Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Lessons

My summer has come to a close. Time flew by quicker than I could have imagined. I am glad I didn't have a job this summer and I had the opportunity to work on our house, reignite my writing career, and spend time with my family. I walked my dog twice a day, did a little painting, and tried a few new restaurants too. During the school year, teacher life occupies most of my time. I know you often hear about how teachers don't make enough money to work the ridiculous hours they work and how teachers are under appreciated and how teachers get so mad when people say things like, "It must be nice to have summer off." Well, it is all true. The school year was exhausting so a "relaxing" summer was just what the doctored.

That said, teachers never stop learning, even when they are on vacation. Here are some of the things I learned over summer break:

1. Breathe Right strips do not work for everyone.
2. Buffalo sauce is not necessarily the best thing for your dog to consume. You should be prepared to let said dog out into the yard fairly soon after you have shared your buffalo chicken sandwich with the pup.
3. Reading is fundamental.
4. Sleep comes quicker when you ban electronics from your bedroom. Unless, of course, you keep getting up and going out to the kitchen to check your phone. Then you might be up all night.
5. Feelings are feelings. Nobody can say they aren't real. (Well, they CAN say it but they might be complete assholes too.)
6. Surprising me might be the worst idea EVER. I will ruin it every time.
7. Everything is not Mike Matheny's fault. Everything is John Mozeliak's fault. (Ok, this might not be a cold, hard fact but... it's what I believe.)
8. Writers must write every day. It doesn't matter if it is a grocery list, you must create. You also must know how to use commas and how to make sure your subjects and verbs agree.
9. Xanax can easily be replaced by long walks with your dog, if you have the time to make that happen.
10. The beard gang is serious about their beards. But they make me hot just looking at their hairy faces in July.
11. Carjackers are either brave or crazy. But if you come by to take my car, I am going to give you the keys AFTER I practically talk you to death.
12. 100 degrees is just too hot to do anything. If you need me on a 100 degree day, you can find me on the couch.
13. Sometimes you have to mute the people by whom you are completely entranced. That kind of one-sided fondness is dangerous because it delays your possibilities.
14. My number one goal from here on out is to become independently wealthy. I want to have so much money that I can spend it anytime on anything I want. I might still teach though. Working while rich has got to be a blast.
15. Washing your car is a sacrifice to the rain gods.
16. Maybe we are all not meant to be friends. Maybe I am working too hard toward a unity we will never see. But I will not stop being who I am no matter who you are.
17. Cheese is life. Sometimes.
18. Inspiration is all around you.
19. I would do anything for puppies and babies. OMG.
20. I am looking forward to hanging out with 10th graders this year. I used to hate teenagers. Now, I can't imagine my life without them.

That's probably just the tip of the iceberg but I think it has been an educational break. Now... back to the books!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

In the Garden

"Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes." -Unknown

When I was a little girl, the piece of yard beside our garage was a little garden tended by my father. Small, round watermelons sprung up there along with big, juicy tomatoes and radishes and green onions. There were cucumbers and peppers and tall stalks of corn. Dad cultivated the land and guided the food to fruition. Sometimes, when everything was ripe, he would take us through his masterpiece and allow us to harvest parts of our dinner.

Early this Spring, I decided I wanted to try to carry on the gardening tradition. I had some rose bushes removed, tilled some soil, and started with seeds in the house that I transplanted after the last frost. It was a slow and steady process but now I have real plants in the garden. I am awaiting my first harvest. 

There is something so satisfying about growing things. Seeing it burst forth from the ground and reach slowly toward the sky. Watering, feeding, weeding... It's hard work.

I can't wait to taste that first tomato.

"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity." -Lindley Karstens


It's Not That Deep

And then he said, "If it's not important, I just don't archive it."

Stunned, I sat quietly. Just 24 hours prior, I had spilled my guts, my innermost thoughts, and one of the most precious untold stories of my life to him and he failed to "archive" it. He neglected to commit it all to memory because, I suppose, it was not important.

