Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Still Here

If you've been a regular reader of AnceStories, or one of my long-time geneablogger friends, I'm sure you've noticed that my posting has gone down next to nothing since October 4th, with the exception of last month's Scanfest and a couple of pre-scheduled posts that slipped through. I wanted to assure you that I am still here. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you're already aware of that fact, since I have remained fairly active over there. So why has my blogging slowed down?

1. I've been busy. October was Family History Month. I taught a three-hour class for Community Colleges of Spokane, two sessions for the Hayden 4th Ward Family History Center's Fall Family History Seminar near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and was the featured speaker at the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society's Fall Workshop, presenting four sessions there in Colville, Washington.

I've also been taking a spinning class three times a week since the beginning of October. It's an hour and 15 minute stationary bike workout. I also try to get in some sort of exercise on the weekends. Add in travel time to the class and showering and it takes up a good chunk of my day. It's been well worth it, though; I've lost 18 pounds and dropped nearly two sizes in a little over two months!

2. I've been overwhelmed at work. When people hear that I work with special needs children, I think many of them get a visual image of a bunch of roly-poly, good-natured students with Down's Syndrome. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never worked with a Down's Syndrome kiddo in my life. My students, for the most part, look fairly normal and you might never guess they are mentally retarded unless you asked them to read something for you or do a simple real-life math problem like read an analog clock or count some change. Because of confidentiality reasons, I have to tread lightly here, but it's not unusual for some of our students to be dealing with mental health issues and/or behavior issues as well as their disabilities. If you knew about the homes that many of them come from, the poverty they live in, and recognized that most of them are second- or third-generation disabled individuals, you would realize that their disabilities are often the least of their worries. Throw in changing hormones and regular teen behaviors--because after all, they ARE hitting puberty--and you can see how chaotic things can be.

This year, we had a number of new students enroll in our classroom that have severe behavior issues, to the point that the district recently installed what is politically-correctly referred to as a "Quiet Room." This is basically a padded, lighted, miniature room complete with a ceiling and floor. It has a door with no handle on the inside and a small shatter-proof window within the door for observation. This room is considered a safe place for an out-of-control student to pull him- or herself together without harming self or any other student or staff member. And yes, we have had to use it fairly often. (There are times when we as staff members would love to have our own Quiet Room!)

Additionally, the paperwork continues to increase. The district went to new software for attendance and grades and the state changed the recording of IEPs (individual education plans - all SpEd students must have one updated every year) from paper to computer. This has created a learning curve on top of the amount of time it takes to record data. My supervisor and both of my co-instructional assistants, by their own admission, are not computer persons by any means, so I have been busy helping them figure things out, technology wise. I've also had my own lesson plans and grading to complete.

3. I'm tired. If the work load weren't enough, I've been having what I will delicately state as "health problems" for nearly four months now. Numerous possible causes (including cancer) have all been ruled out, thankfully, and I am finally scheduled for a minor surgical procedure this coming Wednesday, which should hopefully end this situation. But because of the hormonal effect, I have been pretty exhausted and ready for bed fairly early every evening.

4. I've been depressed. While my fluctuating hormones have certainly been a contributor, it's also just been a difficult time in my life, anyway. My husband has been unemployed for nearly 18 months, and the last six months has not qualified for Unemployment Insurance. This is the third major stretch of unemployment we have gone through in the last 17 years. You can't go through this sort of thing without it affecting your marriage, your finances, and hopes and plans for the future. And please, please, please don't send me ideas on how my husband could find work or go back to school. You don't know all the details involved in this and there's nothing more depressing than getting unsolicited advice, unless it's being asked for the 47th time if he's found a job yet.

Additionally, it's sort of a subclause of Murphy's Law that when you have the least amount of money to work with, that's when everything starts breaking down. It's almost a dark comedy to watch things fall apart one at a time, from vehicles to computers to appliances.

5. But I still have hope. One of the blessings about getting older, I believe, is the gift of perspective. You realize when life throws something--or a few somethings--bad your way that you will survive it. It's still no fun to go through it, but you know it will eventually end. And it makes you infinitely grateful for every good thing you do have, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem.

So thank you for bearing with me through this long post and through a long dry spell of blogging. I can't guarantee that I will start cranking out daily posts anytime soon, but I have no plans to stop blogging or take this blog down. I owe apologies to all those individuals and institutions that sent me press releases in the last six weeks that I did not post. I also owe Leslie Albrecht Huber a book review on her fabulous The Journey Takers. I'm sorry I haven't been promoting the carnivals and Shades. We'll still have Scanfest next Sunday, unless for some strange reason I don't recover from my procedure as quickly as expected.

