Category Archives: Improving the World One Thought at a Time

The Sneaker Catastrophe

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My sister brought her dog over to my house yesterday so that I could puppy sit. That left me in the house with three tiny black dogs who are all willing to cause plenty of trouble in their own way.

There’s Duncan: the one who doesn’t like loud noises, refuses to enter the kitchen, loves being outside, and does not go where you ask him if he doesn’t want to.

Then there’s Jasper: I think he’s the cool, chilled out one, though he is also mine. He’s the oldest of the group and acts like the father. He’ll put them in their place if need be.

Finally there’s Zoey: She’s my dog and my fiance’s (though mostly his) and just turned 3 months last Thursday. She likes to chew on everything, eat everything, and has recently learned to dig holes. Though her potty training continues to improve, she sometimes has a “set back” day where she acts like she should just be left outside the entire time so I can stop cleaning up accidents every ten minutes.

My day didn’t start out too well since I accidentally fell asleep shortly after my alarm went off. I was woken up by my sister banging on my door to drop off Dunc. And as soon as the dogs saw each other, it was terror all around. Even my “innocent” Jasper wasn’t enough to fend off the feuding that Zoey was trying to start between herself and Duncan.

Then, when I decided it would be great to go outside and just let the dogs run off all of their energy, it starts raining. And it rains pretty much the rest of the day. Of course this doesn’t stop Duncan from being outside; in fact, I think he might have enjoyed it more than sunshine!

Anyway, the dogs were basically terrors all day yesterday, including one of Zoey’s “set back” days, her new ability to almost jump onto our kitchen table and spill water all over my books, and Duncan’s insistence that he stay outside and get soaked before coming back in. Plus there was Jasper, who didn’t do anything majorly wrong. Yet, he wasn’t his normal fatherly figure in the house; he was happy just to trip me up when I was trying to go somewhere or to try to sleep on me when I’m trying to wrestle the other two off of each other. And so my day went…

Until it sort of stopped raining and I decided it would be good to get some of my (extreme) frustration out by taking a jog/dog walk down the road. Zoey is still too young to go too far from home yet because she doesn’t have all of her shots, but I leashed up the two boys and set out. I was excited because I had just downloaded a new app called “Map My Fitness” and wanted to try it out. Plus I ran much farther than usual, and ended up walking well past a mile in under 20 minutes. Unfortunately when I hit the 1.15 mile mark (or around about), my sneaker decided to break.

Before all of you track stars out there start to tell me, I will admit a few things: 1) I know, I should have been using actual running sneakers; 2) yes, they were really old too and I should have thought about that; 3) It’s probably much smarter to go running when someone you know could come and pick you up in an emergency; and finally, 4) I understand the implications of going running when it’s still sprinkling outside but I needed that exercise!

So yeah… here I am in my SUPER old Adidas sneakers that are, unfortunately, not intended for running. I’ve got Jasper on my left and Duncan on my right because they keep tangling me up if I let them on the same side as each other. Jasper doesn’t seem to care to run, Duncan doesn’t think I’m going fast enough. And yet I enjoyed myself! The road was a little slick, but not slippery enough for me to fall. Plus, like I said, I did some pretty good distance for being an out of shape asthmatic!

*Evil music enter here*

Then my shoe broke! The front half of the sole came off. At first I didn’t notice, but it shortly ended up curling and folding under itself so that I was walking on some pretty unbalanced and unsteady surface. Please keep in mind that I was over a mile from home.

On a normal day, I would have taken my shoes off and put my tough feet to the test. I would have turned around immediately and gone as quickly as possible home. But this was not any ordinary day. This day Duncan was with me; this day it was still spritzing and the roads were all wet and worm-covered. Also on this day, I had just decided to get into jogging down the road again after a pretty bad spill where I messed up my knee.

I think it took me almost 45 minutes to trudge my way back home with my broken shoe stuck to my left foot for my poor foot’s sake. Also with both dogs still trying to pull me home a fast as they could (or, in Jasper’s case, alternating between really fast and really stinking slow).

The reason I am even writing this is because it was hilarious now that I look back on it. It’s just my luck that 20 minutes in, I get a text from T saying he will be home late. So I had no ride either. In fact, every little piece of the day yesterday seemed to be one of those “just my luck” situations. I even had a thought at one point that I would rather have been at work changing people’s lives for the better than here at home dealing with dilemma after dilemma. (For the record, if you don’t already know, I’m quite the hermit sometimes. Under normal circumstances I would NEVER say I wanted to go back to work, even if I do enjoy my job most days.)

So the only thing that I can think is that there was some kind of moral here, some lesson to be learned. Was it that I should never ask for another puppy again? Or maybe just that I needed to take a break for a day and try not to do so many chores and take on so many responsibilities at once. Maybe it’s even that I shouldn’t be so worried about working out, though I know it’s healthy and necessary if I don’t want to end up looking like a tootsie roll.

In any case, God had some kind of plan for me. Or maybe it was karma… Either way, I leave you with this. Always wear good shoes when going far away from home with no way to get back. Never take those in your life for granted, because sometimes they aren’t going to be around to rescue you. And finally, even though we may not know where our lives are taking us next, just keep getting until you find out where you land. It may be a long process, there may be aches and pains and even some rain in your path; however; in the end, you will get right back home to wherever it is you belong.

~B

I am ashamed…. (and I wish my coworkers would know)

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This is me. This is my story.

