Category Archives: Improving the World One Thought at a Time

Chasing What Now?

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Based on my past few posts, you can probably tell that life has not been super peachy for me lately. I’ve struggled. Really, I feel like I’ve struggled all my life. Yet I know that, in reality, there have been some amazing times, some great days, and some wonderful adventures.

I think I may have found one of those days (it may even turn into a week) in my life right now. This is the first full week of school after Christmas break, after saying goodbye to my grandma, and after being sick. I’m still not feeling the greatest, but for some weird reason I have come home every day this week so full of energy and motivation to get things done. In just the past three afternoons, there have been tennis ball competitions with Zoey (my Giant Schnauzer), karaoke parties (with myself), and tons of things accomplished. I’m not sure where this energy is coming from, especially when this is normally one of the harder weeks for teachers during a school year. But I’m surviving. No. I’m thriving.

During one of my activities this afternoon, I was dancing around the kitchen, playing Youtube songs at random off of my phone, and getting potatoes ready for dinner. One of my favorite cover artists, Boyce Avenue, came over the speakers. Of course I started singing (it’s one of my little known joys in life, unless you are my husband and other family members. Then sometimes you wish I’d shut up!).

I think the reason that I love music so much is because often times the beat makes you feel better, happier, more energized; the lyrics also often relate to life. Though a lot of songs are about love and relationships (hello, country music), there are many that are relate-able to different parts of life.

So here I am, singing along to this song that Boyce Avenue is playing. I knew the title of the song was Chasing Cars and I know the lyrics but I never really listened too closely to the words, I just always sang them. I found myself listening to them closely today though. What I found was a song that related to me a lot in life. There are many lines within the song that seem to relate to anxiety particularly.

While I’m sure the artists did not write the lyrics to be about a person with anxiety, just bear with me for a second. I hit the refresh button and listened to the song a second time because I thought I was crazy. Surely these lyrics couldn’t relate to anxiety as much as I had thought listening the first time. (For those who have not ever heard the song or don’t know the lyrics, here it is in full. Also, this is my way of saying I don’t own the lyrics or anything that I will be discussing in the rest of this post. Copyright info is found at the bottom of the lyrics.)


We’ll do it all
Everything
On our own
We don’t need
Anything
Or anyone
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
I don’t quite know
How to say
How I feel
Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life
Let’s waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads
I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life
All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see
I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Songwriters: Natah Connolly / Gary Lightbody / Jonathan Quinn / Tom Simpson / Paul Wilson
Chasing Cars lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

After reading the lyrics, you might all think I am nuts. This definitely seems like some kind of song about relationships, those three words are probably “I love you”, and the person is wondering if their love will stick around through it all. Yet here’s where my head went when I heard the lyrics today:

