Today show thoughts–Teachers and Gun Training

A few months ago I started putting on the Today show while getting ready in the morning. Inevitably, kidlet gets up, crawls into my bed and starts to wake up with breakfast and one of her shows. Often times she sees a part of a story on Today. Most of the time, they are pretty tame and I’m not concerned (hello Golden Globe results!)  But sometimes, like today, there are heavy subjects.

She came into my room just as they did a story on a rise in teachers (in Texas specifically) going to gun training classes. I asked her to change the channel. Then I paused (story still in the background)  I asked her if she understood what they were talking about…

Yes, but why would teachers want a gun?

Well, some think they would feel safer and be able to protect their students if something terrible happened.


Do you think teachers should have guns in the classroom

(she scoffs) I don’t think Mrs. S would want to have a gun!

She might not…

I find we are reaching an age with A that some topics in the news just can’t be avoided. How we sat down and told her about what happened at Sandy Hook before she went to a sleepover. How I sent a message to the parents with other kids at the party to let them know we were having that talk. That she didn’t quite understand why Norman and I couldn’t talk about it without crying.

I still want to protect her from heavy topics and would have preferred she not see the segment on Today this morning. But she did. So instead I want to have real conversations with her. I want to answer her questions. I want her to have information.

Besides that all – I still want to hold her and make all the  bad stuff go away. At least for a few more years to keep some level of innocence about her. That time is quickly slipping away from me. All I can do is prepare both of us for what’s next.

01/05/2013 Daily Word–Purpose

My word yesterday was also Purpose. I almost put the card back today to pick another one. Then I thought, OK, there must be something more to Purpose showing up two days in a row.

Purpose can be interpreted in so many different way. My Purpose in Life, the Purpose of my job, the Purpose of a seat belt…(I’m typing Purpose so many times, it doesn’t look right any longer)

I don’t have the mental wherewithal right now to get all contemplative on why Purpose is my word. I want to go read my book. I want to spend one more day doing nothing. I want to enjoy as much of this two week break as humanly possible.

Today, for me, Purpose means keeping to this new year commitment with a daily word, reflection and continued vulnerability.

01/03/2013 Daily Word –CLARITY

I posted on Facebook earlier today that my intention this year is to draw a word a day to reflect upon. Towards the end of last year I felt like I was on the cusp of something. Not quite sure what that is yet. I have been drawn back to some personal development work I did shortly after I moved to Seattle. Reminders about that work I did was popping up in the most curious of places. Conversations, opportunities, reminders, etc. etc. etc.!

Yes – the universe is trying to tell me something.

So I should probably listen.

Today I took down our holiday decorations and laid them all out on the dining room table. Each year, I attempt to get all of it back into 4 containers. If it doesn’t fit, I get rid of something. I don’t really need more than 3 containers of Christmas decorations and one for Hanukkah. We have enough stuff as it is. My work is nearly complete, just waiting on some dish towels to dry.

I was listening to the Les Misérables soundtrack while I did my work. Many songs bring me to tears every time I hear it, today was no exception. It felt pretty good actually, like a healthy release. Very cathartic.

I was also thinking about last year at this time. Taking down the decorations I was listening to NIN Pretty Hate Machine. I wanted to just throw it all away, I was so angry and in so much pain. I did realize nearly 6 weeks after my return, that the work trip in the Fall of 2011 really did a number on me. I was talking to my therapist about it, and a few very close friends. (Oh yeah, and I did post on here with more details of the whole trip) By the time I was taking holiday decorations down, I knew why I was such a mess and just trying to figure out how to Forgive Myself and move past it all.

It has been very clear to me this holiday that I have felt much lighter than last year. I actually enjoyed the holidays this time around. I didn’t get too stressed, I took two whole weeks off of work, I spent a lot of time with family and friends. It has been a great reminder of being able to move past my shit. It has also really illuminated what a bad state I was in a year ago.

So I am thankful that I was able to treat myself with Grace and committed enough to work through my emotions instead of hiding from them.

I also feel that this Daily Word thing is a good path to be on right now.

My 2012 story

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

  • I ran my first half marathon, I survived. I was physically prepared for it. What surprised me about the whole event was the emotional wall I hit at mile 9. I just wanted to give up! Sit down, cry and just stop. But I kept on, I was more than half way there and worse case I can just walk. After all, the goal was to finish, so walking would count
  • I upped my volunteerism by getting more involved in the PTA than I ever imagined in my life. I find it rewarding, but also so incredibly frustrating. Working in a different “system” than the one I’m used to has pushed my professionalism and skills in a way I never imagined
  • I’m coming to realize that the next wave of self-actualization is upon me, I’m scared, uncertain if I’m ready, and charging forward with eyes open…

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Instead of a resolution, I decided to pick a belief, a vision, to move forward. My word for 2012 was Grace. For the most part, I think I did a good job with it. Funny, that at the end of 2011, when I was in one of the deepest depressive experiences ever, I had enough clarity to choose Grace as my 2012 vision. I do have a word for 2013, that will come later.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I’ve had a few friends have children, no one in my immediate family. I saw more friends send their kid off to elementary school this year, I think this question will become…

3a. Did anyone close to you experience a child’s milestone?

