A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

Monday: a photo journal October 14, 2014

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 9:12 am

am

(Why do I keep waking up at 5:20? Every damn morning. This sucks.)

morning

(Me in the morning. Not pretty)

weather

(Check the weather. But I don’t believe it. Yesterday it said 85 degrees. It was 95 degrees).

lunch

(All in one. I make Luke’s breakfast, my coffee, and Luke’s lunch all at once)

iron

(Seriously this is how I iron.)

maddie

(Maddie is up. And not happy)

luke

(Meanwhile, Luke just waits in bed for me to get him ready for school. Like a prince.)

family

(We’re ready for school. God, I look chubby).

bank

(But first, I’ve got to go to the bank)

coffee

(Then Luke and I stop for coffee and hot chocolate. Its a Monday ritual since school starts late on Mondays.)

school

(Dropping Luke off at school always makes me sad that the weekend is over)

car

(What’s that? I got the last parking spot! Hell yeah. This just saved me about 1/2 hour driving and 15 minutes walking. Who’s car is that? Not mine. My car blew up a few weeks ago. Shout out to my dad for letting me borrow his car. Shout out to my Aunt Linda for getting my car hooked up in LA for less money)

english

(And I have arrived)

office

(About to go in my office. That small picture is a young Bob Dylan. I kiss him every time I open my door, Laverne and Shirley style.)

music

(I have so much grading to do, but first I must turn on some music.)

phy

(10am: off to physics class)

physics

(Pete teaching and damn I have no idea what he’s talking about)

psy2

(None of this makes any sense. I seriously feel like crying, but at the same time I’m amazed that these freshmen surrounding me all seem to get it. They are so smart. )

kirby

(Out of class. Got a text from Kirby, who’s leaving for Australia today–actually his plane is probably taking off right now–for four months. I almost cry I miss him so much already)

hc

(Then I get this text from Maddie and I do cry a little)

starbuscks

(Time for some coffee. Starbucks has invaded our campus, which seriously bums me out. But, what can I do? Actually, I can do a million things, like bring in my own coffee maker–I’m working on that.)

grading

(Back to my office for grading. Note: I have a mounting headache)

walking to class

(Walking to my first class to teach. This campus is busy at noon)

first class

(12-1p.m.: first class)

first class1

(Gave a lecture and now cleaning up)

weather lied

(Realize I’m hot and check the weather. I knew it. Liars!)

second class

(1-2p.m. second class)

2nd class 2

(Giving the same lecture I gave to my 12-1 class)

office hours

(2-3p.m. Office hours. Only 2 people come to see me. This worries me as this is my last office hours before students’ first essay is due.)

toilet paper

(Go to the bathroom and seriously consider how I can steal the toilet paper because you know, toilet paper is expensive!)

gray hairs

(Besides the poorly painted nails, I can see two new gray hairs standing straight up. This depresses me.)

2-3(3-4p.m. class. Giving the same damn lecture)

4-5(4-5p.m class.  Same. Lecture. Kill me now. I hate this lecture.)

5(And I’m finished for the day. Peace out!)

no traffic(5 p.m. traffic. As in no traffic. I love where I live)

jessies(Pick Luke up at Ms. Jessie’s! So happy to see him.)

kisses(Give Luke at least 10 kisses before we even leave Ms. Jessie’s house.)

trash

(Drive home and notice that someone already took out the trash. This makes me unbelievably happy).

home(Ahhhh…finally home)

mads(Maddie’s already home from school and volleyball practice. Give her kisses. She’s like, “Why are you taking a picture of this.” I say, “So I’ll always remember how beautiful you are.” She pushes me out of the room and closes the door. Teenagers.)

hw(Homework time for Luke)

mads hw(Maddie’s doing her homework too. I ask if she needs help. She just laughs. We both know I’m not skilled enough to help her anymore)

dinner(Start dinner. Pork because it cooks quickly)

dins(Dinner is finished)

eating(The kids like it and eat in about 5 minutes flat. Why do I put so much time into dinner when they barely appreciate it? Pizza for tomorrow)

dishes(Ugh. Dishes)

luke shower(Give Luke a shower)

reading(Read Luke a book)

homeland(Consider reading myself, but opt for watching Homeland instead. That Carrie. She’s crazy)

end of day(9p.m. .Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Forgo shower because OMG. I’m so tired. Bedtime for me)

 

The American Dream October 9, 2014

Filed under: self-discovery,self-growth — courtsbrogno @ 9:28 am

One of the first class activities I do in my critical thinking class goes something like this (there are varying ways to do this activity, but this is the easiest):

I tell the class to close their eyes and imagine their life at 35 years old. What do they see? Imagine? Then I ask the students to open their eyes and write down what they envisioned. After about five minutes I ask students to share.

