Scars

The beginning of the year has been a blur. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting of course, but I also feel like it’s been a bit of a honeymoon. I am just so grateful that I don’t have to deal with the issues I was dealing with last year. I have a whole new fresh bunch of children, and it’s just been so refreshing. And yet…

The scars are beginning to show their face. My literacy coach, a woman on whom I’ve depended for years came into my room last week to observe my lesson, as she always does. Instead of enjoying her extra set of eyes and ears and the conversation about how to improve my practice, my sweaty palms and racing heart revealed the true state of my heart. Likewise, my principal sent a totally innocuous e-mail a few weeks ago, one I would have been totally fine receiving two years ago that sent the rest of my evening spiraling in a fit of e-mail checking to see if she had responded to my reply. 

My literacy coach is kind enough and wise enough to know and understand that this is totally not about her. It’s all about me and the baggage I carry from last year. She knows she was often the messenger for some hard conversations, and she knows that there’s some serious healing left to be done. I am so grateful for someone with that perspective. 

Still, it’s frustrating to know that healing takes time. It takes time, and (I believe) it takes prayer, and if modern psychology has anything to say about it, it’s going to take a lot of positive messages to fill me up before I let go of the negative ones that dominated my year last year. I’m glad I didn’t quit after last year, I think then I would have just felt defeated, but even now it’s hard to imagine doing this forever. I’m expending so much emotional energy battling the scars that the last two years left behind and its not yet invigorating, just completely exhausting. I wish it was different. I wish last year never happened. I wish I wasn’t left to battle the scars it left behind. 

I hope it will get better.

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What I Learned in September

Linking up with Chatting at the Sky today for my first post in a long time…

1. Until I stop teaching, September will probably always be hard. September is a month of 12-15 hour days being the norm, not the exception. It’s a month where I forget what it’s like to feel anything but exhausted. It’s a month where I have to figure out what it looks like to balance work-life with home-life. It’s a month where, no matter what I do, my body hurts at the end of every single day whether because I haven’t eaten or enough, or because I never sat down, or because I pushed myself so far past the point where I should have gone back home that it just isn’t funny any more. September is hard, but the days pass quickly, and it gets better.

2. My days are infinitely better when they start with prayer. I began reading my Bible and praying pretty intentionally this September before I left for school. There were a handful of days that were just rough, where I was anxious, and where the kids were too. When I got home, I realized, they were the days that I forgot to stop and pray. The next time I realized I was having one of those days, I snuck off to the bathroom to pray. It got better.

3. I love the people I work with. It was super hard to come back this year, after the trauma-inducing year I had at school last year. Coming back this fall, I realized how many people I have rooting for me at school… how many people I have in my corner. I’m grateful. 

4. Exercise is a better solution to stress than wine. I joined the gym with some friends. The combination of exercise and conversation after those tough days at work leaves everything feeling more manageable when I leave.  

Starting Fresh

I want to remember this moment. This moment where everything is new, my classroom set-up is different, my kids are different, my curriculum is different in some ways, my team is different, and I hope, I am different.

I changed last year – mostly not for the better. Slowly but surely I was discouraged, disheartened, depressed. There were dark days in the midst of last year, and I spend a lot of time fearing that they will return this year. They probably won’t. 

But they might. 

I want to remember this moment, because a few days ago, I finally returned to the book A Praying Life, and began reading, hoping it would hold some magic. Truth be told, I don’t love the book – the writing just isn’t my style. Even so, God has been speaking to me through it, and so I keep reading. One of the things that stuck with me, as I sat reading by the fire pit on the Cape, was the fact that I can use my anxiety as a reminder to pray. I can ask God to renew my spirit, to change my day, to change my feelings, to change my heart. As I drove back to Boston, and I felt my chest tighten with each passing mile I prayed. I can’t even remember what I prayed, but I committed that feeling to God, and then I did it again, and again, and again through Sunday night, Monday, and into Tuesday morning. I woke up early – 4 a.m. – and couldn’t sleep soundly again as my stomach started turning circles. I prayed, and drifted off, not into the best sleep, but into sleep nonetheless. 

