The maintenance crew at my school all know to leave the burned out florescent bulbs that are above my desk alone. They know not to change them. They all know that the light reflects off of my desk and bothers me.
So they leave the section of lights burned out.
The transportation director knows that I am horrible at filling out requests for vehicles during the cheerleading season. Like I'm just bad at it. It is the number one thing I forget to do and it is constant. No matter what I try, I just never remember.
So she's patient, and she laughs at me, and she's usually one step ahead of me with the request already filled out.
The sweet lady (hi, Sal!) that does all of our ordering and bookkeeping ... she's been there since before I was there. I got hired and came back one day to do my tax paperwork. I sat in the workroom contemplating whether or not to call my mom because I had no idea what I was even looking at. She came in to fill up her water bottle, and noticed I was struggling.
So she stopped, sat at the table, and explained it all to me. (And we still laugh about it.)
And there was Russell, who was a total class clown for four years and then he went to the Marines. And he came back and waited by my door one afternoon and I didn't even recognize him. He held out his hand, shook mine, and said, "Hello ma'am." And I about died. He grew up to be this smart, funny, family guy and I got to see it.
Molly is now a pre-school teacher in our district and she does the cutest, most fun things with her classes. Allison will be an elementary teacher and she just invited me to a bachelorette party (start praying for me now). Ashlie, a special ed teacher and will coach my old cheer squad. Lauren is a stay-at-home mom that double majored in college, and she makes the cutest dang babies. Sarah, and Jill, and Angela - all successful sisters that I got to teach and all still smiling, loving, and kind girls. There's Michael, the police officer. Luis, the deputy (who still hasn't pulled me over, thank you Jesus). The Parsons boys who are all good men. The Harding boys that just live. Logan - a super star MVP volleyball player at Hastings. Mitchell (and his mom) still makes me laugh. Erin, Jasmin, Mackenzie, Kellan, like my list could go on forever, you guys.
When you make a decision to leave your teaching job, there's more to leave behind than just your desk. Or your chair that you hunted down and took fair and square from a leaving teacher's room. Or the set of novels that you've painstakingly collected over the course of 13 years.
There's the people, too ... and their stories.
The Director of Facilities that sometimes leaves a cold Diet Mountain Dew and cookies on my desk in the morning.
The teacher next door to me that knows just exactly how to interpret my practiced left eyebrow raised look.
The teacher on the other side that walked into her job the same year that I walked into mine ... we've weathered some storms together.
I've sat through 13 seasons of volleyball, basketball, wrestling, and football. I've stood outside for 13 home track meets. Kids that I taught in the beginning are now married, and have their own babies.
I had my own baby. And then he sat through seasons, too. He practically lived through the winter in the gym.
I wrote four books, finished a Master's Degree, and got divorced.
Lived through years that ask questions, and survived the years that answered.
I feel like I've lived my entire life at one school.
And now it's time to move on.
I packed up my classroom - box after box. Stuff that I'd forgotten I had. Stuff that I'd kept that I didn't need. Cheer bows. Lanyards. Letters from kids from the past decade. All in neat boxes in my garage. Waiting for the next room.
It has been one of the greatest joys of my life - knowing parents and kids and working every day in a school with unique needs. These people have become my family - and for a girl with family scattered all across the states - that's been incredibly important.
They all have been one of my greatest joys.
Happy Last Week of School!!!
I am two more days away from summer freedom. Two. More. Days.
Here are my favorite things this week:
1) Six Kinds of Loneliness - Pema Chodron
This is some deep stuff, kids. It's been an open tab in my browser for about two weeks. I've read it over and over, letting it settle over me.
It’s the human pattern: we project onto the world a zillion possibilities of attaining resolution. We can have whiter teeth, a weed-free lawn, a strife-free life, a world without embarrassment. We can live happily every after. This pattern keeps us dissatisfied and causes us a lot of suffering.
It was Mother's Day this weekend. I spent the day with The Gen, but it was a very low key day. We woke up, went to church, came back home and took a nap. We went to BFF Suzy's daughter's graduation party, and then we came home. The house was too quiet. So we went to the park.
It was lonely.
But not a bad lonely. And if you read the article by Pema, then you'll understand why.