Almost always they have all envisioned the same thing: a house with a green lawn, a few kids, a handsome/beautiful husband/wife, a nice car, a good job where they’re climbing the ladder of success.

I ask them to consider why they all have seen themselves in the same way ( and most of them are a bit shocked that their dream is the same as everyone else’s) ? Eventually, someone will say, “well, because this is the American dream.”

This is a great way to discuss group think or the collective conscious. We don’t even think critically about our future. It’s seemingly implanted in us from birth. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the American Dream and the point of this assignment is not to negate any student’s dreams (unless I choose to play and dissect the Talking Heads’ song “Once in a Lifetime.” Then the whole class gets really somber), but rather to show them the power of not thinking critically.

And then to ask: What happens when you turn 35 and perhaps you haven’t achieved this goal? Someone always blurts out, “You take anti-depressants,” and we all laugh, until we realize the truth behind this statement.

All this is to say that this past weekend, as I was driving down to my 20 year high school reunion, I couldn’t help but think of the American Dream and how much I don’t fit into its perimeters. Normally, I’m okay with that. I like my life–actually, I love my life. It’s unconventional, I know, but it’s also my reality. And why would I feel badly about my own reality? I worked hard to get where I am and I am proud of my achievements even if they can’t be labeled nicely or fit into a tight definition.

But even I have my doubts. And as I drove down to Newport Beach last Saturday, I couldn’t help but feel insecure. I was about to see a whole lot of people that, for the most part, I haven’t really seen in 20 years. But some of them I follow on Facebook, so I can see how perfect their lives seem: they are the epitome of the American Dream.

I arrived at my hotel, checked in, and immediately took a nap. The drive was exhausting, but I think I needed a mental shut down before returning to my past. Because I was going to the reunion by myself (my best friend Michelle is about to have a baby any day now, so she bowed out, and my other friend Danielle refused to go), I had made arrangements to meet up with a friend from high school, Toffer, who was also going alone. Interestingly enough, Toffer and I, while acquaintances in high school, have developed a pretty good friendship via Facebook. Actually, I think he’s the only person I’ve ever become better friends with on Facebook.

Toffer is single, never married, and has no children. Perhaps that’s why we gravitated toward each other as the days leading up to the reunion neared: texting each other and making silly jokes. To be honest, it was Toffer who convinced me to go in the first place, using FINE persuasion skills (his JD degree is not going to waste, that’s for sure). Anyway, he met me at my hotel room and we got ready together and caught up on our lives. But we were both nervous (albeit, me more so) about not fitting in. Toffer was worried that everyone would ask him why he’s never been married (His joke: because of 9/11. The reality: he’s picky and was in school for a long time), and I was worried about having to answer to having 2 kids (who are the dad? dads? wow! dads! and still single!). But we put on our game faces and went.

And it was actually fine! Everyone looked great–I don’t know how we did it, but I think we all looked tons better than we did at 18 (OK, if you think about the fashion of 1994 then some of this makes sense, but still…). And there were so many people that I didn’t expect to see and yet was so happy to catch up.There was no hierarchies of “coolness” leftover from 20 years ago, and everyone seemed to mingle in and out of groups. Of course, there were people that I barely knew in high school that I didn’t talk to, but for the most part, it was really nice to see everyone.

While it was nice to see everyone, the conversation tended toward superficial: where are you living, what do you do, how many kids do you have, your wife/husband does what? But I think that’s to be expected when re-meeting so many people after such a long time. yet even though the conversation was kind and no one said anything judgmental or asked any overly-invasive questions, I still had this lingering feeling: God, everyone here has achieved the American Dream. I mean, really, the statistic could have been that everyone owned a nice house, most living in California still (and many still in Southern California), 2.5 kids, a dog, a nice and expensive car, a wonderful spouse. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of shame for my low(er) income, my renting status, still being single, and even my aging dog.

But then people started drinking more and slowly things began to change.

The drunker people got and the more comfortable, the more “real” their lives became. Many are in unhappy relationships, but feel stuck (I say feel because I don’t buy into the “I am stuck” version of life. We choose to remain stuck and can un-stick ourselves at any time) because while they’re in a loveless marriage, they have kids and a stable 2 person income. Many hate their job (I swear, one guy I spoke to, I actually thought might kill himself the next morning, he spoke with such bitterness). Kids, well, we all get overwhelmed with kids so that’s no big surprise. But slowly the American Dream didn’t look so good anymore.

