Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thankfulness and Gratitude

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and that even though life begins to return to normal this week, with just a New Year's bump in the way, everyone can keep a bit of the wonder of Christmas in their hearts for as long as possible.

I've been thinking about something lately that I am not totally sure I can articulate clearly but I am going to try. I often talk about how grateful I am ... and how I have noticed a strong "attitude of gratitude" in my life in the past couple of years that has grown until it couldn't be ignored any longer.

But that is just what it is - gratitude. It is far more than simple thankfulness. For me, being thankful is more...specific to a situation or circumstance, than is gratitude. I am very thankful for many, many things in my life. I am thankful for specific things, for situations, for people, for circumstances. And maybe it is due to this feeling of thankfulness that contributes so strongly to the gratitude that overflows so strongly at times.

I read recently that gratitude is happiness combined with awe. That simple statement really hit home with me. I often talk here about being happy, and I am incredibly happy. I mean, incredibly happy. I have struggled to describe that feeling, at least until I read that particular statement. Now I can say that my happiness is mixed with a very strong feeling of awe.

I am awestruck by my life. I am truly amazed by where I am now, by who I am, by the path that has gotten me to this place. I have waited so long, been through so much, to reach the career goal that had seemed so elusive my entire life.

But the most important, least obvious, change has been within (as it usually is when people go through major changes). I am still working on things, of course, but where I am now compared with where I was even when Padrone and I met ... well, let's just say those places are worlds apart. I am very thankful for that. But I am also incredibly grateful.

I'm struggling with how to express what I am trying to say.

I have grown exponentially as a woman in the past few years. It had actually begun before I met Padrone, but it has steamrolled since meeting him. Yes, he has played the most vital role in that change, but it is because of his unconditional acceptance of me as I am. He has revealed to me part of how he sees me, and the gradual (and maybe unintentional) way in which he did it convinced me of his sincerity. He wasn't just blowing smoke, as many others had done before him.

You know, that is probably the *most* important pillar in the foundation of our relationship, and just as importantly in my own personal growth. See, it has grown and changed, morphed from simply being his opinion to my own belief in myself. I don't know when or how the shift happened, I just know that it has.

Of course, I still have areas to work on in terms of insecurities and confidence. I find myself at work, for instance, unconsciously exhibiting some major insecurities, even though I honestly didn't realize I was doing it until someone mentioned it to me. I feel as if I have had so much thrown at me without much direction that my feelings of insecurity were natural. I think that most people would have felt that way in the same circumstances, but that could also be a major justification for my own feelings. I do know that I fear making mistakes at work. I think a lot of it is due to my work history - there was always the threat of losing a job if too many mistakes were made. I am finding that with teaching, at this particular district at least, is not that way. It is a difficult concept for me - that they are flexible and accepting even with mistakes. They would rather have stability than hire new teachers constantly. Now I realize why people complain about teachers - lol.

I am very thankful for the job. I am thankful that I was given a chance to prove myself. I am thankful for the time off I have had. I am thankful for small things, for big things.

But I am grateful for the way my life is in general. I am happy with a sense of awe at .... everything... who I am turning into, what is going on in my life, and the potential that has been unlocked for my future. Just...so very, very grateful.

Padrone, I know that you always say that it is me who is doing the "work" involved in all of these changes. And at times it is so overwhelming - so many changes all at once can really be too much to handle sometimes. I have tried to explain the effect you have had on me during this time of growth and change, and I can only hope that you understand that I truly could never have done all of this without you.

Padrone, I know that who I am is not what is going on in my life. It is just that I am so happy, so filled with awe that so many good things are finally happening .... and even more awestruck that I am not fighting the idea that I actually deserve them. I have worked hard, very hard, and am continuing to do so as you know, to bring about a lot of the changes that are happening. But that they are actually happening is filling my heart, my mind, and my entire life, with gratitude that overflows and affects every tiny little aspect of my life.

Thank you, Padrone, for doing more than just allowing me to do things. Thank you for encouraging, supporting, pushing, setting priorities, and loving me...it all boils down to the love. Padrone, I am deeply, unabashedly, grateful for the freedom to grow into who I am that will always be a part of our relationship because it is simply who you are. I may have changed and grown without you in my life, but I can guarantee that I would not have changed so much or come so far, without you. I am yours. So very, very yours. And inexpressibly grateful to be so.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

And feel like it too! I'm not talking about the weather, or even the tree that is twinkling at me as if it has a big secret it is keeping from me! I have a major case of Christmas Spirit, right down to the ringtone on my phone, which is set as Sleigh Ride by the band Relient K! Every time I hear it I remember going to see them in concert with my daughter, and it brings back a lot of very good memories.