Anyway. I read these words over and over and I kinda found a place in them. I hope maybe you do, too.
2) A little Tuesday preaching:
3) And because toddlers aren't interested in sleeping in until noon and watching Netflix all day long in the summer, here's some help via Honest to Nod:
If you're a teacher slaying May, may the force be with you, and if you're a mom facing a summer home with your children, may the odds be ever in your favor.
What I’m about to tell you carries weight. And not just weight in your tummy or your heart. Weight on your shoulders, I think. What I’m about to tell you is a reminder. A lesson. A checklist. These are things I’ve learned. Things I’ve lived, seen, watched. Things I’ve prayed for, things I’ve forgiven, and things I’ve survived.
From the outside looking in.
From a girl that’s been married.
From a girl that’s dating.
From a girl that’s watched every single episode ever created of “A Wedding Story” on TLC.
Here’s the kinda person you should marry:
Marry the man that holds your coat for you, opens your car door, helps you figure out how to set your garage code, and hangs the shelves for you ... marry him because the patient look in his eye soothes something inside of you that has been rocky and neglected for too long. That thing that tells you that you're too loud or too much or too dumb to figure it all out. Marry him because he makes you feel like you are magic.
Marry the man that covers you up when you’re taking a nap because he knows you’re forever cold. Marry the man that doesn’t care if you take up all of the room in bed. Marry the man that knows what you’re searching for in the middle of the night when you reach across the flannel sheets. Marry the man that leans in closer, his warm breath tickling the hair in your ear. The one who, even in sleep, clutches you close.
Marry the guy that calls you out. The one that tells you that you can do whatever fancy, wild dream you have conjured up. The one that listens to your late night rambling and helps you plan and chase. Marry the guy that preaches yes to you over and over. The one that practically shoves you forward. The one that makes you feel like you just ... might ... be ... able. The one that yells out to the crowds that are starting to gather around you, the one that points to your blushing face, the one with all of the faith in you, and the one that tells everyone that’s listening, “This girl. Right here. Bet on her.” Marry that guy.
Marry the guy that laughs at all of your stupid jokes. The one that knows all of the songs on the radio and hums them to himself while he drives you around on Sunday afternoons. Marry the guy that holds your hand in the car, while you’re crossing the street, and the one that holds your hand in church. Marry the one that wants to learn you - what you want for breakfast, what your favorite color is, and what your favorite flowers are. Marry the one that helps you write your story ... the one that whispers words to you when you can’t remember.
There will be long nights. Marry the one that isn’t afraid to fight for you when it gets dark. Marry the one that doesn’t run. Marry the one that widens his stance and sticks around. Even if it sucks. Even if he’s mad. Even if you’re mad. Even if, even if, even if. Marry the guy that remembers his promises. Marry the guy that lives his promises.
Marry the person that makes you think. The one that questions your surface deep theories and forces you to charge forward or reevaluate. The one that knows about String Theory and Penny from The Big Bang Theory. The one that makes you face IT. Whatever it is. Your hurts, your worries, your can’ts, and your questions. Marry the one that helps you to sit with your loneliness and your quiet and still holds your hand. Marry the one that gives you a minute when you need it the most.
And then ...
And then ...
And then ...
Marry the man that will let you (this is very important, I’m afraid) be his champion, too. Marry the man that will let you in - the one that lets you see the vulnerable, the sad, the hurts that came before you, and the dark days he thought wouldn’t pass. You marry the guy that lets you fight for him, too. The one that learns from you, too. The one that isn’t afraid of your power, the one that isn’t afraid of your love, and the one that isn’t afraid of that one hot second every month when you’re about two breaths from losing your mind.
You marry the one that shows up for you.
And you marry the one that you want to show up for.
Over. And over.
Soooo. It's Wednesday. I'm a day behind.
Let's talk about a couple of things I'm luuuuurving this week:
1) I'm currenty in the middle of four or five books:
3) Bonus! I also have a super soft spot for Lang Leav. Every word that she writes is just ... truth.
And have you heard Tin Man by Miranda Lambert? It was on repeat last night while I made dinner.
I'll be back later this week (I promise this time) with a little somethin' I've been working on. Maybe. If Grey's Anatomy doesn't take over my life first.
