Monday, March 20, 2017

senior discounts for busy days

The nice young lady at Dunkin Donuts gave me the Senior Discount today. And, I’m being honest when I tell you that my first reaction was not sadness or anger at being mistaken for someone eligible for AARP benefits, or even surprise. The first thing I felt was guilt. I’m not supposed to get the senior discount. I’m supposed to pay full price. Will this young person get in trouble for giving a senior discount without checking first? If I take it won’t I be cheating the company, and ultimately the workers?

After grabbing the pastry (that I ordered for my daughter, in case you’re reading the earlier post on how I want to build strength and health) she half winked and said she knew I didn’t get the senior discount, but she gave it to me. Phew, guilt trip over. She hadn’t made a mistake that was going to get her in trouble, she made a choice of her own free will.

I know what you’re thinking (because I thought it too). Another employee probably said something to her, or she noticed me smiling at the note on the cash register, and she didn’t want me to feel bad. I don’t feel bad. I don’t color the white and grey out of my hair, I have lots of wrinkles around my eyes from smiling, and I was wearing one of those Monday morning teacher blouses that gives a comfortable professionalism to my outfit. Young people don’t know how to judge age for anyone more than 5 years older than themselves. My students guess my age at anywhere between 25 and 60 and to them, that’s all the same – old. I’m 47. Some days I feel 27, some days 67, most days I don’t feel an age at all. But I digress.

When I got into my car and felt my whole body begin to give in to exhaustion, I started to wonder if I looked older this afternoon than usual, prompting the 5% savings. I got to work early this morning to prepare a few things but spent all my time trying to get the technology I needed for my first group to work. I finally got it to work, only to have it crap out on my again once the students where there, forcing me to rework my entire lesson plan on the spot. Then I had to give a standardized test to my 4th graders, on the computers (which did work, for the most part.) And then I supervised a pair of student teachers while they taught their first science lesson to elementary students. And throughout the day I comforted Lila who’s stomach hurt, I tried to help Junior find his calm and be able to stay in one place long enough to get some work done, I got help for Michael who was too upset to talk to me and too out of control to stay in class, I cleaned stray books and paper from the floor so the mouse that I’ve been seeing lately wouldn’t nibble holes in them, I searched everywhere for the master of the Math test I need to copy, I read through my notes to make sure I was ready for an Education Justice meeting tomorrow, I made a list of al the things I need to get done that I didn’t get done today, and I texted back and forth with my teenager who did not get the trip to Germany that she interviewed for over the weekend.

I was exhausted and I must have looked it.

Some days, it feels like I run all day and get nothing accomplished. Today was one of those days. But, once home I helped my daughters get ready to go to band practice and cooked a small dinner for my husband who had to run right out to a meeting, and I hopped on the treadmill for 20 minutes, and threw in some laundry, and got the dishwasher started. I was still running, but I decided to notice my accomplishments.

The on the fly lesson went well and gave the kids a foundation of knowledge I wanted them to have today. I gave the student teachers some helpful feedback. Lila felt better after some kind attention. Junior found his calm for most of the day. Michael returned to class ready to learn. There was no new evidence of visits by the mouse. My daughter knows she has much to be proud of to even have earned eligibility for that German trip. My husband was able to eat and rest before driving off. And I exercised.

I probably still look old. But I feel great.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

