So it’s summer, and that means I have some time “off of work” (even though we teachers still do plenty of reading and planning throughout our “off” time). However, it also means I get to do that work while binge watching Netflix! My choice for this summer is Jane the Virgin. It’s not at all what I expected (which is a good thing). It’s cute, cheesey, captivating, relatable (surprisingly, considering the main plot), and includes everything from family matters to mystery to sci-fi to romance. So, on a side note, I’m highly recommending it.
Anyway, I recently watched an episode in which Jane and her new husband (in a minor but poignant scene) prove to one another–and I think to themselves mostly–that settling down and starting a life together has not made them boring. It’s comical and cute, but I think speaks to a real issue that can creep into the heads of those settling down–be it by yourself or with a partner. In the moment that I watched that scene, I immediately felt uplifted, that I too could be “not boring.”
It’s incredible that in the midst of celebrating family, friends, and all we are blessed with–especially the birth of our savior, Jesus–we often find ourselves weighed down by the stress of plans, finances, and deadlines. Even as we were hanging Christmas lights, I ended up breaking a bulb, we bought an extension cord that was too short, and the little errors sometimes seemed to be bigger deals than the joyous occasion that makes us want to decorate in the first place.
The point. So as I struggle today to remain clear-headed and calm, I decided just to make a list of the things that I’m thankful for in this moment. As I did, the heaviness seemed to dissipate as my annoyances and worries were out-shined by the love and joy in my life. Below is my list (and yes, some of it is cliche, but those are often the things I need to be reminded of the most because they are so easily taken for granted). In my description of each thing, I chose to leave out any negative details (like the fact that my cat likes to make a lot of noise in the middle of the night and wake me up) to help myself focus on the positive.
The challenge.I encourage you to make a list of your own; it might just turn your day around.
As I was driving to work this morning, I was nervous. I teach 14-16 year old students who are curious and quite willing, or rather compelled, to say whatever it is that they are thinking. This sometimes includes rude remarks, inappropriate comments, ill-timed jokes, and unrelated questions. I was nervous what types of questions and comments I would be hearing today in my classroom. I was nervous they would call each other names, make assumptions about each other and their families and the people who make up this country, lose faith in the democratic process, and write off the decisions that the people made. I was nervous they would be discouraged and jaded by yesterday.
Rather than avoiding these discussions and hoping that my students would figure it all out on their own before the age of 18, I decided to meet it head-on. I started each class today by asking if anyone had questions about the events that took place yesterday. What happened was a series of small moments when I got to look at the quiet faces of these kids (who are rarely quiet); they care and they understand the seriousness of the situation. Today was not a discussion of who voted for whom or why either of the candidates are the way they are; it was a discussion of “What now?”
Yesterday I finally finished hanging up all of my clothes in our new house (it only took me three weeks).
I also folded up all of the tarps I was using to paint the living room and kitchen (with the help of my fiance–those things are too big to be folded by just one person). Keep in mind I’ve been done painting for four days, and they’ve just been piled up, taking up a whole dining area of floor space. I guess they were a good playground for the kitten though.
Today one kid (out of my 134) told me that I’m a good teacher.
I have been a teacher for the last six years, and in those years, I have experienced far too many deaths of teenagers. They are not always my students, but they always affect my students and community, whom I love, care for, even admire. These kids are stronger than many give them credit for. They are more compassionate than often expected. They feel more than they let on.
Today, we lost another one of our young, promising kids. Today is a tough day. But we are a family–all of us: the human race. It is in times of tragedy that we see this the most.
Today I sit with the family of my school. We aren’t standing; we are sitting, weeping, hugging, finding our strength in each other’s arms. We take this day to pause with one another. Tomorrow, we will help each other to stand and move forward, always remembering, but still continuing on.
Every day, let us remember that we are all a family. That we have the ability, the power, the responsibility to love and support one another. If we remember this, then maybe we will begin to see a little less tragedy.
To all of my family in Christ, throughout the world, let us be the brothers and sisters He created us to be.
It’s been a difficult school year for me. And yesterday was particularly difficult. I was feeling down, feeling slightly defeated, feeling inept at my job. A few things then happened, though:
- I got an out-of-the-blue message from a past student, “just checking in–I hope all is well.” I mentioned briefly that it had been a rough day (as I was at the end of my day) but that overall life is going wonderfully (which it absolutely is, but that’s sometimes difficult to remember throughout a tough work day). We then entered into a conversation in which this now grown-up reminded me that I am good at my job, that I make a difference, that I impacted his life.
- I was reminded by this simple conversation that I have a box of letters that students have written me, and it is a solid reminder that I am doing good work here. This box is currently packed in a bigger box as I prepare to move houses, but just knowing it exists was surprisingly encouraging.
- I had dinner with my family. They always know how to cheer me up and build me up. They listen and share in my plights, validating how I feel, but also bringing kind words to remind me why I do what I do.
- I got a sweet note from my incredible fiance. He had earlier placed it in my lunch box, to find when I packed it this morning. His encouragement and love fills me up and gives me more love to share with my students and the world.
Yes. Terribly so. While this sometimes proves useful (keeps me from getting into some troubling situations), I would say that it presents an equal amount of difficulties for me in my adventures and relationships. I over-analyze everything. And, well, nothing is perfect, which means that overthinking highlights those flaws for me. Every. Stinking. Time.
And if I’m being completely honest, I think it’s gotten worse since being engaged. Being the biggest decision of my life, I am overthinking and over-analyzing more than ever because I want so badly to make sure that each decision is the right decision for my fiance and me and that it is God’s will for our lives.
Many of my blog posts are about small moments with big impact or revelation. Well…I had a big moment this weekend. My boyfriend proposed to me! And I said yes, of course!
So now begins the wedding planning and the house hunting. These are big things that I’ve never done before, and it’s a bit daunting sometimes when I just stop and reflect and think,”I’m getting married. I’m buying a house.” I will admit, in the midst of my overflowing excitement is a little fear. However, and this is a big however, I’ve found the key to keeping my calm is remembering that in no way am I in this alone. (That’s kind of a big part of why we get married right?) I’ve got my fiance, my family, my friends, just like I have in every situation prior to these. That realization makes all the difference in my current situations, but I also think it makes all the difference in most situations.
As the school year is fast approaching, I’ve been spending time setting up my classroom, my teacher website, my lesson plans, and all that other fun stuff. However, I will admit that last weekend, I was wishing I had just a few more weeks before going back.
Now that I’m actually delving into the heart of my preparations though, I am excited for a new year, new students, new opportunities, but I also relish in the familiarity of it all. The previous dread of going back to work has turned into joy sprinkled with a little anxiousness. While many of you may not be teachers, I think there is something to be learned here about “getting back into the swing” of anything, not just teaching.
This summer was the first summer in ten years that I did not have a job to report to. I decided it was time to take a step forward and use my time during these months to build a foundation for my passion of writing. This has been a tricky thing as I’ve realized laziness is incredibly easy.