Update to 92 & Counting

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Just wanted everyone to know this curious tidbit of information: I looked at the entire list of the sites that I have followed over the years. I noticed that almost half of the list has no posted anything in over a year now. Not that it hurts to keep them listed there, but if you’re curious as to how many sites you’ve followed or how many people actually stay active and read your posts after liking you, you may want to check it out!

~B

92 and Counting

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As of yesterday, I have 92 people following my blog. I assume, for the sake of these 92 people, that they don’t read every post that I write. My life surely cannot be that interesting! But what I find extremely interesting is that at one point and time, even just because of one thing I said, those 92 people decided to follow along with me and see what happens next. (Or maybe they are just following me to try to get me to follow them back; I’m sure some people will do it just to make themselves feel more popular or interesting to the rest of the internet world.)

In any case, I wonder what makes these people hit the follow button? What exact moment or thing that I said led them to feel I was a good person to follow along with? Some of them have talked to me via comments in the past. Of those people, many have a blog similar to mine. Then there are others who are on here to write short stories or argue about politics. So what gives everyone? I would absolutely love to know why you chose to follow me! Yes, even if it is because you wanted the extra follow on your own page.

In other news, at church today the deaconness decided to bless each and every one of us in the congregation. What she didn’t bother to tell us what that she was not using holy water, but a blessed oil that has an extremely RANK smell. She must not have thought about the fact that people have very sensitive noses sometimes. I immediately got a headache and felt dizzy. I felt ashamed for washing the oil off before I even left the church, but I didn’t trust myself to drive home with that buzzing pain in my head. Even after I got home, the headache didn’t go away. And neither did the smell. I ended up having to take a shower as soon as I got home to get rid of the stink. Hopefully no one will take offense. Isn’t there some oil that they use in those ceremonies that doesn’t have a smell though? I never remember a smell any other time, though it’s not like our old pastor used to bless us randomly during a normal Sunday service…

In other news, I completed the training for my second substituting job. I now have 3 different jobs in 2 different states. Sometimes I think I do things the complicated way! But as soon as they put me into their computer system, I’ll probably be working close to full time! Not sure that’s an exciting thing, but even if I get extremely nervous, I’m excited to think that I won’t have to stress so much about my budget in the coming months.

~B

 

 

Everything Falls Into Place… Or Out of It

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It’s funny how things happen in life. Whether you believe in God or not, there’s something about events in life that make you question coincidences and fate. At least I can’t imagine not thinking about fate myself.

Just a month ago, I was a full-time working teacher who barely had any time to devote to my family or my faith. It was sad really, how much time I spent devoted to my job and my students. I loved making a difference, but I never realized just how much of me I gave to something that gave nothing back. I didn’t mind being selfless for a while, but recently I’ve come to realize that when you least expect it, your family will need you the most.

I just started substituting again this past week. First, let me just say I am absolutely in love with being able to work in a school setting with kids who are appreciative of my time and talents. Yet the minute the school day is over, I’m able to come home and enjoy my family and my free time. It’s almost like the best of both worlds.

This has also been the opportunity that has allowed me to face my religion again. I’ve actually had time to go to church lately, and I’ve been praying every day as I help students in a Catholic school. I may not be Catholic myself, but our religions are not so different that I can’t say some of the prayers along with the kids. And thank God I have been.

Because last night, well yesterday afternoon, I realized just how much I need God in my life. I will never shove my beliefs down someone else’s throat, but I do not understand how I could make it through some of the things in my life without feeling like there is a higher power leading me in the right direction and helping to challenge me to make me stronger.

Anyway, the big deal yesterday was that my boyfriend got into a motorcycle accident. And we were extremely fortunate. He has a pretty serious collarbone fracture but is totally fine besides that. He was able to actually stand up and walk away from the scene. And even the bike has fared pretty well, considering the worst damage is some mis-aligned tires and handlebars.

I wasn’t there at the time; I was on my way home from work where I had just gotten done listening to a Congolese refugee speak about the child soldiers and human rights in Africa. I was in such a good mood because the weather was so nice. And, because of that presenter, I was feeling extremely grateful and thankful for the way my life has gone thus far, for all the gifts and privileges I have had, for the ability to be so close to my amazing family. I never thought that I would be taking T to the emergency room just minutes later.

