My Smoke Detector Theory

I know this is probably a very strange post to jump back into writing. But, when the smoke detector decides it’s going to announce that its batteries are getting low…at 4 am…well, isn’t writing a post a natural segue?

So, I have a few theories about this necessary but annoying device because right now, it’s not making my list of friends.

  1. It tweets its announcement in the middle of the night…you know the one… bleep……………BLEEP………….BLEEEEEEEP! and then silence. It does this to cause me disruption and get my attention. It doesn’t start this crap in the middle of the day, or even the early evening when I could do something about it. It’s when I’m sound asleep. After staying up late. And taking melatonin to help me with getting to sleep. I guess that was a waste of a tablet!
  2. It is a sneaky son-of-a-bitch designed to piss me off. So of course, I check and have no necessary replacement batteries. (Sigh ?) BUT… it’s stopped so maybe it’s going to be ….BLEEP!…. ugh. No. It’s not going to be ok. It goes off at such random intervals that I’ve been lulled back to believing I can drift back to sleep. Ha! It’s evil. It just won’t let me.
  3. It’s frequency is such that it sends a secret message to animals. Mine have gone from whining to anxious to hiding behind me… you would have thought they were sent a telepathic code that said the aliens were landing soon and coming specifically for them. Three dogs and two cats are all nervously clustered on my bed. Well, they were. Two still are. One can’t hear any more so I think he’s sleep through most and the cats ? well they are too cool to admit the might be bothered. But here they are, none the less.

So try as I might, sleep was no longer an option. What do you think of my theories? I think they are pretty sound! And I can prove it because the second I fall back asleep, it will certainly….BLEEP!!!!!

Even if, not this…

I laughed when the image I chose was the same as my last post, over a month ago. Sorry not to have kept you informed. 

Proabaly what’s worse is that I broke my promise to take you on this journey with me. 

Forgive me?

I stopped writing because I was in a few search positions and got out. I had another pop up and found it intriguing and yet another reappear from a year ago. (These are dean positions at universities). I was afraid to proclaim I didn’t want something and then accept it. I was afraid to be write something and then not get it because of something I wrote…some f*** that moment or comment that was part of me but my perspective employer thought might not reflect them. Pretty twisted logic (though I’m sure some won’t think so)!  

It is in compromising my truth that I have found myself lost. 

It is only through shedding the bullshit that I can lead with honesty and integrity. (Trying out this line here. Let’s see how it flies next week at our state leadership workshop!)

But I’m “coming out” here before I reveal the truth to friends, family, and prospective employer, and those who know the turmoil I’ve been going through….Even if not this….doesn’t mean that.  And if you are wide eyed at my “coming out” statement, settle yourself. It just means that I’m going to get real. 

The reason I didn’t write was over a dean job I wasn’t sure I wanted. Public academia in eastern Tennessee can be pretty intimidating. This was after I’d jumped out of semi-finalist pools in Mississippi and California. Not right…not right. Tennessee seemed to be not the right place, but the right job. So I held my breathe. In the end, I wasn’t right for them. 

So as luck or timing would have it, a job I was a finalist for last year reappeared. They called me up. They brought me for a visit. They made me an offer. An offer that would increase my current salary almost Forty K  ….ipad went crazy… so no numbers. Anyway….I wanted that job last year and it was offered to someone else. I wanted to move to the area …big move…. I wanted to want that job!!!

But I’m here to say, just because I want something exciting and different doesn’t mean I compromise and accept what I don’t want, even if it comes with a big raise. 

Even if I don’t want this, doesn’t mean I want that. 

Throughout my life, I’ve done a lot of accepting this because it’s an offer and it’s not that. I’ve done a lot of saying, I know it’s not right but in a year I’ll change it…and never do. 

So….this is about as real as this girl gets and it’s scary to turn it down. Oh, and by the way, it’s not the move or being away from my family or fear that I can’t do the job or missing the folks I’ve grown fond of here. I’m good with all that. But I can’t take a job, at this point in my life, where it is not a full body, all in, hell yes. Sigh. I just can’t do it. I will not compromise. So even if not this…. 


It’s a roadblock. 

It’s in the way, between where I am and where I want to go. It is huge and yet unknown. Unseen. Unrecognizable. 