When I was in first grade, teachers and my parents started to notice a change in me; I didn’t want to be anywhere but home, and I hated school for all it was. I was the weird kid that no one really understood and yet I was the one who had a ton of friends. There were instances that year where I would feel so sick to my stomach that I would request to go to the nurse. Sooner or later everyone decided I was faking it because I wanted to go home. But you know what? I wasn’t faking.

When I was in second grade, I had to make all new friends. Very few of the kids in my first grade class were in my same second grade class. But that was okay; I knew how to adapt and I knew how to be friendly. Those, I guess, are two traits that I’ve always had going for me. At least until I started to feel homesick. Then it was right back to people not believing that I felt sick to my stomach all the time. And still… I wasn’t faking.

Third and fourth grade passed in a blur, but I remember that fourth grade Math teacher. I actually think I learned a huge life lesson from him as I look back on his class today. But then, then all I saw was someone who was out to make my life horrible. He gave me my first (and my last) B on a report card. Everyone thought I was a perfectionist. And guess what? I may have been, but I was more than that.

In sixth grade, peers started to think we were old enough to date. I was part of this popular clique who thought it was a great idea to hang out with “boyfriends” and talk about our “love lives.” Oh how naïve children can be! By the end of that year, a boy had “broken my heart” so badly that I had even more problems than I had in any previous grade. I would be up all night crying my eyes out, begging not to have to go to school. Any time there was a test, I would get so nervous that my hands would turn clammy and my stomach would knot. Everyone still thought I was being a perfectionist. Truth? That wasn’t even the half of it.

By the end of that year I had started to see a therapist. She helped me work through my emotions and finally let everyone know that I was not some unhealthy, weak child. No, I was suffering from anxiety disorder. Talk about a shocker there. And yet: It’s not like there was a cure.

By seventh grade, my friends decided it would be cool to play sports. I did too, at least that first year. But as my grades rose above the others’, they started to look at me like I had five heads. Their solution was to cheat off of my tests and talk crap behind my back. Why? Because they thought it was the cool thing to do I guess…

In eighth grade, I still dealt with the drama, but even more than that was the teacher/field hockey coach who screamed in my face that I ran “slower than her grandmother, who was 90!” Needless to say, that sport dropped out of my playlist. It’s not like I had asthma or anything…

Also in eighth grade was the flight of the friendships. I literally had to make all new friends as my old ones thought it was cool to treat me like I was a leper just because they were jealous of my grades. The teachers’ solution? Just ignore that anything is wrong.

By my first day of ninth grade my anxiety was so bad that I knew things weren’t going to work out in my favor. On that first day, three main things occurred.

  • The PE teacher called me out for trying to “skip out of” gym class activities. Why? I had broken my finger playing softball that summer and it was still in a cast. But apparently playing volleyball was still expected.
  • The English teacher asked if we had any questions about our summer reading. I had a question about whether we were allowed to combine our own notes from the stories with those from spark notes. Her answer? I had better not be planning on cheating my way through her class because she could see right through me and I had another thing coming if I thought she was stupid enough to believe that I was innocent. The truth? Someone else mentioned spark notes to me and I just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by not including those notes in my essay.
  • The school might not have been big, but that didn’t stop me from being late to the bus that afternoon. The bus driver’s reaction? I better learn to carry all five hundred pounds of my textbooks with me if I intended to ride her bus this year…

I had a complete anxiety attack the minute I got home. Things were never really looking my way, but that day had been beyond ridiculous. If the kids could gang up on me, and now the teachers too? I had zero hope of ever surviving my life in high school.

My parents’ solution was to speak to the counselors, have me tested out of grades and courses so that I could avoid those teachers who had bullied me into submission. The guidance counselor had a lovely reply; stay in your courses or leave. We won’t switch your courses and we won’t allow you to prove that you’re smart enough to skip a course.

My solution? Leave school and do it my own way.

Three years later I was in the top ten of a graduating class of seniors where I was technically only supposed to be a junior. A few months later? Instead of spending all of my hard earned money on a private institution where I had received almost full scholarships, I applied to an online school where I could work and pay my own tuition.

The result? I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in teaching like I had always dreamed but never thought possible. Less than a year later, I had a full-time teaching job and even a year after that, I had graduated with an MA in Physics education.

If you think I’m stupid, you have something else coming. But even more important than that, if you think that I don’t care about my students, you’ve lost your mind. If you think I don’t feel their pain when the boys give them cat calls in the hallway, think again. If you think I don’t know what it is to be embarrassed by a superior, a leader, a teacher, an administrator, you’re wrong.

What ashames me most now is that I’m part of a system that I never really believed in. I’m part of a school where these things are actually happening to students every day. No, our kids are not perfect. They are far from it. But the reality is, that’s how they are supposed to be. They’re kids. Yes, they want to learn. Yes, they want to be leaders (at least most of them). But many of them just don’t know how. And if any of them are anything like me, they just don’t have the confidence in themselves to call out their peers and deal with the repercussions.

That’s why we are supposed to be there; to support them, to guide them, and to gently correct them along the way. But what I have been hearing lately pains me. For not just one, but for many of my kids, they feel as though they have been yelled at over issues that are trivial compared to other things. Some feel as though they have been sexually bullied by peers who are even younger than themselves. I’ve heard from the little ones that language has suddenly become an issue, and even more than that, I’ve learned that those who used to trust us barely trust us anymore.