Desperation and loneliness opens us to vulnerabilities we might have better avoided when feeling more secure. It causes us to reach out to people who might not have our best interests in mind or who honestly just don't care. And I was desperate and feeling lonely, missing my dearest friends who weren't around. I was desperate for my friendship with him to be more than just seeing each other quarterly and joking over texts and phone calls once every other month when we talked as if we were besties but... it really wasn't that deep.

Our relationship lived on the surface. After pondering for a while, I realized I didn't know what his favorite food was or if he ever had a dog or where he would travel if he could go anywhere in the world. I didn't know if he preferred Target or Walmart or how often he went grocery shopping. I didn't know if he could cook or why he really broke up with his last girlfriend because the stories were vague and full of his made up cliches that I, quite frankly, didn't even really understand.

There was a time when we were seemingly close, hanging out all of the time, and I thought, maybe we would be friends. Maybe we would eventually be more. Maybe not. But it was fun and stress free and no strings attached. Oh my God... It was fun and stress free and no strings attached.

We must be aware of what others have to offer and we have to decide if that is enough before we spill out the serious and stressful details of our life only to discover that it's not important enough to archive. Because if we don't, we might set the bar of expectations for everyone as high as we do for our best friend or our lover or even ourselves. And that leads to disappointment which is the last thing you need to pile onto a desperate, lonely day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

All My Blogs

Since 2005, I have been blogging. Finding a way to express my inner thoughts whether others found them appropriate or not was incredibly therapeutic but I think blogging also really helped me develop as a writer. Over the years, I have crafted many types of blogs and some of them existed only for a season. But there are four that I currently maintain so I thought I would post them here for my followers. If you are looking for a little something to read, there are a lot of options. Also, if you are trying to figure out who I really am, this is a great way to do so. :)

As I Sing It has been up and running since 2005. It is a little bit of everything.
My Parent's Roommate conveys the stories of life in my 40s and living with my parents.
My main tumblr blog is probably updated the most. It's like snapchat that lasts forever. If you have no idea who I am as a human being, this might help
Finally, Thoughts Before Bed is not just the title for my Sunday Night FB posts, it is also a blog! It's kind of pretty and, someday soon, it will also be a book. :)


Friday, April 07, 2017

Thoughts on Leadership

You must be SELFLESS to lead.

You must be able to make a decision and stick with it to lead.

You must make decisions that are in the best interest of the whole and they must be steps toward accomplishing team goals.

You must have common sense to lead.

You must not create an environment of chaos and you must weed out the people who thrive on chaos.

You must be ahead of the news, the gossip and your organization’s reputation. And therefore, you must stay connected to people, to news outlets, to social media. Nothing should surprise you.

You must LOVE people and you must have a relationship with EACH of your people.

You must KNOW so you do not have to listen to the word of others to know.

You must be able to do the job yourself and you must be willing to do it at the drop of a hat if needed.

You must be the employee that you want your employees to be.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Education Philosophy

I am a teacher now. It still feels weird to say it. I started my career life as a sports writer, quickly transitioned to the advertising industry and, eventually, I became a teacher. In my short time educating others, I have developed my own philosophy of education. Here it is:

The number one goal of education should be to prepare young people to conquer the world. Educators must illuminate the possibilities for young people, expose them to open doors they are not yet able to see and encourage them to not only take life step by step but to leap toward dreams and goals that others might say are impossible.

As an educator, I have three goals for my work. First, I strive to build relationships that will not only help me understand the personalities of students and parents and colleagues but will also reveal the strengths and weakness upon which or around which we can build a path to success. Relationships are paramount to successful education efforts. Building some semblance of trust and understanding and living as transparently as possible allows my students to fully engage in the process of learning.

Secondly, it is my charge to provide a safe place where students are allowed to engage in delicate conversation, express themselves intellectually and creatively, and dare to wonder about what life could be or would be like if obstacles such as poverty did not exist. It is a safe place where the worries of every day can be addressed as needed or where they can be set aside in order to just dream for a bit.

