Today…

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Today…I am thankful for quiet.

Today, I am NOT thankful for this migraine…
One that has been plaguing me since last night.
Creeping up my neck and burrowing deep inside my head.
The pounding and throbbing, the irritating light from
outside and lights above, the sick to my stomach
pain that has not lessened throughout the day.

Today, I am thankful for my students,
who are compassionate and understanding,
flexible and willing to help.
Who are willing to work without the lights on and sans music,
to talk in hushed tones
and encourage others to move a little quieter.
Who have shown concern and been very sweet.

Today, I am thankful for my colleagues,
who have sent down medicine in the hopes of helping,
who have come down to cover one of my classes to give me some relief.
Who have offered to run to the local pharmacy to pick me up anything I might need.

Today, I am thankful for all the help.

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Lessons from Girls on the Run…

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One of my very favorite things about the month of March, is that my Girls on the Run club kicks off!

Girls on the Run is an amazing program that reaches out to girls in third, fourth, and fifth grade. The program teaches girls how to battle peer pressure, how to stand up to bullies, and encourages the girls to be leaders. Girls on the Run also teaches girls to have a healthy self image- using running as a way to keep our minds, bodies, and spirits happy and healthy.

Yesterday was our first practice of the season… It was filled with nervous laughter, bright excited eyes, and shy smiles shared between soon-to-be new friends. It was a time shared together-  getting to know one another and learning how we all connect to one another and bring different qualities to the table, making our team one complete unit.

The girls worked hard on creating puzzle pieces to show off their unique qualities, working together to put them all together to have one, final product. They discussed, and debated with one another, encouraged the quieter girls to speak up and join in. And I sat there…looking on watching them get to know each other and learn to work together…with goosebumps on my arms.

This is what the world needs more of. More of kindness and nervous laughter. More bright eyed excitement spurred by trying something new. More shy smiles being exchanged as you come across new people, reaching out to make new friends. More teamwork and collaboration. More encouragement and compassion. More teamwork and unity. There is already enough ugliness in the world…we can choose to not be a part of it.

I sat there thinking all this, watching these intelligent, thoughtful young ladies begin setting the foundation for their team, our new family. Knowing just what I hope to teach them this spring season as we run our hearts out together…

And They Will Be Heard…

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Today, all over our country, our students found their voices…
They stood up for what they believed in.
They stood up for students and teachers who are no longer able to stand up for themselves.
They stood up for their right to feel safe at school. To not be fearful every time they set foot into their classrooms or hear a fire alarm sound.
They stood up for their right to be heard and to be taken seriously. Just because they are kids doesn’t mean what they have to say is any less valuable.
They stood up because they feel passionately that their lives hold value.
Today, all over our country, our students found their voices…

And they will be heard.

 

 

Oh, Mother Nature…

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I am really going to need Mother Nature to get her act together… Last week was a tease. Beautiful 50 degree days filled with sunshine and blue skies. The days were beginning to get just a little longer.

I got excited. I may have put my winter coat away and pulled out a lighter fleece. I may have pulled out some of my spring clothes…brightly colored dress capris and ballet flats. I may have even gone so far as to do some spring cleaning.

Apparently, I acted too soon.

Mother Nature must not have liked that we all go so excited and needed to put us in check. So today, noticing that I chose to wear dress capris and ballet flats, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a freak snow shower. Giant flakes. Brief white out conditions. Frozen cars. Shoes soaked through in minutes…slip slopping and sliding my way to my car.

Ugh.

Just when I thought this was over… just when I thought we were in the clear, Mother Nature decided to strike again. I just hope that today was the last of the snow. I need blue skies, green grass, buds sprouting on trees blossoming into looming leaves, and I need them soon. 

Flooded with Bad Luck…

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My luck, or lack thereof, is a running joke in my family. It always seems as if something is happening to me. And when it does, its usually not just one incident, its several.

Lately, my poor turn of luck has involved my beloved Jeep Patriot which I fondly call “Jeepy. He has had a rough few months. On Christmas Eve, he was hit by a ball of salt thrown from the back of a salt truck, shattering my windshield as I trekked to my sister’s house in the snow.  In January, poor Jeepy discovered he had a bad tire which has ruined the three other tires as well. He will need a tire transplant this spring. Then, he was rudely assaulted by a stranger’s car door, resulting in a nice ding and chip in the paint on the passenger side door.

I was hopeful that that would end the string of bad luck involving my vehicle, and it was, until I woke up one Tuesday morning two weeks ago…

I went about my normal morning routine and something inside me told me I had better look outside. I opened the curtains to see, to my disdain, that the lake my condo was sitting on had overflowed. The unseasonably warm weather, mixed with the endless rainstorm, had caused the 16 inches of snow from the previous week’s snowstorm, to melt, and drain into the lake. Creating a HUGE mess.

