Saturday, June 16, 2018


I'm rolling into the two year anniversary of moving to Louisiana, and for the most part I have resigned myself to the fact that I live there now. My husband is not looking for other employment opportunities, and 2/3 of my children prefer to continue their educations there. I have friends, and I have a job (if I wish to continue it).

I live there, but it's not my home.

I've probably traveled back to North Carolina about a dozen times since I moved away, and upon my 2nd or 3rd trip back, I realized something that is solidifying with each additional visit:

This is not my home, either.
Image result for north carolina louisiana map

I don't feel like I belong in either place.

That's a disconcerting feeling- discovering that you don't feel at home in either of the places where you've lived for the past 30+ years.

So if I don't belong here or there, where do I belong?

I am not without a home, but I feel homeless.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Marching forth

(because today is March 4th. See what I did there?)

January began with a blissful week of extended vacation, followed by a shortened week for MLK holiday, and 2 snow days the following week. It was very stressful because I was responsible for all the lesson planning, but I enjoyed the topic (space science) and managed to not disappoint my colleagues. I'll call that a win.

February flew by in an equally fleeting manner and now it is March.

I must admit, I am struggling with my word, confidence. I usually project an outward air of confidence (bordering on arrogance, sometimes), but inside I am a bowl of mush. A doubting, self-deprecating, questioning, helpless-feeling ball of mush who can't make decisions and is thoroughly confused.

  • I did not make the bold decision to say I am not returning to my job next year when asked a few weeks ago, even though I hate about 78% of my job.
  • I constantly question my choices.
  • I do not trust myself.
  • I do not know how to change.
I haven't been crafting much. I splurged and bought myself a set of metal stamping letters and associated tools for the primary purpose of creating something that says "confidence," but I need to follow through with that project. I'm afraid of messing up my stamping blanks as I learn.

I'm afraid of messing up as I learn.

But how can I learn without making mistakes? How can I try new things and see if I enjoy them if I am constantly holding myself back because I am afraid?

I (think) I know what I want, but I am afraid to go after it. It's big and scary and life-altering in a HUGE way. It would be easier to wait for things to unfold around me. To wait. To let life pass me by. 

Can I be happy, living the way I am right now? Maybe, if you believe happiness is a choice. 

Personally, I believe saying 'happiness is a choice' means you're probably lying to yourself.

I want the lies to stop. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Word of the year

In my last post, I alluded to (but am not quite ready to blog about) the struggles I have had the past few months because I neglected my word of the year for 2017.

At the beginning of December, about the time I remembered that I was supposed to be being deliberate this year, I also realized that I was going to have a difficult time choosing my word for 2018.

It's been in the back of my mind for the past month. I've written down at least a dozen words that could be contenders, but none of them quite encompass everything that I am feeling.  Last night, I settled on a winner.

  • Confidence  

  • full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of person or thing.
  • belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.
  • secret that is confided or imparted trustfully.

I'm about to do some really hard things this year. But I CAN do them. I am able. And I will.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Just what I needed

My winter school break is 2.5 weeks long. Our entire family already went to San Antonio for a few days to visit Matt's family for Christmas, but the boys and my break continues through this entire first week of January. They're content to stay home and play video games. I am not.

I booked a condo in the Ozarks for a few days, and a friend will be joining me tomorrow. My six hour drive landed me here, alone, late this afternoon.

and I. freaking. love. it.

I love being alone.

This is the first time I have been somewhere neutral, alone, since I can't remember when. It may have been more than 20 years ago.

As a college student, I would frequently drive to my family's cabin in the woods for the weekend. The 4 hour drive cleared my head, and the solitude of the weekend restored my soul. I didn't have to go anywhere, do anything, or talk to anyone. No one knew I was there. No one could bother me. I could eat what and when I wanted. I could stay up all night reading if I wanted to.  I could stroll through the woods. If I had been at home, I would have been caught up in the continuation of my regular life. Being alone, somewhere else, is absolutely liberating.

Even staying at a hotel, alone, evokes a different vibe. A hotel room feels confining and ultimately very temporary. A hotel is a quick stop on the way to somewhere else.

But this, this, is just what I needed, and I didn't even know it.

Much of what I am struggling with right now is my definition of happiness, and what I need to be happy. I am simultaneously reading/listening to 3 books that are all themed around love, marriage, and aloneness. This retreat could not have come at a better time as I grapple with these concepts.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Half a year later

As you can read from those last two posts, I did something at the end of July that took me in a completely different direction than I had anticipated.

Apparently, I had also intended to blog about my experiences teaching middle school on a separate blog (hence the two posts I just found)

But in the words of Sweet Brown- "ain't nobody got time for that."

Too much has happened in the last five months to even begin to write about it all, but let's just summarize with this statement:

I forgot about my word of the year.

I took a full-time teaching job on a whim- the exact opposite of being deliberate. It has proven to be a decision that I regret on an almost daily basis.

I completely forgot about this blog until about 6 weeks ago, and even then I only recalled my word of the year. I did not go back and read anything I had written on this blog until yesterday. And, y'all- I cannot begin to tell you the amount of heartache I could have saved myself if I had, because as I am rereading what I wrote in the first half of 2017, nearly everything that has happened since then is in direct contrast to what I intended.

Let's take away the "has happened" and be honest: these things did not just happen. I put myself in a place where I would let them happen, and in some cases even deliberately pursued them.

