Monthly Archives: December 2014

Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 9

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I can already tell you, without even reading through this set of questions, that I am going to be disappointed. A few weeks ago, I would have loved to just be done answering the questions from this book. Now that I’m on the last chapter, I was hoping for quite a few questions so that it took me some time. Unfortunately, there are only three short sections… 


 

  • Are your family and friends supportive of your goals? Do they encourage you? Do they put down your efforts?

My family is extremely supportive of my goals, though they have not always been. They don’t encourage me when they see something that will lead me to hurt. At the same time, sometimes their lack of encouragement is the very thing that leads to that disappointment and hurt. 

As for my friends? Most of them are family. The others, what very few that I have, are very encouraging whenever they are around. At the same time, many of them turn out to not be true friends, so how can I say that they are supporting? Half the time they end up causing me the most trouble…

  • Who are some of the people you know who have obtained similar goals? How did they do it?

My coworkers. My ex. He relied a lot on me for support and help. I’m not entirely sure how my coworkers did it, though I know most of them do not have teaching certificates so their path to success may have been a tad easier than mine. *yay for politics*

  • How do you handle setbacks? Do you assess the reasons behind the setback and address those issues?

Isn’t that part of the reason I started this blog? If I write about my setbacks, I can more easily analyze them and determine the best plan of action. Though I must admit, when they first hit me, I’m pretty much a mess. Normally emotions range from 1) really angry to 2) really sad. Then I get my act together and start processing. 


So that’s it… That’s the last Souls Revealed post! Maybe I will have to find another self-help type book soon. In the meantime, I’m going to read a nice piece of nonsense fiction because I have not picked up a novel in quite some time! 

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Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 8

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I have missed writing on here, though it’s only been a few days. So here goes another question/answer post. This is the second-to-last one, and I am hoping to finish both of them tonight, so stay tuned…


 

Money Tree

  • What is your belief about money?

Save it. As much of it as possible. It’s not worth the stress in your life and the danger in your life that frivolous spending and irresponsible saving can lead to. As for money in general, it stinks! Let’s face it, no one would do an honest day’s work if they didn’t have the motivation of money, but it also makes people jealous, envious, and plain old evil. 

  • How does your family handle money?

See above? I mean, I handle my own money my own way. What they do with their’s is their business.

  • What are your money goals?

Right now I’m trying to save for a safer winter vehicle!

  • How much stress does money cause in your life?

None. Until you get one of those huge bills for some doctor’s appointment or other function. And then you realize that it would be lovely to know how much these tests and crap would cost you before you go to the appointments…

  • Do you live beyond your means?

Never. I was raised to live below my means so that I never have to rely on a man (or anyone else for that matter) to save me from my own debt. 

  • Do you impulse-buy or do you evaluate your impulses versus your needs?

There are moments. Impulse buys are very rare in my life and I make sure that I have enough money to do the impulse buying before going out with a wallet full (okay, maybe not entirely full) of money to spend. 

  • What do you do with money? Do you tend to save, spend, or invest?

Uh, I earn it? And then I spend it? As to the second question: yes, yes, and yes!

  • When was the last time you checked your credit? What is your score?

Never. Why check it for no reason? Besides, people look at how many times you check your credit and it can give you a bad rap if you check too many times. No idea what my score is, not that I’d care to share it on here for anyone to see. 

  • How much money do you spend on personal care- hair, nails, etc.?

I get my hair cut about once a year, maybe twice. For less than 30 bucks each time. Every now and then I’ll buy a one dollar bottle of nail polish and do my own nails. (For the record, we should not ignore the fact that I do spend money on hair shampoo, own fingernail clippers, etc. It’s not as though I live like a bum, but I also don’t spend on hair dye, french manicures, etc.)

  • Do you have outstanding debts?

See above? 

  • How much money do you need to feel comfortable?

With the way society is today, I need more than you might realize. I know what I can live on comfortably, but there is always that fear that health insurance will go up, some idiot will wreck into my car, or some other “natural” disaster will occur that will require me to have a ton of money. 

  • What are your retirement plans?

Considering I just started my first full-time job, I have no retirement plans. Though I do have a 401K and some investments to save money for the future…

  • How would you handle an unexpected life change (like a job loss)?

A job loss? I’d cry! Who cares about money, I’d just be devastated! I work my butt off at my job and I love my students and coworkers so much! As for money, my family can always support me if they need to, but I would go back to my previous employer if I absolutely had to. 

  • Are you willing to provide financial support to your partner?

Erm, what partner?

  • How do you feel about being supported by a partner?

Again…. see above?

  • What is the best money advice that works for you?