Who invented Netflix? Genius.
I hope you're having a good week. Move all of the mountains.
Here are a few things that I'm eyeing lately --
1) I've been trying to get up earlier in the morning to be more productive. Sometimes that means doing laundry, sometimes it means just sitting at the kitchen table and staring at a much-too-bright computer, or sometimes that means picking up a nuclear disaster living room. It makes me feel better to start the day having crossed a few things off of my list, and I never thought I'd ever say that.
Here are some interesting things about how successful people rock their mornings:
** As an offshoot of this biz, I was working on an article for apps that busy moms need. I completely abandoned it. You know what busy moms need? Not more crap clogging up their already busy day. Amen.
2) Hey Jude ... Fun fact: When I was in high school, I did a group speech thing, and in the middle, we broke out into Hey Jude ... with dancing. I'm not a singer, just saying. (I'm not a dancer either, for the rec.)
One bonus thing -- I don't always agree with Glennon's politics and sometimes her voice gets a little annoying, but this. THIS.
I think that's about it ...
I'll be back later this week to talk to you about Teacher Appreciation Week. #eyerollsfordays
I love you as much as I love reading The Zookeeper's Wife -- which, you guys. Please read. It's so good.
You are not a builder - not a carpenter. But you did it; you built a house in him. One with windows and doors. Dark closets for all of your scars and hurts. You built something in him and the soft glow coming from the windows looked like it was welcoming you home.
You knocked on the door that you screwed in the hinges for. Solid oak. One that could withstand a hard time or two. You knocked until your knuckles were red and bruised,
he did not answer.
You built a home in him and then, he didn’t answer. Didn’t answer when you called out at night, lost without a flashlight.
You sowed seeds and grew a forest for the future in his ribs - one that could withstand high winds and rain. You planted seeds for trees that would grow to be a fortress for you both to hide behind. And then you fell in love with him - a man born afraid of storms.
Afraid of you.
Afraid of your hurricane.
Afraid of your crazy that gets rattled loose sometimes.
It’s the same crazy that cut its teeth on every lover that came before him. It was honed by the dirt that they hastily smeared on your fresh wounds as they left. Wounds caused by biting words, and the he just never picked you over himself force that slapped you every time you tried to come up for air. It's still slapping at you like waves licking a beach.
He never picked you over himself.
He never picked you over himself.
He will never pick you over himself.
And your home that has been crafted in his heart - you beg him. Plead and chant let me in like some kind of blustery, bruised prayer. A thousand times, you’ve asked.
A thousand times, denied.
Let me in past our front door, you ask him.
Let me in.
You lace your boots and prepare for some kind of wild war. They are still dirty from the last time and your laces are worn thin. They have been through this before and so have you and you think that maybe, just maybe, this might be the last time you have to put them on.
You yell for him.
And there is an answer in his silence.
He turns his cheek and he walks away, and you’re defeated and useless again. He is not brave enough for you, and he doesn't know it yet - but your name will be on his lips and tongue a million times between now and forever. One day, he'll look up - searching for you, and no ... no. You'll have found a map by then.
You hear your momma’s voice float up through the fog. It’s a reminder. A reminder. A reminder.
You can’t change people, honey.
You can’t change him.
You realize that the doorbell is just as broken as the person that owns it. Broken in an unfixable kind of way that makes hell seem easy.
You will walk away and your edges will feel singed. Raw. You will walk away and you will need a healing that only comes from a quiet room. You will weep for the Almost. For the Lost Magic. For the painful Never Again.
And then, you will rest.
You will rest long. Sleep hard. Leave the windows open and let the sunshine seep into your weary. The seeds in your pocket will remind you that you still have a forever.
And with each breath, you will remind yourself
that you were made for peace.
You were made for peace.
You were made for peace.
You were made for peace.
Short and sweet and to the point - Tuesday Tapas are two things that I love this week.
1) Simone Biles dancing to a song from Moana on Dancing with the Stars.
2) I've started to cook again. (Again.) I took a brief (read: wildly long) hiatus and now I'm back at it. I found this Friendship Spaghetti Pie recipe from The Country Cook. It makes two 9" pie pans of the "spaghetti pie". One to eat and one to either give away or to freeze. I chose to freeze my second pie for later on when I'm on another brief (read: wildly long) hiatus.
