Suffering Teaches Persistence

Part 1

“Get through your fear to see through the beauty on the other side.”- The Good Dinosaur

I went to my women’s group last night, and the woman speaking said, “suffering teaches persistence.” One of the lessons I learned through my dad’s addiction was persistence. I have always been an overachiever and felt like I had something to prove. When I got into my teenage years, I hung out with the wrong crowd and headed toward a path that would make all of my dreams and goals much harder to accomplish. As a naïve teenager, I was skipping school to party, spending way too much time with a boyfriend who was bad news, and making choices that would forever change my life. I just didn’t know or care at the time. No surprise that I ended up seventeen and pregnant. I was a disappointment to my family and myself. My parents were ashamed of me, and once the reality set in, I was ashamed too. I would not be going to college to be a news anchor; I was not moving to a big city to have a career in broadcasting. I was only trying to prove to everyone that I was not a failure.

Immediately I told myself that I was not going to be the typical teen mom who dumps my kid with my parents so I could still have my youth.  The emotional suffering of being a teen mom taught me to be persistent. I was not going to let this decision to have a baby at a young age define me. But, I had to make a lot of sacrifices. I was smart enough to know that I needed an education, so I spent the next four years after my daughter was born busting my ass to get a degree. I decided to go to school to be an English teacher because I always loved reading and writing and a teacher seemed like a stable and honorable career for a mother. I had never dreamed of being a teacher, but here I am still teaching middle school over a decade later.

Looking back, I realize that I missed out on the ‘typical’ college experience. I never went to a party, never lived on campus, never went to breakfast club or tailgated at the football games. My life consisted of 21 credit hours per semester, and I made money by cleaning houses on my days off from class. The rest of the time, I was focused on being the best mom that I knew how  to be to my daughter. While my peers were finding themselves, I was going to ‘baby and me’ swim classes and pushing a stroller around the park. I missed out on a lot of my young adult life, which prevented most opportunities for self-discovery.

This isn’t intended to be a pity party, but a lesson in persistence. Although, I suffered in a lot of ways as a young adult, I persevered.  I was the first person in my family to graduate college, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. There were times where it was incredibly challenging to see people my age living the life that I had imagined for myself, but I found some pride in creating a life for myself and my daughter. My daughter is now almost sixteen years old, and I am so proud of the mom I became and the young woman she is becoming. My hope is that she will learn from my mistakes so that she can live the life she has imagined.

Part 2-Suffering Teaches Persistence

Flash forward five years, and I am a teacher with a home, a car, and feel like I have proven my self worth. Then my dad got sick, and everything changed. He became addicted to prescription drugs and our family began to fall apart. His career quickly declined with the economy, his credibility was tanking, and my parent’s marriage was falling apart. Someone in the family is always the strong one, and I somehow took on that role. Although there was much suffering over the seven years of my dad’s addiction, and all of my efforts to save him failed, I never gave up.

As a young mom trying to figure life out, I once again found myself having to focus on someone else. I spent hours researching rehab facilities, talking and pleading with my dad, discussing solutions with nurses, doctors, and mental health professionals. I was trying to figure out how to get my dad the help he needed on a zero-dollar budget. I went to Al-Anon meetings, which left me utterly frustrated. I took him to Narcotics meetings. I moved him into my home. I took him to various rehab facilities. I was fighting for my dad until he took his last breath.

This tragic experience has shaped a major part of who I am. I may not have fixed my dad, but I know how important it is to be the person who does not give up. He needed me, and I was there.

I don’t give up when it comes to my students. I want them to be successful. I don’t give up on my kids when they test my patience. They need to know that my love is unconditional and that I will always be there.  I don’t give up on my marriage when we hit rough patches. My husband needs to know how much he means to me. I just don’t give up. And although I’ve faced more challenges in my life than I would ever wish for anyone, my life is one that I can be proud of because I am persistent. So whatever your are struggling with, know that your struggles will lead you to greater things.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”– Maya Angelou

Quick Guide for a Hoosier in San Francisco

Culture Shock

Saturday-Tuesday

Early June

So my husband and I (we are in our mid-thirties) took 4 days to explore the city with no kids. We weren’t really sure what to expect and neither one of us initially had a huge desire to go to San Fran, but it was a new place to explore, so why not? Being from the Hoosier state, we usually like to go to bars and watch sports and were wondering if we would fit in, in Cali.  Or would we stick out like a sore thumb in our cargo shorts and flip flops? The good news is no one fits in, or doesn’t fit in because it’s a melting pot of people.