My dad always told me three things:

  1. Never owe anyone anything that way you can live independently and with less stress.
  2. If you plan to use credit or checking accounts, make sure you have all of the money already saved so that you don’t have to worry about paying interest or defaulting your account.
  3. Choose a career that pays well, but choose one that you love first. Then you won’t hate money so much and you will be provided for by yourself without needing anyone to support you. 


I would put some additional thoughts here, but I hadn’t expected to find these questions about money. Now that I think about it though, I did read a chapter about finances…

 

~Me

 

Not My Intentions…

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I definitely had not planned to write this up tonight, but I guess things happen that you never really realize until it’s too late to safe guard yourself against them.

Here’s the thing (and I’m sorry if I’ve talked about this before and am repeating myself); my family has this record with alcohol that is so less-than-stellar. Not my parents or siblings or anything like that, but my grandparents especially. Fifty percent of them were serious alcoholics at one point in their lives. There was the abusive grandfather, the one my parents kept us away from, and the one who was almost “disowned” because they were just plain nasty all the time as they drank. 

This is a fact that I’ve grown up with, one that I cannot say that I enjoy. There is such a huge stereotype on alcohol and drinking for me now. I was raised to be very cautious about alcohol, that it changes people for the worst. My parents set the good example by not drinking at all, ever. 

Since I try to be a good Christian girl (I know, the religion doesn’t have a lot to do with alcohol, but hear me out), I have set some very firm beliefs for myself that I intend to stick through and follow. One of them is that I will never drink alcohol in my life. Not even a glass. Not one. 

So many of you are probably rolling your eyes right now and saying that I am naive for not even trying something that is not harmful unless you let it be harmful, but it’s my belief and I’ll stick with it regardless of judgement. 

So why is this a big deal tonight? Well… I went to a friend’s house today to hang out. There was alcohol. Not a lot, just enough for people to realize that I was the only one of-age in the entire house who was not drinking anything. So I got questioned. I kept refusing, and then people got really quiet and acted just a tad weird for a while. 

Don’t get me wrong, no one was straight out nasty to me about my decision to not drink; everyone there was pretty mature. But the questions were there nonetheless. And my thing is, why? Why must I always defend this belief that I have. No one, not even half my family, understands why I have set this goal for myself. No one realizes how much pain I felt because of the aftermath of alcoholism. No one.

So here I sit, wondering what other beliefs I have set for myself that others would judge if I tried to discuss them out loud (or if they were just as apparent as me not having a martini glass in my hand…)

  1. I do not drink. Never have, never will.
  2. I am not completely an angel, but I never want to have sex before marriage. I’ve come too close to giving it all away to someone who was fake before, and I am glad that I stopped myself from that amount of hurt.
  3. It is better to remain quiet than to remain judged. (This is more of a motto that I lead rather than a goal/belief.)
  4. I will never have any more piercings. (I have one set of ear piercings and one side of my cartilage pierced now.)
  5. It is better to have loved (with your heart entirely on your sleeve) than to never have loved at all, so I do all the loving I can (even if I accidentally come off as too emotional).

Well.. I had been thinking of others, but I got distracted and am completely exhausted. Maybe I’ll come back and fill more out soon. For now, let me know what you think! Do my friends and family have a right to judge? Does anyone? How would you react? Thanks all!

~Me

Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 7

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Apparently I’m meant to be on a writing roll today. This is my third (?) post, and I have not tired of t yet! It’s keeping my mind off of things, namely science, work, and death. Lovely…

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  • What don’t you like about yourself and your life?

At this point in my life, I’m pretty content. I don’t like things that have happened, but I’m mature enough to realize that I can do nothing about those situations now. The only thing I can do is control how I react to them or let them affect me now. 

  • What would you like to change?

Sadness in this world. It’s too sad and people are too mean. But I know I have no control over this…

  • What do you believe are your greatest strengths?

I am a great listener, and sometimes an even better teacher. I feel like I’m also good at being a friend, but I know that sometimes others will disagree with me about that idea. 

  • Are you open to a life change at this time? How hard would a change be for you right now?

I am sort of open to a life change at this time, but I just recently went through some huge life changes. I think another huge change would be hard right now because I am still settling into the idea of these other new changes. It would be great if I could accustom myself to one thing before another popped up. 

  • If you are considering a life change, how soon would you want to start working on that change?

I most definitely will not be the one to instigate the new life change. At least not yet!

  • What are the top two life goals that you would like to pursue?

I want to teach (yay, I’ve made a lot of progress with this lately!). I also want to find love (I have found this in my family, but not so much in others who I have not grown up around).

  • What could be your potential roadblocks?

Other people. For sure.

My own fears are probably the biggest issues. 

  • What are the biggest concerns to you that could threaten your plan?

I love challenges, but mental ones. I hate physical challenge or emotional challenge. These things can rip me to pieces in an instant. So my biggest concern? Not so much with teaching, but with the other goal… my biggest concern is being hurt. Hurt so badly that there is no way for me to heal. 