Others Recipes of Hers To Try:
The pastor at the Easter service I attended spoke clearly and smiled at me from behind his podium. A dog licked my ankle from somewhere under the pew, The Gen raced his cars next to me and hid his eyes when I sang, "He Lives!" (my fav Easter song) to him.
Then, we sat.
The pastor began his sermon. He is small, this guy, and he has a cane. Retired. Salt and pepper hair. He's the kind of guy that can look at you and you know he's smiling at you - even if he's not. His eyes - they're kind.
From his pulpit, he talked about Jesus. He talked about how he suffered and then he spoke the line that has been banging around my head for a few days now ...
"We've all walked through a dark, dark night." He was telling the story we all know. He was telling the story of The Rising.
And at the time ... at the time, I was busy making sure my child didn't eat any. more. chocolate. The pastor spoke those words and my eyes snapped to his. And he wasn't looking at me. He was looking out at the congregation. And you know how sermons go, right? Sometimes, some people pay attention. Sometimes, some people act interested.
There were three dogs walking around. The front door to the church was accidentally left open and I could hear the cars going by. The kids to my right were on phones and the lady behind me kept calling random things out (none of which happened to be amen).
But I heard the words.
We've all walked through a dark, dark night.
Like a deck of cards, memories flipped through. What was my darkest night? Where was I? What was I doing? I'm thirty-four-years-old. Have I experienced it yet? Or, as we get older, do the dark nights shift ... does our top three list change?
Have I walked through it? Have I taken the deep breaths, felt the chill on my skin, heard the howling wind, and clutched at everything - anything that wasn't moving? What did it look like?
But the bigger question? The question that has dogged me for days?
Why can't I remember? Why can't I pin it down?
I mean - there have been some hikes. Brutal hikes.
I opened a glovebox one afternoon and out tumbled Valentine's Day cards from another woman's kids.
I called my brother one afternoon and by the grace of God, my counselor of a sister-in-law answered instead. I spoke the divorce word out loud and she listened.
I was in labor for 24 hours and they were not good hours.
I laid next to a man in the dark one night, as he whispered that he wasn't over The One That Came Before. That he was trying. That he could see the light at the end of the long tunnel, but he wasn't there yet.
There was third grade when mom had breast cancer, and there was tenth grade when mom and dad divorced, and there was eleventh grade when my brother left for a far away college.
There was cancer in my beautiful cousin. Cancer in my loving grandmother. Cancer in my kind step-mom.
There was the time I wrecked my car at a car wash, the time the phone bill was like $400 or something because of Miss Cleo, the psychic, and there was the time Duchess, our family dog, died out in the woods by herself.
There have been other things, too. Small things, maybe. But still ... things:
Junior high track.
An emergency visit because of an errant gallbladder, and I was too sick to remember to wear underwear.
Being picked last every single day of my life in gym.
Just ... not being picked at all.
Life ebbs and flows and all of the cliches are true. There are mountains and valleys and there are hard days and there are beautiful days.
The thing I realized, though? I finally figured it all out. I was on a flight back home from my momma's house and The Gen was curled up and asleep in the seat next to me in a way that he won't be able to do next year at this time, and it came to me:
The shiny, shiny light.
The sparkly kind.
The blinding kind.
The kind that you have to put your hand up in front of your eyes because it actually hurts your retinas or corneas or whatever.
The light on the other side helps you forget the pain of the dark, dark days.
So when the Pastor Whose Name I Don't Even Know looked out to his flock and solemnly proclaimed that yes, we have all lived through dark, dark days, I nodded my head at him.
It was an automatic response.
Because, of course we have.
Deafeningly quiet, these nights seem infinite in length. There's no handrail, no lighted path, not even a freaking map.
But, but, but.
The sun will always rise in the morning.
And with it?
Comes the light.
Do we forget the dark, dark days? Never. Do we forget the conversations, do we forget the events, or do we forget how the scars on the insides of our ribs came to be?
Those notches ... those scars spell out some kind of mantra. Some kind of chant.