And while I’m no statistician, I have to say that this was not a small sampling of people at the party. This was almost everyone I spoke to. During our post-reunion conversation, Toffer said he had the same experience, so between the two of us, we covered many of the attendees.

I didn’t actually have any real moments of schadenfreude, but rather, I just felt really good about my life. It might not be the most conventional way of living, but I am happy. I do like my job. I may be single, but I’m not miserable at all.

I don’t know what I think about the American Dream anymore. Some people make it work brilliantly and others get caught in misery. I do know, though, that we should all look at our lives critically and understand that the American Dream is, in fact, mostly just a dream.

 

i went back to high school…and nothing has changed September 15, 2014

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 12:05 pm

You’d think in the 20 years it’s been since I walked the halls of high school that a lot has changed. Guess what? Nothing has changed. Sure, the students no longer wear flannel, birkenstocks, doc martins, and jean overalls….oh, wait, they DO wear those today. What is wrong with the world that the fashion from my high school days has made a come back? Jean overalls should never make a come back.

But really, not much has changed, especially with the way I felt in high school—just a girl, wandering around with low self-esteem. I’d like to think that after years of therapy and self-growth and increased confidence that I’d changed. But no! Put me in a high school setting and I’m just as awkward and nervous as I was from 1990-1994.

Last Wednesday was Maddie’ back to school night. I wasn’t able to attend last year’s BTS because Maddie had a soccer game, so I decided to go to this years. Actually, let me be honest: I wasn’t going to go but then a friend of mine who teaches at the high school basically told me that only parents who don’t love their children don’t go. Thus, I went. Because, you know, I love my kid and all.

The hour before it started I was already a mess. I tried on at least 4 different outfits before deciding on one that made me look “mom-ish” but with style.Why I even cared? Who knows?

The first part of BTS night was a large parent meeting in the gym. Back to the gym. The band was playing and we actually said the pledge of allegiance, which I haven’t said in so long, I didn’t remember the words. But the parents all around me did, so I faked it, mumbling under my breath. Then we all sat down and listened to the principal speak, and while I do think he’s a great principal, my God was I bored. He spoke in monotone the entire time.  I have a feeling he didn’t want to be there either.

I sat by myself, watching other parents who knew each other talk and catch up, but I didn’t know anyone around me. I glanced around and saw a few people I knew but they were siting too far away for me to talk to. Again—just like high school. In high school I always felt so uncool and even though I had friends, I remember doing the same thing at assemblies–looking around, hoping for  friend to sit next to.

And then I was lost among a sea of parents looking for their kids’ classes. It seemed everyone around me had thought to print out a map, but I guess I failed on thinking about that. But with my high deductive powers I found Maddie’s classrooms. OK, That’s not true at all. I just wandered around until I found an ASB student who could point me in the right direction. Oh, those ASB students. Not much has changed with them–always over-eager to spread their high school pride and knowledge.

One thing has changed though. High school is a lot more difficult now than when I attended. I sat in Maddie’s classes, always in the back hoping I didn’t get called on (for what? who knows?), and listened as Maddie’s teachers told us about the workload and their expectations. I swear to God, I was sweating at the thought of all the homework Maddie has to do. And the teachers kept talking about college and grades and I just felt completely over-whelmed. When I was in high school, it seemed like such an easy game. Do your homework, go to school, get a decent GPA, go to college. I never aimed for Harvard, but I got into every college I applied to. I know for a fact that there’s no way I would get into any college today based on my high school grades.

While sitting in the classrooms, I felt–again–like a lost young girl. Once again, all the parents seemed to know each other and I didn’t know anyone. OK, I knew a few parents, but still…it was like being the odd one out.

And here’s the real kicker: I have never felt more SINGLE than I did on BTS. Couples everywhere. Holding hands, asking questions, making plans to play bunco. Are there no single parents in the school? There probably are but I guess they don’t love their kids enough to make an appearance (really though, chances are they’re too busy or went the year before and are still scarred from the event). The only thing that made me feel better is the fact that I never, ever want to play bunco.

I went home more informed about what Maddie does for 8 hours a day but also feeling like such a loser. I kind of figured out the whole single thing. It seems like most parents who divorce do so when their kids are in elementary school and  have thus remarried by the time their kid gets to high school. Good for them (I say this with complete bitterness in case you were wondering). But I also think I’ve figured out why I felt so “uncool.” I think it has to do with the high school itself. Something about walking onto a high school campus immediately takes me back to my pubescent years.  It’s in the walls, the closed off classrooms, the teachers who stare down at you, the “cool” kids who have never been bullied, the boys who will never love you. It’s like years of all these typical high school traumas of years past get absorbed into the walls, and then if you’re like me and still worry about such petty things, the walls reach around you and strangle you with all the disappointments, fears, and self-loathing you though you had left behind.