  • Who do you know who can inspire you?

My parents and others I know who have found the type of love that I would like to one day have. They’ve already taught me a lot about relationships. 

  • What will be the financial cost of attaining your goals?

No financial cost. If anything, I will earn more money by teaching. 

  • Will you need to seek help? What would the best possible way of getting help be?

Yes, I always will need help. There is no great goal in life that can be achieved alone. I think I’ve already made this clear, but I will look at relationships around me, talk to my parents and family for advice… as for teaching, I will continue to expand my knowledge base and watch my coworkers in their teaching environments. I have a lot of growing to do in that area, but the major part of the goal is accomplished!

Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 6

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I’m having a hard time staying distracted right now, so I am going to try to complete some more of these questions. Then some homework or another good book sounds good, but whatever I do, I need to stop thinking! Thanks for understanding (whoever may be reading this that understands). Even invisible support is appreciated. 

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  • Describe how you have stepped out on faith.

I used to think Faith was a silly thing; we all went to church for Sunday School to memorize this book and these passages that I never thought I would relate to or use in my entire life. It was like someone wrote this novel, just like any other novel, only longer and more confusing. I guess as a child, I didn’t really believe in the Bible. I believed in God and prayed more often than I have done at other points in my life, but I sort of stepped out simply because I never stepped in.

As a teenager, my life changed a lot. At some point I started praying for so many negative things to get better that I felt selfish and just stopped praying on a regular basis. I still believed in God but I questioned what was happening in my life and why it had to happen, especially to my family. At that confusing point in my life, I took a step back from my faith because I didn’t understand anything going on at the time and was entirely confused about every part of life. 

  • How do you look at your life?

I’ve come to realize that life is a learning experience and if I don’t treat it as such, I will spend my entire life questioning things that have happened in the past for no good reason. It’s important to understand why things happened in life, but it’s more important to be able to understand that they did happen and to keep on living until the reason brings itself to light. 

At this point I also feel like my life is all about helping others. Sometimes I feel selfish when I think about myself and my own problems, but for the most part I am giving to others. The only people who I don’t give to as much as I really should is my family; they are all much better at giving than I am, though I am trying to get better around them. I guess by the time I am done spending all day giving, my give has run out and I need to rely on my family more than ever. 

  • Do you pray?

Constantly. Though I have to say my story has changed in reference to this subject. As a kid, I would say the same prayer every night right before bed. My parents taught me the prayer and it stuck with me. Even when I was a teenager, I would still say this same prayer with just a few extra thoughts or wishes added to the end. Sometimes I still do this…

Now though, I find that by the time my head hits the pillow, I’m zonked. There’s no energy left in me or thoughts to be able to put together into a full sentence, let alone a prayer. Sometimes my prayer is as simple as “Goodnight God, watch over everyone for me.” Other times it is longer and more specific to what is going on in life.

Lately, as I am trying to regain my independence and find my strength again, I have found myself praying at completely random times. At work, in between my classes. At night or in the morning during my travel to or from work. The only real consistency that my praying has is 1) when I have the chance to go to Church and pray with the rest of the congregation or 2) when something bad has happened to someone who needs as much prayer as they can get. 

  • Do  you have a spiritual relationship with God?

I guess that really depends on what you consider a spiritual relationship with God. I’ve already established that I pray and look to him for explanations of things that humans cannot explain, look to him for help in which decisions to make, etc. So if that’s what you mean, then yes. 

And since we are on this topic of “depends what you mean”, I think my biggest issue with Christianity and religions in general is that it is more complicated to be religious than to be a teacher! A teacher of a very difficult subject! I am never going to remember the definitions of all of these terms and meanings, especially when most of them mean at least two different things for at least two different religions. Just saying… I’m smart, but not that smart.

  • Describe how your faith has been easily wavered or increased over time. Give details.

Life makes it waver just as easily and fast as life makes it increase. Give details you say? Well any time one bad thing happens or one extremely good thing happens, my faith has been known to change. I am getting more sturdy and confident in my faith as I grow older, but since I am still young I still have a lot of that wavering and increasing. Luckily, over the past few years, I have felt the love of a person who truly loved me, I have done good for others, and I have grown within myself; all of these things have led me to see that God does do greater things than anything I had imagined before. Which is why my faith has increased so much recently. A few years ago, this would not have been my blog. This would have been the one that I rolled my eyes at and skipped over; not because I never took God seriously, but because people who spoke about their religion and beliefs were outsiders in my world. They were the people who could get you in trouble or into an argument without you even realizing it. (Sorry to those people now. I know I never did anything necessarily “bad” to you, but I also didn’t consider you anywhere near the person who I would become friends with because I judged too soon. I’m sorry.)

