Goodbye November

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I was surprised when I logged into my blog tonight; I hadn’t noticed that it had been 10 months since my last post! Nor did I realize that it has been almost 10 months since T moved into his first home. Time has flown since the beginning of the year, and I cannot believe that 2016 is almost over. I’ll admit that there have been many ups and downs, but it’s been a pretty good year so far. I’m still continuously amazed at myself for the amount of things that I have been able to achieve. And yet, I’m still struggling to figure everything out. You would think by now my mind would have settled enough that I was comfortable in my own life, my job, my home, etc. But it seems like things never settle down. Even the Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ this year wasn’t nearly as relaxing as it had been in years past. (Don’t get my wrong, it was amazing; I was just so exhausted from my long hours at work recently and so happy to actually be seeing my family that I didn’t ever want it to end. Anxiety started to climb as I realized I had to come back home and wasn’t sure when I would actually get to hang out with them all again.)

We all know how much I love lists (or if you’re just starting to read my blog, note: I LOVE writing lists!!!) so here are some of the things that are currently on my mind.

This year’s accomplishments:

  1. First thanksgiving not having woken up with my sister and parents to watch the Macy’s parade.
  2. Spent almost the entire summer at T’s house and finally moved (most of) my things in.
  3. Started a school year with over 50 students on my rosters.

Things that are currently still bugging me/to be done before the end of the year:

  1. Getting a real Xmas tree for the first time in years! Hoping it doesn’t mess with my allergies.
  2. The plants that T and I started to grow in the basement (beans and peas, come on now!) are dying and I cannot figure out why.
  3. My doctor conveniently reduced my dosage of meds before telling me that he was retiring and would be handing my health care over to someone else in the practice… Not sure whether to change practices or wait to see who his replacement is, but definitely not happy that he chose to mess with my meds right before Thanksgiving! Also, kind of upset that he continues to believe I want to be off my meds. If I could just express how unhappy and just plain blah I have been feeling the past week or so to someone who understands how these stupid pills change my outlook, the world would seem like a much more friendly place…
  4. With this being the first Christmas season in my own home, I need to find out a way to celebrate Xmas Eve with some sort of new and special tradition. (Maybe with T, maybe with him and my sister, not sure yet.)
  5. I have yet to start grading comments for the semester’s end report card, and I know that the next three weeks are going to fly by and I’m going to end up stressing about it over Christmas. But thanks to #3 above, I cannot see pushing myself to complete this type of work during my evenings at home because I am trying my best to relax and not add stress to my life.

I am really excited about the holidays though. T is almost completely against decorating anything before the day of Christmas, but I’m slowly easing things out of the goody box that Mom sent my way. It makes me happy to be surrounded by things that are mine from home and that are Mom’s which she is kindly lending to me until I get enough things of my own. Plus I found GREAT gifts for everyone this year. I think everyone is going to be super surprised too. T clearly has no clue about his gift, and the other girls in the family have absolutely no clue. Dad’s the only boring one, as always, but we had to give him the recliner when it was shipped to us. There’s not really a good way to hide an oversized recliner for two months at a time.

I just realized that I started writing tonight because I was trying to make myself feel better. I love using writing as a vent, especially when I start to find it hard to express myself in oral words. It’s easier to get my thoughts on paper (or in print) so that I don’t have to worry about reactions or questions from others. Yet now that I look back on this post, it’s much more positive than I thought it would be. I had expected to sit down and complain about my doctor more, to groan a little bit about work, and then to feel complete desperation over the decision of whether to go back to my usual med dose and find a new doctor or not. While I might have touched on these things a bit, this post overall seems somewhat positive or at least more logical than emotional. While that’s not going to make my stress level decrease or my nerves feel any better, it’s at least nice to know that I haven’t completely lost control of the positive and logical parts of myself. I guess maybe I am really growing up and learning how to handle things a bit better on my own. That might still mean some tough decisions and some issues when trying to make important life decisions, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot feel anxiety and have panic attacks without moving through them and getting past those situations. Maybe, just hopefully, I will feel a bit better tomorrow. And if not, then I will know that changing my meds back will be the right decision for me; it’s pretty clear from all of this writing that what I am thinking and have to say is not just for my own selfish and petty benefit. I am truly trying to be positive and happy.