I just received notice that my last two classes ended in As, just like all I have taken since I began taking classes. I plan to take two classes in the Spring - one is a half-semester course, for 8 weeks only, and the other is a full semester course. The half-semester course is the same one that I ended up dropping in the fall, so I already have the books, the syllabus, and a bit of familiarity with the teacher, so that helps. I hope to be able to go ahead and get some of the assignments done, and maybe one of the "biggies" started, before the course begins. It won't start until at least the middle of January so I do hope to be able to get a jump start on it.

But I am not sure if I will be able to or not. At work I have had another major surprise, but this one is a pleasant one for me, even if not for some other teachers. My job has changed yet again. I've been moved from Elementary to Junior High, and I will be doing mostly inclusion. I will work with several teachers, and I will have the students in 7th and 8th grade, as oppposed to the 5th and 6th grade students I have now. I will miss my students, for sure, but I will not complain about going to the Junior High at all. The teacher who is going to 5th and 6th grade is really upset about it. She has always said that she *will not* teach Elementary, and since she is already planning on looking for a new job, I think this just reinforces that decision. I feel for her, because she has a semester of dealing with the teachers I have had to deal with!

This means not only changing IEP lists, but changing classrooms, changing buildings, changing administration. The only things that stay the same are the Sped Director, the Case Manager, and the Superintendent. I know these students because I have been doing inclusion for a couple of classes with them all year long. Now I feel that I will have the chance to get to know them, and help them, better because I will be seeing them more this way. I will *be* their Sped teacher, instead of them having several different teachers doing inclusion, or even none at all. I am glad it is working out, and I am glad to be in one school, and I am glad to be with the older students, although as I said I will miss my students very much. We haven't told them, which I disagreed with because of the types of students we have and their need for longer processing periods for new information...especially something as important as who their teacher will be. Oh well, that wasn't my decision, and other than seeing them in passing and (hopefully) grabbing a hug or two, it won't be me dealing with it. Harsh, maybe, but true.

So I am very excited about next school semester, both work-wise and school-wise. I have 6 more courses until I have my Masters degree, which I hope to complete next December. Wouldn't that be a trip? I also want to take another Praxis II exam so I can be highly qualified, and (even Padrone doesn't know this cos I keep forgetting to tell him) the Sped Director said the school district will pay for it! So I will probably take two of them, although the highly qualified one is most important and I will take it first.

And I can't keep from mentioning just how lucky I am to belong to Padrone. He is so warm and giving, loving and thoughtful, except when he plays backgammon of course. He isn't perfect, no matter how good he is, but we fit so well together that maybe it is our relationship that is so good, greater than either of us as individuals. I cannot imagine being with anyone else. I honestly have nothing to complain about, and this man makes it so easy to submit to him. I am unbelievably lucky, and I hope he feels the same way. I know he does, actually. I have no doubts whatsoever.

Honestly, I feel as if I am living a dream relationship. The only drawback is the ocean between us, but it is only *really* bad when we think about it, or when we have a powerful need (not necessarily sexual). I have been more aware of it since starting this job than ever before...I mean in an ongoing basis. I often would give anything for a hug, or for an evening with him, or a kiss, or .... well, y'all get the picture. But Padrone is just as wonderful as y'all might imagine about being even more "there" for me when I let him know I need it.

Padrone, I have often portrayed you in this blog as "larger than life", or in a more positive light than you seem to think you deserve. But all I can say is that you and my children are the best things that have ever happened to me. I would still be working at Wal Mart if it weren't for you, my Love, and your belief in me. Making you proud of me ...

I realize that, as a submissive woman, my ultimate goal in life is supposed to be serving you, making you happy. And you know, I love doing that. I love when you are happy and pleased with me. But, Padrone, the most incredible feeling in the world washes over me when you tell me how proud you are of me, and when you beam with pride over my accomplishments - big or small. I cannot explain just how that makes me feel, Padrone, but I can say that it is an addictive feeling and it motivates me even more than making you happy does.

I am not sure if I am explaining this well or not, but I do hope you understand what I am trying to say. My life has been forever changed because I know you. You could never have made this type of difference in my life if you had been any other man, or any other type of Master. How I love you, my wonderful, life-changing, Padrone. Thank you...thank you....thank you.