Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pay Attention…

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I am constantly reminding my students to pay attention…

Pay attention… to the lessons I teach you. Education is a necessity…take advantage.
Pay attention… to the words you say. Words carry meaning and can break or make a persons’ day.
Pay attention… to the changes in the world around you. Watch the news and be informed.
Pay attention… to everything and anything happening around you. You can never notice too much!

But, in reality, my students pay more attention to me… which may, or may not, be such a great thing.

They pay attention to my hair. Umm Ms. Geijer, did you know your hair is turning gray?
   -Yup…thanks for pointing that out to me. I spent 20 minutes trying to hide that patch, so glad you noticed.

They pay attention to my clothes. Didn’t you wear that outfit LAST week? You need to go shopping!
   –
Clearly I need to make a list to keep better track. They certainly are.

They pay attention to my make up. Ms. Geijer, don’t you think you have a little too much blush on?
   – Sigh…
I don’t have any on, but thanks for noticing my foundation is slacking. I’ll be sure to put an extra layer on tomorrow.

They notice if I change up my make up. Umm Ms. Geijer, you look REALLY tired today. Did you not get enough sleep?
  
– Nope. I slept great, but thanks for telling me I’m not looking my best.

And they pay attention to any changes I make. You GOT BANGS? You look different. Not good different, not bad different, just different…
   –
Awesome. Thanks for the unsolicited critique of my hair. I happened to think it looked good, but thanks for letting me know how          wrong I was.

They pay attention to everything I do and say…and most days I appreciate this. It means they really do listen to me when I am teaching or offering advice and care what I have to say. But some days, I wish they’d pay attention to me just a little less. I guess I should be careful what I wish for!

 

 

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“You’ve Got This!”

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This morning I woke up before the birds. The sun was just rising, battling the thick layer of clouds that hovered above, as I fought off the grogginess that ensued. I threw on my running clothes, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door.

After weeks of battling the dreaded treadmill, who was winning…at least in my opinion, I was finally headed out doors to take part in my first race of the season, The St. Patty’s Day 5K in Lincoln Park. I absolutely love running in the city…the enthusiasm of the other runners, the views along the lake, the encouragement that is so freely offered by many along the way. My stomach was filled with butterflies as I headed toward the starting line and doubt began filling my mind… “Your leg has been bothering you. “You’re 5k time on the treadmill has NOT been good.” You’re too slow.” “I bet you’ll have to walk.” “You’re not ready…” I am my own worst critic.

I stuck in my head phones and took a deep breath and started walking towards the starting line from my corral waaaaaaaaaaay in the back. Battling ice, melting snow, mud, and layers of wet sand, I found my groove, hitting my stride shortly after making my way across the starting line. My breathing was easy…my legs carried me strongly…and before I knew it I was passing the first mile…and than the second. As I hit the hilly part of the course and my breathing became labored and my legs began to burn, a fellow runner, who was on his way back, yelled out,” Keep going! You’re turn around point is just ahead… you’ve got this!” And instead of stopping and walking, like I probably would have done, I kept going, and going, and going…

As I headed towards the finish line battling my way through the thick mud that coated the ground and clung heavily to my running shoes, my breathing quickened and my pace sped up. Eyes forward, I made my way through the last quarter mile and crossed that finish line.

As my eyes darted down to my phone, eager to see my pace, although dreading it at the same time (my last 5K time…eeek!), I couldn’t believe what I saw. Not only did I beat my last 5K time, but also all of my 5k treadmill times…by several minutes! I could not have been happier.

Today, I proved to myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for… that I can do this! At least that is what my runner’s high is telling me today! 🙂

Spring Inspiration

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The warm sun trickling in through the gray clouds slowly melts the pounds of snow that layer the thawing earth. The chirping of birds and the bright blue skies hint at the warm weather approaching ever so slowly. As much as I love the warm weather that spring inevitably brings, it’s the inspiration I find at this time of year that I look forward to the most.

The inspiration of a group of girls who start as individuals and end their twelve week journey coming together as a team…even family. A group of girls who set out to find out more about themselves…to set goals…to learn how to work together… their beliefs and values…all through  a wonderful program known as Girls on the Run.