~B

There and (Almost) Back Again

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Note to home-buyers: Always look at the basement first.

You know how I said that first house was a total flop? So T and I came up with a different plan for the second house that we decided to view. We walked to the basement immediately, not even glancing much at the other rooms as we passed through them to get to the basement stairs.

When we got down there, we realized that the basement was in pretty good condition considering the age of the house. It was clear they didn’t have water problems because they had clothes and toys and all kinds of things laying on the floor. (Bonus: People have actually lived in this house recently and did a great job of giving us a description of any issues they may have had since moving in.)

From there the rest was history. Well, sort of…

In case you don’t live in this area, I might as well update you on the situation from last night. It was extremely cold. It had snowed the day before, and the sun was no longer out by the time we arrived to look at the house. So… the key box froze shut. We almost had to go home sight unseen just because we couldn’t get into the house. But luckily, I was with two very stubborn people who helped to get the box opened just enough that we could wiggle the key out. Thanks to both of them for the help!

We walked through the rest of the house. I’m not sure what T was feeling, but I was completely in awe. The house reminded me so much of the one that I currently live in. It had the same number of rooms (minus a half bath), had a similar color scheme, and felt… right.

I know I should not be putting so much feeling into this house at this point in the process, but I cannot help but hope that it will be the one T finally moves into. This just feels like the right house to me. Maybe it won’t be, maybe it will be. I guess we will find out…

Next step: Pre-approval and giving an offer! Wish us luck.

~B

Step Two (And three, and four, and more…)

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Step Two (And three, and four, and more…)

This weekend has been entertaining to say the least. T and I did go to see a house yesterday morning, though it was super awkward at first. We showed up before our realtor and there were already other vehicles in the parking lot. At first I thought a bunch of people would be joining us for some unknown reason, but then I realized that they were a realtor and another young couple, also being shown the house. I guess we showed up too early? Oops…

In any case, I was super hopeful about the house once we got there. A super ugly trellis had already been torn down, which would make our lives easier in the end. The interior was also cleaner and roomier than I had originally imagined. Though simple painting, re-flooring, and other minor jobs would need to be done, we were starting to see the positives of this cute and manageable house.

Until we got to the basement…

Let’s say when we went down the stairs, it sort of went downhill from there. The entire foundation was cracked the entire way around the house. We could look with our bare eyes and see the dirt peeking through the other side of the cement walls. So, let’s just say we didn’t buy that house or even consider putting an offer on it. The wall was only one of two major things that the websites failed to point out to us. And I get that, I really do. They are trying to sell the house on their end, so they don’t want to post pictures and information that make the house impossible to sell. But be serious; we could have saved ourselves about 30 minutes of time and even more hassle for the realtor who showed us around if we could have just known these two facts before scheduling the meeting.

The day wasn’t over yet though. We went back to the realtor’s office; it’s down a super long hallway, down some stairs, and back up a huge set of stairs. It’s a nice cozy place but it was pretty empty since it was Saturday morning. The realtor (a friend of my mom’s) made us feel at home and gave us all of the possible information that any first time home buyer could ever want. We had a great experience talking to her about the home buying process and learning about the things that we should do next to be successful.

After leaving, it became pretty clear that we were both thinking the same thing: this realtor is going to help us find a home. She was absolutely amazing and professional; she didn’t push us to divulge personal information and made sure that we knew not to speak about our finances or our love/hate of a house in front of any other realtors or the sellers. (Apparently in real estate, this is house hunting suicide.)

Needless to say we were less discouraged about our unfortunate first house viewing after our meeting. We are hopeful to find something new to look at soon.


 

In the meantime, I had to attend church today because I was the lay reader. I know I’ve discussed this in previous posts, but I wish my church would not assume that I can be in attendance when they have never even spoken to me about my schedule. (For those who don’t remember, this is one of many reasons why I have not attended church for almost a year now.)