While I don’t know what all has changed and I don’t understand why we are all struggling to adjust, I just want it to be made clear that this school is struggling. The students are struggling because the teachers are struggling. And that is only true because they are trying to juggle the administration’s changing and the changing of some of the most important parts and people in their lives. And truthfully, it’s not administration’s fault by any means, but when everyone looks to them to be the leaders and things don’t work out… where would most kids want to point the blame? No, not just at administration or the teaching staff; our kids point it at themselves too. That alone should show you that we have kids who are unique and one-of-a-kind where I work. That should show you the good that is in them.

But until something changes, until someone up top starts screaming from the rafters, nothing is going to change. We’re stuck in a tornado where we cannot climb out. And my only feelings on the issue are not that I am struggling or that I have no communication with the other teachers anymore. It’s more that I’m scared; scared for the kids who have anxiety like me, scared for those who need to focus on their work and not all of this drama. I’m scared for the students who now believe they’ve done something wrong when all they’ve done is try to hide in the shadows so they don’t become a laughingstock to their peers.

My kids give me hope. My kids give me happiness. To know that none of them at work are suffering the way I did; that fact used to propel me through my job each and every day. But now… now I fear that some of them are feeling the stresses and anxieties that I used to feel (and am feeling right now too). I fear that I’m doing nothing to protect them from what should never have to happen to anyone else but me. It’s my duty to say something, my duty to let everyone be heard. I might not be able to change anything, but I sure can lend an ear. And, if anyone important is reading this… I just ask that you take the time to self-reflect some too. We’ve asked the kids to do it. Now let it be our turn. Just to make sure that we aren’t the field hockey coaches or English teachers of my past. Because if I can stop just one child from feeling the way that I felt growing up, then I’ve changed the world.

The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Emotions

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Anyone who has read any of my posts before knows at least one of two things: 1- I teach and 2- I am very emotional. So I decided that, when I could come up with no better topic to discuss today, using a content generator was the best idea! The one I came across (Content Ideas Generator by Portent) requires that you type in a keyword or phrase so that it can randomize a blog post title for you. So, why not emotion? Hence today’s post.


So what are the simplest ways to make the best of emotions? Most of us don’t know how to deal with our emotions or the emotions of others. Where we succeed in our careers, in socialization, or in sports and hobbies, many of us do not excel in reading or understanding emotions. So here are some of the simplest ways I have found to make the most of emotions.

  • Don’t be scared to be honest. The worst, biggest emotional messes are those that involve lies of one sort or another. Just ignore these altogether.
  • Learn to write. You don’t need to share your writing; heck, you don’t even have to be good at writing. Just be able to write so that you can keep a journal or share your thoughts. While I’m sure this tactic does not work for everyone, I find that it is very easy for myself (and for some others I know) to sort out our thoughts through the written word. If this doesn’t work for you, try being social about your emotions to someone that you know you can trust. Whatever you do, especially when you’re angry or sad, release that feeling in some healthy form of communication to yourself or someone else. 
  • Connect with someone else. We all have these unique emotions and perspectives on things that occur in our lives. Spend some time searching for a friend or family member who has similar beliefs and emotional reactions to your’s. Then, regardless of the situation, you know that you can randomly state any crazy or unique emotion that you are feeling without being judged or treated differently because of your thoughts.
  • Read books and complete activities that channel your emotions. Are you extremely creative? Try some form of art as a new hobby! Are you considered old-fashioned in your beliefs? Read old westerns or historical documentaries, biographies, or novels! Are you easily enraged? Channel your anger through some form of hard cardio workout; learn to run, bike, mountain climb, or do some form of activity where your adrenaline is racing and you work off some energy at the same time! Regardless of the emotions, you can always find at least one way to channel them in a positive direction.
  • Never apologize or try to hide negativity. It’s human nature to be negativity. I am negative a lot! And unfortunately, I don’t always follow this rule; sometimes I am negative and feel the need to apologize for it afterward. But being true to yourself and honest to others (see above) also includes having the pretty and ugly parts of your emotions available on your sleeve. Be sure to show them so that you don’t surprise or offend people down the road as you work to build relationships with them.
  • Determine the type of emotional person that you are. You may be one of the following. Distinguishing which category or categories you fall under will help you to be in tune with your emotional side while also staying in control of those wandering emotions that you get when stressed or tired. 
    1. The sleeved one- This is the person who wears their emotion on their sleeve. They lose more friends than not because they are unafraid to share their emotions. Additionally, they may have a difficult time controlling their emotions. There is always a good time to share emotions and a certain approach to take when discussing your personal self; the sleeved ones do not always understand when/what these times and approaches are.
    2. The rock- Rocks, as we know, have zero emotion. These people, for whatever reason, feel no emotion whatsoever. No, these are not the people who hide their emotions well; these people truly feel no pain or hurt when it comes to the emotional side of themselves. If you are a rock, you probably think this entire post is stupid…
    3. The chameleon- You are the confusing one, the one who always likes to have control of your emotions and deal with them in your own way. Most chameleons choose to camouflage themselves into their surroundings, hiding their emotions from others and are unwilling to agree or disagree with any one particular opinion or action. At the same time, these people do have emotions, some of them very strong. By not sharing opinions and beliefs, these people feel that they are protecting themselves from the rest of the world. These people may have been easily hurt or emotionally bullied in their past. 
    4. The seesaw- If you are a seesaw, you are similar to a chameleon; indecisive and easily influence by others. The difference between you and a chameleon is that you are not trying to hide your emotions. You enjoy giving opinions, sharing your beliefs, and feeling things. The only problem is that you are not often in control of your feelings. When one minute you are happy and carefree, the next minute you are sad or angry. As your seesaw tips back and forth, you find that your emotions feel more like baggage that you must carry across an unending roller coaster ride. 
    5. The wall- If you are the wall, you are a mix between a rock and a chameleon. You are so confusing that no one really knows what your emotional state is. Maybe there are times when you do not even know (making you even more closely related to a seesaw). Regardless, you put up a strong front. There are times when you are not in control of your emotions and times when you feel that it is okay to come out of your natural form and show your true feelings. But, in the majority of your life, you find that keeping a distance from your emotions is the only way to live. Many people who are walls are this way because they are in some form of superior position. While they are not actually superior human beings, they may be the heads of companies or the head of a household. Often times father figures are well suited as candidates for this category. If they show their emotions, they feel that they are placing more burden on the people who they love and feel that they are supposed to protect. 
  • Make it a game! Get some of your closest friends and family together and play a game to learn more about their emotions. There are board games and other contests out there which will challenge others to share their emotions and be more open with others. Some will try to ignite anger, angst, stress, or sadness in you as you play. Try starting with one of these games if you don’t know the other person well and are simply trying to learn about them. But if you all want to learn more about each other’s emotional sides so that you can be a better support system to one another, try sitting down together and following these simple steps:
    1. Make sure every person has a small notebook or blank sheet of paper. Everyone must also have a pencil/pen to write with.
    2. Using a timer, give the entire group 5-10 minutes to formulate questions that spark a discussion about emotion, are controversial, or require a person to place themselves into a theoretical situation to make a decision involving emotions. 
    3. Once the lists are done, have everyone cut their questions apart and fold them in half. All of the individual questions should then be placed in a box, hat, etc. 
    4. One at a time, players should take turns pulling questions out of a hat and asking them verbally to the group. In round robin fashion (or in some other pre-designated way), the group should take turns answering the given question as truthfully and in as much detail as possible. (One way to start this off to make it fair is for the person choosing the question to answer first.)
    5. Play can continue for as long as the group wishes. If you don’t finish all of the questions in one sitting? Save them and ask some more later! 