This amazing group of girls will face the ultimate goal…a 5k race at the culmination of their program. A feat that many view impossible the first few days of practice. I know that as a nine year old, I would be intimidated, overwhelmed, filled with self-doubt even. But these girls aren’t…these girls are excited for the challenge. They know they will accomplish their goal, and will have fun doing it- while stopping to learn more about themselves along the way.

Their laughs are contagious. The cheers they create to encourage, and support, their teammates as they are running (or walking…or skipping…or twirling) turn the “I cant’s!” into “I can’s.” The high fives, the smiles, the positive attitudes, the teamwork, the support… inspires me.

Inspires me to face challenges head on with a smile. To lean on my team for support. To be more supportive. To be more encouraging. To stand up for what I believe in…even if no one agrees. To know that things may be challenging, but there will always be people to support you. To believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. To pull our my yucky, brown cord and plug in my bright, sparkly chord (GOTR coaches…that one was for you!)

inspiration can be found anywhere in the spring time. But I will be looking for it in the faces of nine young girls who’s vocabulary’s lack the words, “I can’t.”

 

What If…

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I have always been bad at making decisions. I can never make up my mind and I am always worried that whatever I decide, will turn out to be disastrous. I tend to stress out…to over think…to over analyze.

And now I have a big decision to make and I hate that I now have to be an “adult” and decide on my own. My mom, who I’ve come to depend on to help me make decisions, will no longer help me. “Your an adult, Samantha. What do YOU want to do?” Ugh…If I knew, I wouldn’t be calling you for help!

  I can keep renting my overpriced, super small, but adorable condo close to friends and the city, or finally decide to invest my money wisely and purchase my own place.

The thought of buying something terrifies me…it is so permanent. And of course the self-doubter/stressor in me is in full swing.

What if I can’t find a place I really love? What if I buy something, and I realize I hate it? What if I pick the wrong town to live in? Do I really want to be stuck in Illinois for the next few years?  Or do I want to explore the world a little bit before I make such a big decision? What if….What if…What if….

Ugh. So not an easy decision. Hopefully the “adult” in me can decide soon…

The Best Man in the World

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My grandfather is the best man in the world…hands down…no comparison even come close. He was just the best. I can’t remember a single childhood memory, or a memory from my teenage years, that did not include him. He was always there and I loved every single minute of it. I loved his wild stories from his days in the army during World War Two, his stories of growing up in Poland, and the crazy things my mom did as a teenager. He was my protector when I got in trouble, my wisdom when I needed advice, and when my dad walked out on our family, he filled that void in my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it.

And then, many years later, the day came for me to say goodbye. I remember it so clearly. Sitting beside my grandpa’s hospital bed, his hand in mine. This big, strong man who protected me from so much, seemed so small, so weak. Even as he was lying there, fighting to hang on, his goal was still the same- to protect me and reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I remember the brave, weak smile he gave me as he told me how proud he was of the person I was becoming and how much he loved me. I will always remember the overwhelming sense of love in that final hug as we said goodbye.

Losing my grandfather was one of the most difficult events of my life. But I’m comforted by the amazing memories we shared together and still feel his love with me everyday.

My grandfather will always be the best man in the world. Hands down. No comparison comes close.

Love Hate Relationship

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I have a love hate relationship with running.

I love that running provides me clarity. It allots me an opportunity to reflect on my day, clear my mind, and relieve some of my stress. I love seeing how each run makes me stronger and the satisfaction that each run seems to bring me. When I’m running it’s my time…It’s a short break from my responsibilities and urges me to challenge myself.

But lately, running and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye. The tread mill is against me. My running shoes have been busy protesting (at least that’s what I assume after they’ve come untied for the FIFTH time after I’ve hit my stride). My calf muscles are strained so tight my left leg begins going numb. And before I know it, I’ve jumped on to the side of the treadmill and my self doubt has worked itself into my brain.

 I’ve psyched myself out and slowed to a walk. And then I get mad at myself. Mad that I’ve let myself get to this point. Mad that I’ve let my extremely comfortable couch overtake my life and turn me into the ultimate couch potato. Mad that I’ve lost the miles I used to run so easily, and in a MUCH quicker time. Mad that I get mad at myself…there’s no shame in walking…in starting fresh. I have until September to prove to myself that I can do it again…that running 13.1 miles is possible. I guess I’ll start fresh tomorrow.

slice of life

 

I Think I Always Knew

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I think I’ve always known I was made to be a teacher… As a child, some of my fondest memories were of me playing school… I would wait with such anticipation until the end of the week and pack all of my school textbooks into my ever overflowing backpack. My teachers just couldn’t understand what I was doing. “Every weekend we see you bringing all of your books home, Samantha…What do you DO all weekend with those?!” they’d exclaim as I toted my backpack, almost bursting at the seams, out the classroom door in a rush to catch my bus. I’d calmly explain that I just had to take them home…who else was going to teach my little sister how to act at school if I didn’t play teacher?!