I ran outside…saying a silent prayer for my Jeep, which thankfully is higher up. As I walked down the steps to the parking lot, I was not so lucky. Black murky water snaked up past my rain boots quickly filling them with water, not stopping until it reached midthigh. I opened the door to my car and slid inside, hoping that the car would start.

Slowly, I reversed out of my parking space, long disappeared into the abyss of water, and moved to higher ground. I climbed back out to survey the damage- my car was working okay…the engine was fine, it didn’t seem to have taken on too much water. I then opened the doors and began looking closer…

Only to find that three to four inches of dirty water were now pervading through my car. Sigh. Out came the removable carpets. My gym shoes that were sitting on the floor of my car to wear to the gym later…those went to the trashcan. A school bag filled with mentor texts…no longer readable. Ruined.

Cupful after cupful of water was scooped from the car by a crying me.  Endless rags and towels used to soak up the mess. Two professional cleaning jobs. Four days drying out in my mom and step-dad’s heated garage, fans in place blowing 24 hours a day. Forced to rent a rental car…a little nugget of a car that did not make me feel safe. And only just this weekend, two weeks after the flooding, did my car finally finish drying out.

Sigh. I am just flooded with bad luck!

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My Favorite Day…

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Sundays are my very favorite day…

Slow, sleepy wake ups… Snuggling under the covers as the sunlight trickles in through the curtains. No need to hurry…there’s no time crunch on Sundays.

Leisurely mornings… Sundays are the only day where I don’t have to work. I thoroughly enjoy lounging on my couch in my pajamas, surfing Netflix, cuddling with Frankie. There is no reason to hurry…no deadlines to meet today.

Afternoons for catch up… Lunches with friends. Cleaning up my house and running errands.  Forcing myself to go to the gym and then to brave the crowds at the grocery store. I don’t mind waiting in the never ending lines since there is no where I have to be.

Early evenings for mental prep… Getting laundry done for the week. Grading papers and finishing up lesson plans. Prepping lunch and dinner for the week to avoid eating out every night. Maybe I’ll make it to the gym more often this week.

Evenings are for relaxation… Unwinding with a good book on my couch, candles lit in the background, feeling caught up. A soak in a bubble bath, wine glass in hand. Feeling accomplished and ready to be lulled to sleep.

My Sundays may be a busy day, but they sure are my very favorite.

Watching From the Sidelines…

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Its hard to watch from the sidelines sometimes.
To silently, and secretly, long for the things so many others have…
Things that just aren’t happening at the moment.
Dusty dreams locked in shelves,
Hidden from sight,
Still lingering….lingering…further from reach,
A sudden sharp pain when nudged into thought.

Sidelines have their perks at times.
They offer safety and comfort,
freedom and independence.
Guards to be left up,
vulnerability to be avoided.

But sidelines can be lonely.
Safety can be boring,
And comfort can be repetitive.
Freedom and independence can overwhelming
when facing everything alone.

So I sit here from the sidelines…waiting for my turn.

I LOVE to HATE the Gym…

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I love to hate the gym.

No seriously…I literally despise the gym.

Trying to wrangle in and out of a sports bra (that in itself should count as a workout!), driving alllllll the way to the local gym (okay…its not that far, but still…). There are so many lights and opportunities to turn around. It really is a work out to just make it there…exercising my self control should burn calories, too.

And then I walk in. And I have to face a huge room of people…awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact as people contort their bodies in weird ways… fighting for the last treadmill that no one really wants anyway.

And then when I finally get that treadmill and am huffing and puffing away on it… I’m stuck watching macho meatheads flexing in the mirror…selfing away to impress whatever girls are stalking their Instagram that day. I mean, at least that is something to use as entertainment to distract myself as I sweat away the miles… Although, it suddenly makes me feel very self conscious as my biceps are definitely not made of muscle (actually, they’re probably made more of chocolate if we are being honest)…

And then, once I’m finished on the treadmill and I build up enough bravery to venture into what I call “the boy side of the gym” to lift weights because those chocolate biceps won’t shrink themselves, I have to fight for a spot in front of those selfie taking boys, skillfully trying to avoid being captured in their Snapchat videos. Its not easy…its really not. Avoidance should burn calories, too…

And then I’m done. Finally.  I hit up the overcrowded locker room, nudging my way through sweaty, chatty girls to recover my car keys and purse and make the long trek back to my car. And it’s then, on the walk back that it hits me.

