Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dear Sweet, Sweet Maddox

Dear Sweet, Sweet Maddox,
When I told you for the first time in person how much I love you, I knew I would never be the same. 
  One of the reasons that you've stolen my heart is that I didn't expect to have you in my life. Your parents surprised us all with the news of you and I think we sort of forgot what it's like to have a little Jacobsen around. Your cousins are young men! They are incredible people that you will learn a lot from. Their kindness, purity of heart and dedication to be their best will inspire you.
 But now, here YOU are ready to make a mark on the world, inspiring them and the rest of us to be awesome.
 As your Aunt Kari, I have the honor and the privilege of loving you, spoiling you, and giving you the hope that you are NEVER alone. I also have the "Auntness" to  buy cute outfits like this to dress you up in! (To your 20 year old self, I am sorry!)
I'm also the Aunt that will think creating a Lion King moment with the whole family is hilarious and inspirational.

Speaking of family, your parents are incredible. They want the very, very best for you and will stop at nothing to make sure you know how loved you are. They are some of my best friends and my life is so much richer because of them. We are all going to have a lot of fun together over the next several years. 
 The time I spent with you in Colorado is a SMALL taste of how much love I have for you. I want you to know that I am ALWAYS going to be here for you. 
There will be miles between us, probably our whole lives, but no matter what happens or how much distance is between us, know that we are under the same moon, and know I love you more than I can promise.

Because of you, sweet Maddox, I am already a better person and I can't thank you enough for making my heart full and my life better. 

*A special thank you to Hannah Lesley Photography for the amazing pictures.
{Hers are the ones that don't look like they were from my phone. :)} 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Space of Life

It's super vulnerable to publically process through my experience with grief, but since I chose to make it public through this little blog of mine, and because so many of you have been on this journey with me, I am continuing to process with you. Thank you for your continued Grace and support of me.

About 3 years ago I wrote this post about being in the space where some of Matt's ashes are. The poem emerged through a very ethereal experience and is one I value as a part of my journey.
I returned there this week and another poem emerged about my process with grief now and the wrestling I have done over the last several days because of it. It's a bit wobbly, but I want it documented here, with you.

The Space of Life

I am at The Sacred
where life and death
Where the majestic and
the broken
lays its head.
Where growth, change, and Life
emerge despite doubt and fear.
I’ve suffered this week--holding the
weight of what could have been--holding the
should be--
trying to recognize this weight and still
trying to see that life can be
 And here I am in the space of Life
hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, touching,

I see the pictures of you.
I cherish.
I wrestle.
I release. 
You see what I can’t;
what I shouldn’t.
You release.
You give.
You honor.   
I am free.
You were the Was.
It does not imprison me.
I am in the Is.

There is Life and Hope
and There,
in me.

If you are new to the blog or you don't know my story, I invite you to read this post or this post

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The panic attack that killed my summer buzz.

Panic attacks affect over 3 million people in the United States every year. 
I am one of the 3 million. 
Over the last 14 years I have been prone to them. For me, they usually show up in the form of shortness of breath, claustrophobia, tightness in the chest, irrational, detached from reality thinking, and fidgety, antsy behaviors. Over the years I have only had 2-3 severe attacks where all of these things play out at once. Otherwise the shortness of breath/irregular breathing is my most common symptom. 

This past week I essentially had a 4 day on and off again panic attack where all of the symptoms showed up and it turned my life upside down. It definitely took my summer buzz away as it was a very exhausting, scary, and overwhelming week. I have, for the most part, recovered and I've figured out and am processing through the triggers. But I am not writing about this to invite sympathy or to have people ask questions about what my deep, dark psyche is saying, (trust me, I am doing plenty of that myself!) but I write to document the truths that come out of such a dark time so I can remind myself (and you?) that I'm not alone in all of this.  

  A dear friend who helped me through this week said that my mind and body had to go through this process in order to heal some traumatic layers that I have incurred over the years. She said that I was "able" {the quotes are present because I certainly didn't feel able!} to do this because right now, I have everything I need to go through this and that love, connection and support are what I need to take in. If I don't take these in and then utilize them, I am merely suffering and not allowing my soul to heal.  

Even if panic attacks aren't a part of your life, I truly believe that we all need to take in love, connection, and support to survive this crazy life. But, I have learned that when one is stripped down to the purist form of vulnerability {like in a severe panic attack} these things show themselves in very simple and powerful ways. The images placed throughout this post reflect some of the love, connection, and support that held me this week.

 I am deeply grateful for the ways the Universe took care of me and for those of you who showed me, and continue to show me, love, connection, and support. You may not even know you were a part of my healing, but I know and I am so very grateful.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

To the class of 2021: Thank you for being my miracles in the mundane.

When I went back to school at the age of 37 to get my teaching license, I thought that maybe since teaching was my third career, I would find that it fulfilled that professional space in my soul that had been lacking. And while there have been definite seasons of this over the last 9 years, I have never felt like I do this year.