  • “We’ll do it all… We don’t need anything or anyone”—- Anxiety makes me feel like this sometimes. I often feel like I have OCD, but it’s really just my nerves. I like to do things, I want to experience a lot of things in life. While my anxiety might make me wish I had never tried half the things I’ve done, my body does crave experience and different parts of life. At the same time, when something doesn’t go well and my anxiety starts to build, I become more determined than ever to do things on my own. I don’t feel like I need anyone or anything. Additionally, if people let me down, I feel like I cannot rely on anyone and cannot trust anyone. If you’ve ever tried to explain anxiety to someone else, you may know how this feels. People can be disappointing; sometimes I find it easier to put all the stress and pressure on myself than to hold the anxiety over my head, praying that someone will do right by me.
  • “If I lay here… would you lie with me and just forget the world?”—- There are many times in life when my anxiety has gotten to be too much. I have found myself often just wanting to crawl in bed and lay there. Sometimes I want to do so without even being tired. More often, I wish there was someone who would be willing to lay right beside me in complete silence, doing nothing and saying nothing. You see, anxiety is one of those beasts that causes a person to often feel alone; it’s important to have people with you, especially when you are going through a rough time. Anxiety is also that demon that makes you need a lot of rest and relaxation that you normally would not get unless you force yourself into a quiet corner and just sit there in silence to calm yourself. So who would lie with me if I was having a rough day? Would they help me with my anxiety?
  • “I don’t quite know how to say how I feel”—- THIS! This is my life, I swear. Or at least I can very assuredly say this is my emotional life. Not only is it a rollercoaster, but until I learned to journal to get things off of my chest, I would try to talk to other people before thinking through my feelings and what I really was trying to say. Even some days now when the anxiety gets bad, I struggle to think through my emotions and explain to someone else what is going through my head. What’s even worse is that some people will never understand anxiety and they react really badly to things you say when you are panicking. All of this makes you feel like you don’t know how to say what’s running through you’re head; while worrying and stressing, you’re also trying to make sure what you say makes sense and doesn’t confuse or upset the person you are talking to. Talk about a lot of difficulty with words!
  • “Those three words are said too much, they’re not enough”—- I can see how everyone would think this is supposed to reference ‘I love you’ but when I was listening to this song tonight, I just kept imagining people telling me different three word phrases. ‘I love you’ might be one of the phrases I saw because sometimes people say it without really knowing what love and commitment mean to a person with anxiety. The people I love are my backbone, they are what keeps me up when it seems like I’ll never stop falling down. I also thought of the phrase ‘Please help me’. This might seem confusing because a lot of people with anxiety actually need to say this MORE often, but I have also been in an educational setting over the past few years where more and more kids are begging for help with anxiety (testing anxiety, general anxiety, anxiety about socializing with friends). Lately it has been clouding the view of anxiety to people who have never dealt with it as a chronic problem. Now people walk around hearing about anxiety from the people who only use it as an excuse to get accommodations or as a way to explain away a problem that their child might be having. While I know I’m generalizing a lot here, I have been told by coworkers often that students with anxiety just need to toughen up and get over it. I for one know that is not always possible or the case. So the more people that start pleading for help when they don’t really need it, the more difficult it is for me to live my life with an actual chronic anxiety disorder. Finally, I heard the three words ‘Let me help’. Let’s face it, many people who try to become your friends think they can fix you or at least support you. Yet they’ve had very normal, every day encounters with anxiety that do not come close to equaling a truly horrific anxiety attack. I remember the first time my husband (then boyfriend) saw me completely freak out. He managed well compared to other people, but I’m pretty sure until that moment he had absolutely no idea what he was in for with me. I feel like that happens a lot with people. They are loving and kind enough to want to help, but they are unable to see inside your head, to understand the emotions you are trying to express, and are therefore unable to actually comprehend the help you really need.
  • “Forget what we’re told before we get too old”—- The Lord knows I need to do this! I have memories from my childhood of people telling me that I was just acting like a baby and that I’d never amount to anything if I didn’t branch out and become more like them. I still struggle almost daily to be completely comfortable in my own skin, in my own life. I am confident that I can be a good person, but I always have a voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I’m not like everyone else. It’s difficult and frustrating to deal with. All I can hope is that I’ll find a way to forget what other people have said about me before it’s too late for me to grow into the person I was truly meant to become.
  • “Show me a garden that’s bursting into life”—- I’m not really sure what the artist meant this to mean originally, but here’s what I take from it: Sometimes with anxiety, you just need to be surrounded by positivity. This may come in the form of happy music, lots of hugs, a funny TV show, or something else. Whatever it is that makes you happy in large and beautiful quantities is necessary to make your life better. One of my loves is flowers; it’s my favorite thing to photograph of all time, and it’s just one of the examples of a beautiful part of life that never really seems to encourage my anxiety to flare up. I mean, what could possibly be wrong with flowers right?
  • The last bit of this song does make me think of a love story actually. I actually think of my husband when I think of these words. Though our relationship is still really young compared to many others, I see these things in our interactions. I’m not sure that I can explain this very well, but I’ll try. Sometimes there are just instances when my husband is looking at me with a big smile on my face and it seems like I am just making him so extremely happy. He loves to be around me, he loves to talk to me, and he loves me. When he appreciates who I am, it makes me feel like I’ve always been this person that he sees. So regardless of how other people have ever seen me, I feel like I have always had this amazing, beautiful, funny, and intelligent me inside just waiting for him to appreciate it. As the song ends, it states the truth about these moments: I don’t know where my husband found the ability to see me this way, to see me in such a positive light. I often feel confused about how anyone could see me like that really. I just hope that, now that I’ve found someone to show me my best self, things will never change for us.