Knowing how long it had been since I was in attendance, I decided to go and serve my time today. I don’t mind reading the scriptures really; part of me (the teacher part) enjoys being in front of the group and controlling my reading pace and pronunciation of words. It’s just that church is… well church. I know I’m not a “good Christian” when I say that I would much rather be hanging out with T, doing my chores, or even sleeping in rather than attending a service. Especially when our church is so small and there is no one else my age. Especially when the new deaconness that is sitting in as our preacher is… strange. But I digress…

I decided to go to church today knowing full well that T would go home before I left. This meant that I would spend the rest of the day away from him. I am pretty selfish when it comes to our relationship, and I did not want him to leave. I briefly suggested that he go with me, though I thought there was no way in this world he would ever want to go to church. To him religion is not something that is super important in life. It just never popped up after his family stopped attending when he was young. And I hope he realizes that, at least to me, that’s okay. I would never expect him to attend services or do any religious thing with me that I choose to do (unless we one day get married…) I understand that I am deciding to spend less of my Sunday around him, but I am also consciously making the choice knowing full-well that he will not come with me.

Which is why I was surprised when he took my crazy suggestion seriously. Hence T and I ended up at church together. My dad and grandma were there as well. Both seemed surprised to see T with me, but no one said anything. Pretty much the entire time I was sitting beside him, I was more focused on whether he would have some crazy thing to say about the service or whether he would be completely supportive of me and my public speaking.

Turns out he was both. Well sort of. We actually both sat through that service trying not to laugh and roll our eyes. I know, that sounds awful. But the person who gave the sermon today based her entire lecture on groundhog day. She spent at least five minutes reading off the names of all of the groundhogs in the country (and in Canada) that had not seen their shadow on Tuesday. This led in to a discussion about candlemas (the only part that truly connected to any scripture that I read), and ended with a discussion of how religious people (preachers, priests, etc.) are super in-tune with nature and seem to know when winter is ending and spring has begun. Again, not sure how that last part really connected except that it involved priests.

I sometimes wish that I attended a church where there was a good preacher. I’m not actually saying she was awful or that any of our past preachers have been either. But there was this one minister at my old church; he would discuss his daily life and things that had gone on during his week. And even though it sounded nothing like he was preaching, he would somehow find a way to connect his life with our lives. And then all of our lives to the scriptures. Not in some majestic, unfortunately complicated way. Instead, he was like another person speaking to each of us on a personal level. And for some reason, events in his life and the scriptures at the time seemed to line up perfectly with events in my life. I used to walk out of church feeling better, happier, and more hopeful about the upcoming week because at least someone could describe one strange, complicated, or crappy part of my life in words that I would never be able to find. And then he gave us advice; not personal advice per say, but advice in general. Sometimes it would be things about praying more to God or even taking deep breaths in the face of fear or difficulty. In any case, I always got something out of it.

Today, not so much. No offense to anyone out there who was involved in the making of today’s sermon.

I think I sort of strayed off onto a completely other topic there, but oh well. I really just wanted to say that I hope T reads this and realizes how much his actions today meant to me. He held me when I was crying earlier (about some super stupid drama) and then he held me hand through church even though it was completely against his beliefs and usual routine to attend such a service.

Thank you hun. It meant the world.

And to all of you out there who are reading this but are not my boyfriend, stay tuned for more about our house hunting adventure. I have a feeling it’s going to get pretty interesting real soon!

~B

Step One: The Exploration

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Step One: The Exploration

I’ve decided to try to keep up with my writing now that so many interesting things are going on in my life right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so. I’ve been so busy that some of the only time I have to myself to write is my lunch break at work. A measly 25 minutes to myself that I am now going to use to communicate here, with anyone who cares to read my blog. Before I run out of that time, I should probably get to the point…


 