I think that’s about all I have for now. If you aren’t comfortable discussing emotions or acknowledging your own, just spend some time exploring them through every day acts that you already complete. Monitor how it makes you feel to complete different activities or talk to certain people.

You will find that the more you understand about yourself and your emotions, the happier you can be. This, in the end, is the best way to use your emotions for positive results.

~Me

Cabin Fever?

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Cabin Fever?

Today, my first day back to work for what appears to be a full week, was a disaster! Anything that appeared to be able to go wrong basically went wrong in some way. (Okay, for those of you who don’t know me personally, I admit to some exaggeration. But for those of you who know about my day, you will realize that some of the things that occurred hit me really hard and… hence the exaggeration.)

One thing that bugs me the most is that coworkers still treat me as though I am a child, one of their students. I got it at first; this is my first year teaching and I still have a LOT to learn. But now that we’re almost done with this year, I think I have proven myself in enough ways to ensure that I am clearly defined as a teacher, not a student. And yet today, it happened again. 

That might seem silly, but today was also the first day when a student told me, to my face, that I am an awful teacher. Sure, it was because they weren’t getting exactly what they wanted, but it still hurt to hear the words. I teach for a reason. I teach because I want to make a difference in children’s lives. I don’t do this job for the money or the pride; I do it because I care about them. So to hear this kid, even if it was just one kid, say that I ruined something for them and that I am the worst teacher they ever have… well, it’s a slap in the face! It was some weird, dramatic wake-up call that seems to be playing out in front of my eyes via a slow-motion camera. I cannot stop replaying the entire scene over and over again, not because I want to but because I cannot grasp the concept that I wasn’t dreaming. Someone actually told me that I am a horrible person. Maybe out of spite, but they thought it and said it anyway. 

This was not all that was wrong with my day, but it was the biggest slap in the face that I have received in a long time. I guess I had perfected myself this little bubble of peace, where coworkers liked me, my students appreciated my time and effort, my family loved me, and I was motivated to finish college. Now that bubble is popped and I feel lost.

For those teachers out there, I would love to know how you stayed motivated. I’ve heard all of these stories about people burning out in their first year, but that doesn’t describe my situation at all. I’m not burn out; this situation almost makes me more determined than ever. But I also want to retract my trust and understanding of my kids to ensure that people have less to say about me for the positive or the negative. That way I figure I can fly under the radar and do my job without being emotionally attached or liable to an emotional attack! 

I wonder what would happen if I open my Bible right now… It’s sitting right beside my bed and I could easily flick on my lamp to read a passage or two. But here’s the funny thing: as much as I rely on my belief in a higher power to keep up my faith and hope and get me through my days, I’m not sure if I opened that book I’d understand anything that I read out of it. I never have really understood the Bible, except for the simpler parts (such as the Christmas story, the way God made the Earth, the animals, etc., and the Easter story). All of the other bits inside of that text normally need to be explained to me by someone else. 

Which may be the reason that I am not as religious as I could be. I simply don’t have the time or the motivation to sit down after a long day’s work and try to listen to someone explain this ridiculously complicated text. Sad, but true.

