BFF Suzy and I went to the College World Series this week and LOL. Full Disclosure: When I say we "went" to the College World Series, what I really mean is that we went to a bar next to the stadium.
We hate baseball (don't tell my sort-of cousin Alex Gordon) and Lord have MERCY it was hot. Like why do people go to baseball games in the middle of the day in late June in Nebraska? It's so silly. I mean, I don't want to make your decisions for you, but ... there's air conditioning and fans and shade and places where there aren't plastic seats and $12 beers.
I really do have something important to talk to you about, so sorry that I started with hating baseball - which apparently is America's "favorite" pastime and stirs up some very real feelings in people.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm 34. In my head, I still often feel like I'm 24, or when I'm with a group of friends on a night with no boot camp in the morning ... maybe even younger. #prayforus
My point is that I'm still learning about a lot of different things. I lived through a lesson this weekend, and I had to just take a second on Sunday. I walked around Target like a zombie and bought paper towels and command hooks and a bag of pre-cooked sausage crumbles.
Tuesday came around and another whammy. One of my friends is heartbroken and another friend is drowning in a sea of resentment in her marriage and another friend is struggling with self worth. And we are old, you guys. You'd think we'd have our shit together by now.
Glennon, my spirit animal in all things except politics, says that when trouble comes, we need to sit with it for a second. Ask quietly, "What are you here to teach me?" We should tell trouble, or grief, or pain, "Stay. Stay until I've learned everything that I need to know."
And we don't, you know?
We don't sit. We don't listen. We don't excavate wounds.
Because it is so, so hard to sit in the dark with your pain and your heartache and really feel it. To absorb it. To let it carve out a river on the canvas of who you are. To be okay with knowing you've been altered.
To just be okay.
I went to the country this week. I call it the country, but it's really The Boyfriend's mom's house (Jo-Jo) and it feels a little bit like The Farm and it's quiet and slow. The Gen ran down the small hill along her driveway over and over again and we went to Dairy Queen. We talked about old hurts and how still, years later, they trail us.
Think of that old carnival game, whack-a-mole. You tamp one down and another pops up. And then another. And you can't get ahead because they're not really gone, you know?
Jo-Jo sent me something this week that said you can bandage those wounds with food, or alcohol, or drugs, or shopping, but the bandaids don't stop the flow of the blood. They might hide the carnage, but the carnage is still there. Loitering.
Because that stuff just doesn't leave.
Not unless you stop what you're doing, put your ear down to your heart, and listen hard.
The trouble sometimes with listening, though, is that there is fear in what you might hear. What if the hurt tells you that you were wrong? Or that you should leave? Or that healing won't come for years and you will carry it along with you deep in your belly down every path between here and there?
I think the only thing that we can do is lay our heads down at night and pray that we can get it right the next day.
And then we try to learn all over again.
Until we come out on the other side, the morning sun shining on our faces, and our bandaids finally ...
PS - I didn't mean what I said about baseball. Sorta.
Today, I'm featuring one of my former students. This year, I assigned my seniors a portfolio of poetry for one of their year-end assignments. Jesica's poem, "The Ten Golden Rules", was one of my favorites. I quietly asked her if she'd like to be featured on my blog and she quietly said yes. One of the best parts of my job is getting to see what kids write every day. This is one of those best times.
Jesica can sing, and she can act, and she is sassy, and she had blue hair for an entire semester. And it WORKED for her. She asks insightful questions, she's humble, but she is literally three steps ahead of most people.
See what this is right now? It's like when your mom brags about you to all of your friends. That's what is happening right now.
A little about Jesica Hernandez:
I was born in Schuyler, Nebraska and have lived here all my life with my parents and three brothers. My mother wrote poems when she was in school, which sparked an interest in my writing back in middle school. However, I have not attempted to write anything since then. My junior year of high school that changed because of the fun writing prompts I was given in class and because of the immense support one particular college had given me. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the school I will be attending in the fall for biochemistry and microbiology, showed me how I can turn my writing into books and truly express what I felt. Today, I write in my free time and hope to publish my work in the near future.
Listen. She's going to major in BIOCHEM AND MICROBIOLOGY.
Because she's smart. And kind. And she will run the damn world one day.