I have finally succeeded in my evil plans to convince my family that we need another dog. Some of my motives for this plan are selfish and some are completely selfless. The biggest reason that I want them to get a dog is because I love dogs and cannot wait to have an interaction with another one. That’s the mostly selfish part speaking. The other side of me has so many selfless reasons for wanting a new pup in the house. Mainly, T and I are thinking about moving in together sometime this year. Well, he wants to buy the house and I will slowly transition to that house. So it may be sometime this year or it may be early next year at the latest (unless our plans fall through). In any case, my family would be left without a dog in the house, because there is no way I am allowing them to keep my pup in their home without me! (Sorry, but there’s me being selfish again.) Plus my little Jasper is still such a puppy that his energy is outrageous. I wish I had enough time in a day to fully wear him out like I can do during the summer time. Unfortunately, with work and my long commute, that’s just not possible right now. I do the best I can and appreciate my family’s help so much, but with us all having jobs and him being super hyper… I’m thinking another little pup will help to play with him and wear him out. (Maybe that’s selfish again?) One thing I know is unselfish though is that the vet is always concerned about how shy and timid Jasper is. Surely this is because of his background of abuse and shelters, but still. They would like Jasper to be a little more outspoken (if you can imagine that) and a little more playful with other dogs. Anytime he’s around another one, you can tell that he’s curious and interested, but that doesn’t always mean that he is willing to play or even sniff at them before hiding behind me or trying to run away. I guess it all really depends on the dog that he is around. Dogs that bark louder are scarier to him, smaller dogs are ones he thinks he can at least run away from faster than their little legs can carry them. But I digress…

I have been spending time posting pictures of pups to Facebook and tagging my family in them. I have sat down with my sister and told her all the reasons I want her to get a puppy. Then, since we had to get permission from the parents, I sat down with my mom and tried to convince her that when I move out the house will be too quiet. Once she saw the light, it was all over…

There are two applications pending right now, both for two little male terrier mixes just like my Jassy. They are brothers, named Danny and Duncan, and they look exactly like Jas. I really hope one of them comes through for us, but we’ve been told they have other applications in line ahead of our own. *Fingers crossed* This adventure is a fun one all in itself. Too bad I can’t help all of the little animals that need homes. 😦


 

Now for the even bigger, newer, scarier exploration (what I was supposed to be blogging about this whole time)… THE MOVE

Yes, that’s right. It is looking more and more like T and I may find a house that we both like and agree to move into. I’ve previously been spending my lunch breaks researching: financing, steps for finding a house, actual houses and lots, etc. I think I’ve spent over 10 hours in the past three weeks or so doing some sort of housing or mortgage research. Since we don’t live real close to each other to begin with and we both commute to work in the opposite directions, our possibilities are highly limited. Right in between our parents’ houses are those lovely little places called HOAs, which we are totally not interested in dealing with. Then there are the super over-priced houses smooshed beside each other in a teeny weeny development. Let’s just say it’s not going to happen.

So yesterday I came across a tiny little gem; with barely 0.4 acres of land and just over a 1,000 sq. ft. home, I was skeptical that T would like it as well. But he said that it looked like a decent place to start: in our price range, in the right geographical area, and not so completely run down that we would spend the next 10 years fixing it up.

Luckily through all of this, my mom has a realtor for a friend. She has been so amazing. She’s always willing to answer our questions for free, wants to suggest lenders and brokers to us to help us save money on the mortgage, and is willing to show us any house that our little hearts desire to look at.

Which brings me to my biggest piece of progress in this entire thing… we are looking at our first house this SATURDAY! Wow, I can’t believe I said it out loud. The thing is, I’m super excited because for once in my life I can actually imagine completing this step of maturing. Yet it makes me nervous to think about this huge step and to anxiously await to find out how perfect for us this house actually may or may not be. If that isn’t enough, T is semi-nervous too. I’m glad he was willing to admit it to me, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel that our nerves may play off of each other’s. So I told him that I would support him and he says he’d do the same for me. And even if we find we aren’t ready for the big move yet, I guess only time will tell and we will be stronger for any of this anxiety we have felt.

Need to go eat lunch now before I’m late for my next class. I feel so much better having written (gotta love anxiety like that!)

~B

Inspiration and Rejuvenation

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I know I have not written recently about anything, let alone anything important or any new revelations that I have had. But today, as I scrolled through my Facebook posts, I noticed that one of my friends had created a blog about her family. She and her husband, along with their two young kids, have recently gone through a horrible tragedy. Someone (or something) set fire to their kitchen stove when they were away for Thanksgiving break with their extended family. They returned home to find their kitchen burned, a cat missing, and smoke damage too extensive for them to move in.