That also reminds me that, at Church on Sunday, my grandma almost got hit by a piece of the ceiling which was falling down under the weight of the snow. Thankfully I wasn’t there to witness the scene or I would have been a mess. Needless to say, how much faith can we put in God if even our place of worship is (quite literally) crumbling around our feet? And then I think, well at least she didn’t actually get hit. Maybe God couldn’t stop the ceiling from falling but he could stop anyone from being hurt…

I find it funny how I often see two sides to every story. Less so when I’m directly involved in the story of course, but I definitely have this idea of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Even now, as I sit and think about these things, I see two aspects to every story. For my student- it is apparent that they are still an adolescent who has not learned the true meaning of a “good” person. To them it seems that a good person is one who bends the rules and does what they must to make the child’s life easier. May be a sad perspective, but it cannot be said in any way that kids have the best outlook on life…Then there’s the ceiling incident; God may have acted in a negative way or he may have acted in a small, yet positive way. 

And the worst part about these situations is that I have no idea which “side” is “right”. Doesn’t it depend on who you are and what you observe? Doesn’t truth really become a relative concept, as time or space, based upon the location and motion of the observer? 

Then I think back on the ways I have acted today and the things that I have said or done… I wonder how people perceive my actions; do I look as immature and crazy as my student (thus explaining why my coworkers treat me the way they do), or am I perceived as a mature and intelligent individual? I believe my friend sees me as mature and intelligent, as do my parents. Then again, since I asked my friend some crazy, ludicrous, completely random question this afternoon, I’d be surprised if they didn’t change their view of me in order to protect himself and save his life from the affects of my insanity. 

I am getting tired now and starting to ramble. I guess the moral of this story is simply this: We all make mistakes and we all see things differently. Only by seeing things from another’s perspective or simply being able to recognize that there are different perspectives can we ever begin to truly know another person completely. 

Maybe one day it will be possible for me to understand all of the workings of someone else’s mind. Maybe…

~Me

31 Things I Admire About You

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31 Things I Admire About You

I’m pretty sure everyone has probably seen my most recently-added quote already. If not, go check it out! But if you have, I just have to say that someone actually said this about ME! Who knew such kind words were even possible while being equally as accurate and embarrassing to me. Looks like I am still learning how to get comfortable in my own skin.

For this post, I realized that there are millions of things that I admire about people who are or have been in my life. And so, to go along with that most recent quote, I have decided to make a list of 100 things I admire about people (or a single person… I haven’t decided yet). One way or the other, here goes nothing!

  1. I admire your eyes… I like the color of your eyes.
  2. I admire your smile- it’s super goofy and yet completely adorable. I admire the fact that it can make anyone’s day brighter just at the sight of it.
  3. I admire your heart. You have such a big heart. So big I doubt that I even realize the full extent of it yet. I admire the way it touches people’s lives in the simplest and yet most meaningful ways.
  4. I admire your comic relief. Somehow, someway, no matter what is going on, you know how to make people laugh and feel relaxed. 
  5. I admire your independence. You easily take care of yourself as well as the others around you. How you do it is beyond me, but it doesn’t go unnoticed.
  6. I admire your maturity; I can’t stand most people your age. And before you ask, maybe I do make a stereotype out of that group, but you break the mold for sure.
  7. I admire your individuality. From being able to use both hands for different tasks (never heard of this before!) to not fitting into that mold I discussed earlier, you set yourself apart from others in positive, noticeable ways.
  8. I admire the way you know who I am without even asking. You can tell when I’m happy, mad, sad, or any other emotion on the roller coaster that s my life.
  9. I admire the way you care about someone without even realizing that you do it. You don’t realize how loving and kind you are, but the rest of us can see it. 
  10. I admire the fact that you are a gentleman. From asking if a lady is okay to making sure a space is clean for her, you take care of her and show her that she’s something special even if she’s not.
  11. I like how random you are. You come up with the craziest, most insane conversation topics sometimes, but I love answering your silly questions and knowing that you are wondering about my opinion on all sorts of topics.
  12. I admire the fact that you are smart but you are not audible or boastful about it. I like the way that you can answer a question at random but don’t always need to know the correct answer to everything in order to be happy.
  13. I admire the way you care for  others who are important to me. Without even knowing them or having met them, you ask about them and make sure they are all okay. 
  14. I admire the way you dress. Silly as that sounds, you always look nice. It’s nice to know that you put some effort into your hygiene and looking nice just to see me or for no apparent reason at all.
  15. I admire the way want to know everything about me, from the simplest to the most complicated. It makes me feel important and makes me wish I cared about everyone as much as you care for me.
  16. I admire the way you make me feel safe even when there’s nothing around that I need protecting from. I like how natural it feels for me to be relaxed and comfortable around you. With my anxiety, that’s rare for sure.
  17. I admire your goals in life. You might not have everything figured out for your future, but you know what your short term goals are and how those achievements will help you in the future.
  18. I admire that you haven’t needed someone in your life to be happy. While it may seem like you missed out, I promise you didn’t. You learned way more about yourself than most older people ever end up knowing.
  19. I admire your patience and how you are willing to deal with just about anything until you get annoyed. 
  20. I admire you. The way you look, the way you speak, the way you act, and the way you treat me. From your head to your toes. You make people happy, you set a great example for others, and you (whether for good or bad) remind me so much of myself. I suddenly feel like I’m not so alone.
  21. I admire how appreciative you are of the things that I can do. You don’t focus on my limitations or how you miss out on things because I cannot give them to you. Instead you focus on what I can give and how that makes you feel better. 
  22. I admire your honesty. Even if people don’t always want to hear what you have to say, you give them the truth so that they completely understand your opinion and the facts.
  23. I admire your quiet side. It’s rare that I talk more than anyone else, and being able to talk more than you gives me a new perspective on how a relationship with someone can be. Normally I’m the shy, withdrawn one. Not with you.
  24. I admire your goofy faces, because every goofy face has a new memory hiding behind it.
  25. I admire your nose. Yes, your nose. Not because it is currently creeping me out, but because it is unique in its own way and is part of you. I might be crazy, but I admire this unique part of you. 
  26. I admire the way that you check to make sure we are on the same page about everything. Before we go to a movie or out to dinner, you make sure that we both agree on where we are going, what we are seeing, etc. (This also applies to the more important things that we discuss which don’t need to be placed on my blog for the world to see.) 
  27. I admire your willingness to know my family. Anyone who meets them should expect to become insane, but you welcome it with open arms because they mean a lot to me.
  28. I admire the way that you don’t get embarrassed easily. I guess this goes along with being open and honest as I discussed before, but this one is different too. You can tell me anything or say anything and you won’t be ashamed of any flaw or error that you have or have ever made.
  29. I admire the way you worry without letting me realize it often. Every now and then I will realize that you are worried about me, but more often than not, you worry about me quietly until you realize I need you. Then you step in and help.
  30. I admire the fact that you can give amazing advice. You understand things about my emotions that I don’t even understand and you use this knowledge to help me make hard decisions.
  31. I admire that you have pet peeves that I exhibit all the time but you still accept me and overlook the frustration they make you feel just so I don’t feel so bad about breaking them in the first place. 