God damn, maybe I should be wearing doc martins.

But oh, it gets worse. In three weeks I will be attending my 20 year high school reunion. That I’m attending alone. Why do I so love to torture myself?

 

being emotionally healthy January 14, 2013

Filed under: self-discovery,Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 5:03 pm

Being emotionally healthy, I thought, meant that I would be this wonderfully happy and amazing woman.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

What it really means is that I have become a vulnerable woman, which is a huge leap for me and very healthy, but with all that comes feelings. I have spent the majority of my life wrapped in a cocoon of trying not to feel anything. It was self-protective. It meant that I couldn’t get hurt, and when I first entered therapy one of the things I told my therapist was that “I don’t feel anything.” I just kind of went through life and did what I needed to do and had fun times and bad times and became pretty successful. But inside I felt pretty emotionally numb.

Well Glory Be! I no longer feel that way any longer. I have matured. I have been through quite a bit of self-study.

And now I feel a whole lot. Mostly, I just feel sad though.

I think it stems from my past relationship where I learned, despite having my heart ripped out of my chest, how to be vulnerable. And I am forever thankful for that. But because I was vulnerable with a man, I also felt the great loss of, well, having my heart ripped out of my chest. And it hurt. Boy did it hurt. And I cried. A lot.

Which I’m not really used to. And I’m not so sure how great that felt.

Which is exactly the point according to my therapist. He’s very proud of me for feeling.

And while I am mostly over my heart-break, I have been feeling this sense of listlessness and aimless and purposeless lately.  I don’t know how to really describe it. I’m tired a lot. I don’t have any urge to do anything other than what’s needed: work and kids. When I mentioned this to my therapist last week, he looked at me and said, “You’re depressed.”

NO. That can’t be, I told him. I’ve only been depressed once before in my life when I was about to and then married to Luke’s father. During that time I couldn’t get off the couch. I could barely function. Right now, I’m fully functioning. I’m just in a funk.

My therapist said, “What you had then was severe depression. Right now, you just have depression.”

And then I cried. See: emotionally healthy.

So this week, after accepting that I am, in fact, depressed, I went to my therapist and asked, “Ok. How do I fix this?”

Because before when I was depressed all it took was me ending my relationship with Luke’s father and I was back to being happy. Like, within a day.

But the sad news is that there isn’t something I can really do right now other than to force myself to get out of the house, not sleep all day when I have the chance. All the things I just want to do so badly right now.

And I can’t seem to figure out why I’m depressed. My therapist asked me how I view myself. My first response was “boring.” Then I cried.

He then said, “So you don’t like yourself very much right now, do you?” My honest answer was “No.” I cried.

I told him I sit on my porch, smoking a cigarette, and wish for cancer. Why? Why would I wish that, I asked.

“Because for some reason you think you deserve some form of punishment,” he said.

Why? Why would I want to punish myself? I know I’m a good person. I do good things. I’m a good mom, friend, teacher.

Oh, the mystery of depression. And the great disconnect between the intellectual (I know I’m this…) and the emotional (I feel terrible. I want cancer. I can’t stop crying.).

I feel like I’m living someone else’s life–a sad, boring, pathetic life. And I hate that. Mostly I hate this because it feels like such a first world problem and I’m educated enough to know that there are people who are way worse than me. Why should I be complaining? What gives me the right to feel depressed when I have such a good life?

Ugh. Mostly, I just want to hibernate and come out feeling alive again.

But I can’t do that.

So, for now, I’m just a bit stuck. Which makes me feel even worse.

P.S. I’m not allowing any comments on this post. Sorry but I can’t take the “it’ll get better/chin up/can I do anything for you” comments. Also, if you call me, I probably won’t return your call. Right now, I just need to be. Be sad. Figure it out.

God damn being emotionally healthy. God damn crying all the time. God damn feeling.

 

bart bitch December 17, 2012

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 5:35 pm

Some things you need to know:

1. I was planning on writing a deep blog about being a mentally and emotionally stable woman and how much that sucks, but then this little story crept up and was way better. I’ll post about my emotional well-being another day.

2. My mom and dad live in the Bay Area.

3. I’m single.

So, I was at my sister’s house the other day and my parents were visiting. My mom and I were sitting on the couch and all of a sudden she starts talking about people she kind of knows who make a lot of money. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: So my neighbor’s son had to sign for her lease–she’s 80–and that wasn’t a problem because he makes like $450,000 a year? can you even imagine that?