Reading through the thoughts and feelings of my friend (who I haven’t seen in years) brought me some inspiration to write a new post. I’m not really sure why it has, but I’m going with this gut instinct that I need to start taking more time for myself and writing.

Luckily, I don’t have anything nearly as horrible to report. My life has been good lately, even great. I’ve successfully passed through another semester at work, my pup has started to mature a bit, and my boyfriend and I are in a relationship that is as strong as anything I’ve ever known.

I think the greatest thing is that, lately, my anxiety has been at an all-time low. I know that I have felt stressed and anxious about different subjects or events in my life recently, but it has been at least 6 months since I have had a panic attack. What’s more; I was able to talk to a coworker recently about how anxiety affects the both of us. I feel great knowing that I now have a shoulder to lean on who will understand even while I am at work.

I think the biggest adventure to have popped into my life recently is the “Big Move”. Okay, maybe it’s not so big (yet). Basically my boyfriend wants to move out of the house where he currently lives and into a home that will one day be our’s. I am more than ecstatic at the thought! It’s crazy; I never wanted to move out of my parents’ house before. I always thought I’d end up being one of those old maids who had never had any intention of moving away from the family. Though, as I’ve mentioned before, my sister is much more of a caretaker than I am or ever will be, I had always expected to stick around and take care of my parents. Or maybe just hide behind them because of my fears and anxieties about living on my own…

In any case, I feel suddenly optimistic about this new adventure. Sure, there are days when I want to strangle my boyfriend because he can be HORRIBLE at taking advice. There are even days when I want to give up altogether and say that I am not moving out regardless of his decisions about housing. Then, after a few minutes of talking to him, I realize that there is nothing that I want more in my life than moving out. Granted, I don’t need to move this very second or even in the next year, but I cannot imagine a better “next chapter” for my life than this one.

As I sit here writing, I am realizing how much this truly means to me. I never took into account how much of a change I have made in my life or my perspectives. Going from an anxiety-ridden teenager who wanted to be a homebody forever to this outgoing, hardworking, driven, and happy adult is like having a makeover that my subconscious has created all on its own.

I realize now how blessed I am to have the family and friends that I do. Even my students help to lift me up (at times) and can make such a huge difference in my attitude. I can never thank any of those people enough, but I also realize how much work I have taken on and accomplished inside. After all, there may be only so much a person can do without help, but there is nothing that a person can do with help unless they first choose to help themselves.

 

 

 

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.

Fall Means Plenty of Stumbles

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It seems like every time I write on here anymore it’s for a negative reason. I don’t mean it to be that way, but I have found that I am a lot happier living my busy life rather than writing about it these days. It’s only in these moments when I feel the need to come back and use my writing as a tool to help me sort out all of this unexpected.

Not even sure where to start really, so I’ll start with this: does anyone ever feel like people from the past continually try to pop back up in your life even if you consistently try to forget about them? That started happening to me about a month ago. I tried not to let it bug me but I guess the truth is that those people still have the ability to affect me, even when I don’t understand why.

Even now that nonsense continues, but at least I know I am not the only one struggling with this fight. My family doesn’t appreciate the actions of these others either, actions that I can only seem to describe as intrusions.

Work started about two weeks ago now, and I knew from the first day that I was in for some kind of new experience. I never realized until just this past week that the place I once knew is different now. And I realized that sometimes it’s not the place at all, but the people who make places feel like homes. Last year that place was a home to me,  at least in some sense of the word. But now that the family has left in numerous directions, it has been feeling more like that building is an empty barn. I am really trying to make the adjustments that this year will require of me but I know that so far I have been completely unsuccessful.

Then there’s life outside of work, which is again working through some strange plan of God’s that I doubt I ever understand. I’ve been having trouble going to church still, and I’m no longer sure it would help if I did go. But what I do know is that God has taken a lot of hope from me recently. Early last week my family learned that my aunt probably doesn’t have much longer to live. That is hard enough to deal with, particularly to someone who has too many emotions like me. But on Thursday she ended up in the ER. That makes it seem worse or maybe like death is faster approaching.