~Me

It’s Cold (but my heart is warm)!

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Today has been a much better day than yesterday was. I guess there are these things in life that make you realize just how important certain things in life truly are. 

As if being all overly emotional and disgusting around my friend wasn’t bad enough, I got home to find my mom crying on the living room couch. Her best friend died. So you know what happened? I sat. And I cried with her. Not just because my mom was sad but because I was sad too. I didn’t know the lady as well as my mom did, but I knew her enough to know that she meant a lot to my mom and she was a great person. I’ll never forget all the things that she did to liven up my childhood. She even helped to construct a local playground that kids are absolutely fascinated with. Let’s face it, I just wish I were still little enough to go there and play! 

But back to the topic at hand… today I decided my mom needed something extra special to make her happy. So I decided that I would make her a list of all the ways that she has influenced people from all walks of life and all ages. First, I asked my sister what Mom did to most influence her. Then I wrote down my own ideas. When I got to work, I asked students to do a self-assessment of my teaching abilities and to list one positive way that I had influenced them and one negative way (or criticism) that they had of my experience with them. 

I’d love to say my heart was in the right place. Unfortunately, my kids are still too young to realize how useful the truth and seriousness would have been on these evaluations; not just for my mom’s gift but for my knowledge as well. Instead of taking it seriously though, I got completely random answers that were sweet and to the point, but not detailed enough to make a list seem special enough for my mom. 

So for now I’ve ditched the idea. What do you do for a mom who has everything anyway? I mean, we don’t have EVERYTHING. We don’t live some rich, fancy life. But we do have each other, and just that realization changes our entire outlook on the rest of the world. Her friend might have passed away, but guess what? My mom woke up this morning feeling much less sad and much more proud to be a part of our family. 

If my mom is out there reading this (which I guarantee she is not), then I hope she knows how much she is loved. I hope she realizes how much of an influence she has been to me… to a lot of people. Without even trying it. Every heart that I touch has been touched because of her. Every characteristic that I possess has been carefully created and molded by my parents. She doesn’t think she’s as smart as me or as talented in many areas, but there is one thing I cannot do that my mom can: Love someone so unconditionally that the love influences every part of their lives whether they realize it or not. 

To my momma- I love you. 


Oh, and just so everyone is clear: My friend stuck by my side and today was an even better day because of what I felt and how I acted yesterday. Maybe, even though I’ve never read the Bible entirely and maybe, even though I don’t have all of the scriptures and sins, etc. memorized… maybe God and Christianity do have some really good points. Not that I was ever entirely doubting. But the more I live, the more I learn. To the point that I might actually be able to explain some facet of my religion to someone else someday! Not to try to convert them or anything, but to share my opinion in an educated, fair, and graceful manner. 

Anyway, back to my point: Maybe God does truly watch over me at every second of every day. I don’t like some of the things that I go through because of negative influences and tragic events. But maybe God actually helps walk me through those events so I can find the rainbows on the other side of the tunnel. Maybe by the time I’m old and gray, I will have learned lessons that only I can begin to fathom at this point. Regardless of whether I am right or someone of another religious belief is right; at least I have this to lean on now. At least I have this hope, this faith, and this firm belief that I am loved no matter where I am at. And maybe in that way, my parents and my sister are pieces of God and Heaven themselves. The Lord knows I couldn’t have found any better ones than the ones he chose for me. 

(Approximately) 20 Must Know Facts For Pet Owners

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Animals are one of my passions, my loves. There’s nothing like a bit of unconditional love from a puppy… or any other animal for that matter. Sure, animals are independent beings, so they don’t always show this love. But many of them are absolutely adorable and loving. 