It’s the time I now might reach for a drink. Or a game on my iPad. Or social media. Anyone comment on my posts in the last…30 seconds? 

It’s chocolate or a pastry that’s been left on the credenza by the coffee. The one I walk past at least eight times each day. I swear they were left there to tempt me. 

It’s hunger and yet it’s not. It’s a distraction. Plain, simple, only a distraction. And yet, it brings me to my knees. At an impasse. At odds with …. myself. 

It’s where I can do just enough…to get by….but no more. 

It’s where my thoughts feel like swirling gas, smoldering beneath the surface and yet, that’s where they stay. They rarely combust anymore. I’ve become too skilled and now contain the elements to the point that I barely notice. But when I tune in, I know they are there. 

And just maybe, I think, there must be a way to set the dynamite. Maybe not so extreme. But maybe a way to break in and break through and expand the opening to get to that point where I can once again connect with my good ideas. Connect and act. Or a bad idea. Right now a bad one might work. A point where I don’t have to feel that I know they are there yet I can’t get to them. 

Maybe is just a temporary barrier and breaking through begins with each and every small action. No knight or road crew is going to move what stands in my way. I can’t wait for AAA to magically make this disappear. 

I must take action. And maybe a detour. Because is there every really an impasse that’s impossible to pass?


I think I am going to remove “Enough” from my vocabulary. 

Last Tuesday, I walked home from work. I had turned in a rental earlier that day and my initial plan was to ask a colleague for a ride or take Uber, but after looking up the exact distance (about 6.2 miles) I decided it was doable. 

During the walk, I wondered if I was punishing myself. Was I paying a price because I was short on both money and pride once again? I decided not. My conclusion was that I wanted to get uncomfortable enough to be able to think. (And there it is again)

Good enough – Bad enough – Pretty enough – Poor enough – Rich enough – Skinny enough – Sexy enough – Tall enough – Smart enough – Popular enough – Nice enough – ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!

If I use enough as my barometer, I will always have never enough, more than enough, just enough, or I will have enough. But what the hell does that even mean?  What is the measure of enough?  Seems to be a sliding scale. Kind of personal. Not really quantifiable. Why did the word ever get invented in the first place?  May be it was in an attempt to marginalize. 

What if I didn’t have enough? Well I guess that would mean I have what I need. 

What if I’m not good enough, but just good. 

Or pretty enough. Oh, I’m just pretty?

Somewhere, in the shadow creep of maturing, I learned to marginalize the best and worst of everything. And by using enough, it’s just another way to argue how I measure or don’t measure up…just enough. 

So enough of enough!!!

So much yes…

These are the days that confuse me. Or maybe it isn’t a day, but a type of day, or a thing. 

I left my home a week ago. Last Sunday I was at an art festival with family and that was a big yes!  A big, I love this!  But then the time at the festival was done and I moved on. 

Today was the first time since that day that I felt Yes!…and felt the power of yes!!! And unfortunately it shortly preceded the big NO that screamed I needed to retreat and withdraw. 

I was around some educators this morning and the energy was thick. In many ways, it drew me in. I felt, yes-I miss this. I felt, yes-I’d like to work more with this, I felt, yes-this is where my energy lies. ….that only lasted about 5 hours and then my body screamed NO!

The NO led me to separate. The NO led me to find quiet and space. The NO drained and exhausted me. The NO has left me wondering what the yes was all about. 

There was a time that I would have ignored my no. I would have sucked it up and stuck it out. As time passes, I tolerate doing that less. As much as I am able to, I listen. But I am left confused because I feel like I need a translator. I’m hearing the directive, body-felt no, but it leaves me longing for the more clear, energizing yes. The one I am pulled by. The one I yearn for. The yes that is bigger and bolder and screams……and maybe that’s where my confusion has been. Maybe my yes is that deep, soul stirring whisper, the one I’ve always felt. The one that feels like home. The one that’s always inside….the one I just needed to translate what it was saying.  

Maybe the big yes and bigger no have me finding that yes after all!?!

Alignment takes practice

I’ve been writing about figuring out my desires and checking in with my body and really aligning with what’s best for me and what do I do when I have a chance to put it in practice? I blow it!!! Damn! Acting in alignment with my highest good isn’t that easy after all. 