That sudden feeling of relief. No more stress from the day. No more tension held between my shoulders or in the furrows of my brow. A clear mind free from my normal overthinking, over-analyzing thoughts. A feeling of calmness and peace…the knot in my stomach loosening…

Man, do I love to hate the gym.

 

 

 

My Sour Patch Kids…

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I teach middle school kids…7th and 8th graders to exact. Whenever I tell someone what I teach, I frequently hear, “Oh my…I am so sorry!” I usually just shrug it off. It definitely takes a special kind of teacher to be able to handle their hormonal selves, and I have grown to just love them to bits and pieces.

I frequently refer to them fondly as my Sour Patch Kids. You know the candy, the little bite sized guys coated in sour sugar…it makes your mouth pucker for just the briefest of moments only to be followed by the slow release of sweetness that lingers awhile on your tongue.

Yup…those are my junior high guys and gals.

  • They can be a bit sour when they are arguing with one another…closing each other’s lockers or a comment that was taken the wrong way.
    • But then comes the sweetness… an unprompted apology, a hug between friends to assure them that things between them are okay, the flicker of a smile exchanged.
  • They can be a bit sour when they don’t hear what they want. Some sassyness may come out…an eye roll or two, perhaps mixed in with an exaggerated sigh.
    • But the comes the sweetness… the ownership of their actions. A few meditative breaths to calm themselves down and they are back on track- ready and eager to go.
  • They can be a bit sour when they have stayed up way too late, engaging in video games and online chats resulting in short fuses, grumpy responses, and droopy eyes.
    • But then comes the sweetness…they find themselves distracted in their work, forgetting that they were tired, slowly smiling and participating.
  • They can be a bit sour when they have tough mornings. Short tempered and distracted, unfocused in their work.
    • But then comes the sweetness…. their apology and explanation (Ms. Geijer, I  had a tough morning…can we talk in the hallway, please?), a quick hug to comfort, a high five from me to them to let them know they’ve got this!
  • They can be a bit sour…but, they are going through changes…raging full of hormones. Their lives outside of school can be tough. Friendships are hard in junior high. Gossiping sometimes a bit too much.
    • But they are mostly made of sweetness… Bright smiles and sarcasm. Jokes and lilting laughter. Apologies and forgiveness. Growth and optimism. Kind and thoughtful. More sweet than sour.

Always MUCH more sweet than sour…even on their toughest days.

Junior high kiddos might be Sour Patch Kids… But they are my Sour Patch Kids and I wouldn’t have them any other way.

 

Head of House…

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My cat, Frankie, is clearly the head of our household. She makes the rules and I simply have to get on board or pay the price.

You would think my morning wake ups would be dictated by the shrill ringing of an alarm clock. And it does. But usually, Frankie has proceeded the alarm clock by a good 20 minutes or so. She starts creeping up the side of the bed, from her curled up position near my feet. Her head begins to nudge beneath my hand, begging to be petted and snuggled. When my quick pats don’t do the trick, her head is suddenly butting up against mine as she perches herself on top of my chest. “Fine Frankie, I’m up!”

Our routine in the morning is pretty standard. I peel myself out of bed, and trip over Frankie on my way to pour myself a cup of hot coffee. Haha NOT. Frankie demands to be fed right away…and before she can eat, she needs to enjoy some nice cold water. Cold water that she will ONLY drink from the bathroom sink. Seriously. If I don’t turn it on, I’m forced to listen to her pathetic cries until I just give in and give her what she wants…gosh is she spoiled!

Frankie has the run of the house while I am gone at school all day… She loves to spend her day doing cat things…laying around and sleeping, some light bird watching. This is, of course, after she has wreaked havoc through our home. Today’s antics: coming home to a candle she pushed off an end table…glass shattered everywhere amid gobs of yarn from a completely unraveled spool. Sometimes I think I should leave a camera recording to see what she is really doing while I’m away.

Since Frankie doesn’t drink water out of a bowl like a normal cat, she is impatiently waiting for me at the door, ready to be tripped over the second I walk in. I’d like to think she’s waiting for me because she missed me, but no… I’m pretty sure she just likes me for my ability to tun on the sink.

Once she has re-hydrated, we have a quick snuggle (one pet too much and her vampire teeth will be sinking into my arms), and then she’s running wild again. Tripping me here and there as I go about my evening- grading papers? Nope…she nudges them to the floor and proceeds to lay on them. Trying to type a slice? Neh… that keyboard makes a MUCH better place to nap. Trying to cook? If only Frankie realized how unsafe it is to walk over my stove.

Sigh. Its pretty obvious that I’m at her beck and call. What Frankie wants, Frankie gets.

She’s lucky she’s so cute…