One of my biggest concerns in this world is that so many animals are mistreated by humans. We are humans ourselves, whether we care to admit it or not. If we don’t expect nor allow any other species to control or manipulate us, then why should we be able to do so to them?

I beg you, regardless of whether you are buying a goldfish for your five year old or purchasing a horse for your teenager to ride in the local rodeo— do your research first! To help get you started, here are 20 simple things that you need to know about animals. 

  1. All animals react to loud noises. Be smart about the volume of music in the car, the engine that you rev outside of the barn, etc. If you scare off the animal because of a loud noise, it’s much harder to make them comfortable in their new environment.
  2. All animals need stimulation and exercise. Treat them like human babies; they need proper food, water, learning environments, etc. Even if you own a goldfish, make sure they have enough space to swim and get exercise! Also make sure they are given the appropriate amount of food.
  3. Check your resources! Thanks to stolenpets.com, I have found that approximately 90% of lost or stolen animals (mostly dogs) are never found again. Of these, a large majority of them have been stolen and sold to unsuspecting potential owners… or worse! Make sure that you not only buy from a reputable pet owner (even if they are not a breeder, ask for references). Additionally, take all precautions possible to ensure your pet does not become one of those who are stolen and sold (use microchips, ID tags, collars, fenced yards, etc.).
  4. Determine your pet’s comfort zone. Once you get to know your pet’s personality, you will be able to tell which corner of their cage or which area of the house/barn they retreat to when they are uncomfortable, scared, or want to be left alone. Learn this space and understand not to nag at your animal when they are wishing for some “privacy.”
  5. Before buying a pet, talk to a local veterinarian. Prices are extremely high for health care (as we all know), and it’s no cheaper for an animal! While some require less maintenance, keeping many pets medicated and healthy costs thousands of dollars per year! Suggestion: Go one step farther and calculate cages, food supplies, toys, and other items that will be needed for the first year to ensure that you truly can afford your pet. Add a decent amount of money (depending on the type of pet) to ensure that emergency situations are also covered. 
  6. Don’t leave your pet with strangers. Expect your life to change. If you are used to taking random vacations whenever you feel like it, be prepared to stop. Animals are just like kids; you cannot leave them with the next-door neighbor just because you feel like taking a trip. Also remember that there are a lot of places where it is unlikely that you can take your pet along on a vacation!
  7. Research the types of interaction techniques that you should use with your pet. Especially for our 4-legged friends, it is important to determine what kind of interactions should be introduced to your animal at a young age. Allowing puppies to jump up, nip, etc. will be harder habits to break if you don’t start to correct them (though gently) at an early age. To determine the appropriate training techniques for interactions with strangers and other animals, do specific research on your species and breed of pet. 
  8. You will get emotionally attached. If you have children, they will get even more attached. Choose your pet wisely and be sure to monitor their health closely. Be prepared to explain to your kids (and to deal with yourself) the death of a pet. Unless you buy a parrot, chances are your pet will die long before you will. 
  9. Try to have emergency contact numbers for your veterinarian. If they are unwilling to share a cell number for weekend emergencies, determine the closest emergency clinic and make sure their number is programmed into your cell phone. It should also be available at home in case of emergency. (Along with this note: Always leave sitters with emergency contact numbers for your pet.)
  10. In case of a fight between two pets of the same species (or even any other animal and your pet), take proper precautions before approaching the fight and do not step between two snarling, biting animals. This is another reason why it is important to research pet training and obedience before acclimating your animal to other humans and animals. 
  11. Understand the foods (especially human foods), products, and materials that are poisonous to your animal’s species. Dogs and cats are especially susceptible to accidental poisoning because people like to feed them food without understanding the allergies and toxins that dogs and cats possess or are affected by. 
  12. For any animals, but especially for barnyard animals, be sure to check local laws and statutes. There are areas where certain pets cannot be owned. Additionally, there are strict rules outlining the needs and specifications that must be included in a large animal’s habitat. Before providing a home for a horse, cow, pig, llama, etc. be sure that you can meet all of the laws. Don’t worry- the laws are for the safety of the animal. If you intend to be a good pet owner, you shouldn’t have any trouble following the rules!
  13. Buy supplies before you buy the pet! The basics are a must, but additional toys and products are never harmful!
  14. Have a plan for your pet when no one is at home. Jobs and school often get in the way of a pet’s exercise, grooming, feeding, and attention. Sit down as a family and ensure that a schedule can be set for your pet that stays constant throughout the week. It is important for them to have consistency, especially in their feeding and bathroom schedules (assuming you have an indoor animal that needs to be let outside).
  15. Understand common health concerns that the breed or species may exhibit. Certain breeds of dogs or horses are known for particular health problems. Be sure you can identify these problems and have them treated if your pet shows any symptoms for an ailment.
  16. Keep gauze wrap (like that which is used on horses and small animals) in your bathroom closet or wherever you keep your animal supplies. Again, depending on the species, this may not be useful. However, if an animal is injured by a cut, bite, etc. be prepared to immediately contact the veterinarian and have gauze and other padding available to stop bleeding if necessary.

I’m either getting tired or have simply used too many general ideas. In any case, I’m having trouble coming up with the last 4 things you need to know. Just remember, it varies based on the animal you are hoping to have. Do your research! Be smart! Understand that another life is in your hands.