I wish I knew where my desire to people please and seek affirmation came from. I would tell you that I am strong and confident. People who know me would say the same thing. And yet, it’s kind of far from the case. 

I had decided that I would make no decisions for at least another week. I decided I’d keep my mouth shut and just consider options. I decided I’d keep it to myself. So what happened? I didn’t. 

It was between sessions at our current conference. My boss and I were waiting for others. We were discussing the minor topics associated with work. So I, somewhat (no, definitely) unconsciously, open my mouth and revealed it all. 

I brought up my pending job interview (not a surprise to her really, she already spoke to them about me and she regularly sends me potential openings), my thoughts of high-stakes problems we are facing, and my options a and b around whether I might just step down from my administrative position. I opened the floodgates and let it flow. 

Now, none of this is new or news. At times I have shared most of these thoughts in one form or another. But I’m chastising myself because I had said I’d wait. I had said I’d wait, and I didn’t. So why?

I’ve come up with a few ideas. First, when I’m used to acting one way and try to do something else, it takes discipline and practice. So as soon as the constraints are released and I become unconscious, in other words, I release my bars and filters, then I find myself back in my own habits before even realizing I’ve gone there or at least before it was too late to stop myself. 

Second, it is possible that I am not comfortable with not being completely open. I know this is the case but it certainly has its pros and cons. On one hand, openness means I have no stories to keep secret or cover up. On the other, when I disagree with things or people I don’t hide that well. Even if it’s not my words, my face doesn’t lie. Honesty? Pro or con. 

Third, and this is a mixed argument. It may be that I just want to get it off my chest and it may equally be that I want approval or to me talked out of what I’m thinking of doing. In this case, I’m abdicating my responsibility for my decision to someone else. Looking for them to confirm my rightness or wrongness. 

Maybe it’s a combination of these or maybe none of these. But clearly, it is true that alignment of action with intention might be a little harder and take a little more time than just telling myself to “check in”. 

So….still a work in progress!

It’s a journey, not a life sentence

The past few days have been mom and grandma duty and then off for a week of conferencing. The goods have been visiting family and seeing the art festival I have loved since a child. The bads … traveling on a super limited budget and the news we received yesterday. 

Our 38 year old deputy chancellor for education for the state died. He was a colleague. He was a professional friend. He was passionate about what he did. He was too young to die. 

Because the cause, while yet undetermined seems to have been potentially preventable I discuss with colleagues why we don’t take better care of ourselves to which one responded…who has the time?  I am certainly as guilty as this person for doing this but oh how this struck home. Not having the time, or making the time to take care of myself is not a badge of honor. Surviving neglect is not something to have to be proud of.

This got me thinking about all the things we do because we can’t or don’t take the time to veer off our path. When I am lost, I may not stop to consult a map or ask for directions. I figure that i will figure it out while I go farther and farther away from where I made my first wrong turn. Embarrassed? Afraid?  No….waiting for Siri to redirect. But Siri isn’t going to do that with my life!

Well hell, stop! Turn around!! …I… am on a life journey and I can change course any time I want to. I do not have to be lost for life!!

I am in the middle of several job searches and semi-finalist for at least 3 dean positions. It is the next logical step on the journey. But it is also why I’m asking myself whether I’m on the right road. I know that I wrote about this a week ago but suddenly something happens, someone much younger dies and I remind myself…hold the fuck on – there are NO do-overs!!  Am I  aligning with my passion and purpose or just taking the next logical step? Only one feeds my soul!!


I have said, mostly to myself, that I want a relationship where I can be completely real and vulnerable. But, what I wish for doesn’t always appear as I’d hope it would. 

Yesterday, I was at the Love of Literacy luncheon where author Diane Ackerman spoke and showed the trailer of her book (soon to become movie), The Zookeepers Wife. If you don’t know the story, and I didn’t, I would recommend it.  …the trailer brought me to tears. It wasn’t what was portrayed, but the images and bits of story that were steeped in compassion and commitment. I was a baby…before I caught myself and said no…not the place for this, before realizing that yes.  Yes, maybe it was indeed. 