This year has been that “finding my stride” year where the energy I put into this overwhelming job has been worth it. Totally worth it.  The class of 2021 is the class that will absolutely change the world. Some of the distinguishing features of this class is that they are kind, funny, smart, loyal, curious, driven, and I am going to really miss them!
{Well, most of them are these things... I do teach 8th grade, so, I mean, I’m not delusional that ALL the kids are like this!}

They have sparked a love for teaching in me that I hope lasts for a long time. If you have read any of my past end of the school year posts, you know this isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s been the opposite. I have been dragging myself to the end of the year finish line and I've been a bit worse for the wear. This year I am still craving the rejuvenation of summer, but my soul seems more at peace and I am not looking for the next thing. I am relishing my place in this profession and giving it my all.

Yes, you read that right. :)

The tangible evidence of this being a fantastic year with fantastic kids showed up at the end of a "book club" unit I put together. The kids were in groups of four either reading I Am Malala or I Will Always Write Back. I wanted them to read a nonfiction book that challenged their world view. These books fit the bill perfectly.  

Their discussions, responses to reading, and general "ah-ha" moments were great, but when they presented their cumulative projects; I was BLOWN AWAY! I can't even begin to tell you how incredible their synthesis of these books was. I was able to take pictures of many of them, but several people did electronic projects that were just as insightful and thorough as what you see here.

Their presentations were creative and well thought out. For example in the I Will Always Write Back book, one connecting point between Caitlin and Martin was The Spice Girls. So, one group played “Wannabe” as they started their presentation. It was amazing. {BTW, the video for that is quite inappropriate for school--luckily they didn’t want to show it! Ha!}

Two groups organized a shoe drive and one group organized a school supply drive to help impoverished people in Africa. They made posters, made announcements in classes and gathered a ton of shoes and supplies!  

One group took on a “kindness campaign” where they left signs like this across the school:
This was their poster explaining the cause and effect of kindness:
I mean, wow. Just wow.  It was so inspiring to see them take action like this. They wanted to do something tangible, and they did!
I continued to be in awe when I read their one page papers reflecting on what they learned about themselves and the world from reading their book. I captured a few of these below. As you read them, feel confident that our future is in good hands with the class of 2021!

The book I Will Always Write Back has changed my life. Its moral speaks louder than any other story that I have ever read. One American girl changed a life and once saved a life in a miraculous friendship with a Zimbabwean boy. This has changed me into a more aware person, because through Caitlin’s and Martin’s story, I now know that I can change a life. Save a life, and that one small act of kindness will make a huge difference.

I never would have guessed how the smallest of actions or the simplest of wants could make a huge impact on the world. After finishing the astonishing book, I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, I believe the biggest lesson was that you must be determined to complete a journey in order to accomplish it.

I learned that we are all different and we can learn from each other’s differences. We can benefit from generosity whether we are receiving its direct benefits or awaiting to see its results.

I never predicted I would learn something about myself. I always knew I had a love for reading, but I had no idea how deeply I could feel for characters until I read that book.

The most important takeaway from this book was that you should stay true to you heart, and if you don’t stop trying, then the world will reward you in return. If you never give up, like Malala, then you will be rewarded.

Throughout the story, I Will Always Write Back I have learned many life lessons from Caitlin and Martin. They have taught me to never take my life for granted, that every penny counts, and that one small act of kindness can change someone’s life.

What I  learned  from reading I Am Malala is that if  you don’t stand up for what you believe in, the world will never change. That is bad. The world always needs to change, it will never be perfect, but we need to stand up for what’s right.  

You have to stand up for what you believe in, and to speak up for others who can’t or are too afraid to.

I think that before reading this book, many members of my group, including myself, were ignorant to what we had and took everything for granted.
I learned that I take what I eat, school, and what I wear for granted. Some people don't have the luxury of getting to choose what they wear, or to eat good food, or to even go to school. I used to take my education for granted, not thinking it was really that big of a thing, until now, because now I know that some people don't have that privilege.

As l read the book I Will Always Write Back I not only learned more about the world, but I also learned about myself. Before this book I knew I was very fortunate and I knew that children in other countries didn't have the life or opportunities I have. But not until I read the book did it seem real.

Sunshine, wind, threatening storm clouds and a seed of hope, this is I Am Malala. In this autobiography by Malala Yousafzai, I learned to be thankful for my life. My schooling. My food. My rights. In this book I learned that life is hard; many people have it worse than others. “Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born” (page 192). I know now that hope and light can, has, and will shine in the darkest places.

{This last one is a bit over the top, but in my world, in the BEST possible way!}

Aren’t these excerpts amazing!!! I am so proud of these kids!!!!

I am so very grateful about how these kids showed me consistent Light and Hope this year.
I feel energized to jump into year 10. {10????!!!!!! Whoa.}

But first, summer.
CABIN! I am coming for you!