Here is what we learned.

  1. Flying Southwest…Spend $35 extra bucks to upgrade your seat to “A” boarding if you actually want to sit with the person you are traveling with on the flight. It’s no fun to be forced to sit in the empty seat between a German husband and wife who won’t give up their window and aisle seat for the Four-hour flight! This was especially bad because I wanted to sit by my sexy husband  and BS with him to make the flight a fun experience. We don’t get to do that much with three kids!
  2. San Fran is broken up into “Districts”. Don’t stay in the business district. There is literally nothing happening. The Embarcadero (the earliest opening breakfast venue – 8:30 am) was ok but is not worth mentioning the name of the place. I honestly can’t remember the name.
  3. Expect to walk a lot.
  4. There is some cool architecture around if you’re into that…
  5. Have exact change for the bus or you lose money (That may be the same everywhere, but we never really ride public transportation). Also, KEEP YOUR BUS TICKET after you pay… tickets are good for the whole day. We figured that out after paying 3 times the first day…
  6. We stayed at the Herbert Hotel in the Union District. We liked this area a lot better than the business district. This hotel is small and quiet. Very plain and simple, but great staff. I would not stay here with kids. We got a huge discount for booking a room with a “shared bathroom”.  We couldn’t wrap our minds around what this actually meant until we got there… We had envisioned a jack and jill style bathroom between two hotel rooms… Not the case… There is a single toilet room and single shower room down the hall.  It was totally worth it because our room was 1/3 of the cost, we never saw anyone else, and they were really clean.  Also, Walgreens right next door to the Herbert if you need anything.
  7. The Geary Line 38 and 38R Bus is your best friend. This will almost get you to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate National Park, and close to Haight/Ashbury.
  8. Places open late and close early. California is 3 time zones away so expect to wake up at 5am – 6 am out of habit but don’t expect much of anything to be open!!  Even 90% of the damn coffee shops that are supposed to be open for early risers or café that server breakfast were not open!!
  9. Homeless—Drug/Mentally ill – They are all around but we found that they seemed to be harmless. That was a good thing because we also noticed an extreme lack of police presence.
  10. LGBT Community – yeah… I now understand the passion for pushing laws. It is a much larger community than I had ever imagined.

 

What we Did:

Alcatraz

Probably my favorite part of the trip. I love history though. It was worth the money. Also, definitely get your ticket(s) early; I recommend 4 days in advance.image

Pier 39

Nothing to see. I’m not really sure why it would be a tourist destination. There were some local vendors with stands selling crafts, but nothing worth flying across the country for. There were a couple of deli shops. 

China Town

Interesting to see for about five minutes. All of the guides say to get something to eat in China Town. We didn’t take the risk.  It didn’t seem like the restaurants would pass any kind of a health code, but maybe I missed out on some amazing “dim sum”.

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(I still don’t know what that is, but I guess it is something I should have tried while I was there.) 

Golden Gate Bridge

Obviously if you are going to San Fran, you have to see the bridge. It is something that you have to see in person. Although, you really have to go after 9 and before 3 or the fog will cover half of the bridge. There are beautiful views.

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Golden Gate National Park

I really enjoyed the National Park. Be prepared to spend money there. We went to the Japanese Tea Garden. Again, it was really calming and a great experience for ten minutes and 8.00 a piece. But, if you go before 10:00 AM, you can get in free.

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Then we wanted to go into a botanical garden, which again, would be 8.00 a piece. We didn’t go to any of the museums in the park, so I can’t speak to that. We wanted to cover more ground, so we rented bikes. This was my husband’s idea, and it was a fantastic idea! We rode our bikes to the Haight/Ashbury area. 

Haight/Ashbury

This ties for my favorite.  This was the original hippy district with the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix and hundreds of other musicians that came up short.  Awesome vintage shops and even home to a physician at the west end of the strip that will evaluate people for potential medical marijuana recommendation.  We poked our head in and asked if you had to be a resident of California to obtain a recommendation and the gentleman at the door with tattoos all over his body and face said, “I think you might, but I think there is a way to get around that, you’ll have to ask the doctor”… Gotta love Cali…

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Painted Ladies

Not worth it. We would have passed right by the houses if other people weren’t taking pictures. The park across the street is under construction, so it was closed off with a fence and there were mounds of dirt.

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Overall, any chance that I can go on an adventure and get away with my husband, I’ll take it! We had a lot of laughs and created many new memories. But, I don’t think I need to experience San Fran again. Once was enough. I was happy to be back in the Hoosier State!