That same day one of my friends lost his battle with bladder cancer. It was some form that is really rare and wasn’t really treatable. I’m going to go see his family tomorrow night but I know my timing is already tight because of an appointment I have beforehand. Hopefully it all works out.

I think the best thing about all of this mixed up nonsense is that it gets to weasel its way into the other corners of my brain too. Who would have thought that a death or the hopelessness I am starting to feel would have such an affect on every part of me. This weekend I even threw all of my caution to the wind and took a risk in my life. I’m still not sure that it was the best choice, but I definitely don’t regret it. In fact it turned out really well. So am I growing up or simply growing careless?

I fear it may be carelessness simply because my brain has been able to run rampant recently, though I feel as if I have been trying to remain calm. Even things like my boyfriend and my family have been stress triggers. Those people haven’t done anything wrong, but my brain seems to believe that my status with them is going to change for the worse somehow and that it will be my fault. Keeping thoughts like that at bay is extremely difficult, but trying to explain them to someone else, even just to ask for help, is way harder than dealing alone sometimes. So many bad things could be inferred from any of those feelings of mine. At least I feel solid in my relationships and I know what I love and want. I just hope when everyone else hears my thoughts they will understand what I mean too and will keep in mind that as strong and smart as I am, I don’t always choose the feelings and worries that my mind chooses to give me. Trust me, I wish I did.

The Next Chapter

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It happened late last week. I got my schedule of students and my classroom assignments. I never really thought about it until this point, but I have officially made it through my second year of teaching, my first of being full-time. I honestly never thought that I would get so far or be so able to succeed in this environment. Looking back on how I was in school as a student, I never would have thought that entering a school building was one of the best feelings in the entire world. It’s amazing how much I love to teach and inspire others but how scared and fearful I used to feel in the setting where most learning and inspiration takes place.

This year might be a little rough for a couple of reasons. As I count down the hours in my last week of “freedom”, I feel excited for the start of this next year, but anxious about all of the changes and adaptations that I will go through within just the first few weeks back. I know in my heart that I will survive, just as I’ve survived the past few years. But for now, I am fine feeling slightly nervous and unable to put my full level of excitement into the upcoming orientations, trips, and classes.

I guess one of the biggest changes will be positive. I’ve been through this entire process before, so I will be spending more time helping out the new teachers than I will trying to figure my own way through the chaos. I also get my own classroom, though I’m unsure if that will be a positive or negative when I have to share it with at least two other people… I tried setting up the room the other day, only to realize that once all of the tables have been set in their perfect spot for the first day of school, the administration will come in and move them anyway for our first day of teacher orientation meetings. Seems like there should be a law against that! (Just kidding!!)

I’m not so much looking forward to the changing of my students. I am excited to get to know new kids, but I am not so excited to realize that the seniors from last year won’t be roaming the halls as usual. They were truly like my siblings in so many senses of the word, particularly towards the end of the year. I’m praying that it won’t feel like the relationships we’ve built will no longer exist simply because they don’t spend their days in my room anymore.

I’ll just have to put my whole heart into this year and pray that things work out. But for now, I feel like there is one thing that I can do to help. So below is the list of at least ten things that every teacher should remember in order to succeed throughout any school year. Just, please, remember that I made this list and it might not make sense to everyone.