~Me

Tonight I’m Okay

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There’s something about a slap of reality that is so awful and yet so amazing that it can be hard to swallow. A dose of this reality is something that comes along all too often when you cannot handle it. From a frustrating assignment at work to an impossible confrontation with a friend, its possible to be flung back into reality in the blink of an eye. The question is, why do humans allow themselves to be lost in their joy and happiness when the end of that happiness is always lurking right around the corner? Why is life destined to create circles around us over and over again?

I was having a curious conversation with a co-worker the other day about Obama and his immigration ideas. I got so frustrated that I couldn’t understand why we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. It’s amazing to me that we have so many historic sites in the world and so many of us love reading and learning about history. Yet when it comes to decision making, we consistently make the same mistakes over and over.

Then there’s me of course. The girl who’s so scared of repeating history that she never does the same thing twice. While I love routine, the first time my routine is broken I reinvent the wheel entirely.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out but sometimes I wish I’d be more of a role model and less of an introvert…

Regardless, tonight I’m okay because I know who I am regardless of anyone else’s opinion or approval.

-Me

The Most Important Lesson is Always the Last

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Robin Williams

I’m sure that people around the world have heard the news by now. Yesterday, this lovely man passed away. This post will be about him, but even if you did not appreciate his acting talents and comic relief, please continue to read. 


 

I’ve never really been the kind of person to have favorite actors, singers, bands, celebrities, and idols. I find it silly that these people who are doing jobs just like us are “prized” and treasured more than anyone else in the world. It seems to me that each one of us has a unique talent, and just because I am not creative and silly enough to be a comedian or actor, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing special about me. Until today, if you had asked me who my favorite actor was, I might reply any number of ways: Nicholas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ralph Waite to name a few. But recently, things have changed…

It’s sad that I realize this change today of all days. Why not yesterday or a year ago, I wonder. But the main point is that I have realized that my favorite actor is Robin Williams. And, unlike the ways that most people choose their favorites and their idols, I would reply with this name for reasons other than his acting career. Sure, without even realizing it, I grew up with Robin’s talent: from Genie in Aladdin, to acting in Flubber, Robin Williams was one of my most watched actors. Even in recent years, I have enjoyed his comedy abilities in movies like RV. The thing is, while this man had a big career, he had an even bigger heart and more brilliant mind. 

As news spread of Robin’s death, people continued to talk about him on social networking sites that I frequent. In the past twenty four hours, I’ve read a list of all of his acting performances, the awards that he has won, and read quite a few of his most famous and touching quotes. 

So what makes me wish that Robin were still with us today? Besides the fact that he was too young to die, I find it important to note that he had the right outlook on life. The advice that Williams spent his life instilling in young children and adults alike is reason enough to love him for the man that he was. Even better, he knew how to make every person smile in some way. 

I never even met this man, but I have to say that he has one of the biggest hearts that I have ever heard of. I suddenly feel the need to print a picture of him and hang it at my desk at work- not to be creepy, but for inspiration. If ever there was a person who I would like to learn something from, it would be Williams. 

And as the title of this post states, the most important lesson to be learned is always the last. While speculation has arisen about the cause of death in this incident, it seems that Robin committed suicide. This, unfortunately, is not a new subject to us, especially when it comes to the death of celebrities. But the thing is, even though Robin may have been depressed and may have had problems, he spoke out about things that could make a difference in a person’s life. He taught us how to care, laugh, take joy in life, and enjoy the company of others. At the end of the day, maybe the most important lesson that he ever taught us was this:

It is never too early to let people know what is going on inside of your head.

Maybe a higher power was working in this man’s life to take him away from us all so early; maybe there is a bigger plan for his numerous talents than any of us on Earth may realize. But regardless, it is never too early to talk. Whether Robin Williams did or did not have depression problems, whether he did or did not commit suicide, he has given us all the opportunity to sit back and think about our lives and the lives of others. Suicide and depression are real issues in a majority of people’s lives today. Even if Robin’s problems were unnoticed and unspoken in regards to his friends and loved ones, he has given us this opportunity to learn more about each other. If any of us are suffering from mental illness or are feeling alone in our lives, we need to realize that now is the time to speak up. Now is the time to stop being ashamed and afraid of the truth, now is the time to believe in ourselves and put the smiles back on our faces that Robin was able to instill in us all these years. 

I pray that we all learn something from this death. And while I hate to make a big deal out of a person’s passing, I am truly feeling for his family, friends, coworkers, and the world right now. Many other actors and celebrities have died before Williams- unfortunately many will also follow. I’m sorry that I haven’t taken the time to inspect their accomplishments like I am now doing for him. However, I too have learned that people are more than meets the eye and something can be learned from everyone on this planet. 

If you are still reading this, please take the time to pray for this horrible loss. Please also take the time to rethink the experiences that you have had recently. Be sure that no one you know is suffering from anxiety or depression right now. If they are, reach out to them in whatever way you possibly can. And if you are one of the people who fall into this category, seek help on your own, for you never know if it will come to you before it’s too late. 

In closing, I would like to say that God has gained another beautiful angel, and that Genie now is, truly, free. 

For more about Robin Williams’s life, simply search his name on Google and begin to read articles- they are abundant and ever-varying. To get you started, I will share my favorite post on Robin so far. 

Also, if you or anyone you know suffer from anxiety or depression, please contact Common Ground’s Suicide Prevention/Help Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

To all of you, God Bless.