So in the end, this is a really long post based off of one song that I totally misinterpreted according to the original writer I am sure. And even though I started out this post seeing complete relation to my anxiety issues, towards the end, I realized even my anxiety is closely related to my love life. Maybe this is why most songs always come back to love in the end.

In any case, it is way past time for me to go finish cooking dinner for my husband and I. He normally cooks, and I’m feeling so good that my energy this week is making me WANT to cook for us. Let’s just hope I don’t ruin any of the yummy food I have planned!

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Advent or Adventure?

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I know I keep talking about me in all of my posts. There hasn’t been much mention of teaching or anything else lately. To those who follow me for those reasons, I apologize for not providing. However, today I want to look a bit more closely at this Advent season and what it is meaning to me. 

Yesterday, I realized just how low my life feels at moments lately. I know I’ve written about this often, but on Friday it all came to a head and I truly realized how saddening and frustrating my life can feel right now. In my opinion, it’s for good reasons. Though I want to be happy, I just have so many negative things on my mind. I wish I were one of those positive, always happy-go-lucky people that you see out there; unfortunately, my anxiety makes that a super difficult pursuit. I still try but I find myself wondering right now, is there more meaning to this than what I’m seeing and feeling right now? Is there a deeper reason for all of this negative and horrifying news? 

I even posted to my Facebook page at one point that I find myself wondering if just simply knowing more people means that I am going to encounter more negativity. Surely that would make sense right? If I only know, say 5 people, the chances that bad things happen to those 5 people will probably be much smaller than the chances of something happening to people I know if I knew, maybe 20 people. Plus, being a teacher means I know just 120 kids from this school year. Let’s not count my kids from previous years, my coworkers, my family, or my otherwise known friends. It’s actually kind of scary to think about how many people I know. My anxiety does not do well with the thought that I am a bit of a social butterfly now that I have grown up; I’d much rather still sit at home in my pajamas reading books and playing games with my sister. But I digress…

On Friday it came to my attention that knowing more people is probably the reason why so many more negative things are happening right now. I also know that my grandmother’s illness makes any negative thing seem 100 times worse. (Anyone with anxiety can tell you that you become overly dramatic in stressful and tense times in your life. Sitting here, I’m even aware of it, but that doesn’t mean I have the full power to stop that dramatization.) 

So I thought about my list, the list of “bad” things. Without going into detail, here are just some:

  • My grandma is dying of cancer
  • My husband’s grandma is sick
  • My husband’s aunt is sick
  • My coworker just had some kind of procedure done. While I heard it wasn’t a big deal, it hit me kind of hard that something was wrong and I had no idea.
  • One of my students lost their home on Thursday to a house fire. Officials said it easily could have started with her in the house. Thank God everyone is okay, but they’ve lost everything.
  • Three families that I know of have recently lost young children, less than a year old. 
  • I have watched friends mourn for loved ones lost in the past month more times than I can count.

It’s just now that I’m starting to put this picture together, to see the whole story. The illnesses happening in our families right now are unfortunate, but God has given my grandmother such a full life. At least she is not scared of dying, worried about missing out on adventures and things she could or should be doing yet with her life. My husband’s grandma is doing okay for now, and we aren’t even sure that it’s a terminal issue. My coworker emailed me yesterday to let me know that all was well with them. While my student lost her home, no one was injured. She was even strong enough to show up to school the next day to carry on as best as she could. While the families that I know of who have lost children and homes recently may not be close friends, I also know that I have been able to help them through my fundraising efforts. And I know it takes a community to raise the funds that will truly help them, but I am happy that I can at least advertise these events to our student body and get the word out about these families needing help. These actions I take in my own little way will hopefully make their lives better somehow. 