There was a rising, they say.
There ... in that one breath of space ... was a rising.
I'm just back for another super quick installment of Tuesday Tapas.
To the point.
Here are the things that I adore this week:
1) Caitlyn Siehl ... Her book is on my bedside table. What drew me first to her was the line, "I am not a place for cowards," and I sort of thought to myself ... yes. Yes I like her already.
Here's the link to her Tumblr account: Passing Through
2) MercyMe's new song. Ohhhh, it's good. So, so good.
3) And because I can't help myself --
I have two articles coming out on Her View From Home in the next two weeks. Getting up early is doing good things for me. Except on Friday. For some reason, I just can't make myself get up early on Friday morning.
If you're still looking for all the things:
- Mumford and Sons sing Amazing Grace and it's terrible, but I love it.
- I made The Boyfriend listen to S-Town and I think he actually maybe hates me for it.
That's all. :)
Charge at the week, kids.
Every year I make my kids read The Great Gatsby.
Mostly because I love it.
Kinda because I have kids that still talk to me about it - even years later.
And sorta because I love Fitzgerald and Hemingway and the 20s and whatever.
There's a line in the movie that I always show the kids at the end. And it's not the new movie with Leonardo, but the older one with the guy in it from 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Anyway. Daisy - the woman Gatsby has been chasing the whole book (for the last five years) says to him, "Oh, you want too much!"
Gatsby wants Daisy to look at her husband and tell him she never loved him. Gatsby wants her to look at her husband and say, "No mas. I'm leaving you for another man." (The other man here is Gats himself, btw.)
And she can't. She just can't bring herself to do it.
She's like every other woman in the history of ever and she just. can't. with his bullshit.
He's railroading her. Pressuring her. And she collapses. Says that he just wants too much of her. And Gatsby, the poor guy, can't understand why, in fact, it's all just "too much".
It's the way she says it. It's the way that it's wrenched from her heart. It's the way that she throws it out of her mouth like the curveball that it is. She's telling him no. She's telling him just ... no. It's a heroic line ... from a not so heroic character. She finally takes a stand after being shoved around throughout the entire novel.
A few days ago, I texted BFF Betsy that, sometimes, women just love too much. We have an over abundance. Too much. We tend to smother. To dole out all of the things. We don't know how to play it cool ... how to rein it in. Hand-written notes, apologies, it's okays, and every single piece of our hearts. Giving all of us.
Until we just collapse under the pressure of it all and just -
It's too much.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (cliche, I know):
If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog's money, my dog's time--everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.
Because that's how we roll, you know.
Because, I've decided, that's all we want.
Women, the tricky, tricky, tricksters, have it all figured out. They give what they want to receive. They give all of themselves. Their time. Their effort. Their money. Their hearts. All of it. In return, all they want is the same thing.
This idea of surrendering all you have seems kinda simple.
Until you get burned. Brutally seared. Scarred. Catapulted into some kind of charred land that you've never seen before - one that is too hot, unfamiliar. A place that crumbles under your touch.
Until someone sees all you can give, and they put their hands up anyway. Until they call uncle.
Until you've walked next to someone and they just decide to turn around and go back home.
Until they decide that you are not their home.
The thing about girls is that we believe that people mean what they say because WE mean what we say. And that, my darlings, is not how life works.
Instead, we often find ourselves in these impossible situations like Gatsby and Daisy. A woman stuck between two impossibilities. Between staying ... or not. A woman trying to decide who, if any of them, are the best fit.
And the joke of it all? Neither man is worthy. One is a lying, looney-tunes bootlegger and the other is her husband - cheating on her with a different married woman. Such a tangled web, this book.
But it shouts from every page - that this ... this love thing ... it isn't easy. I mean, every page is basically a big, shouty warning to just freaking step back. At the end of the book, the narrator moves back home to his mom and dad's house for goodness sake. The poor boy is traumatized after watching it all go down.
For the record, Gatsby winds up dead. Killed by Daisy's husband's mistress's husband. Right?
And Daisy? She stays with her cheating husband.
Because it is just a book, you know.
Just a book with a really friggin good reminder:
Be with someone that wants too much from you.
Be with them because they gladly hand it all right back to you.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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