Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ordinary Woman Seeks Extraordinary Life

What woman out there is ordinary? None. But in this extravagant world that we live in, where we are constantly exposed to the super- amazing female icons on a global scale and just unbelievable do-it-all women on a local scale, our daily lives of routine and consistency, no matter how nurturing or giving to those we live with and serve, seem to add up to ordinary- no matter how great they really are. Hmmm… Am I making sense? Let me elaborate from my point of view, which is the only view I am an expert on:

I sat in my living room with my almost two year old son, watching Madigascar for the 127th time, rubbing his belly as I waited for him to dose off to sleep for his afternoon nap and I heard Marty, the zebra tell his friends,

“I’m 10 years old, half my life is over and I don’t even know if I’m black with white stripes or white with black stripes…doesn’t it bother you that we don’t know anything about the world outside of this zoo?”

And I thought to myself, that is a profound statement!

Here I am, just about to turn 34 years old and there is still so much that I want to do, that I have not done yet. My life is full, and very busy- there is no doubt about that. I am married with 3 children: 14, 13 and almost 2- all boys. I am a college graduate. I am a Reading Teacher. I wake up at 5:30 am, come home around 6 pm, completely exhausted, my eyes red, my back, neck and legs sore, eat dinner with the family, watch a program with my husband, call my mother for our daily talk, and go to bed and do it all over again. I sleep late on Saturday’s and go to church on Sundays. My life is 70 % work , 20 % family and 10% tired.

I used to think I wanted to be a stay home mom, so I tried it- stubbornly insisting that I had to stick to my plan, even though the bottom line screamed, "don't do it!"  after the baby was born and all it led to was our financial ruin.

 My dream of staying at home and raising my child, cooking dinner, and keeping a neat house, being an available parent, wife, and friend had to be modified. But that was okay because I have friends that stay home and they have their own struggles too. As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Now, I’m happy to be working because that is what my family needs, but we still need more, my job alone is not getting us over the hump. And that just makes me feel bad. If my efforts and sacrifice were only getting the job done, then I would feel much better. Or would I?

At the end of many days, I feel spent and unfulfilled. If I don't search hard enough, it appears that all I have to show for it are bills paid, food on the table, and exhaustion. It sounds so bad, right? I hate that.

 Well, there is more to show for it than that, our amazing children and our family, who are all so close, and my loving marriage to a wonderful man- it’s a precious thing, I know.

Believe it or not, I’m a very enthusiastic, passionate, and fun woman. I love adventure,I love to write, I love helping people, I love making friends, I love making people laugh, I love making people smile, I love having fun with my family and others. When I’m in the classroom with my students, I love them too. I love working with kids, seeing them get excited about things. I love hearing them talk about life and how they see things.

But being a teacher isn’t what it used to be- and I’ve only been a teacher for 7 years now. So it’s changing rapidly. Teaching is 30% about what you do in the classroom and actually enjoying the students and building relationships with them and 70% meetings, data analysis, and emails, and doing whatever it takes to help your students pass the state test. What a shame. I think that, since I love the kids so much, maybe there is another way I can reach them other than teaching, because teaching is about an agenda and a schedule and do, do, do and don’t, don’t, don’t.

So I am writing a children’s book, actually I just finished it. It’s a book about a turtle, and everyone loves turtles. The book is currently in the process of being published and should be available in January. This adds meaning to my life, and although it has been several late nights without much sleep, it helps me to know my life is more than just a job.

When I share the story with my students, they get so excited and they say,
 “When can we buy your book Mrs. Azille?” And they say,
“You’re going to leave us, aren’t you? After you get famous and you book sells? You are, aren’t you?”

And I say,
“I would not quit on you in the middle of the year…I love you guys. But some things in life are not forever, and I still have many dreams for myself and my life. Doesn’t that make you feel good to know that even when you are older, you can still have dreams, and they can still come true? Life isn’t just about one thing, one goal. You only live once, and you’ve got to live it to the fullest and make it count.”

They get quiet and think about what I said and they seem to understand. “Well, don’t forget about us, okay? Because you are one on the best teachers we have ever had.”

Wow, that was so special, so sincere, and I am glad to be that person in their lives, for that moment. But they will grow up and leave me, go off to the next grade, as they should, and where will I be?

 I believe they will be so proud to see that I have had my dreams come true. Here are just a few of them:

Mrs. Azille- the author and writer of many books

Mrs. Azille- whose book was made into a movie

Mrs. Azille- the body builder ( or at least a woman in amazing shape with lots of energy!)

Mrs. Azille- the dancer

Mrs. Azille- the skydiver

Mrs. Azille- the swimmer

Mrs.Azille- the artist and photographer

Mrs. Azille- the owner of a creative writing center

Mrs. Azille- the great chef

Mrs. Azille- the traveler

Mrs. Azille- the fisherwoman

Mrs. Azille- the guest speaker at schools with a message to encourage today’s youth

There is more…

Michelle Azille, the wonderful, present and supportive mom

Michelle Azille, the wonderful wife

Michelle Azille- the great friend, the one who always remembers your birthday

Michelle Azille- creator of a popular blog

Michelle Azille- creator of a television show

Michelle Azille- the humanitarian and director or Feasts for the Families, an organization that collects and delivers Holiday meals to families in need during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So now what? You could say, “So what’s stopping you?”

My life is stopping me. How do you attempt to do any of those things when you are tired and pressed for time? Now you see why I feel so ordinary…

My biggest complaint to my husband is that he actually sees me as a super-woman, with boundless energy and ideas, who should be able to do it all, including swinging from the chandeliers, wearing lingerie, and crying out for my Tarzan- at least 3-4 nights a week. Do you catch my drift?? So, if I fail to do that, am I not just an ordinary woman?

If I fail to check some emails at school, get my baby early to bed each night, make my husband feel like King on the Mountain, or sign a progress report for my children after being asked only one time, am I not just an ordinary woman?

If I cannot find the time to get myself to the gym, lift a few weights, do a few sit ups, lift my butt from sagging, stop my arms from jiggling when I wave, am I not just an ordinary woman?

But wait, before you think this is just one big pity party, let me share that I am very proud of who I am and who I have become over the years. Life is a journey, and I have come a long way so far. But examine your life and what I have shared of mine and you can decide whether or not I am just wallowing in my misery or if you are just like me, a woman who is full of life, with so much to offer, who is waiting to break free from the obligations of a life that ties you down when all you want to do is soar like an eagle… kind of corny, but hey I’m a writer.

And one more thing I need you to know, I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. That is why I am sharing my life with you. I need some ideas.
* How can you really be “Every Woman” all at the same time?
* How can you really get it all done, for everyone who is depending on you and also for yourself too??
* Is there really a way? I think I need some support and some encouragement. Maybe this is something we can do together… Let’s share stories, start groups, let’s network. Two heads are better than one.
* What are your dreams and goals?
* Is there anyone out there working out or training to get their body in the best shape of your life?
* Is there anyone out there cooking up a storm and loving it? Got any great recipes for a woman on the go? * Got any great family activities that don’t cost a lot?
* Is there anyone else out there who wants to go sky diving? Anyone who already has? What was it like?
* Got any good ideas for how to spice up your marriage- especially when you don’t even have time to shave your legs??
* What about teaching? Any teachers out there that have the secret to managing all the business side of teaching while still loving the kids and making a meaningful impact on their lives?

Ladies, we need each other! I love girlfriends. Come on, talk to me.

This is Michelle Azille, signing off and waiting for your reply.

The baby is waking up, darn- another day I missed shaving my legs… good thing it's winter