At work today, I was greeted by hug after hug and was reminded of how much I love the people I work with. One of my teammates remarked, “you seem so much happier this year!” I took a moment to reflect, and realized that for this morning at least, it was true. I was still anxious, I am still terrified of what the year holds, but the anxiety is different – for today at least, I remembered to commit it to God. 

So, that’s my prayer for this year. That I would pray. That I would remember that when my chest tightens and I don’t think I can do it. That I would remember that when I get that nasty e-mail from a parent. That I would remember that when I am anxious about what my boss thinks of me. That I would remember that desperate feeling from last year, and that it would compel me to my knees. I pray that I would be changed so that prayer becomes second nature. I pray that I would pray.

Wanderlust

Yesterday, in a fit of “this-year-has-been-terrible-i-need-an-adventure,” I did something totally out of character – I booked a flight to Indonesia. 

To put this in perspective, I usually contemplate decisions like this for YEARS. I have been pricing flights to Ireland since I was 20. My friend told me she was moving to Indonesia in January. I looked at flights and decided there was no way. Over Memorial Day weekend, I started thinking seriously about it. Less than 10 days later I booked a flight. I don’t even have a passport yet.

Anyway, I’ve got the travel bug now. I used to have the buy-a-house bug, but it’s been summarily replaced. I’ve been compiling lists of places I’d like to visit, near and far in my head – I figure it’s time to commit them to the internet.

Asia

  • Korea
  • Japan – Mt. Fuji, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki
  • China – Great Wall

Africa

  • Ethiopia
  • South Africa

Middle East

  • Israel

Europe

  • Ireland
  • Paris
  • Germany
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Greece
  • Italy

North America

  • The other 20 states I haven’t visited
  • Mexico
  • A few Caribbean Islands

Australia

South America

  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Brazil

The Year of 30s

I’ve decided that to celebrate my 30th birthday year, I’m going to attempt to do things in sets of 30. So far I’ve decided to read 30 books, do 30 crafts/Pinterest projects, and try 30 new things. Any other ideas?

Here’s my list so far (of course, subject to change):

Books

  1. A Casual Vacancy
  2. The Night Circus
  3. The Problem of Pain
  4. My Life in France
  5. Language and Literacy Development: What Educators Need to Know
  6. Learning is a Verb
  7. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children
  8. How’s It Going?
  9. 11/22/63
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird
  11. Chains
  12. The Invention of Hugo Cabaret
  13. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
  14. The Lost Girls
  15. A Praying Life
  16. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  17. April 1865
  18. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
  19. East of Eden
  20. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
  21. All the President’s Men
  22. A People’s History of the United States
  23. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  24. Walden
  25. Team of Rivals
  26. The Bungalow
  27. Mere Christianity
  28. Carry the One
  29. The Senator’s Wife
  30. The Waiting Place

Projects:

  1. Simple Top
  2. Sari Quilt Square
  3. Pillowcase
  4. Easy Peasy Shirt
  5. Backgammon Skirt
  6. Circle Zip Earbud Pouch
  7. Toiletry Kit
  8. Heating Pad
  9. Reversible Headband
  10. DIY Terra Cotta Pots
  11. Sorbetto Dress
  12. Lampshades on a String
  13. Self Closing Tote Bag
  14. Kitchen Curtains
  15. Tin Can Lantern
  16. DIY Table
  17. – 30. TBD

New Things:

  1. Restaurant: Barcelona
  2. Recipe: Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli
  3. Restaurant: Lidia’s
  4. State: Kansas
  5. Recipe: Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew
  6. Recipe: French Lentil Salad
  7. Recipe: Mango and Black Bean Salad
  8. Ocean City, MD
  9. Restaurant: Dogfish Brew Pub
  10. Restaurant: Fish Tales
  11. Treat: Fries from Thrashers
  12. Japan
  13. Jakarta
  14. Bali
  15. Flying more than 7 hours – alone.
  16. Classes towards Reading Specialist license
  17. Recipe: Chunky Gazpacho
  18. Recipe: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos
  19. Biking to Work
  20. Truro Vineyards

2013 To-Dos

(I’m putting on the two to-dos that I accomplished today too… because it always feels good to cross something off the list).