  • Do you call on God only when there is a crisis, or do you have an ongoing relationship with God?

Both. I am more likely to call on him during crisis, but I am also very aware of the fact that he is always around. It’s sort of like some of my friends; I know they are there but I don’t talk to them every day. I know that I should not be comparing God to friends, but he is a friend in his own way. 

  • When you’re in the middle of a crisis are you able to surrender to God?

At some point, that’s the only choice I have. But I am so headstrong that I always think I can handle things on my own or find the help I need in others who are here, those who can hug me or talk directly to me and give me a sign or a message that is not as much left up to interpretation as God has been known to give. 

  • Have you faced a health crisis, and if so, how were you able to work through it?

I had mono when I was a teenager. I guess I wasn’t in too much of a crisis, but it was a pretty big deal to me since I was too stubborn to want to miss school or work. I was able to work through it because of the Internet, because of friends, because of family, and because I was still young. Since that was one of those confusing and hectic times in my life, I am sure I relied on God a lot too. I just don’t remember exactly who I relied on during that time (since, what do you know, I was always very tired and forgetful!)

  • What gifts do you believe God has given you?

He has given me so many things. I think I just need to make a list…

  1. My family
  2. My animals (and my love for them)
  3. My maturity 
  4. My stubbornness (no, not always a good gift, but one just the same)
  5. My strength
  6. My personality (I’m not sure I could stand myself if I was someone else…)
  7. My talent and my love for that talent (teaching)
  8. My love of reading
  9. My business-like approach to my personal life as far as finances, decisions, etc. 
  10. The experiences that I have had in life (and more importantly, the lessons I have learned from them)
  • How do you plan to have your gifts work to help your family and friends?

They already are. I am now able to help my family financially. I am able to rescue animals because I have the maturity and finances to be able to support them. God also gave me my unconditional love. I have been influenced in such a positive way by my family and friends; I have “used” that gift to make me the person I am today. I have used my personality to connect with others and touch lives (even in the smallest ways). I could go on and on… Most importantly, I have learned to teach and I am so dedicated to it that I have already been told that I have changed students’ lives. That is the biggest blessing of all, to hear a child say you made their life better. 

  • What would you like to bring closure to?

It seems to me that this book has asked this question more than once… And again, I would like to say that I need closure with my past relationships (family, ex, and friends). Though the more I live, the more closure I receive. 

  • What are you most grateful for?

See all of the talents above? Thank you. 🙂 

With Every Day there is Despair

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I never thought I would be writing a post like this, not the day after Christmas; maybe never at all. But things happen in life that God has planned for us that never really come up on our radar until the moment of impact. And that’s when it all changes…

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I cannot stop thinking about one of my friends today, as they mourn the loss of their brother. I don’t know what this kind of loss feels like, this heart-wrenching, deep, awful pain that he must be feeling. I’ve lost people in my life, but never something like this.

On the night of Christmas, a young man passed away, and no one knew until they awoke the next morning to find him unresponsive in his bed. What a shame and a tragedy this must seem to those who found him lying there, to those who realized what it all meant. 

But even more the tragedy, this family does not deserve this pain. This life, this young man, he still had some living to do. God found it right at this time to take him back and use him for a greater purpose. And all we can hope is that things work out so that some day we see the importance of losing this loved one so young. 

I am going to sound like a bad person by saying this, but I’m truly glad that I did not know this lost soul. It’s hard enough for me to know his brother and to be so slapped in the face by the pure facts of it all. What it must be like for them to even begin to comprehend that their loved one is gone. With no explanation, no cause… all they are left with is the hole in their heart and the aftermath of it all. I pray that one day they will fill that hole with all of their memories of their son, their brother. I pray that things work out for them because that’s how God wants it to be. And no matter what, I am praying right now for them, that they may find the peace to understand why God needed a piece of their heart at this celebratory time of the year.

No one ever thinks that a death is going to occur in their family when it happens. A large majority of the deaths in this world are by accident or come as shocking news in some way. I pray, that whatever happened to this poor boy, his parents and family knew it was coming and were able to start preparing for this loss. And yet, as hard as I pray, I’m pretty sure this is not the case.


To all out there who have ever lost a loved one close to the holidays, on a holiday, or on any other day of any other year… I pray for you. I hope that you have found the peace and the love that you needed to understand why death is a necessary evil in this world. I pray that you are close enough to God that you understand why death is important and how your loved ones will go on living in your hearts and as angels in Heaven. If you do not believe in the same religion as me; well for you, I pray that whatever you believe or whatever you do not believe leads you to a life of happiness again. Because regardless of the circumstances, everyone deserves to be happy. 