Finally, It is my hope to build the foundation of my classroom upon the Socratic notion that the educator’s job is to teach students how to think and not what to think. I want to empower them to not only come up with the answers but to decide what the questions are. I want to put learning in their hands and their hearts, not just in their heads.

By focusing on building relationships, providing a safe place, and empowering young people, I hope that I am giving students what they need to, indeed, conquer the world.

Monday, February 27, 2017

46 Thoughts for My 46th Year

In honor of my 46th birthday and, in keeping with tradition, here is a list of the 46 thoughts that are top of mind right now:
  1.  No matter how old you are, White Castle at 3AM is a terrible idea.
  2. You can never have too many pillows.
  3. If you teach your dog to bring you the leash every time she wants to go out, she will bring you her leash CONSTANTLY.
  4. Socks with sandals defeats the purpose of sandals.
  5. Some people thrive on their ability to make everything about them. Your auntie's best friend's, nephew's cousin might have gotten shot last night and these people are going to be wearing black, in mourning and posting about it all over social media.
  6. Diet Dr. Pepper is apparently going to be the death of me. I don't know that I am ok with that but I just can't break up with my drink.
  7. Speaking of breaking up... there are only two things more difficult that breaking up with your man: breaking up with your hairdresser and breaking up with your best friend of 30 years.
  8. Best friends know more than your mom and your man.
  9. I don't know what it is like to FEEL 46. I have to think about how old I am when people ask.
  10. I do sometimes wish I could go back 20 years and do a few things differently but for the most part, I am looking forward to the future.
  11. Greeting cards are such a rarity these days. Folks send wishes via Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. This year, I am going to get back to sending cards with nice little notes written inside. I might even send some cards to people I don't like.
  12. I'm not a player, I just crush a lot.
  13. Speaking of crushing, there is this man right now who turns my head and ignites my brain. He is the total package.
  14.   I have a dear friend who uprooted her life and move to Los Angeles to follow her dream. It is inspiring. 
  15. On the cusp of having my first story published in 20 years, I am as excited as can be.
  16. There are few things I cherish as much as just hanging out with my elderly parents on a Saturday night watching a Hallmark movie. (That might be a confession too.)
  17. More than ever, we are living in a time when setting aside our own needs is integral to creating a better future for the next generation.
  18. We must find reasons to love more often than we find reasons to be disgruntled or impatient or angry.
  19. Acknowledging the NORMAL of others doesn't mean we understand it or even that we agree with it. Acknowledgment makes it real. AND THEN comes understanding.
  20. Birthdays have become less significant in recent years but I hope I have at least 40 more in store because I have so much more to do.
  21. While I admire people who stay in the same career for years, I could never do it. I am always thinking about what is next.
  22. Brussel sprouts are more than just tiny cabbages.
  23. If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be to work as a public speaker in large venues, in front of lots of people, talking about MANY different things.
  24. And if I could do two things, I would also have all of my books published and ranked on the popular market.
  25. 46 years is often unfathomable since, at one time, I thought I would have lived most of my life by the time I was 30.
  26. Teaching has given me an unmatchable experience and tremendous insight into what a significant handicap insecurity is to change and success.
  27. Remember when your days were jam packed with playing games you made up with your friends in the neighborhood? Me too.
  28. Love comes in many forms and not always in the way, the package, or the time you expect it.
  29. Nothing cures sadness like a trip on the open road.
  30. It's ok to like mainstream music and movies and television shows. You don't have to be unlike everyone else to be cool.
  31. Embracing change is scary, even to those who have no idea they are afraid.
  32. Sometimes, I think we act out of some ancestral memory that's buried in our DNA.
  33. Everyone should read more.
  34. Everyone should also disconnect from the world more.
  35. I would LOVE to have a man in my life who makes me laugh, gives me butterflies when he walks into the room, and who smells like a hard day's work.
  36. I believe in balance in a relationship. 
  37. I am scared to death of truly putting myself out there when it comes to finding love.
  38. When a ship has sailed, it's best not to stand in port waiting for it to return.
  39. Volunteering and traveling are the two best ways to gain a firm understanding of the world.
  40. Politics have never changed the world. That is your job and my job.
  41. If your dog barks in the middle of the night, it's best to make sure nobody is stealing your car.
  42. Failure is ok as long as you try again.
  43. Pedicures and massages sustain me.
  44. Do not call me in the middle of the night and expect to get a little booty. Do call me in the middle of the night if you have cake to share.
  45. Napping totally messes up my day but my resolve to avoid them is fading as I get older.
  46. This year will bring great things.
Here's to 46!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Social Media Strategy: 2017