I guess the reason I am writing this is because I need to write about something today. I feel that itch in my bones that makes me realize I need to get some things down on paper or otherwise. But mostly, I don’t know how else to express my thankfulness for the people who helped him after he had crashed. I don’t know who any of the people are (besides family of course), but I do know that he was on a back road by himself and could have been much more seriously injured. The fact that multiple people stopped to help him means that there are still many, many good people in this world. And in light of how our government is acting and how people have been fighting recently, I am just so eternally grateful to anyone who chose to be a good citizen yesterday on that windy back road.

The next few weeks might not be easy for us here, but he is going to heal just fine and we will move on with our lives, this accident left as only a faint and awful memory. But thank you again to anyone who may have already forgotten it happened. Thanks to some of you, my man is okay, the bike made it home, and we are left with only a broken collarbone to deal with. Thanks also to the manufacturers of his armored jacket and his helmet. Even the ER nurse was astounded at how well he was able to move around yesterday. I know not many cyclists are quite that lucky after flipping their bikes.

I honestly will be eternally grateful to all of those who helped. From God to the nurse and the doctor to anyone we may meet over the next week as his arm gets set correctly for healing. If I ever lose him, I just don’t know what I would do. So yesterday and in upcoming days, any of you who have made an impact… I just hope you realize how you didn’t just help save his life yesterday; you helped save mine too. Thank you.

 

~B

What You Never Realize (Until it’s too late)

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Still have not been doing a very good job of keeping up with my blog. I have successfully begun to journal again, but I’m finding it more relaxing to use paper most of the time.

Without getting into the details of the past month or so, I just felt it important to write a quick note about how things can change for the worst very quickly. And, unfortunately, in most of those situations, no one really understands what you go through in that awful time in your life.

This time in my life just happened to revolve around my teaching career, so I hope my teacher friends out there will take the time to read this. It’s something I wrote up a few minutes ago that I feel needs to be shared with each of you. Here goes!

Here’s the harsh reality of being a teacher: there’s no way you will ever get the respect and acknowledgement you deserve from the world. Namely because no one can ever step into your shoes. To all those out there with a teaching career, I’m sorry that I will never be able to put myself into your shoes. I too am a highly misunderstood teacher, and here’s why.

Being a true teacher (the kind you read about in Anne of Green Gables or other classic stories) impacts every aspect of your life. And every part of your life so far has impacted your career whether you realize it or not. You may realize that you are becoming the teacher your parents always were to you. It’s probable that you are now the teacher who advocates for students who very closely resemble the child you once were. Plus, if you’re a really good teacher, you become part of hundreds of families outside of your own.

As with every family, it can be hard to be heard in an educational group. You may put your heart in all the right places, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be acknowledged for your work. Think about the position of mom in a household. She continues to slave away at chores, teaching the kids manners and respect, and may even help with the income. Every teacher has suddenly volunteered to be the mom; the one who puts in the effort and works tirelessly for an outcome. The thing is, most moms are never thanked enough for all of the time and effort they put in. You, the teacher, will probably suffer the same sad  fate.

I also feel like teaching is especially hard on those who are very emotional. Seeing a kid in need is like watching one of those horrifying ASPCA commercials to anyone who is emotional. Trust me, I know. You’re sitting there knowing someone needs help but trying hard not to give away every penny of your money to the cause. The same goes for your students. The difference is that a teacher doesn’t necessarily need to give in the form of money. Every kid needs something a little different, and most often their needs require zero money at all. So we give and we give. Before I knew it, I had given so much of myself to one cause or another that I could not find myself in all the stress. And as outside circumstances add to your responsibility, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

For those teachers out there who become overwhelmed by the vast responsibilities, the politics, the emotions, and the stresses please know that you (we) are not alone. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. While I may never understand your position exactly because I was not raised or taught the same way you were, know that I too have experienced the best and the worst times that a teacher may ever know. You are not alone.

~B

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.