Yes! A few entering school for the first time. A few getting their ears pierced (including mine), budding tween-ism and all the scariness that comes along with that.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the states this year. There were a few opportunities that never came to fruition. Which is just fine. I will be ready for our trip in April 2013 (Spring Break!) to London and Paris. And maybe I’ll see Brazil this year for work, who know.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Continued Grace, sacred time, and Vulnerability.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • March 9th – the evening of the PTA auction I co-chaired
  • April 25th – A’s 9th birthday
  • May 11th – my 10-year wedding anniversary (and revisiting the Herbfarm, where we got engaged!)
  • June 23rd – My first half-marathon, Rock & Roll Seattle
  • August 22nd – Trombone Shorty at Zoo Tunes
  • October 2nd – Norman’s birthday
  • October 3rd – Glen Hansard at the Moore
  • December 7th – my birthday celebration – Spa Day, dinner at Sitka & Spruce and a night at the Sheraton
  • December 10th – my birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think it’s the first time in a few years I am not answering this question about work (that I get paid for). The successful event and results of our auction. How I worked through my pain and fear of the fall 2011 work trip. That I focused time (after the auction) to do what was most important to me and my family, nurturing friends and myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My self-pressured mind says that I’m still in the same job. That I had wanted to be exiting after review season. However, in the experience of figuring out what I want to do next, realizing that this time in my job search – I want to be intentional and find the right thing, even if it means working through it more slowly and challenging myself to find what is right, and not what is easy.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no injury, a few bad colds, nothing chronic or debilitating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The moonstone ring I had worn nearly every day since I bought it in high school got chipped. I was devastated! I was afraid if I kept wearing it the stone would crumble and I would lose it forever. I needed a replacement. I found a meditation ring at Fireworks that I now wear nearly every day. It was a relatively smooth transition and I do find the tiny sounds of the chimes to be soothing.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

As I watch A grow and develop her personality, I’m amazed how one minute she is running around with her friends being so Mature. Yet the second they are gone she can be a total little girl in the safety of her family. She makes my heart burst with joy, fear for the future and pine for her innocence, every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Appalled – politicians and the circus our election process has become. Depressed – no one or nothing comes to mind. I’m pretty fortunate in the people I choose to surround myself with (note – I do have a choice in who I spend my time with, which leads to the fabulous people in my life!)

14. Where did most of your money go?

Typical monthly expenses, a new car, deposits towards our Spring 2013 Europe trip. I am trying to spend less on “things” and more on “experiences” – so I guess you can say my money went towards friends, good meals and drinks!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The time I spent this summer enjoying the weather and all the activities we have in the Seattle area. And my birthday (complete contrast to last year when I just wanted December to go away)

16. What song (I’m saying artists) will always remind you of 2010?

Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups, The Civil Wars, Glen Hansard, Storm Large, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier (in spades), about the same in physical stature and finances.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Creative pursuits, I want to find more of that in 2013. Whether it be refining my chocolate work, crafts, home projects – I wish to produce more that enhance the life and world around me than in years past.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Wasting time at work, taking on too much during the auction planning rather than relying on the help and support of others.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Spent the morning at home with Norman and A. Then over to my brother’s house with my dad, SIL,  niece and nephew for a pretty laid back day, good food and company. A nice balance of our family and those around me.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

30 Rock, Elementary, Episodes, Game of Thrones, Girls, Great Food Truck Race, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, True Blood

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I say this every year, I don’t really hate anyone. If I even start to really dislike someone, I think about why, what lesson might there be in this relationship for me. If I find the person is just not healthy to have around, I just don’t have them around. Nice result of being accountable for my choices.

24. What was the best book you read?

There were SO many….I’ll narrow it down to these two. Mostly because they both made my laugh out loud and also spoke to some of the more difficult aspects of life. Around family and mental illness, not easy topics in general, and not easy to write about in a way both funny and building community.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My top three….Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups and The Civil Wars

26. What did you want and get?

Resolution on my 2011 Asia trip. Self preservation.

27. What did you want and not get?

A Single Girl trip somewhere warm and sunny. I don’t think I did any Single Girl trip this year…must rectify in 2013!!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hm…Comedy, Pitch Perfect. Drama, Les Miserables and The Hunger Games

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 42 this year. 40-freaking-two! For some reason, more troublesome than turning 40, which didn’t bother me at all. Norman took me to Sitka & Spruce for dinner and then left me in a hotel room for a night all by myself!  Had dinner and cake with my family. And on my actual birthday, spent it with my family for a quiet evening in. I did drag out the festivities a few days before and about a week after the actual day. As it should be!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Uh…I suppose saying not co-chairing the auction would be awkward and cheating, since I cannot really erase it from time. Reframe that to – taking a volunteer job on that will require full-time commitment, when already working a full-time job.