We should ask ourselves why we are so angry, so bothered, so incensed by what others are doing, experiencing, believing and posting on social media. We should also consider our motivation for passing on information and our reason for being on social media altogether. I think, if we each took an honest look at ourselves, our own feelings, and our own actions, the face of social media as well as it's platform would change dramatically.

For my part, I have decided to commit to the following social media guidelines for the remainder of 2017. I promise you that:

1. I will revert to my original purpose for using Facebook which was to catch up and keep up with old friends and new, with family and with former coworkers.

2. I will only post original statuses on Facebook. In other words, I will not use the status of others or the words of others. When Facebook asks, "what's on your mind," I will share that and only that.

3. If I choose to repost something, I will only repost from a source I know personally and I will give full credit to the original author. I will limit those reposts to humor and encouragement.

4. If I choose to pass along information or news, I will only repost from reputable sources and I will research the information in depth before I share it with others. I will also add any additional sources that may be helpful to those who might choose to read it.

5. I will continue to share my life and, by "my life" I mean, my daily adventures, experiences, and conquests. I will keep talking about work and my kids and my family and my dog. I will still post pictures and links to my blogs but I will remember that my motivation behind it all should be to make someone smile or to provide an uplifting moment to others.

6. I will NOT comment or respond to anything on Facebook or Twitter out of anger, disgust, or a need to "RIGHT" someone else's opinion. I will first ask myself, "why does this bother me" and I will answer that question instead of responding. Then I will ask myself how I can truly bring about change because I know that responding in that moment is not the answer.

7. I will continue to share my volunteer efforts, the issues about which I feel passionate, and my efforts to bring about unity in the world but only with the intention of sharing and not in an effort to "change your mind."

8. I will not use social media as my first source of news.

9. I will continue to post rock star tweets on Twitter that garner the attention of famous people.

10. I will always use social media to make connections.

11. I will utilize my tumblr blog to post little bits of myself and inspirational quotes and the antics of my dog.

12. I will not allow the posts of others to get my blood pressure up because I will not take social media that seriously.

13. I will continue to be an activist in real life and online but only because it is what I feel like I should do and I believe it is a part of my purpose to work to make life better for the marginalized and to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally. But I will not set the expectation that everyone else must do the same.

14. I will keep playing candy crush and I will not apologize.

15. I will tweet about the bachelor one moment and indigenous issues the next and I will not allow my number of followers to change my method of operation.

16. I will not censor myself but I will put folks into categories, especially those who continue to think they know me but who I know really know nothing about me at all.

17. I will delete people but not because I disagree with them. I will delete them if they spew hate or promote an angry and separatist agenda. I will not stand by as witness to racism, sexism, anti- (insert the religion you hate here)-ism, etc.

18. I will follow people and add friends who make me feel good or who make me laugh or who push me to be a better person.

19. I will spend more time writing books and lesson plans than I will perusing Facebook or Twitter.

20. I will blog at least once every month.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Thoughts Before... 2017 Gets Rolling

Thoughts before Bed, a weekly series (and sometimes a bi-weekly series) of Facebook posts came about as I struggled to shut my mind off long enough to fall asleep at night. Often enough, it is thought provoking, sometimes, silly and sometimes serious. So, I promised an edition of THOUGHTS BEFORE BED before the new year and I thought it would be great to actually kick off 2017 with it.

