Monday, August 5, 2013

I must learn to do nothing.

It has been a very long time since I've written and there are a variety of reasons for that.  This summer has been incredibly busy, and while that's no excuse for not doing something that I love to do, writing in general has had to take a backseat to several other things that have simply been more important to date. 

Between therapist appointments, doctors appointments, camps,  working occasionally, trips to the Jersey shore, and various other activities and things to fill the time/void left by the end of school , we have been running ragged since the end of June.

I have started and shelved so many columns since my last one that it seems almost laughable that this was once a space that I used regularly to write about things. But, who doesn't love a comeback?

Among the many columns I have started and put away since my New Year's Eve column of last year, I have written about Wildwood, Aspergers , other things in our family life, the challenges of creating an IEP, and the challenges of working in a family that is in transition.  I reflected a great deal on my role as a parent especially in the light of having worked in education for many years.  I wrote about returning to teaching in the form of doing a Sunday school class at our church.  I came to some very interesting realizations about the importance of Wildwood, New Jersey and my life as a young person and how it changed as an adult and yet, is still more vital every day that I live.

Occasionally I worked on the novel and the other two  fictional projects that I have in the hopper, but I've never seemed to have the time to really focus on making them good.

From a life perspective the Boyo  was invited to join the advanced academic program for next school year. I was named volunteer of the month at their school during the month of March.  The girls are great artists and are enjoying reading the first Oz book with me. The wife, as always is awesome. 

I still enjoy my part-time job when I am able to get there, and I like very much the people I work with. 

I have reflected very very very very deeply on the fact that when I graduated college, I set out to change the world as a teacher, then became an administrator, then walked away from it all to be a stay-at-home parent.  But that is nothing new to readers of this space. 

I can't possibly catch up on everything that has happened or been worthy of writing about since New Years, but I do have something to say today and I hope that you will forgive me the foregoing of the absolute catch-up and allowing me to share with you what is on my mind at this exact moment.  Ironically enough, it really does lend itself to blending all of the things that I mentioned above that have been on my mind since last year.

By way of starting, I'm going to share with you something that I wrote in my journal in May while in Wildwood with the family for a few days. 

"It has been a long day, but sitting here with the sound of the ocean around after an overall successful day, it's hard to be irritated.  Everyone but me is asleep, and I've got
the balcony to myself and I can just make out the incoming surf in the distance. Oceanview does not stink.

I think Wildwood, and the Jersey shore in general means something different to me now than it did when I was a kid... I think that for me it has always been important but now, getting to our house in Wildwood when the wife retires is the ultimate goal-that she and I will get to retire here and grow old here and that we get to have that life that we've envisioned in that home.  That is the hope for the future, a life there... I know a lot of people see the beach, or the shore, or whatever their escape is as just that, an escape. But what I have found is that Wildwood for me now, while it is important to my family's past it is now my family's future and that means something different to me now as an adult.  

My children have fallen in love with Wildwood, in no small amount due to the fact that when we have gone there, we have kind of embrace the power of 'yes we can.'  I make no apologies for that.  There is a genuine and tangible future at work and in play for us and our family here in Wildwood, I hope it all happens as we have hoped."

Those were my thoughts when we visited back in May, and our visit again in July did absolutely nothing to change my particular feelings on the matter. 

That said, as I sat poolside here in Denver Colorado, tagging along with my wife on her work trip, I had some different thoughts about the way that we vacation, and perhaps something I missed in my recollections of Wildwood trips as a kid. 

Full disclosure: I am exhausted.  I have never felt this stretched thin in my entire life.  My household is one that is absolutely full of love, but there are daily challenges in terms of how we get along.  Based on our research about the medical issues we're facing, and the advice of our experts, it has often been our predilection to make things as structured and scheduled as possible, so as to limit the downtime or "boring time" so that there's as little room as possible for meltdowns. Sometimes, that has worked.

Another full disclosure, is that my wife and I have always prided ourselves on going on vacation, and not being "lazy. ". We always went out of our way to find out what was fun to do and what was interesting to see and we always had to have something on the agenda for the day while we are away, including are absolutely fabulous honeymoon and Ireland.  That's really kind of who we were, and while that is still very much an aspect of the way we like to travel, I learned something today during the two hours I sat by the pool here in Denver.

I woke up early and I did my workouts, and I had some breakfast, and then I looked at the day and figured I would go into the city.  I couldn't relax and I couldn't think of anything else to do so I figured I would go to the Denver Art Museum, but didn't bother even with all of my research to realize until I was standing in front of the locked door that they're closed on Mondays.  So, I decided to make a plan B and checked out one of the local craft breweries that I didn't see during last years semi exhaustive brewery tour of Denver.  You may remember, that last summer I put myself on assignment in both Indianapolis and Denver to write about many of the different craft breweries and filed a decent number of words and columns as a result. 

While I had a really good time being on assignment in Indianapolis and in Denver last summer, I realized something as I walked around Denver today looking for something to do: the activities that I was looking at and the things that I was doing were not doing the most important thing that I needed them to do in that moment, which was to help me relax and decompress from the incredibly difficult summer that we have had.  The Spring wasn't much better. I won't go into all of the details, but please be rest assured that we have been as a family nonstop traveling between activity to activity to appointment to appointment to destination to destination without the time so much as to sit down and take a deep breath.

When I was growing up, my family always used to have a hard time understanding why, when we went to the beach, even if it was just Island Beach State Park for an afternoon, I couldn't just sit and relax and enjoy the moment and breathe. I used to give them grief about that.   

While I still maintain that I do rather enjoy active trips where I am doing something and seeing cool somethings, I am disappointed that I didn't realize until this afternoon, after forcing myself to come back to the hotel and sit by the pool and listen to music and relax that i have a serious need to actually do/think about absolutely nothing for a while or I'm going to be worthless to my family. I watched clouds in the Denver sky change into different shapes, and didn't take pictures of them with my phone and post them to instagram, though that was partially because it was up in the room charging but I'd like to think I would've refrained otherwise.

I used to think that I was really capable of embracing the Hawaiian ideal of "no worries" and about living on island time. But I have learned that it's increasingly difficult living in a place like Northern Virginia where the case is beyond anything that I have ever experienced before.  I say "no worries" all the time, in conversation, and pretty much any other time I'm opening my mouth, but in the end there's a lot of worries and I think I need to learn how to deal with them in a more productive way sometimes-perhaps thats going to have to be by choosing to do absolutely nothing at all which I just may spend the rest of this time in Denver doing. 

My tan will improve at least.  But I need to slow down.  I'll try to write more.