Soooooooo ... here's her poem -- one of my favorites --
The Ten Golden Rules
It could either be your first or last.
Does that mean you cannot conquer the world with your last breath?
Does it mean you cannot express all your love to your family?
One heartbeat means one second to do everything you have ever wanted,
One rule for life,
Cherish the little things.
You only have two seconds,
two seconds to choose between college and work.
Work will pay for the baby that is on the way,
college will pay for your happiness.
How could you ever regret a decision like that?
A decision you made in two seconds.
The second rule for life,
never regret anything.
You're third in line to be interviewed for the Nobel Prize,
but sadly, you don’t get it.
How could they not pick you?
You found a cure to cancer.
Yet, you still failed.
The third in line and the third to fail,
only to reveal,
the third rule for life.
See failure as the beginning, not the end.
Four, five, six...
The numbers you would hear being shouted before he beat you.
He’s gone now and you don’t have to be scared.
Forget the pain,
the numbers he screamed at you before your beatings.
Turn the numbers into something beautiful,
three more rules to life.
Smile, make peace, and stop overthinking.
7 a.m is feeding time for the eight children you care for,
but the children bite at you,
They were once unwanted misfits in an orphanage.
Seven in the morning:
Too early to undergo the torment of unappreciative souls.
But you never forget rules seven and eight,
be gentle and work hard;
It will pay off some day.
Nine more things to go unsaid.
Everyone tells you what you cannot do,
but what can you do?
Close your eyes,
listen… rule number nine,
10 Golden Rules of Life.
Could your life possibly be any better if you followed them?
After all, everyone loves a rule breaker.
You just need to have faith -
rule number ten.
Jesica's FB Page
Jesica's Instagram: @_broken_promise
Jesica's Twitter: @Heyy_Jesica
Sometimes, I watch the news and think that we're doomed.
But we're not, ya know? Because these little hatchlings that are about to go off to college and the real world - they're compassionate, and funny, and wildly honest.
They're game changers.
I took four years of Spanish in high school, and you would neeeeeeever know. :)
Okay. So my favorite things this week are all over the places, as per usual.
1. My child will be four in a week and I'm not over it. Not even a little bit. Do you guys remember when I wrote about the day he was born? I didn't even read** the C-Section portion of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" because that would never happen, right? Wrongsies.
**I didn't even read the book at all, so. There's that.
He took his sweet time coming into this world, and he brings me the best kind of joy every day. He's analytical, intelligent, and hilarious. He's quiet around most people, sensitive, and knows all of the planets, which planets have rings, what the planet rings are made from, and all of the other things about all of the other planet things. (I had to look all of that science-y stuff up because #englishteacher.)
The Boyfriend and I were talking about him at dinner the other night and he told me that The General can smell bullshit a mile away.
And just LOOK at those tiny hands. They're always clutching something.
2. I have this print in my bedroom. I'm not even sure where it came from, but it's here, on my dresser. Reminding me every single day to give myself grace - but also to give grace to those around me.
Grace means so many things, you know? Forgiveness. Space. Attention. Allowance. Freedom. Peace.
Here's hoping that, as days pass by so quickly, you're allowing yourself small moments. Be kinder to yourself, and be kinder to the people around you.
Battles are happening every day, ya know? To me, grace just means that you see people for what they really are.
3. I'm continuing on my summer "don't-cook-ever" plan by not cooking. So number 3 is not a recipe. Who here is surprised?
#3, instead, is about BFF Suzy and the TIME OF HER LIFE SHE IS LIVING RIGHT NOW. Shouty letters mandatory because girl has been to NYC twice this month and she just puts in her earbuds and walks around and discovers things and we all just drool over her pictures.
BFF Suzy has this knack for creating things. THIS is her FB page. She created this OTHER print for my birthday last year. It's a quote from Pride and Prejudice.
We're going to try something new here. Below is a downloadable version of the print. If you click on it, you should be able to download it to your computer, and then print it (or have it printed). Maaaaaybe I could convince the BFF to start creating things for download all the time on the ol' blog. Wouldn't that be nice?
THIS IS SO FANCY.
WE ARE BEING SO FANCY RIGHT NOW.
WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING.
IT PROBABLY WON'T EVEN WORK.