The yes was finding that I have compartmentalized so much, that I have ceased to feel. I have walled off the extreme and the uncomfortable. I have extracted the deep feeling me, shaving her off, layer by layer, until what lay behind was a sterile, sun-bleached impersonation of what I had the illusion to be. It also paired with knowing that once I began to feel again, I abdicated my responsibility to someone who believed in me, and supported me, until he no longer agreed to be the mirror for my illusion of the whole person I dreamed of being. 

Completely real and vulnerable? I value any relationship where I am allowed that freedom. Honestly, there are few, neither personal or private. I am not looking for the accolades and praise that many of us feel we have spoiled the millennials with, but rather the authentic reckoning of respect and acknowledgment that comes from another who is willing to share their time and presence, as equals. Oh hell, why is this so hard?

I have punished myself with the words of others and then when I found support, I punished myself with my own words. Maybe, just maybe it is time to bring that authentically real and vulnerable relationship home, from me to myself. 

It is time to stop embracing what might be, or might not…what I deserve, or do not…the story as I make believe it is, rather than the story that is. 

I deal with a lot of reality. But, do you like me? Did I do a good job? Do I like myself? I can teeter that fence like a master or just as easily straddle it with feet in the water on both sides of the fence. A master of delusion. And yet it is not moving me forward. It is spiraling me back to what I wish, to be protected positive, or to rationalizing against what I wish, protected negative. 

Vulnerably open. I guess it’s just me. Vulnerably real, sometimes I like it and at others I don’t.  (But it’s still better than pretending to live a happy life when it’s not). I think that when I start to let myself see what it means to be real, it will be time to let others in too. Until then, seize the day! My life is what I imagine and act as if it is. Or maybe it is just an illusion. 

What is wasted time?

I had a lot to say, this morning at 3, and 4. But then I just made notes in my journal and went back to sleep. 

And then again at 2pm, racing down I-95, my mind a buzz, trying to dictate notes into my phone that I’d get to later.  I envisioned a brilliant post.  Poignant. Touching. ….…Unwritten. 

All of my feeling and motivation temporarily shoved into notes that I hope I don’t forget exist but even if I am reminded to revisit them, I wonder if the emotion and feeling that rose inside me as I was compelled to create them can be rekindled. If history is any teacher, the answer will be no. 

Why unwritten? I arrived back at work to discussions and meetings and emails and grading and driving home and dinner and pets and faculty evaluations and…it’s 11:30pm. And I need to try to sleep because I have to pick up my daughter in Miami at 8am. While I could try to force it, it was too good (at least in my mind) and I don’t want to cheat or minimize it’s worth. I hope I’ll remember!

My friend, coach and mentor, Nancy Levin, said when talking about the end of her time as event director for Hay House, “Hiding behind my job, left no room for anything else.” And even though I’ve felt the pull, those words gave me validation and a way to succinctly package it. All that busy, gives me time for busy….it doesn’t give me time for anything else. It doesn’t give me time for me. Because I am not my job. 

Two things I want to make note of before I go peel my contacts from my eyes. 

First, from yesterday’s post I want to make clear that I’m not blaming God or religion or my parents and I’m not angry at any of them either even though maybe I might be a little angry with myself for forming the beliefs that I did. But, I am also going to live myself enough to work my way forward. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read my previous post. 

Second, I have a voice in my head that has always talked to me. Not in the, I hear voices or it’s someone else sense. But sometimes she’s my mean girl. Sometimes she’s a voice of reason, or of anger, or of patience. Often though, I hear her say to me things like, “you” need to see things from a different point of view or “you” need to stand up for yourself. In this sense, if I am trying to catch myself and write about me and I. If I slip and say that you should really understand…what I really mean is that I should. 

It’s progress and insight every day!! Today was a big one…I hope I remember to share!

Me, God, and Confounding Beliefs

Let me first say that I’m a little bit tired. I had a busy day. But, if I’m going to make any headway, I’m going to have to forge ahead.  If it sounds like a good idea, I should probably go ahead and do it before I rationalize my way out of it, and you can quote me on that!

What I want to consider is an idea that came to me and actually made some sense the other day.  Blame it on God and religion.  Now I know that this is true for a lot of things and a lot of people and I never thought I was one.  But, here I go, none the less.