So maybe instead of sitting around being all gloom and doom during this Advent season, I should turn these things into an adventure instead. Instead of hanging on to every Christmas opportunity to try and cheer myself up with twinkling lights and extra cheerful songs, maybe I should really be embracing these negative items and these struggles. Organizing fundraisers and talking to those who have lost doesn’t make me feel like some kind of hero, but it gives me this boost of positive feeling like nothing else does recently. In my time of desperation and worry, helping others makes me feel like things will be okay. It reminds me that at some point, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While I’m not saying this will be the best Advent season ever, this is a great time of change and promise for the Church. Hopefully this is God’s way of bringing my life great change and promise for the future as well. 

I am going to do my best over the next few days to keep my head up. I feel like it’s important that I work harder and stay even more motivated to help others. I have another fundraiser to organize for this week, and even if we don’t raise a ton of money, I need to remember that there are other ways that I can help out as well. Through my actions I am beginning to learn that helping others, donating even a few dollars, and organizing groups of people to do good makes me feel good, makes my life seem good. I hope that this is the path God is asking me to take right now, I hope that I serve all of these families well, and I hope I can find other ways to do even more good in the future. 

For now, this is just an experiment; just a way for me to find some happiness and test the waters of being a truly selfless and giving person. I guarantee I won’t be perfect at it, but I hope that I can find a way to stay positive and incorporate these actions into my life all the time. I hope those around me can see how much I’m struggling and yet how I am still trying to be helpful. As I’ve always said about teaching, if I can affect even one student in the end in some positive way, I have done my job. Maybe now this is the job God has for me. 

If anyone else has gone through similar times or has any advice for me, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. 

~B

Trying to Make Myself Better While Trying to Make You Better

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Trying to Make Myself Better While Trying to Make You Better

I know I have a lot of followers and other bloggers on here who suffer from something. Whether we deal with anxiety, eating disorders, depression, or any other mental “problem”, we know what it feels like to be too much in our own heads, too much controlled by them at times.

I have never in my life been so aware and outspoken about anxiety as I have been recently. I still don’t go screaming my problems from the rooftops, but I definitely have had my fair share of moments where my mouth just runs and words come out that wouldn’t have a few years ago. I am starting to realize even more that we are much more the same than we believe. I may not have anxiety as bad as some, others may have it better off than me, but I know everyone has had the basic feeling of anxiety at some point in their lives.

What I didn’t realize (until yesterday) was that I know more people than I think who suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide. I know that’s not something everyone wants to talk about don’t get me wrong, but I just never realized how close to home it would hit for me.

Over the past few years as a teacher, I have watched many kids who feel so depressed because of their performance in school, something going on with their family, etc. It has always broken my heart piece by piece to watch these students struggle with very little assistance given to them. Let’s face it; while I care, there’s only so much that I can do from a professional standpoint. Even worse, I don’t have the technical training to be able to truly give them advice that I would feel comfortable using. I know our brains are a complicated thing, and I’d hate for anything I said to make a negative difference to a kid who is already struggling.

One year I even had someone who was so depressed, they started dropping suicidal hints left and right. Based on the student’s personality, others thought they were joking. I took it seriously from the start just because mental issues hit so close to home for me. Thank God I did. While I cannot take full credit by any means, my awareness and notification to the proper people may have helped that kid in the long run. Yet every day I felt so fearful that I would never see that child again, that they would do something one evening or weekend that would cause me to lose them from my professional life forever. And that would have killed me.