(Let me know if it does though?)
4. Last part of the randomness - I assure you.
The Boyfriend and I went to a baseball game on Friday night and they had fireworks. I was all, "How much do you think this costs?"
And The Boyfriend oh-so-casually tossed out TWENTY GRAND. I had no idea legit fireworks were so expensive.
Which is probably why the Cooper Kids always had the black worms and sparklers. (Or maybe it was that The Bro and I can't be trusted with fire...)
Anyway - the fireworks were unbelievable. Like they were in our faces - they were so close. And they just kept going. And going. I bought us club seats to the game because ahem. The beer is cheaper. But for real. I would've paid that JUST for the fireworks show.
So if you're local - the Saltdogs have fireworks every Friday night until the Fourth of July (I think?). Go. And prepare to be ahhhhhhh-freaaaaaaaaking-mazed.
And that's it!
Over and out and have a good week!
I'm taking The Gen to a theme park for his birthday and it's supposed to be 9,000 degrees. So that'll be fun.
[I posted this almost two years ago and then promptly took it down. It was misunderstood by a few people, and that's just never fun. So let me just preface this by saying: Women don't need to be fixed. You don't need to be fixed. I don't need to be fixed. No one here needs fixing. However, all of us - you, me, and the person standing next to you - need to be loved. And sometimes that love heals hurts you never even knew were there.]
[Also: I'm taking The General to a theme park this week by myself. If we could all just say a prayer that I don't lose my damn mind, that'd be great. Kthanks.]
Hey. You wanna love a girl with a broken heart? You wanna be a "mender"? A "fixer"? You wanna be a "cleaner-upper" or a "put-her-back-together-er"? This is what I would tell you if you asked me for advice.
Dear Brave Boy -
You're going to need to be brave. Courage will be the number one thing that you'll need to bring with you to the fight. Because, Brave Boy, it'll be a fight. Between you and her. Or you and her past. Or you'll sit on the sidelines and watch her fight herself. A struggle. A tug-of-war for power. So you wear that courage - that bravery - like a second skin. And Jesus. Just ... fight for her. Okay? Always be fighting for her.
Things will rise up from within her. Bubbles of the Before gurgling to the surface - like they're entitled. They demand to be heard. These are the things you'll need to listen to. Love her extra hard on those days. Understand that those are not your memories that she's drowning in. Those Bubbles of the Before easily - so, so easily - could suffocate even the surest of girls. Help her. Even when she resists.
There will be nights that tears come. Quietly, and like a soft, damp fall morning, her cheeks will glisten. Don't be the guy that ignores them. Don't be the guy that falls asleep. Don't be the guy that rolls away. Be the holder. Be the beacon. Let her get lost in the litany that you speak. The litany of things that you love about her. Stroke her hair, her face, her heart. But don't you dare ever be the guy that turns away.
There will be days that she will lash out so hard at you. Her hurt will crash like banging hands on a piano. Her jaw firm. Her eyes hard. She will throw it all at you so hard, and you - Brave Boy - you will have to be the one to catch it. And, sure enough, that even includes the Days That She Doubts You.
For a myriad of reasons -
She will doubt you.
Here's what you should do with that doubt - it's a special kind of secret that only the Broken Girls know -
Absorb it. Absorb the grey, cold, wrong - and just ... hold it for her. Because it's too big of a burden to carry by herself.
And then let it go.
She will wonder the most on the Days That She Doubts You. She'll have 1,000 questions for you.
You'll have to be the guy that feeds her brutal, teeth clenching honesty. The guy that has read the prologue and all of her chapters (even the secret, quiet ones that everyone else overlooks), and knows them up and down, back to front. The guy that shines a light for her in the dark.
Because she'll lose her way.
And as a "fixer", your job is to take the scary, the ugly, the terrified - and reassure. Pour your reassurance out to her. Let it rain the hell down.
Slowly push the hair out of her face. Walk slowly together. Slowly stroke her thumb when she is literally clinging to your hand. Slowly.
And listen -
If you can't do all of that? If that's just too much? Too much work? If you can't handle it? Then you need to walk away.
You are not a mender.
You are not a fixer.
You are not a "put-her-back-together-er".
You are one of the Broken.