~Me

Christmas Wrap

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So here’s the thing about Christmas. I get the point. I’m a Christian and this is possibly one of our biggest times of the year for celebration of Jesus. (It’s between Christmas and Easter, in case you were wondering.) For all of the years that I have been aware of what Christmas is, I have also enjoyed the thought of Santa Claus and all of the magic that gift giving and peace-wishing entails. 

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My family is not immune to the magic of the holiday, both the religious aspects and the commercial aspects of shopping, wrapping, and giving gifts to our loved ones. We have made it a tradition to view lights one night before Christmas Eve, eat a special meal that night, watch the Polar Express before bed, and make sure that our tree is embedded in a sea of gifts. Our house is all decorated, even down to the small tree that lights up beside my bed each night. So I get it, I really do.

But at the end of the day, Christmas is not what it used to be for me. Today was absolutely amazing in the morning. Last night was great as well. This is the first Christmas that I have my puppy, it’s the first Christmas that I have had as a full-time teacher. I am getting so many extra gifts and so much extra love that it’s crazy. I also feel grateful for the fact that I am able to donate some more of my money to good causes this year. I have made it my mission to do random acts of kindness throughout the year, but giving monetary donations to any cause is normally something I shy away from. (Not because I’m a grinch, but because I am very careful with what little money I do possess.)

So how has it changed in my eyes? Well this year I didn’t get to say Merry Christmas to my fiance; I don’t have a fiance to tell. There were no surprise gifts of vacations to South Carolina or wondrous things that I have always wished for. This year I was so wrapped up in others that I sort of forgot about myself. That’s how I wanted it to be; I didn’t want to think about my hurt or my wish to get over past memories and hurt. And so, I get it now. I get that this is how the holiday is supposed to be. Looking back, I believe I’ve been building up this idea and this perspective for years now. Slowly but surely this holiday has become less about me and more about others. This year was just the icing on the cake, the telescope staring me in the face. This year, I fully understand.

Yes, Christmas is not what it used to be. There were no card games with my cousins, showing off gifts to my aunts and uncles. I didn’t have a moment of pure ecstasy when I opened up a brand new computer or unveiled a new outfit that I had been eyeing for weeks. But maybe it’s better this way. 

This morning when my family woke up, I had the joy of watching my baby pup unwrap his gifts. He was so excited to do it all on his own. By the time his last gift was being unwrapped, he had even come to understand that his mission was to find the toy INSIDE of the paper, rather than to eat all of the paper itself. He was so happy that after his gifts were done, he tried to help everyone else. Then, immediately after breakfast, he crashed in his new bed, surrounded by his new toys. As if nothing in the world could make his life any better in that one moment of pure joy.

My sister and I did so good on shopping ideas for our mom this year that she cried. Twice. She said it was from the same pure joy that Jasper had apparently been experiencing. 

My sister, so excited to get her new outfit and gear for her vehicle, immediately gave us a fashion show, placed her new accessories in the truck, and started to fill out job applications. On Christmas. Because she is just that determined to put her new suit to good use!

Dad got a lot, but I guess some things never change. He had everything guessed correctly before he even touched the boxes that we had “hidden” his gifts in. Smart man, that one. Too bad he hides that pure joy that everyone else had shown.

As I sat there on the living room floor thinking about my family and seeing their smiling faces, I didn’t want one thing to change. The only thing I could do in addition to what was already being done was to pray for my kids, to pray for their families, and to pray for my friends. Those from my past and those from my present, that they may have experienced such perfect bliss as that moment in my life.

As I lay here now, wondering if I missed this amazing miracle every other year of my life, I am content in knowing that there will always be another Christmas. Whether I am still here with my family or somewhere else in the world, I will be looking out for that miracle. It’s the greatest gift that I could have received this year; to know that my family is okay and that one thing, at least that one tiny thing, never changes.

Of course going to my Grandma’s house was not nearly as stellar as that miraculous realization. But I was armed and ready with weapons. I think it’s so weird that I have this huge family (actually, 21 people) and I never really talk to any of them. Except for Mom, Dad, my sister, and Grandma. But the thing is, each of them is so wrapped up in talking to those family members that we only see twice a year (Christmas and Easter, who would have thought!) that I might as well be invisible. Which again, is okay now that I realize the true TRUE meaning of the holiday. 

Yet it’s so awkward for me. Have you ever taught a class before or given a presentation? You know how everyone’s eyes are always on you. Maybe they are waiting for you to perform amazing work or maybe they are waiting for you to mess up; the reason for their attention is not important. What is important is you, at least in that one moment. This is how I feel when I teach my kids. And no, I do not do it for the “fame” or the attention, but it does feel good to not be the child in the back of the room who is too shy to speak out anymore. It feels amazing to be part of the conversation and part of the world that all of these other people are experiencing. 