If our shadow beliefs are mostly formed by the age of 10, then I have to think back and consider what went on back then.  Not to drag out the boring details, but in my opinion, it was a pretty uneventfully normal childhood.  Normal family unit, mother, father, sister, brother, and dog.  One of the things that was always a constant was our involvement in our church.  My parents weren’t the hell, fire and brimstone type, but they did believe that we should attend every Sunday and Holy Day.  My brother and I also went to a Catholic Elementary School.  And I never thought of God as a anything but just God.

But, God, and the church, were judgmental.  I remember never being able to wrap my head around the whole idea of confession.  Weren’t mistakes OK?  Hmmm. Apparently not.  At least not some of them.  I remember being given a list of acceptable but not so bad sins.  These were the ones that I thought it was OK to confess.  Whether I did them or not.  After all, I couldn’t be perfect, not in God’s eyes.  But I also learned to not consider doing anything worse than the acceptable.  Not when I was young.  Not that I’ve ever admitted to.  So, maybe God was a little scary.  Or may be it was more and it was the fear of being judged as bad or wrong.  Maybe I would go to hell.  What then?  Hmmm.

I remember being about 8 or 9 and walking to a neighbor’s house with my mother.  Our neighbors were mostly elderly couples and one of them was sick, I believe.  Well, I also had a period where I was surrounded by a lot of death.  My grandfather and two aunts died within months of each other when I was six.  I remembered, with them, the priest coming to the house and the religious services associated with their funerals.  With our neighbor, there was none. So I asked my mother if people from other religions went to heaven, after all, didn’t God love us all?  She couldn’t answer me.  It bothered and confused me, but I decided not to press the issue.  According to my family, we were on the right side of God so why question that….even though I was sure there was a side door to heaven some where.

Oh, and let me just add a side note about St. Peter and the Gates to Heaven and Judgement Day and if you haven’t done enough good you are condemned to purgatory.  Kind of stuck in an endless loop where you’ll never pass go or collect $200. No sir! Didn’t want that.

I’m sure that not everyone who was raised in a religious family has come away with the same perceptions.  I can’t even say that others in my family share mine.  But…I also may not be the only one who’s felt this way.

But I think that what effected me most were the stories of Jesus and Easter.  Every room in the house, had a crucifix.  I often had a crucifix that I wore on a necklace.  Jesus on the cross was a constant reminder, he died for us.  He died for me.  He died for my sins.  Well, if I sinned and I was born with sin then what did that say about me?  But in thinking about the stories, I was particularly struck by the one on Good Friday when Jesus fell to his knees and begged his father to take this cup from him, but not as my will but your will be done. And later before he died on the cross, asking why God had forsaken him.

Without knowing it, I had always believed that God had a plan for me.  That if something wasn’t meant to be, it wouldn’t.  But, that if something was meant to be…meant for me to go through; if it was God’s plan, then it was out of my hands.  So for years, I’ve smiled at those who made fun of me, because they were really good people and if they were mean, it was what I deserved…part of God’s plan.  I tolerated being told I was ugly and stupid by people I loved because I believed, it was part of God’s plan.  I have blamed myself and tried and tried again to prove myself worthy because if no one else recognized it, I mustn’t be (worthy)…because God has a plan.  For many years I have tried to find intuitives or astrological readings that might tell me what I’m supposed to do or be.  Teacher I would hear, only to be deflated because teacher has become so hollow and shallow.  Deflated, my shoulders would fall…it is part of God’s plan.

As I write this, I would tell you that someone who talks like this is slightly crazy.  But as I consider my story, it makes sense.  It is not a belief that has lived on the surface, but in the shadows.  One that has caused me to shut off and abandon myself and my truth.  I never asked what my truth was…after all, wasn’t it out of my hands.

So, as I said yesterday, I’m truly doing some heavy digging and some deep diving.  I am not sure what I’ll unearth, but I do know that it feels good to ask the questions and it feels good to remind and reinforce my new belief.  God, a Higher Power, lives inside each of us.  And there is no Higher Power that would want me to go through my life unhappy.  My Higher Power is one of love, kindness, and compassion.  So I will use those as guides, not only for those I interact with, but for myself.  I will turn to my inner power with kindness, compassion and love and use them to guide me on my journey forward.