no Michelle Obama arms here - but a little of her moxie

I'm a few years from my 50th birthday, but I can see and feel my body aging. Yesterday morning I was shocked to see the fat in my forearms. I have always wished to have Michelle Obama arms, though I’ve never worked for them. I walk (sometimes I’m up to a jog) on the treadmill 3 - 5 times a week unless I get to walk outside. I even own a few light hand weights and have been known to do some calisthenics. But, I am not an athlete and often choose other ways to spend my time than exercise.
Still, those forearms kind of took me by surprise. And I won’t lie, I started immediately to beat myself up about them.
But part of my goal this year, still a few away from 50, is to take action. I can’t travel back in time and not eat the Moosetracks frozen yogurt with chocolate jimmies, nor would I likely make that choice should Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine become available to me. Heck, keeping on this trend of honesty, I’ll likely have a cup of Moosetacks this weekend.
My one little word isn’t about completely changing who I am or drastically altering my habits. Action for me is thinking about what I do each day and want to do each day and am hesitant or afraid to do each day and take an action regarding it. While I would like better looking arms, when I stop to really reflect on it what I really want is strength. My flabby arms are not very strong and I want to be able tote around grandchildren one day, to be able to haul my bags through the airport when my husband and I tour Europe for out 50th anniversary.

I wonder if I can focus on strength without chastising myself for all my past bad choices.
I wonder if my focus on strength can help guide me to better choices in food and activity.
I wonder if I can really accept that, while I might gain strength I probably won’t lose all the flab.
I wonder if I can ever completely see myself the way I think my dear husband does.

I was tired today, so walked at a slow pace on the treadmill. I stopped after only 20 minutes because I wanted to make sure I could get some supper on the table in time for the family to eat together before we each got to evening activities. But since stepping off that treadmill I have taken action to do things in line with the life I want to live. I read for my book club, I planned mini-lessons for my struggling students, I wrote to hone my skills. 
My arms are still flabby, but my resolve is firm.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Do not repeal the ACA

An open letter to my representatives:

My daughter has not been hospitalized for over 6 years now (knock wood). What's kept her out of the hospital is the daily regime of medication that keeps her chronic asthma under control. And, we keep our medicine cabinet filled with those medications because we can. Half the time I pick up her prescriptions and have to pay no more at the counter than my signature. Because, both my husband and I work. What's more, he works in high tech, for a company that makes quality insurance available to their employees. And if he didn't, we could go on my municipality's insurance program, constantly defended by my teacher's union so that teachers and their families can stay healthy. Most days, I don't think twice about health insurance. Our plan lets us choose almost any doctor, my daughter's maintenance drugs are covered, my husband's employer even matches a certain percentage of our deposits into our Health Savings Account. 

A few months ago, my daughter turned 18. And a few days ago, the Republican Administration announced their plan to overhaul healthcare coverage. 

I can still hide in my middle class bubble. As long as we, her parents, have the means we will always make sure our daughter has the medications she needs. And we live in Massachusetts which has a much better track record of taking care of its citizens than some others. I'm lucky. We are lucky.

But, my sisters and brothers in Wyoming, Arizona, and Puerto Rico are not so lucky.

I think the administration is counting on my silent complicity. And it makes sense, I have been silent for a long time, focused inward on my own family, my own daughter's breath. And honestly, there were some nights where my daughter's breath was the only thing I could be asked to focus on. 
But she hasn't been hospitalized for 6 years (should I knock wood again?). Her prescriptions are ready at the pharmacy. I have room in my day to focus elsewhere. And, I see that I can not be silently complicit anymore. 

As a Massachusetts voter, as a concerned citizen of the United States, I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure access to quality health care for every person in this country. The current plan backed by the Republican Administration is insufficient. It will bankrupt young women like my daughter who need to take medication every day to breathe. It will encourage risky balancing acts as people decide which medical advice they can afford to follow. It will profit a few at the expense of many. 

Our government of the people, by the people, FOR the people has an opportunity to fix those aspects of the Affordable Care Act that need tending. But, don't let them throw the baby out with the bathwater. Please defend the Affordable Health Care Act and the people who rely on it for coverage. Please defend the millions of Americans who do not have my middle class privilege, who do not have working parents to fall back on, who do not have generous employers or vocal unions, who do not have savings. Let's take care of ensuring access to health care so the next scared parent can just focus on her daughter's breath.

I am sending this letter to all of my federal representatives, to the President, and to the Speaker of the House. Because I will not be silent.