So try showing up to your family get together on Christmas and realizing that you’re back to being the wall flower. In one room are the boys (or men rather) who fall asleep immediately after the meal and are only there because their wives or mother made them come along. In the other room are the cousins, none of which are within 3 or 4 years of my age. Which is cool, except my older cousin had a baby a few years back and now all they do is sit around and “slobber” over him. Cute, but the kid is going to be starstruck before he’s 4! Finally, the kitchen is full of those people who are worried about Grandma. This year was her 61st Christmas dinner (add that up once), and she always over exhausts herself trying to cook for us. (For example, our intake of mashed potatoes tops 15 pounds, and the 21+ pound turkey is too heavy for her to even lift on her own.) So everyone tries to baby Grandma in the kitchen. 

I’ve tried to find this place where I belong in the jumble. Logic says that I would belong in the room with my cousins, the “young generation”. But I don’t fit in there; two of my cousins are in their thirties and are either 1) sleeping with the men or 2) chasing their son around the house. The younger ones are always giving googly eyes to the baby and seem fairly fake besides. Just the fact that they don’t even acknowledge me when they walk in the door tells you how great of a relationship I have with any single one of them. It’s fairly sad really. But the cousin room, for whatever reason, is out.

Then there’s the adult room. They all just sit there staring at each other and discussing people that I have no idea even existed. Or the topic revolves around what car part is necessary to fix so-and-so’s truck and what was the best part of the Christmas meal. So okay, I can hang out there for a bit, but after a while, a conversation where you give absolutely zero input (because if you did, you would point out to everyone that you are such an outsider) gets boring.

On to the next room, where everyone is asleep. And, with no explanation needed, it’s on to the kitchen. 

I tried to clean up dishes this year and set up desserts, but they told me that there were already too many people in the kitchen at the time. That’s fine I guess, since it was actually true. Grandma’s house is not built for a seven-person chef team. Yet that’s how many were there, trying to be equally as helpful as I was. So, being the youngest and least stubborn of the bunch, I got booted out.

Last year during this time, I ended up in my Grandma’s office, texting my fiance on the phone. He was at his parent’s house celebrating, and I was with my family. It was great. This year, I don’t have that luxury…

So things have been great today, and yet things have been awkward. I get where I belong but I also still feel like I’m lost in a sea of confusion around my extended family.

The only thing I know for sure is that my pup was dreaming at the bottom of my bed and he just woke up with a whimper. (Ironically, this occurred at the exact moment that I said I felt lost….) He immediately stood up and come to the head of the bed, where he is now laying with his shoulder on mine. Looks like it will be difficult for me to type more now, and it also looks like I’m getting some sort of sign that everything will be okay. 

So to end this post, Merry Christmas and I hope you all experienced at least some of the joy that I have experienced today. But whatever you do, don’t forget that your life is never totally stuck in a rut and that you never have everything figured out. Good luck learning more and more thought!

~Me

Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 5

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I finished reading the Souls Revealed book two days ago, but have only had time to type up the questions so far. I’m not sure what made me decide to finish reading all in one night, but I did. Now I have about five chapters worth of questions to answer and absolutely no time to answer them. So here goes, with Chapter 5. Let’s see how much I can get done!


 

  • Have you experienced being attacked at a critical point in your life?

That depends on what you consider an attack. I would say yes, since my life has been changed for the negative at really pivotal points. Having family drama as a young teenager when I’m trying to figure out myself and my own reactions was a bad time for me. Also starting my first full-time job (which required a ton of my focus) while losing my best friend and fiance is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And for whatever reason, these were critical points in my life as well as bad parts.

  • How did you feel during and after that experience?

Alone? Confused? Sometimes I’m still not sure…

  • Did you abandon your dream?

I have not abandoned my dream of teaching since each of these events has happened. In fact, both of them led me to be a better teacher because I have more time to put into my classes and students. Additionally, I find that these amazing kids that I teach lift me up instead of tearing me down like the other people had done. 

  • What lesson did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I need to trust myself more, but that I always do the right thing no matter how much it hurts. Try forgiving your fiance for breaking your heart and killing some of your dreams; if you can do that, you can do just about anything.

  • How much time do you spend working? Is it often during evenings, days off, weekends, and/or holidays?

It depends on the day and my mood/what I have going on. I often put in 9-10 hours during the week, at least 2 hours on weekends. I hate having papers on a huge pile to grade, so I’ll do them evenings, weekends, or days off as well. But I love my job, so what’s the harm?

  • Who did you surround yourself with during tough times- cheerleaders or naysayers?

A mixture of both- those who felt pure sympathy for me and those who wanted to say I told you so. The thing is, these people are important to me whether they are positive or negative. The negativity didn’t help nearly as much as the positivity, but there were only small negative moments. 

