February 2, 2015

Ooooooh, Child...

"...things are gonna get easier. Ooooooh, child, things'll get brighter..."

Now the song's in my head. You're welcome, The Five Stairsteps fans.

But, seriously.

Dear Sweet Child Who's in My Classroom at Lunch,

I love that you're your own person. Independent. Smart as a whip. Your fashion choices are...well...not mainstream. I love that you wear pants that are too short for you, rainbow, neon-checked socks, and a light mint-green shirt. I love that you twisted your long, almost scraggly blonde hair back, but that there's definite evidence of bed-head still at play.

I love that you have a fierce sense of self, and I love that you are determined to be YOU, regardless of what the throngs of junior high kiddos are doing. I love that you refuse to compromise who you are to fit in, but I love that you are still willing to try to find a point of connection with others who are so different from you.

But, I also know. I know that you long for a friend, and you have yet to find one. I know that by coming into my classroom and telling me about your weekend adventures with your family that you're looking for validation. I know that doing your homework at lunch is a defense against the loneliness you're feeling because you see everyone else in groups. Laughing. Joking. Connecting.

And, honey. It breaks my heart, too. I WANT for you to feel accepted, loved. Connected to the peers around you. I desire for you to have a friend who will look you in the face and honestly say, "Yes. You are my friend. I love you because of who you are. You are my tribe."

And, my heart breaks because I was that girl in junior high. I didn't have that friend...not at school. I wandered the halls, spoke more with teachers than my peers, and I hid behind the facade of homework so those around me couldn't notice how much it hurt that they couldn't...or wouldn't see me.

So, child. Sweet, sweet, independent, crazy, awesome, non-sequitur child, you are always welcome with me. Come eat in my classroom, come pretend to do homework, come follow me around and tell me the minutia of your adventures outside of school.

There will come a day that God brings you that friend. The one who will connect, on a soul-level with you, who will challenge you, push you, accept you, and just love you...for who you are. Until then, you always have a safe place with me. And even after that friend shows up, I'm still gonna need to have you drop by. Just for some fashion advice. :)


That Girl

November 2, 2014

Frustrated, and Just Being Real

Ever have one of those days where NOTHING goes right? We all have. I know. We all have.

Today, I sang at church. I only get to do this once a month because I go to a church that is OVERFLOWING with amazing musicians. It's insane. It's like we've got a tractor-beam out for incredibly gifted musical people. And trust me, beloveds, when I tell you that I'm still shocked at the fact that I'm allowed to sing with them. I always feel a bit like the stepchild of the team. Or, that kid who gets picked last for the baseball team.

Well, the nothing-goes-correctly rule firmly applied to tonight's church services. We were signing in some funky keys, and the other gal singing background vocals was supposed to be singing tenor. She wasn't. She was singing alto. I'm the alto.

That meant, for some reason, the leader decided I should sing second-soprano. Alrighty, I can figure that out, although it's annoying. Problem was...remember those funky keys? They were HIGH. So high that they bumped the notes out of the second soprano range and into the first soprano range.

Let's think about this...I'm an ALTO. For you non-music types, that means that I sing in the low end of a woman's vocal range. It's my sweet spot, vocally. It's where I'm strong, tone-wise, and it's how I'm made. Tonight, I had to sing soprano. The high notes. The REALLY high notes. Beyond what I'm capable of singing...not because I was being lazy, or not listening, or unable to get the part. But, because, physiologically, that's how God made my body, my vocal cords in particular.

It was a train wreck. At least, it felt that way. I was tinny, pitchy, breathy (not in a good way)...because I just CAN'T hit those notes. I just CAN'T.

So, now I'm frustrated. Feeling like the weakest link in the chain, and rightfully so, but by no fault of my own.

I know, I KNOW that God's strength is made perfect in my weakness. I KNOW most of the congregation had no idea (the pessimist in me says that's because the sound guys pulled me out of the mix). I KNOW that just getting up there and trying made God happy.

I just want a do-over. In lower keys. (Oh, and the worst part? I can't get the songs out of my head now. Mmmmrrrrr...)