  1. Remember that you have the ability to change people’s lives. Never stop trying even if you have the worst day in the world. One day, even those students who say they hate you may turn around and be happy to know that you were there to support them through anything.
  2. Allow the creativity to flow. I’ve decorated my bulletin board with sayings that don’t even pertain to Math (well one does). Instead, I’ve made a sign saying “Please excuse the mess, my children are making memories.” Yes, I stole the quote from somewhere else, but I truly believe that having a relaxed atmosphere will make any class or day better in the end. I know I need to work more on sticking to the rules in my syllabi but I also see the huge advantages of treating the classroom like a home.
  3. Find a group of supportive teachers who will make your life easier and will listen to you as you talk out your bad moments and exult in the good. My support system somewhat fell apart from last year since so many teachers moved on, but I feel like I can make a support system again just as easily as I did last year. I just hope that I don’t have to do all of the supporting since I’m no longer the newbie.
  4. When in doubt, grade. If you don’t have anything to grade, then organize. These are the two things that will keep you distracted from drama and politics of schooling. You’ll also get brownie points from the parents and the students if you grade quickly and keep in contact with them to make sure things stay organized.
  5. Rely on your students to help carry the load. Allow them to make decisions (within reason), ask them for help when grading or recreating your bulletin board. I’m particularly lucky with my students; most of them seek ways to help rather than dreading to be asked.
  6. When your students make goals at the beginning of the year, make your own. If your kids don’t already do something along the lines of goal setting, make sure they start.
  7. Bring parts of your life into your work day. Don’t tell everyone your deepest, darkest secrets, and be careful who you tell what to, but letting your students into little tidbits about your life will make them more comfortable approaching you for help and advice. Just don’t give out any advice that you don’t truly believe in. And never down talk any of your coworkers, parents, etc. within the school system (not that you should ever talk that way at all).
  8. Eat healthy and take the stairs as often as possible. Sometimes it’s ridiculous how fast you can gain weight or get exhausted from standing on your feet all day; you stand ALL day but you don’t necessarily move around! Don’t overcompensate by eating too much. I’m going to try not to eat such unhealthy foods this year either.
  9. Don’t do it unless you love it. Make sure that you are in it for the kids, for the love of teaching, and for the chance to change the world for the better. If you’re in this career for the money, the “fame”, or any other selfish reason, get out and get out now. (I know, a little too late considering most schools start next week, but oh well…)
  10. Finally, don’t forget you have your own life to live. Making your job an enjoyable part of your life is extremely important, but it’s hard to realize that you are leaving your family and friends behind when the job gets too busy. Try not to let it happen. I myself know that I am super nervous about the lesser amount of time that I will have to see my boyfriend, my sister, my parents, and my pup once school returns. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous about that now, but I am. Last year at this time I was single. Now I wonder how my boyfriend will feel once it seems like I am “leaving him out” because of my lack of time. And I hope my family won’t suffer from that as well because now I am sharing my time with them and work AND my man.

I’m praying everything works out. I guess we will start to find out on Monday when all of this school year nonsense comes to be reality.

~Me

Church of Drama

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I haven’t written in a while about anything religious. For that, I apologize. I know some of my followers like the posts when I talk directly about my beliefs and my opinions. Unfortunately, the reason that I have not been writing about these topics is because they have fallen a little bit to the wayside in my life lately. No, I have not stopped believing in God or praying throughout my days. I have just taken more of a backseat in my church lately and have been very frustrated with the organization that we call church.

Here’s the thing: my church joined up with these other churches in town to form a group that is “run” by a board. I think of it sort of like a school district with a school board and superintendent. Anyway, I know that church attendance is going down all over the world, but joining up with these other churches has hurt my church in particular way more than just struggling for attendance on our own. For the past few years we have been sharing pastors with other churches in the area, have changed all of our hymnals to new books that some of our members cannot even read or follow, have amended the way that our services run, and have even changed the types of meals and items that we offer during our summer picnic.

Now I know that everything must change to adapt to the new parts of the world that arise over time. I’m not saying that I expected everything to stay the same forever. All I’m saying is that my church has become (at least in my eyes) more about politics than speaking of God or singing those songs that I grew up loving to sing with the choir. Now I go to church… pretty much never, and I try to participate as little as possible. After I volunteered one time to read the scriptures, the coordinator decided that I had elected to read scriptures for an entire month in a row at random intervals. I feel like the worst person in the world to admit this, but I was unable to attend church during some of those weekends. There were one or two when I would have been available, but even then I came up with something else to do simply because I was upset that I had not actually been asked to read. It’s nothing like thinking you are walking into a group of like-minded, kind, and understanding people only to find out that they don’t understand your schedule or priorities at all. I still stand by the fact that I fully believe attending church is not necessary to be able to believe in a God or higher power. I also don’t think that I need to attend church for God to forgive me when I make mistakes or that I need to attend so that he does not stop listening to my prayers.