  • Were you able to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel? Were you in a fog?

Definitely in a fog. There is no light when you’re surrounded by a black cloak. It’s okay though; even if I didn’t see it then, I see at least some of the light now. 

  • How do you think it prepared you for your next life crisis?

Hmm… I guess that depends on what life crisis occurs…

  • Give an example of leading under adversity.

Teaching even though your heart is broken and you are feeling completely unsocial. Still being able to help people who are even better off than you are without judging or holding grudges. 

  • Are you a spontaneous person or do you need to plan your time based on a schedule?

I have moments where I am both of these people, though I find that my spontaneity is often a choice that ends in negativity. 

  • What do you consider to be quality time?

Any time spent with my loved ones. Some is of better quality than others, but all times are important. 

  • What is your typical day like?

Wake up, eat, dress. Do work, come home, study, watch TV with the family, go to bed. (This is my typical work day…)

  • How can you eliminate chaos from your life?

Be organized. Think before you act. Trust those who show they can be trusted. Pray. Hard.

  • Provide 5 ways in which you can seed optimism in your life.

Make a book of positive quotes- refer to it.

Attend Church and truly try to get something positive out of the lesson.

Make a playlist of positive songs that are encouraging.

Surround yourself with those who have positive attitudes, are great supporters of you, and are always around to help.

Learn from your mistakes so that you can be less fearful of events in the future. 

Soul Revealing Questions: Chapter 4

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I haven’t had the chance to write in quite a while now, or so it seems. But tonight I am able to thank God for Christmas Break. I know, it is something that everyone takes for granted (or maybe does not get to enjoy at all), but this is a big thing to me right now. I recently started suffering from headaches at work and have been extra stressed when trying to stay caught up and rest my head. 

Now things should be slowing down for a while, at least for the night. Which means I was able to successfully read the next chapter in my book. As always, the questions from the chapter (and their answers) are below. 

Enjoy!

~Me


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  • What are you holding on to that you believe needs to be healed?

My past relationships. My past experiences. For the most part, it feels like I have healed from them and moved on, but there are moments in my day or in my life that remind me of the past and things that I wish I didn’t still feel so affected by when just thinking about them. I think my failed relationship is a huge thing. I know, deep down, that I didn’t fail. Yes, maybe I could have done a few things differently, but for the most part, the relationship failed because I would not change myself for someone else. I know this, and yet it is hard to move on from this fact and into my new life while still knowing that my love is still there; it’s just clouded by hurt now. That, for sure, is the biggest thing that bugs me to this day. 

  • What issues in your past are of particular concern to you? Are you comfortable sharing your past experiences with others?

I think you just need to see above… Yes, for the most part I am comfortable sharing my experiences. The funny thing is, it’s easier for me to share these experiences with people I know less rather than those that I know well. It seems that those close to me are always more judgmental simply because they care more for me and want to help me decide (or do) what is best for me. Sometimes this is appreciated; other times it just seems like an opinion that works to fog my own opinions. 

  • Do you use drugs or alcohol? How does this impact the relationships that you have with others?

I do not. I don’t use drugs or alcohol, and I have perfectly good reasons for both (not that I should need a good reason). This fact has ruined multiple friendships for me, though I do not regret that fact much. Here’s the thing: my grandparents (most of them) were alcoholics at some point in their lives. Some of them sobered up and got clean, but others did not. I’ve seen the way that alcoholics can treat others. No, before you ask, I don’t think that it’s entirely the alcohol that makes a person bad, however; I do not think it helps to bring out the best in people. For this reason, I choose not to drink or be around people who drink. Some people understand and others just think I’m a stuck-up idiot who is too naive to take any part of the “fun” in this world. So, relationships have ended on this issue, and it seems silly to me from this perspective that I considered them relationships (friendships really) to begin with. Especially when they could fall apart so easily…

  • How comfortable are you with your body?

I have my days. I used to be a skinny stick and now I am just not. I’ve matured and grown and rounded out to say the least. Most days I am comfortable with this and can find at least three things about my own body that I truly would not change for the world. But when you’re surrounded by people and a society that thinks that you are obese (though in my eyes, the BMI calculator is a load of crap), it can be hard. I will often take someone shopping with me not just because it is more fun that way, but also so that I can get a second opinion on the clothes that I choose to buy for myself. And I do it so subconsciously, that I’m not sure I even realize how much of an issue my body image can, at times, be for myself. 

  • What pattern would you need to incorporate in your life to improve your health?

This is hard. I don’t really exercise. I mean, I do plenty of walking and standing/moving at work every day, but I never have the time to do things that are truly exercise related. I just run out of time! During the summers, I am better at trying to stay active, but during the school year I have to work so hard and rest so much to keep my mental health at its peak that I do not have time to run two miles (not that I can do so anyway…)

  • Describe your closest friends. Are you just like them or do you want to be like them?