And play teacher I did! I would spend all Friday night setting up my “classroom” and preparing for my “students” (stuffed animals of course). That piano chair that sat so lonely in the basement was finally put to use to serve as my teacher desk which so proudly displayed my cup of freshly sharpened pencils and my name plate. You just couldn’t be a teacher without freshly sharpened pencils and a name plate.

Saturday mornings were when school would begin and, of course, my live pupil would trickle in and take her place among the others. I would teach her how to raise her hand, how to practice writing her letters (she was only 3 or 4 after all), and would practice using my “teacher look” when she was just a bit too chatty. Saturdays were also for “professional development”, aka completing my homework assignments, and lesson planning, which consisted of creative writing time. I took my job of playing teacher seriously.

So many years later, I’m often asked by my current students, who are very much alive and real, when I knew I wanted to be a teacher….to which I  respond, “I think I always knew,” and share my fond memories of playing school so many years ago.

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One little Word

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Once a week, my students are given the opportunity to think of a word that they would like to write about. They are given an opportunity to reflect on their memories, thoughts, concerns, hopes, dreams, fears… I love that for many of my students, they take the time to really think, and write, about what is important to them.

This week, I happened to come across the video,”Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often” and just knew I had to share it with my students. I wanted them to see the innocence in which this little boy viewed the world, and reflect on the choice of words they use daily and how they treat others.

And reflect they did on one word or phrase that they think people should say more often(words of wisdom from my insightful 7th graders):

“Think of all the joy that comes to a gentle soul when they hear those wonderful words, ‘I bought you Jolly Ranchers!’ Most people I know really enjoy them. With that being said, it’s better to make somebody happy for one day than to fill their heads with meaningless words and your negative feelings for them. Be a watermelon jolly rancher and make somebody happy.”

“Telling someone you care for their feels is something more people should say. Some people need to hear these words so they know somebody is there for them. They want to know that if they feel down they can run to that person who does care for their feelings. They need to know they have someone that will never leave their side and they you can always count on when times get rough…like me.”

“Not everyone is going to agree all the time. It is important to say that ‘I disagree with you, but your ideas are still great.’ You don’t have to call someone’s idea or opinion stupid or make them feel bad because they had a different thought. Everyone thinks differently and that’s okay. It’s not okay to knock someone down and belittle their opinions. We are all different, and that’s okay!”

And with that being said…Choose to be a jolly rancher!

Letting Go…

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Letting go. Two simple words. Just three syllables. But one of the most challenging things to do.  Knowing that you can’t change things…no matter how much effort, tears, or fight you’ve put in. Knowing that what you say does not make a difference. Knowing when it’s time to finally just move on. So, I’m finally letting go… letting go of wishing things had turned out differently. Letting go of the anger I feel towards you. Letting go of the man I feel in love with, and the man you turned out to be. I’m letting you go.

A New Journey

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Today I am embarking on a new journey. Not just a journey to challenge myself and blog once a day, but a personal challenge that I have always felt compelled to complete…training for a marathon. Ten years ago, I found myself volunteering at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon with my high school cross country team. I was so inspired by the many amazing runners who crossed that finish line. Many were running for a cause- to raise money and spark awareness. For others, their goal was simple…to prove to themselves that they could do it. That they could complete such an amazing feat. I knew that I wanted to be one of these people, to say that I accomplished something so big. But as the years went by, and the days got busier, it was easier to find excuses to not achieve this goal I had made for myself so long ago- too tired, too stressed, too busy…the list went on and on and on. But I’ve decided that this is the year…the year that I begin to work towards goals that I had set for myself so long ago. So, on September 7, 2014 I will take my first steps towards running in a full marathon one day…by conquering my first half marathon. While this will be a tough journey for me, I am looking forward to it. To learning more about myself and changing into the person I want to be.