(This is my face in regards to tonight's musical "adventure.")

August 14, 2014

Not My Favorite Moment...

School's begun again, and I love this time of year. It's fun, the kids are on their best behavior (the PARENTS are on their best behavior), the binders are new, the shoes are squeaky....it's exciting.

But, I had one of those heart-stopping, tear-inducing moments this morning.

For the past four years, one of my BFFs, C, has traipsed from her classroom to mine to fill up her coffee cup. We would laugh, hug each other, joke about the day, make faces at the kids, and take a moment...together...to let the effects of the sweet, sweet, thank-you-Jesus, bean-juice fill our soul.

C moved far away this summer. To chase some other dreams, to live a life of joy and love and passion and enthusiasm. And, I couldn't be happier for her.

But, for a moment this morning, my heart broke a little when I looked at my coffee mugs sitting dutifully next to that full pot of glorious awakeness. It broke, knowing that C wasn't going to dance into my classroom, grab a mug, sit in my chair, and find the courage (because, sometimes it's found at the bottom of a coffee cup) to face the throngs of students who need us.

It definitely...DEFINITELY...was not my most favorite moment.

Thanks for letting me be real.

February 18, 2014

Until You Believe It...

I'm just going to be brutally honest. Being single sucks.


Especially when it seems like everyone else is finding that special "someone," and you're stuck home, alone on Friday night, watching "Pride and Prejudice" - all six hours of the BBC version - yet again.

I know, sister. I. KNOW.

Some of my amazing friends have lately had to have hard talks with guys who have played with their hearts and souls. And, I tell you what, I'm in awe of my friends. Of their strength. Their grace. Their ability to speak the words that explain their hurt, their pain, and the healthy boundaries that these women need to place around their big, fragile, unfailing hearts.

Because the guys weren't getting it.

And so, today, a Friend sat the guy down and had "the talk." And he didn't get it.

Just because he didn't get it doesn't mean it's not right. But, we need words. We need our loved ones to surround us when we do scary, hard things and celebrate with us - and for us - when we take a stand for ourselves.

So, Friend, I told you I'd say it and say it and say it. As many times as you need. I'll say it out loud, I'll text you in the middle of the night, and I'm posting it here for those times that you can't reach me.

(And, for all of you other Friends out there who need the words, read these here as many times as you need...)

You are amazing.
You stood up for your heart.
You spoke your truth in grace and love (or not, and that's okay, too).
There is no need to feel guilt, or second guess, or worry, when you are honest with yourself, God, and others.

I'm seriously in awe of you. You inspire me, and I love you, Friend.

February 10, 2014

Long Time, No Posting...

2013 was hard. HARD.

And, I realized that certain things needed to be put on hiatus in order for me to be able to keep all the rest of my life spinning. It also meant that some of the things that fill my soul also needed to be put on hiatus.

Many nights, I would walk through my door, and then crumple into an exhausted heap on my bed...the floor...the couch...and the idea of making dinner, or seeing a friend, or GRADING was just impossible. Things like blogging were absolutely out-of-the-question; if I can't do the mandatory things (laundry? Grades?), how on earth am I going to do these fun-yet-crazy side projects.

Thing was, I wanted to. And, I had ideas for posts; I would draft them in my head when I walked to work in the mornings. They just never got written down because as soon as my foot hit school property, my day took off in a whirlwind, and those thoughts were lost in the shuffle of life and school and kids.

Has my life settled down a bit? Not really. Maybe a bit.

Have I finally figured out how to balance it all? HAHAHAHHAHA, no way.

Do I need to write for my sanity? YES.

Am I going to be consistent in this? My hopeful answer is, "Darn tootin'!" but I think the truthful answer is, "We'll see."

My goal for this year has been to live IN THE MOMENT. To not rush forward to the next thing; to enjoy exactly where I am. And, to not worry about some of the things I "have" to do, and to do some of the things I "need" to do - for me to be me.

November 20, 2012

Of Pumpkin Pie and Driving...