A few weeks ago, I realized that deliberate had irrevocably been thrown out the window, and there was no way to undo that.  And if you can't undo something, what can you do but keep moving forward? 

Today, especially, I am looking forward, but to do that I also need to take a long, deliberate look back. I didn't realize how much introspection I had done while writing here, and how therapeutic it is.

As I'm rereading my past year I'm intrigued to find that the end of summer/beginning of school seems to be a falling-off point in blogging for me, based on this post.

Lots to think about.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Second time around (also a post from July)

I was hired 5 days before the start of the school year. Two of those days I spent in new teacher training for the entire school system. Two of them will be spent doing school-based training. And the one lonely day in the middle was fairly useless because I don't have a lot of the supplies I need and my fellow teachers were not at the school because who works on the last day of summer vacation?

I have no textbooks (the curriculum standards were changed over the summer, with no time to purchase textbooks that correspond to what I'm supposed to be teaching) and I have zero materials. To be honest, I'm a little fuzzy on what I'm even supposed to be teaching because the standards are written in very vague and lofty terms.

During the system-wide training, I was inundated with information. This is not the same profession that I started in twenty years ago. The emphasis now is on incorporating technology and improving test scores, and everything is data-driven. The formatted lesson plans I worked from last year, as a substitute teacher, were abhorrent to me. It looked like a giant, disgusting checklist and you had to make sure all of the boxes were filled with the right criteria. Everybody worked from the same type of lesson plans and there was little (if any) autonomy within your grade and subject area to do your own thing. No room for creativity. No room for fun. Just do what everybody else is doing, and don't go against the flow.

I knew all of this when I accepted the job, and knew that my administrators are very results oriented. Our school looks good on paper, and they want that to continue. I was honest with them about my concerns during my interview, so they can't say they didn't know what they were getting when they hired me.

I can work within their system, because this is my second time around.

I'm not worried.

I'm not worried about earning their approval during observations of my lessons. It's just a job, a job I chose because I want to teach young people, not because I want to be a robot teacher in their system. If they don't like what I'm doing, they will let me know and we will come to an understanding and I will leave. Hopefully it will be my choice and not theirs.

I'm not worried about ensuring that every one of my students masters every item on the syllabus because, you know what? They won't. And I can't make them.

One of the other new teachers I met this week said that her interview for this job was the hardest she'd ever experienced. I was befuddled by this statement; maybe because I was frequently part of the interviewing process in my last job, and maybe because I already knew the interviewers, but mostly because I knew they were pretty desperate to fill the position in less than a week.

My self-worth is not based on what people- even employers- think of me. This is my second time around, and I am confident in who I am and what I know my purpose to be. I don't have to have a Pinterest-worthy classroom, and I don't have to spend hours and money creating new and innovative lessons to impress students.

My purpose is to make these tweens feel loved, and accepted, and worthy. I'll be grateful if they learn some science along the way, but if they end this year believing in themselves, then that's all the validation I need.

A post from the end of July (or, why I haven't written since July)

Upon graduating from college with a degree in middle grades education, I taught in public middle schools for three years. I was young, newly married and had nothing else going on in my life. I mostly enjoyed my job, and probably would have continued teaching if not for the birth of my first child (followed by two others within the next 4 years).

I spent the better part of the next 13 years at home, and for the majority of that time frame I was either homeschooling my own children, tutoring homeschooled students of all ages, or both. A wonderful job opportunity led me to work in student affairs at a local university when my children got older, and I enjoyed that job for 3 years.

Then, we moved across the country.

We moved to a state none of us had ever been to before, where we knew no one and were literally a thousand miles away from our friends and family. I enrolled all of my children in public middle & high schools (one of them for the first time!) to encourage opportunities to make friends and get involved in our new town. But what about me? Where could I enroll myself?

I did think about literally enrolling in classes, either a new course of study at a community college or beginning to work on my master's degree in some education-related field. The knowledge that we would (hopefully) not be stationed in our new state for more than a few years stopped me from committing myself to such a lengthy and potentially very expensive undertaking that I may not be able to complete.

So I feel back into what I knew: teaching. I was hired as a substitute for the local school system, and I spent 2 months hopping from school to school, across all subjects and grades. I finally got an opportunity to work at the middle school my child attended, and after establishing myself as a trustworthy individual, found that I had enough job opportunities to work exclusively at that one school with the occasional day spent at the high school next door. I got to know the teachers and students, and it felt like home.

I found that subbing was an ideal fit for me because I could easily take a day off when I had other things to attend to, I didn't have to deal with parents, and I only had to deal with paperwork on the rarest of occasions. Still, there were weeks when I only had a day or two of work and more so than missing the financial compensation (because, let's be honest- substitute teachers are not in it for the money!), I missed being a part of the school community.

I knew there were some job openings at my school of choice, but for a variety of reasons I chose not to pursue them. My primary deterrent was being complicit in a data-driven system where standardized test scores are more important than actually teaching and mentoring young people.  I had a change of heart less than two weeks before our school year was set to begin, and mentioned to the principal that I was available and interested if a teaching position were to become available. Two days later, I received a call informing me that there was an unexpected vacancy in the 6th grade science department and would I be interested?

I said yes, and now I am days away from welcoming more than a hundred students to middle school. My classroom looks very naked compared to those around me since I long since parted with my humble stash of schoolroom supplies. I am relying on lesson plans and materials provided by my fellow 6th grade science teachers since I have no time to prepare my own.

And you know what? I am just fine.
Hakuna matata.