So recently my sister-in-law started posting about how she wanted to do this Out of the Darkness Walk towards the end of October. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts these walks all over the country to help raise money for their cause. They work on research, advertisement, and raising awareness for those mental issues that lead many people to thoughts of suicide. Their goal is to decrease the suicide rate by 20% by the year 2025.

While I’ve never done anything like this before, I decided I was going to walk with her. The organization gives you the option of simply walking to raise awareness or to walk because you are trying to earn some funds for their cause. While I don’t have a lot of money to spare, I do plan to donate something of my own. Yet, I thought it would be such a waste to try not to raise any money at all.

Which is how I ended up spending quite a bit of time last night sharing information about my cause to my friends via Facebook. I asked that even if they could not donate themselves, that they share with their friends who may be able to. It was through these Facebook chats that I found out that there are even more people close to me who suffer so severely with depression. I did my fair share of feeling depressed and saddened last night. There was a moment where I almost cried. And I did a lot of praying, praying that those who really need this help find some way to get it before it is too late. I also prayed that anyone suffering from this issue never goes so far as to act out their thoughts.

Almost instantly (at least within less than an hour), this cause has become SO important to me that I am having trouble putting all of this into words. So for that reason, I’m just going to shut up now.

What I am going to do is to say that I am just one small, individual, meaningless person in this whole big world. In the long run, the best thing I do to make a positive difference is teach. But I feel like that’s not enough. So I’m going to do this walk, even if no one else walks with us. I’m going to do this walk whether my one single presence at this event makes a difference or not. I am going to walk even if I show up that day with only my meager donation in my hand and no one else’s. I am going to walk because this is important to me. I am going to walk for my kids and my friends and my family. Because I care.

If you are so inclined, feel free to read more about why I walk at my AFSP webpage here. There is a donation button and the option to share my page as well. Again, I know not everyone can give, but anyone who shares or donates even a few dollars will become even more near and dear to my heart!

Hopefully one day we will be able to kill that suicide rate!

With Love,

~B

Favorite Scriptures, Quotes, Images…

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Favorite Scriptures, Quotes, Images…

Kind of a weird post tonight. First I’m typing on my Kindle so this will be short. Second, I’m not writing anything about my life or journey really. All I’ll say is sometimes I feel like we all need guidance or help with some area of our lives and don’t always get an immediate answer (that’s where I am right now). So I figured I would try to see how many people actually read this jumble that I write. 

If you do, and you have a scripture or book passage or quote that brings you guidance or comfort, I encourage you to share it in a comment here. Not only am I hoping to get some good things for my own personal benefit, but I’m hoping to share them on my blog as well. Maybe if one of them really hits me, it’ll even become a topic in a later post!

FYI, my favorite is the serenity prayer, though it’s not seeming very applicable to my situation at the moment. 

Let me know your favorites, even if they aren’t religious!

~B

Thanks Target!

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I’m borrowing the video below from Reddit. I just happened to come across it today and thought it fit pretty well with the story I feel like telling from a social media post I saw this morning.

Don’t Shut the door, WCGW? from r/Whatcouldgowrong

If you’re an educator, you may have heard that Target is promoting 15% off for all school supply purchases for educators. I feel like this is a yearly thing and occurs in many different stores all over the country. Heck, some of the stores offer teacher discounts year-round. True, maybe some stores are promoting these discounts because they appreciate all the hard work teachers do. However, many of them could be instituting these policies because they hope teachers will buy more product from them to actually supplement their classrooms and help not only the teacher but the local kids as well! Even more of these stores are doing it to entice teachers to simply enter the store and spend more than what we normally would without a “sale” coming our way. Who can pass up a sale anyway?

But what I really think is interesting is that somehow, someone in this world turned Target’s 15% off discount for teachers into something similar to the link above that I posted from Reddit. How you may ask? Simply because people are trying to get work done and do some good (Target giving 15% for teachers who, whether we like it or not often buy their own supplies for at least part of their school year) and someone else ruins it for everyone.