Oh my sweet holy Jesus. Summer hits a girl like a truck and then, so, so, so suddenly, she has no idea what day it is, or what time it is, or when it's appropriate to eat.
(That girl is me.)
Here's what I think is cool this week:
1) The Boyfriend and I toured the Robber's Caves in Lincoln last weekend. Aside from the billions of bats that were undoubtedly lurking around every. single. corner. and all of the spiders that were just waiting for me to pause briefly to jump on me - it was pretty neat. The brewery (Blue Blood) that sits on top of the tunnels is pretty good, too. So. Moral of the story: go tour the cave-y tunnels, and then have a drink to help yourself forget the bats.
2) Things that I've bought thus far this summer that are amazing:
3) I tried this recipe for green chili chicken and it wasn't bad, guys. It waaaaasn't bad. It was much better shredded and in a taco shell, but isn't everything? That's basically the only thing I've cooked since school got out. For lunch today, I had cottage cheese and croutons. I see that judge-y side-eye. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
4) I've been working like a crazy lady on school stuff, and I feel like I've finally got my head above water. I appreciate every single one of you that told me to get it together with some kind of Dead-Poets-Society/Braveheart/Bill Pullman Independence Day speech. You're my heroes. And those basket tags are probably going to look cute for about three hours, but they were $.25 and they make my little organized heart oh-so-happy.
The sign is from Hobby Lobby and I'm sure it's marked down to $.25 now, too, because THEY WERE PUTTING OUT CHRISTMAS STUFF THIS WEEK. #drunkhobbylobby
5) I don't really have a #5, but I felt like I couldn't end by calling Hobby Lobby drunk. Instead, I'll just tell you that The General is going to be four in two weeks. Tonight, I was hitting him balls off of the tiny toddler tee with his tiny toddler bat and he was really busy not catching them. Instead, he was hitting them with bubbles from his Dinosaur Bubble Gun (that every kid ever, ever, ever should own - I'll probably buy one for my classroom - no joke).
Anyway. I swung super hard at the tee.
Because I was on the t-ball all-star team (and yes that's a thing) and I was the only girl on it. So I'm basically a rockstar.
And I missed the ball.
Tuck ran up to me, patted my leg, and said, "It's okay, mommy. You just need to swing easy and practice."
On the toddler tee.
With the toddler bat.
And what does swing easy even MEAN.
Boys are weird.
I love you like I love my new water bottle.
The other night, after a long day, I laid next to The Boyfriend and stared at the ceiling fan going, and going, and going. I kept telling him over and over, "I just don't know what to do."
It had been a long day for him, too. To his credit, he listened to my whispers in the dark and he breathed out encouragement after encouragement. My tears fell. I was more distraught then I've been in a very, very long time.
"One thing at a time," he kept saying. "Take the smallest part and do that."
My problem was that, while I know how to teach, I've never taught junior high and I have no idea what kinda curriculum is sitting on my shelf. On that day, I was simply overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with work.
But mostly, I was overwhelmed with the possibility of it all.
What I could accomplish in my classroom. What I can do. There's just so much.
I was in the weeds.
And when you're in the middle of the weeds, it's often tough to find your way out. Sometimes they're too tall, sometimes they're the tangling vines and they catch your feet. Sometimes, you stretch your hands out over them and they feel good as they tickle your palm in the wind ... so you stay a second.
It certainly isn't a place to stay for long, though.
And just when I felt like maybe I was drowning ...
Just when I felt like I was lost in the wrong decision ...
My mom came to visit.
The Boyfriend stayed for the week.
My dining room table slowly lost some school clutter.
Random people sent me perfectly timed "I've been thinking of you" texts.
And the weeds started to fall away.
Jen Hatmaker says that when things go south, you gotta let the core hold. Push through the hard things. And give more grace to each other than what makes sense.
I kind of think that's the only way to survive. You find yourself lost and your tribe is there to point you back on your way again. And when you find others lost, you stand on the side of the road and call out to them. You bring them back home, too.
After all, that's where we're all headed, isn't it? Aren't we all just trying to get back home?
Last week was definitely a Tribe Win. I am so damn thankful for them.
And for you, too.
We can do hard things.
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.
. 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
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.