I consider two people my closest friends. One lives across the country right now and is barely like me at all (case and point: I never would have moved across the country for a job!), and the other is my sister. Even her and I are similar but so different. She’s the caring, nurse-y, mom-type and I am the serious, official, worrisome teacher type. We do have a lot in common, but the thing is we have so much difference in us that we are definitely our own unique person. Some traits in both of my friends I would like to pick up, but I’m not jealous or envious of them for having stronger traits than I do. I see that my sister helps others at home (with chores) a lot more often than I do, but I also realize that I spend all day helping kids to become better in the classroom. I think we are similar but in different circumstances. And for the record, I am proud of both of the women that we have become. 

  • How vulnerable are you to pressure from your peers?

I used to be extremely vulnerable to peer pressure. Now? Not so much. If people have nasty opinions about me and I find out about it, yes, I get upset. But that doesn’t mean that I bow down to them and do whatever they say. I used to do that, but it’s not me anymore. I have become more confident in myself as an individual over the past five years or so, and I am not afraid to stand up for something when I believe it to be the right thing. 

  • How much do you rely on your friends’ opinions?

This I do a lot. I value so many different things in this world: nature and technology, arts and the sciences, family and friends… it’s not always easy for me to make decisions that require me to choose between two very amazing things. And yet it seems like most of these decisions are simple, every day things, like what to eat for dinner. I do take other people’s opinions into account when making larger decisions as well, but I am less likely to allow them to influence me when I am trying to figure out some big part of my life. 

Teaching the Privileged

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If anyone is looking for a great lesson to teach their children, read on! 


This lesson was created specifically for my classroom, which just happens to be full of students who are pretty privileged and taken care of compared to much of the world. If your children/students are living under different circumstances, please be sure to analyze this lesson before teaching it. Some students may be offended by the shooting activity if they are put in a particular group, etc. 


Suggested Age Group: High School or Advanced Middle School Students

Suggested Class: Advisory, Leadership, Counseling, Communications, Etc. (Extremely well suited for clubs and organizations that are trying to donate their time or money to others, or for students who have a hard time understanding the purpose of such an act.)

Suggested Class Size: 10 or more students

Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Classroom Setting: Any arrangement of desks in some sort of row arrangement (preferably three or more rows) will work well.

The Video:

To teach the children about privilege, set up a projector before students arrive to class. Have the lights turned off and post this video on the screen. I left it paused at the very beginning so all students could see was the two faces posed side by side. Be sure to make the video full screen so students cannot see the title or purpose of the video!

Once students enter the classroom, tell them to sit down quietly and watch the video. I gave my students no additional information, as I wanted them to pay attention and truly think about the meaning of the video. 

When the video is over, ask students what the meaning of the video is. Many of them will start by discussing clean water acts and that it is important for everyone in the world to have clean water. 

Once students start discussing helping others who need clean water or other things, ask them questions to keep the conversation moving. 

Once it seems that students have a good understanding of the purpose of the video, give each one a scrap piece of paper. (I passed these out before the beginning of class.) Students should be instructed to crumple the paper up into a ball. At that time, the teacher should place a recycling bin on the front counter, or somewhere in front of all student desks. 

The Challenge:

Students should be instructed to remain at their seats and to attempt, one at a time, to toss their paper balls into the recycling bin. Once all students have made the shot, ask students what they perceived from the activity. (Many of them will say that it was unfair because some students were sitting closer to the bin.)

The Follow-Up:

Complete a short discussion about how the activity might connect to the video. Some students will put two and two together to find that those in the front of the room are considered more privileged. Once this observation is shared amongst the class, students should take turns describing which row of the room they believe they fit into (the privileged in the front, the needy in the back, or the middle-class in between). 

Optional:

Give students the chance to throw their paper balls again. This time, ask students how they could make it into the bin easier without leaving their seats. Some of my silly students said the balls would fly better if they were wet. (This is NOT an idea we tested.) One of the students finally realized, after a few rounds of playing, that it was easier for him to pass his ball forward to a peer sitting in the first row. This idea is where the students should arrive by the end of the lesson. 

Final Understanding:

The privileged (or even those who are simply more privileged than others) can, and should, help other people out to make the world an easier place to live in and a happier place to be. Even the smallest aid (like the paper ball experiment) can make someone’s day. 

If you decide to complete this lesson, I would love to know the results! It worked really well for my students and they are still talking about it almost 2 weeks later. Some of them are even trying to put the lesson into action by doing good things for others throughout their day. I’m curious to see how many other students react in the same (or different) ways to this lesson.

As always, good luck!

~Me