Me: No.

Mom: And Jan’s son–you remember Jan don’t you?

Me: No.

Mom: Well, her son and wife just bought a $1.2 million dollar house and then they sold it to buy a $2.6 million dollar house in Palo Alto. Can you even imagine the salary they make?

Me: No.

Mom: And then there was this guy that your dad knows and his daughter got a job in the tech industry in Mountainview, and do you know how much she’s making?

Me: No.

Mom: $120,000. And she’s 28 years old.

Me:

Mom: Do you understand what I’m saying?

Me: No. Do you want me to get a job in the tech industry? Cause I’m really not qualified.

(In walks my sister and best friend Katy)

Mom: No. But since you’re single and you’ve been really sad, I think you should come stay with us and ride the train in the morning?

Me: WHAT???

My sister: Yes, that’s a great idea!

Me: WHAT???

Mom: Well, those commuter trains are filled with men who make millions of dollars. You could just ride it in the morning and meet someone.

(Mom beaming)

My sister: YES!!!

Katy: That’s a great idea.

Me: So you want me to come up and stay with you and then get up in the early morning to go sit on a commuter train to try and meet someone?

Mom: Exactly. Your dad could drive and pick you up.

My sister: You could totally blog about it.

Katy: You really could.

My sister: You could call it Bart Bitch.

Mom: No. You can’t blog about it. You don’t want to give away your secrets.

Me: Are you for real?

Everyone: YES!

The next day, I was at Maddie’s soccer game with my mom; Carolyn, a good family friend; and Carol, one of Maddie’s teammate’s moms. Again, the subject was broached.

Mom: I mean, don’t you think that’s a great idea?

Me: No.

Carol: It is. It really is. You should do it.

Carolyn: Seriously Courtney, you should try it. It can’t hurt.

Me: Oh My God.

All I could think about was how desperate I must look. Ok, I know I’ve been a bit sad lately, but it’s not like I’m pathetic. But this is how I imagined the whole thing going down (pretend I’m at the bart stop and you’ll probably have to click on the pictures to actually see the words. sorry.)

bart 1

bart 2

bart 3

bart 4

Bart Bitch. That’s what I’ll call myself. Wait for the new blog with that title.

Unless, I find a man my own way–whether wealthy or not. (and chances are he won’t be wealthy cause that just kind of freaks me out).

 

peace within December 14, 2012

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 6:47 pm

I had a very funny blog post all ready to write, but then in the wake of what happened in Connecticut, it didn’t seem appropriate to post anything funny. Maybe in a few days.

Today, amidst all my tears and sorrow for what happened, I was at the mission in our town watching the bells rung at noon. My friend, Neal, invited us to go as he’s the person who rings the Friday noon bells.

What a perfect day for us to partake in this ceremony, for as the bells were ringing, I stopped for a moment and uttered one simple prayer to God:

peace.

bells

But then I also realized that if we want peace in the world, and less violence, whether in Syria or at home, we should start practicing it in our own lives. Something I try to do and fail at constantly.

But I’m done. I’m done being angry and vengeful. I’m done showing my kids how NOT to behave. So, here’s my early New Year’s resolution: more peace within my own life. More love and understanding and caring. Less gossip, negativity, anger, loss, and empty promises.

For we are all united and we have much to cherish. And we need to do a better job individually if we are ever to have anything resembling peace.

This video should inspire us all to realize the power of our words, the power of our hearts. And that power should be positive.

 

what i want November 17, 2012

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 9:04 pm
Tags:

Considering my last post was so dreary and considering I’ve been feeling rather melancholy lately anyway, I thought it might be best if I started focusing on the things I want in my life. Because I do believe that if you want something, you shall get it. The universe is kind that way.

First, let’s get past the obvious:

I want health and happiness for my kids, I want world peace, I want inner-peace, I want better earth for everyone to inhabit, I want freedom for all, I want kindness to be a guiding principle to all.

But, for me, I want:

A garden of my own, to grow food and to find solace in nature:

A home for me and my kids to live in. Something small and something comforting.

 

 

A tiny nook for me to read and write.

 

 

Life-long, good girlfriends

 

An adventure. I’m desperately in need of one.

 

 

 

A long hike somewhere beautiful.

 

 

 

And a man. A good man. One who will cherish me, spoil me, love me. LOVE ME.

(Ha! This picture is actually of me. Hope I don’t get in trouble, though I shouldn’t since it is me! And I don’t want the man in the photo. Just the happiness please)

These are my wants. Not my wishes. And I will work on making this all come true.

You don’t think it’s too much to want, do you?