In any case, I’m getting tired now and don’t have much else to say on the subject. Part of me feels like more people in the world need to believe in some source of good to make Earth a better place. The other part of me sees how much drama and politics are being brought into my church right now and I don’t understand at all why anyone would want to start going or go back to a religious service again. It’s going to take some convincing on my own part to get me back to a service. That, more than anything else right now, makes me sad.

The New Man in Town

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I keep thinking that I’ll write something new on here, but life has been so busy and so fun that I just have not had the time. From buying a new car and selling the old one to taking a trip to West Virginia to laze around in the woods by the river for a week, I haven’t had much time to sit own and write. These things of course are in addition to having been sick from a new medication I got, taking a weekend to the beach, decorating my first ever classroom at work, dealing with a puppy who is nearing his terrible twos, and falling in love for truly the first time in my life.

Here’s the thing: So many people say they are in love and will never leave their partner for any reason in the world. Everyone pretends to remain completely faithful to their boyfriend or girlfriend even though they have no idea what may happen in this world to rip them apart from one another. I myself am a romantic; I love the little sweet gestures that people who care about you will make just to show their love. I even get a kick out of sappy stories about people who found their true love and stayed together for years without divorce or problems. But since people have hurt me so many times, I don’t really believe in this whole promise me your whole world and forever thing like most other people think is so sweet.

I always liked that Sarah Evans song about the girl looking for her perfect match. I use to sing it all the time. Sitting here thinking about it, I never thought that I would find that “blue-eyed boy”, but now I see that he is in my present and not my future.

The real reason I am writing this post is because the girls in my family went away for a weekend and I stayed at home with the two men in my life. On Friday, my boyfriend and I went to the carnival. I felt so accomplished being able to walk in there and see people who have issues with me. I walked right by them as if they weren’t even near me. I’d like to say my new independence and confidence in my abilities (mostly at work) have improved my “no-care” attitude that I exhibited, but I know that some of it was also having that hand by my side and knowing that someone was supporting me even if they didn’t understand how much I needed them to overcome a horrible memory from my past.

Saturday we woke up and went to the Truck Nationals, which was great. I had more fun when we went a few years ago just because there was more to look at, but I had a ton of fun this year too. We got to see all kinds of vehicles and events, but I also got to buy LED lights for inside of my new car! I cannot wait to install them.

When we got home, I actually had the chance to take a cat nap, and then we went out to dinner at the brewing company. They were having a special event with musicians to support children with cancer. Let’s just say not all of the music was what you would normally want to listen to while you were eating your supper. Additionally, the music was way too loud for all of our tastes. But it was one of my favorite parts of the weekend simply because I got to see something that I never thought would happen. The two men that I had supper with reminded me so much of one another during our conversations. It was like eating dinner with two guys who were friends with each other rather than them having a relationship with me! And you know what? I loved every minute of it. Hearing one of them throw out a joke that was then enhanced by the other “comedian” was amazing. Seeing how similar their personalities and sense of humor are made me feel comforted and blessed to have them both in my life. I never thought that I would find someone with as good a heart and as great a personality and caring attitude as my dad, but if there was ever anyone who was similar to him, I believe I found it in my boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many differences between the two. But the similarities that I was able to see make me happy to know that at least my family can get along with one another. (Yes, I consider my boyfriend to be part of my family at this point.)

I keep remembering that saying that you hear all the time: most women will marry someone who reminds them of their father. I don’t normally put too much stock into cliches or quotes from random people in history, but I do know this; if my boyfriend has even one single trait similar to that of my dad, I know I’m on the right track to being with the person who makes my life complete. I hope my boyfriend knows that I don’t look at him like he is my father’s twin or something (ew gross!), but I do know that I’ve found a very, very good man when I see their similarities.

As we near our 6 month anniversary, I pray that everything will continue to go as smoothly as it has been. And for the heck of it, I figure I’ll throw one more cliche out there that I truly believe in. Marry the person who you love to talk to. As you grow older, the one thing that will always keep you together is the ability to communicate and interact with one another. Thanks hun, for being that guy for me. I hope you stick around for many, many more months. ❤