Health:

  1. Schedule Dermatologist Appointment
  2. Go to Dermatologist Appointment
  3. Schedule Physical
  4. Go to Physical
  5. Use My Fitness Pal to get to a healthy weight and activity level

House

  1. Paint Table and Chairs in the kitchen
  2. Buy a new headboard and/or comfy chair and/or rug
  3. Plant a boxed herb garden 

Crafting

  1. Sew at least one piece of clothing
  2. Sew a new comforter cover/quilt

Fun Stuff

  1. Go to NYC to see Drew in Jersey Boys
  2. Visit the Symphony
  3. ICA
  4. MFA
  5. Travel somewhere that I’m not visiting someone

Longing

I’ve never wanted Jesus back quite as much as I do this Christmas season. And it’s hard for me to accept that as a good thing. The longing comes from the heartache that the last few years have brought: the messiness and brokenness of family, the deaths of beloved family members, the growing frailty of my grandparents. The fragility of this life and the effects of sin in this world have never seemed more real to me. I would give anything to have the past few years reversed – anything except my growing awareness of how much I need Jesus. How could I not long for this?

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

-Isaiah 9:6-7

Thankful

This has not been the easiest period of my life. There’s been lots of upheaval, lots of stress, and lots of sadness and yet, there has been joy, hope, and yes, even peace. And so, I am thankful; for the things that follow and for oh-so-much more. 

  1. For a job a love 
  2. For a boss I respect who goes out of her way to let her staff know how much we are appreciated
  3. For good health
  4. For the many many members of my extended family
  5. For better relationships with my brother and sister
  6. For the simple pleasures – fresh coffee in the morning, sunrise and sunset, a comfy cocoon like bed, etc. 
  7. For the community at CTK and the way that they continually love me and remind me of the Gospel
  8. More specifically for my community group and the consistency of meeting almost every Monday night for the last 4 years. 
  9. For new life and being able to share in the love and joy of the littlest ones
  10. For the Word of God
  11. For the Hope that only He brings. 

Growth

In the last forty-eight hours I have done more things with ease that previously would have taken me months or weeks to deliberate than ever before. In short order, I heard about a graduate program, decided to apply, started (and nearly finished) my application and (drumroll please) asked four people for recommendations. 

This morning, when I heard back from one of my recommenders, I was struck by how, in the past, I would have been held up by something as simple as asking somebody to write a recommendation. I wouldn’t have thought I was worthy of a recommendation, or even if I thought I was, I wouldn’t have wanted to inconvenience somebody for something I wanted to do. 

Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s more self-confidence, or maybe it’s evidence of God’s restorative and calming work in my life, but in any case, I’m grateful for growth!

Early

I’ve risen early these last 12 days. Greeted by a cup of coffee and a passage of Scripture, followed by a few minutes checking e-mail and updating myself on what is going on in the world. The time has been sweet.

It’s so nice to slowly sip that first taste of coffee instead of trying to gulp down as much as possible before the children come running in. It’s nice to start my day with Scripture, instead of wondering if I’ll find time to squeeze that in sometime before I collapse in bed. It’s nice to sit, peacefully, surrounded only by my thoughts, for those first few minutes after I wake up.

The mornings are nice, yes, but that is not surprising. What is surprising is how my mornings carry me through the rest of my day. Arriving at work without having anything stressful occur during that first hour of the day, allows me to approach my day more calmly than I would have otherwise. I’m not panicking as I move from subject to subject, wondering if I got done everything I needed to, because I was able to double check in the morning.

Why write this all down? Because the hours of sunlight are quickly dwindling and before I know it it will be dark when I rise. The temptation for just a few more minutes of sleep will be strong, and I hope that memories like these will be able to carry me through.