That person in this situation just happens to be the owner of the Facebook Page called “Teaching in Progress”. I’ve done a bit of snooping on this page just to give you a quick rundown. This page is devoted to teachers sharing posts and quotes and ideas for other educators to use in their own classrooms and lives. Like many of the teacher pages that I follow, this one describes the life of a teacher during summer, gives project ideas to help kids learn their ABCs with fun games, and works to educate others about the reality of the school systems today.

So what’s the big deal? The difference between this teacher’s media page and the ones that I choose to follow comes in the form of one post from yesterday afternoon. It was posted in response to the Target 15% off discount deal. Just so you can enjoy the pleasure of whatever feeling their post might invoke in you, here it is:https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fteachinginprogress%2Fposts%2F1720784981303006&width=500

As you can see, there are many comments and responses to this post. And, as with all of my own personal blog posts, I would like to reiterate that my opinion is only that, an opinion. I am in no way saying that I am right or wrong about my feelings here. But just hear me out, let me tell you my feelings here.

This post is full of it!

That’s basically it. I feel like this is one of the worse things I have ever seen another teacher post on social media. Granted, any human can do much worse than this, but hear me out. I have some very valid reasons for believing this post should not even be in existence.

  1. It’s rude- Target was not forced to give anyone discounts, so anyone who gets one should be grateful. Target’s #1 mission is to earn money for their owners and employees while also servicing their communities by allowing people to buy food and supplies they need to support their families. It has never bragged about being a cheap alternative to other stores, for being a charity location, or for being a homeless shelter or wish giving service like Make a Wish. So for anyone to complain about something offered to them for no apparent reason is rude and sad.
  2. If you don’t want it, don’t use it- I do not often buy school supplies for my classroom. In fact, most of my school supply purchases are for my own personal use (either at home or at the office). Yet just because I may not need any more pencils or sticky notes at the moment, doesn’t mean that I am going to go out and complain about a discount that was offered to me. If I don’t wish to buy supplies, I’m just going to… well, not buy them!
  3. This is the opposite of what we should be teaching our children- I’m slightly scared that someone so outspoken could post something like this on social media. I’m not naive enough to think it doesn’t happen every day, but I often feel like this is what is wrong with the world. Sure, share your opinions and ideas; others love to see your creativity and come up with new ideas alongside of you. But do you not realize that you have a position of authority in this world? In your town? Do you not see that children look up to you as their teacher? Is it apparent to you that, even if you don’t friend your students on your Facebook page, they can still see your posts if thousands of people are sharing them? I feel like this is just teaching our younger generations that it is okay to bitch and complain about every single thing that is handed to you in life whether you really deserve it or not. Maybe this is what is wrong with so much of the world today. Not this post specifically, but the idea that we can be so outspokenly unhappy and rude about things that are offered to us just because they aren’t 100% what we want.
  4. The reality- Does anyone really think that Target has enough pull to change the entire financial budget of the state and federal governments? Because that’s basically what it would take to make it so that every school in the country has access to all supplies without the need for teachers or parents to contribute to anything the students need during a school year. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make this a reality, but going back to the facts… Target will NOT be the one to make these changes happen. Sorry Target, I love you, but you aren’t quite that powerful!

In the end, I guess I’m writing just because I am so frustrated by everyone who seems so ungrateful for things these days. While this Target post may be a pretty simplified example, there are many ways I have seen this attitude and ungratefulness in the world.

So my advice to you, or my wish for what you would do having read this post? Go out and do something good for someone else. Instead of complaining because how heavy a door is to hold, make sure you hold it open for yourself and the person behind you. Instead of being mad that your food from a restaurant costs so much, make sure to tip the waiter/waitress a bit extra today.

In the end, doing good, treating others well, and being grateful for what we do have will make the world a better place. Don’t forget to stand up for change, but be sure to do it in a mature and polite manner. Otherwise, people are so much more likely to lash out at you and not actually hear your reasons for supporting your cause.

~B

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