To my American readers, have a blessed Thanksgiving; and to all of you, be sure to take some time to think about all the wonderful people and things and values you have in your life.

32 comments:

Taneya said...

Miriam, thanks for the updates. of course you need to focus on your family and responsibilities first! no matter how often you post, we are all still here following. :)

Thomas MacEntee said...

Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers this Thanksgiving.

I admire your positive attitude in the face of such diversity - it is what got our ancestors through their various travails.

Miriam said...

Thomas, thank you. I think about my ancestors a lot lately; they are truly an inspiration and the difficulties I have are nothing in comparison to what many of them endured.

Taneya, thank you. Even though I haven't been blogging, I have been enjoying just being a blog reader and appreciating all the great writing that geneabloggers such as yourself are posting.

Kerry Scott said...

I'm really sorry you're going through all of this. I hope things get better soon.

Judy said...

I am not a frequent commenter, but yours is one of my favorite blogs. I'm glad to hear that you are persevering and will keep you in my thoughts and try to beam positive energy your way.

Bill West said...

Miriam, your health and own sanity take precedence over the blog, I agree. Just know I and the rest of the genealogy bloggers are keeping good thoughts and prayers for you and your husband.

Miriam said...

Thank you, Judy and Kerry. One of the things I'm most grateful for is our geneablogging community. We are there for each other through good times and bad.

Miriam said...

Thank you, Bill. However, I cannot guarantee that my sanity was ever at a normal level BEFORE all the troubles! After all, I AM an obsessed genealogist!

GrannyPam said...

Just when I was temped to feel a little down in the dumps, comes a post with a thoughtful, positive attitude under difficult circumstances. I know you will make it through this, as you have other challenges.

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

Miriam,
Sending you energy, strength, and a protective layer of prayer. Thanks so much for the update.

Wishing you a holiday season full of family, friends, and love!

Claudia's Genealogy Blog said...

My husband was unemployed for two years and it was the toughest time in our marriage. It was depressing, frustrating and I felt that if he wasn't working perhaps he should have helped more around the house while I was at work.

I realize not that it was his depression causing his lack of motivation.

Somehow it passes and at 43 he started a new career.

Apple said...

Miriam, I hope all goes well on Wednesday and I'll be thinking of you and sending good thoughts westward. I understand depression and how it affects all aspects of your life. Continuing to look for positives, no matter how small helps me get through. I have worked with the type of kids you do and know I could not do it on a daily basis, God bless you that you can. Hang in there! {{Hugs}}

Carol said...

Miriam,

We all have bad times, and as we get older, many (maybe even, most) of us have health issues. No fun, we all know that. But, we face it, and deal with it the best we can, and believe me, in my experience, some days are better than others. So, take one day at a time.

Good luck with your procedure, may the dr's be on the top of their surgical game. Rest if they say to, and we will all say a bunch of prayers that you heal quickly.

Just reading about your job makes me so tired I wanna climb in bed and not come out for a month of Sundays. YIKES! Bless you for working with these young adults.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

Miriam, sending love and prayers your way. I, too, admire your positive attitude!

Greta Koehl said...

I have been to many of the places where you are right now and you have my 200 percent sympathy/empathy as well as my prayers and good wishes. I especially know how all the household malfunctions and bad money stuff happen at the same time. But I have noticed that good things often happen in bunches, too, so I try to treat our bad times as "paying our dues." Wishing for breakthroughs with your students, a break for your husband, good health for you, and a fantastic happy-dance-inspiring family history discovery to boot!

Cheryl Palmer said...

Hi Miriam, I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you, and wishing you strength, love and continued optimism for all you are enduring. Take the time you need for yourself...it so important. We will all be waiting for you when you are ready to return. Best wishes for your procedure! May you have a blessed Thanksgiving and may the tables turn!

Miriam said...

My friends, thank you so much for all your kind words. One of my favorite movies is It's a Wonderful Life. At the end, the Angel Clarence leaves a gift for George Bailey, his copy of Tom Sawyer, with an inscription that includes, "No man is a failure who has friends." Not that I feel like I'm a failure, but the lesson is that friends are the best wealth indeed!

Jasia said...

