad crush on a boy who had more looks than brains and who didn’t reciprocate my affection, Mrs. Skinner kindly told me that boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they. She added that I should never pretend to be dumb, but instead to look for boys who were as smart as I.

Once when I was still in “flower child” mode, she and I debated over the goodness that I believed existed in everyone. She believed the opposite. In the years after high school I often thought of that when I encountered those people who are not inherently good. Only then did I appreciate her wise counsel.

Mrs. Skinner was not the teacher to whom you went with your problems, although you could have done that and she would have listened.

No, she was the teacher with whom you shared your dreams and knew she could give you credible advice and would never make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with your feelings. She was the one who validated your ticket to fly among the stars.

I still cherish a worn piece of paper with a descriptive essay written upon it. Not because I received an ‘A’ on my effort, but because Mrs. Skinner  added “beautiful”  next to the grade. It is tucked away among my treasures because her favor is still valuable to me.

I always felt like I was Mrs. Skinner’s “special student.” So did everyone else.

She had the gift of making all her students feel special. Perhaps it was because she really believed they were.

Years after I graduated from Midway High School and became a teacher myself, I asked Mrs. Skinner how she always managed to treat her students with such respect and caring. She told me she prayed every morning for them and asked for wisdom and the ability to teach them the things they needed to know.

I hope she rests well knowing her prayers were answered.

 

Why do we wait until National Teacher’s Day to honor our favorite teacher?

See You Are Safe with Me