I also would have liked that Single Girl trip somewhere warm. My self-charging experience.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

On the casual side – work out wear, jeans or PJs.  From a professional or going out/lookin’ good aspect – more dresses, sassy shoes, fancy stockings, coordinated purses!

32. What kept you sane?

Music. My husband. My friends. My kid.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

While I do have celebrity crushes…none seem to pop in my head now for a 2012 illustration.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Being an election year, and re-election, AND so many critical ballots in WA state this year, it was quite the charged discussion (in all media venues). Besides the people I wanted to keep in, or more importantly, keep out of office…the issue that stirred me the most this year was the Marriage Equality initiative in WA State. Not really a charged discussion amongst the people I hang out with, to hear the believes and impressions from those that opposed baffled me. I don’t mean opposed and in the middle, I mean opposed on the far side. It is more frightening to hear that people actually believe how laws in our state or country can “dictate” the reality of the world. “Legitimate rape” being one prime example in opposition to a woman’s right to choose. I will pause to step off my soap box and just say – I am extremely happy with the results of this past November election and that I could be an active participant in our government.

35. Who did you miss?

I keep having more family move into the area, so it’s harder to “miss” people than it was before. Instead, I cherish that my brother, SIL, niece and nephew live so close I can see them every week!

36. Who was the best new person you met?

A few people at work, one or two out of work – I just keep meeting more amazing people as the days go by!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I’ll tell you two:

  1. As traumatic as live events may be in the moment, to come out the other side, physically unharmed and willing to work through it, means more than anyone (including myself) could ever imagine!
  2. With every discovery about my family, it sheds new light on my past and how it has shaped the person I am today.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Little Talks (excerpt from…) – Of Monsters & Men

Hey! Hey! Hey!
I don’t like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you, my dear
The stairs creak as you sleep, it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes
Some days I can’t even trust myself
It’s killing me to see you this way
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Hey! Hey! Hey!
There’s an old voice in my head that’s holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks
Soon it will be over and buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young
And full of life and full of love.
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right
Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

This entire song sums up how I feel about “support”, it’s incredibly hard for me to ask for (or even how to do it in the first place) and then on the other side to actually accept the offer is more difficult than asking to begin with!

And there it is….my 2012 story.

It may sound cheesy, but if you have any question or wish to wax poetic with me further, send me a message. I would love to get a cup of coffee and talk some more. After all, I am on the verge of something for 2013, and if you can help me get there….well….all the better for me. Right?!

Happy 2013 everyone!

Jennifer Leigh (Gorman) Guadagno

Damn right it’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday!! I turned 37 today. Or may I didn’t or maybe I did, isn’t it true that a woman isn’t supposed to reveal her age? Have I reached that point of my birthday celebrations? I honestly don’t care, I just want to keep acting like a princess and ensure it’s all about ME! 

This month’s quotable calendar is quite fitting:

Your journey has molded

you for your greater good,

and it was exactly what it needed to be.

Don’t think that you’ve lost time.

It took each and every

situation you have encountered

to bring you to the now.

And now is right on time.

— Asha Tyson —

Norman took me out for my birthday on Friday. We started with wine and cheese and friends at Melrose Market, then to Sitka & Spruce for dinner. Then he left me in a hotel room so I could sleep ALL by myself, in the middle of the bed, and order room service for breakfast (although I didn’t actually order room service). It was a fabulous birthday experience (which I asked for this year, not a “thing”).

Yesterday my family came over for dinner and cake and a few presents. It was lovely!

Tonight, there is leftover cake! And wine! And I get to hang out with Norman and my kidlet! I don’t know what we are having for dinner yet, but I might be able to influence that. Maybe we’ll watch one of my favorite movies tonight, who knows.

So far, this birthday has been pretty awesome…

How We Treat Others

Last month, A’s school sponsored an assembly called Rachel’s Challenge. There were two session types, the K-4 grades had a discussion about kindness, how you should treat others, and how they can start their own chain reaction. The 5th & 6th graders saw a more graphic (if that is the right word) presentation that also talked about Columbine.

There was also a parent’s presentation that explained more about what our kids saw that day, and how we can support them to do the right thing. My understanding is what we saw was alike to the 5th/6th graders. I can see why it is tailored to grade levels. They showed video footage. We heard first-hand accounts of what happened that day, how now adults, then teenagers, were personally impacted, fearful and shocked by what happened in their community.