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Miriam. What a difficult time you've had! I'm so sorry to hear it. As the holidays approach and the end of the year draws to a close, I hope you are surrounded by those you love most and that God gives you the strength you need to to preserver. Perhaps 2011 will be the turn around point for you and you husband. I truly hope so!

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Hugs to you, Miriam. You're in my thoughts and I'm here if you need anything.

Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

Miriam,
All the best to you at this difficult time. Have a wonderful thanksgiving and know that your Canadian neighbour to the north is thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

I hope all goes well. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Zada

Pat Kuhn said...

Miriam, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I will see you at scanfest this weekend

Michelle Goodrum said...

We will be keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

Years ago I took a Lou Tice course through my husband's employment. Lou told us the story of his wife's battle with a life threatening illness. She lived by the saying that challenges in life like these, "give us longer legs for bigger strides."


Miriam, you have some really big things coming in life once you get through this. I hope this helps. It has helped me many times over the years.

T.K. said...

Wishing you well, Miriam, and admiring your fortitude!

Miriam said...

Thank you, my friends.

Dana Huff had an awesome post yesterday, titled "Failure." Her quote summarizes it so well: "Failure was probably one of the best things to happen to me because it put me on the path I’m walking now, but it stung. It hurt for a few years. I’d like to think I bounced back from it pretty well in the end, though."

Amazing!

Susan Kitchens said...

Miriam--

Wishing you the utmost best right now. I get the sense of overwhelm and tiredness from what you said. Here's hoping that the outpouring of support here in the comments is more than enough reward for (what must have been) yet more effort expended to note and describe everything that's going on. I honor the extra effort it took to do that.

(And kudos to you for how you stated things re: your husband and his joblessness. Sometimes, what you need is to simply be witnessed. Thank you for making that clear. You ARE witnessed.)

Keep breathing, and hooray for you for the bike workouts. I've discovered the joy of exercise in difficult times. I hope that dedicated effort and release helps. Of course, a physical transformation of 2 sizes is fabulously rewarding.

You go.

Cheering you on from Southern California,

Susan

Miriam said...

Oh, Susan, you understand me oh-too-well! Thank you.

I was at my pharmacy picking up painkillers to use tomorrow after surgery and saw The Saturday Evening Post. Found the sidebar with your information and wanted to shout to the waiting room, "Hey! I know her! This is my friend Susan!" :-)

Susan Kitchens said...

Hee! that's funny. I KNOW her! I've ridden around in her Miata! She drove us through a sprinkler spray at a cemetery. People, attend!

Medical place waiting rooms are a *great* place for those kinds of discoveries.

When my 2 grafs of fame from the US News World Report issue on family stories of wartime (released @ same time as Ken Burns The War series a few years back), I discovered that the issue was out and that I was in this mag while in a doctor's office.

(My boyfriend with the broken foot was seeing his orthopedist, and I, having driven him there, was in the waiting room while he saw the doc.)

Looked over at others in waiting room. Saw the cover image (black and white of soldier). Remembered the interview, and then (halleluja!) avoided the embarrassment of grabbing the issue from the guy by noticing that the doc's office had multiple issues. Grabbed a spare, looked through article, spotted my name, read the grafs. Then I got up and asked the receptionist if I could take the magazine, because, well, see this right here? That's me! Bless them-- they said yes. To this day, the only copy I have is the one with the subscriber address to the doctor's office.

Becky said...

Thinking of you as you go into surgery... hope it solves the problem and you come out better! You are an inspiration to us all in the way you handle adversity and in the work you do. I'm grateful that there are people like you in this world to do the things that people like me can't do! Hang in there... sooner or later, things will get better!!

Miriam said...

Hi, Becky! Surgery has come and gone and I feel great! I have some energy for the first time in months and am now trying hard not to overdo (not sure how successful I'll be at that!).

Now if only it would stop snowing...

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Hope everything turns around for you soon. I can totally relate on every level (busy/overwhelmed, health issues, exhaustion, depression, and unemployment) and these are the same reason for my lack of blogging for months. I know there is a silver lining somewhere, and you post helped me remember that. I really do hope things start to get better for you, but in the meantime, have faith and keep on truckin'.

Miriam said...

Thanks, Julie. Seems like it's been a tough year for a lot of people. I especially think of Elyse and Gini and the many other geneabloggers who've lost loved ones this year and I am grateful that as hard as this year as been, I still have my family members to encourage and support me...and of course, friends in real life and online, such as yourself.