We have a tendency, as human beings, to do what is easy and rightfully so. Life is hectic and everyone has days when "busy" doesn't come close to defining our experience. But as we venture into 2017, I would like to challenge you, just as I challenge myself, to do the difficult things. You are here. You are in this space in time because you are needed at this very moment, whether you realize that or believe that or not. Your task may not be great. You may not walk a path of notoriety and fame. But you were created for such a time as this.


1. It's easy to be an asshole. This year, I hope we will pause, take a deep breath, and first, ponder how our thoughts or actions might affect others, not simply how they will be perceived. You are like a pebble skipping across a pond and your action creates a ripple that expands across your family, your community and your world. Think first.

2. It's easy to do nothing. Rather than rock the boat or send a ripple of consequence out in the world, it is easy to sit back and watch and remain silent or live a life of inaction. If you have the luxury of doing so, you should know that there are many who do not. There are those who fight every day to survive, to live, to have clean drinking water, to put food on the table, to say no to drugs, to keep a roof over their heads,  to find a cure for cancer, to better relationships in our communities between racial groups and religious groups and people on the opposite sides of whatever issue, to save the oceans and the whales and the manatees. Not everyone has to be an activist but we should all contribute to a "fight" in some way. Or at the very least speak up when someone else could use some back up.

3. It's easy to just click SHARE on any piece of news or inspiring meme or the quote of the day. And there is really nothing wrong with that because sometimes you have to get the word out or encourage others and you can't find the words yourself. BUT... I would challenge you to dive deep. How do YOU feel? What do YOU think? The greatest barrier to my writing has always been the fear of what others will think. So as I challenge myself to be honest and transparent, I challenge you to do the same.

4. It's easy to think you don't matter or you can't make a difference or one person can't change the world. But that's also a lie we tell ourselves. I smile. A lot. Not at work, really. But in the rest of my life. And I say hello. And it matters. There are little things in our everyday that we can do to change the atmosphere or the environment in which we live. I challenge you to commit one SIMPLE act of kindness EVERY DAY in 2017. And keep track of it. Journal. Write it in a little homework notepad. Make it your Facebook status or your ONE tweet. "Today, I smiled at every stranger I passed." Some days it will not matter to you but, in all likelihood, it will matter to the person you acknowledged.

5. It is easy to complain. I LOVE TO COMPLAIN. It provides fodder for my humor. I enjoy examining the sheer lunacy of the actions of others. I have a good time with a little road rage now and then so I am not boycotting complaining because some days it's a part of survival mode. But I think we should challenge ourselves, in the midst of real, legitimate complaining, to also come forward with a solution. If you can't figure out how to make something better, then just keep it under wraps.

6. It is easy to forget that everyone around you has a million things going on too. It might not be about you. Whatever IT is. We spend some much time worrying and wondering why other people do things or being angry because they didn't do something. Circumstances. Period. Stuff happens. Life happens. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt.

7. It's easy to be so focused on everybody else that we forget to take care of ourselves. This is a HUGE one for me. God willing, I will get back to a place of balance in 2017.

8. Why are teenage girls so controlling with their boyfriends? (I know I didn't start that one off right...) It's easy to lose sight of our goals. That's what I meant to say. What are your goals? Your dreams? Why are you so worried about where he is and what he is doing and why he is taking 10 minutes to text you back? What are YOU DOING? Get up. Do something with your life. BE GREAT. Then he will be chasing after you. :)

9. It is easy to blame others for our situations, circumstances, state of mind. But why does that other person have so much more power over your life than you do? Just asking.

10. And finally, it is easy to give up. But I would suggest that more than ever, now is the time for you to just go for it. You might not get another chance.

Know that, I love you dearly. I look forward to seeing all the good that comes from each of you and your endeavors in 2017. Thank you for your loyalty, your kindness, your humor, and your love. Many days, you truly sustain me. Happy New Year everyone.