The story was much more about how Rachel lived her life before Columbine. How she cared and reached out to all people around her. You know the one, that kid that always invited the new student to their table at lunch. The kid that stuck up for everyone regardless of why they were being bullied, teased and picked on. The kid that was so sunshiny positive, my cynical pessimistic would fake gagging on the floor.

I was obviously not the Rachel in my high school.

Well, not sunshiny positive. There were times I stuck up for others. When I was a Senior (was it Senior year? I can’t honestly remember) David Toma came and talked to us about the danger of drugs. How that one decision could lead to a life of failure and despair. His stories were horrifying. The one that sticks in my mind were the new parents so high and paranoid, they literally put their baby in the microwave and turned it on. I can still remember where I was on the bleachers and the disturbingly graphic account he gave showing up on the scene as a police officer. Those kinds of stories don’t leave so easily.

Anyway – the school had counselors and all sorts of support options around the rest of the week. I remember being on the bus home and some kids started picking on this one particular boy. Because this boy went and talked to a counselor. They were poking fun at him and asking what was so important to talk to a counselor. I yelled at them, something along the lines You have no idea why he went, and it’s none of your business. You have no idea what is going on in his life that he needs to talk to someone. And you should leave him alone. This kid, we weren’t friends. We were friendly, but definitely didn’t travel in the same circles. The boys shut up, more mumbling under their breath probably saying things about me. But who cares.

Somewhere between 6th and 9th grade I grew a really thick skin. When I was in 6th grade I went into a brace for scoliosis. Just like Joan Cusack in 16 Candles.

I kid you not – I wore a Milwaukee brace and I kinda sorta related to Joan’s character in the movie. Except the part of hooking up with the exchange student. I had no hooking up when I wore the brace. I don’t think boys noticed me.

But the Mean Girls did.

There was one crowd of girls, I think 3 of them, maybe 2. I remember the Leader that would get up in my face. Super close. Uncomfortably close. She would say really awful things to me. About how ugly I was, how my brace made me a freak, how I would lose all my friends and no boy would ever want to date me. I would go home and cry. Every day. It was horrible.

After a few weeks, my parents found out. We had a family meeting and I remember my Dad being so angry. He wanted to call the principal. Get this girl, and her parents, into a room and Tell Her What’s Right and make her see what a horrible person she was and make her apologize. That made me cry even harder. I begged him to not call. I told him it would only get worse. I promised him it would only get worse. I don’t remember what else, if I said I would stay in during lunch or hang out with my friends somewhere else. I really don’t remember. The bullying continued. It even got worse. And then the school year was over.

So why am I going on this ugly trip down memory lane?

I recently finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why. The book was haunting. From the back cover:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

I could barely put this book down which says something, I’m such a slow reader. To hear the voice of a teen contemplating, and following through on suicide was too close to home. Not the suicide part, not at all. The torment and psychological drama. Too close to my own childhood dealing with Mean Girls, too close to what I see my 9-yr old, my 4th grader, dealing with already.

I kept thinking back to what I saw in the Rachel’s Challenge presentation. How those words can hit a teenager so hard. How that simple act of kindness, that to some doesn’t even feel like kindness, but how they live their life. To find the best in everyone. To see the positive intent. and believe the world could be a better place by creating a chain reaction.

My teen years are way behind me. To revisit them is only a lesson in how I survived and became stronger for any adversity I faced.

My kid is another story.

What sort of lesson I can teach her now, as a 9-yr old. Dealing with Mean Girls. In the 4th Grade. So much earlier than I ever dreamed of dealing with when I was in 6th, 7th or 8th grade. Junior High is the worst. I want her to have enough thick skin that this Mean Girl thing can blow over. That she can find her true friends that will stand by her, and stick up for her.

It is truly frightening to be a parent when there is so little we can actually control, or protect.

The best I can do now is prepare her for what lies ahead. To lead by example. Talk to her every day about how she is feeling and what she struggles with socially. To instill belief and faith that I’ll be there for her to listen and help her through the rough times. And celebrate the resulting success and happiness.

Singapore–One Year Later

It has been One Year and Four Days since I got home from my trip to Singapore – Part 1,Part 2 and the Aftermath (four months later)

I had been anticipating the anniversary back in early October. Not in an anxious way, more like – Hm, that’s interesting, it’s been almost a year!

I’m somewhat un-phased right now.

I told the story to someone in August, trying to recreate the great detail I did last Fall. It came across somewhat flat. The emotional impact I felt last year was not in the story. I kinda felt like I was describing a dream. You know those conversations, so vivid and surreal in your own brain, but once verbalized people are like – Uh, yeah, huh…. You’re right, totally weird dream.

So I don’t really have much more to say on the topic.

Except, I still have no desire to travel to Asia any time soon.

I think this is a good thing – I went, I experienced, I’m getting over it!