Last night, my Bestie-J and I were going to join Amazing Co-worker A at a brew-pub to celebrate all of us being done with parent conferences. J was a LITTLE bit excited. Just a bit. A tiny, eensy-weensy bit. When J gets excited...scary things can happen.

She picked me up and we drove there - normal shenanigans ensued, but nothing too crazy or dramatic - other than us complaining about how stinking hungry we were (it was already 7:30, and I hadn't eaten anything since lunch).

We parked. Opened the doors. J asked me to hand over her purse.

Problem. No purse. No wallet. Only her cellphone and keys (this is an issue when we're going into a brew pub to get a beer...or two...normally, I would've just covered her cost, but since you kinda need your ID to purchase a beer, we realized we were in trouble).

Soooooo...I climbed into the driver's seat, rearranged EVERYTHING (we may be the same height, but we are polar opposites in terms of proportion), and I drove her back to her house (we may be rebels, but knowingly driving without a license is not an option in our world). En route, she texted A and told her we were on to "Plan Q": we'll be going to a different brew pub closer to J's house instead. I FINALLY (her words) pulled up to her driveway, she ran out, and I moved back over to the passenger seat.

Not more than 30-seconds later, she climbed back into the car, purse in hand. Also in her hands? A pumpkin pie and two forks.

I quickly deduced that both forks were not for me, although she put up the pretense of it being so. J has a thing for pumpkin pie - her love affair with it rivals that of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. It took us all of seven minutes to drive to the "Plan Q" (I counted), during which I rotated forkfuls of pumpkin pie to my chauffeur.

See below for a picture of the damage done in seven minutes. By J. I only got, at most, three small bites in.


October 2, 2012

Top 10s (10 - 8)

Side note: I came up with this idea a while ago, but due to...LIFE...I haven't been able to write all 10 yet. I figured I'd start with these three and continue to add, periodically, until I reach Number 1 (a doozy, I tell you).

A few of us teachers were hiding out in the break room the other lunch, and we started laughing about some of the (mis)adventures that we've had over the years as teachers. (mis)Adventures that we were never warned about in teacher school. 

Here are some of my Top 10 Teacher (mis)adventures, in no particular order...

10. The Run-In: students find you.
It was one of those days. The kind where it snuck up on me and head-smacked me over and over. Heading home, I stopped at Target to pick up a few necessities for my survival of the next 12-ish hours. You know, the recovery-kit: Totino’s Pizza Rolls (the max pack), the large bag of Halloween candy (bless Target for starting early on that marketing campaign), the 2-gallon jug-o-wine (I’m not ashamed), Ben and Jerry’s Phish Phood (it’s possible there were three of them), “Felicity” seasons 1 – 3, and um…how does one put this delicately? A box of “lady items.” Suddenly, out of nowhere (and, I mean NOWHERE) this voice pipes up, “Ms. Doe! How ARE you?!?” There, before me, stands one of the culprits of said horrid day (and creator of my need for at least half of that jug of wine), smiling as if he’s as pure as the driven snow (he’s not. I promise). Standing next to him? His father. The lead pastor of the most über-conservative church in town.

9. Back-to-School-Night:
As if the idea that I need to talk to the PARENTS of my students isn't bad enough, my very first B2S Night (as our school likes to abbreviate it), I looked like one of the students. I kid not, that year I was “escorted” to the office more times than I could count by our “helpful” parent volunteers, all of whom were convinced that I was out of class without permission. Needless to say, that night, I needed to look the grown up part. I had that down – and was tastefully dressed in a way that (I had hoped) conveyed a level of maturity and sophistication

All was good until dinner time. The school provided us with a meal, since so many of us couldn't go home and back in the time allotted, so I had moved to the quad to join my co-workers. It was then that it happened. The worst, worst possible issue to befall a tastefully dressed lady who so needed to impress her students’ parents.

I sat in it, unawares. A large, purple, sticky blob had formed on the back of my dress, and of course, we discovered it five minutes before the festivities were to start. There was no time to run home to change – I had no Plan B.
I spent the whole Back to School Night leaning against my whiteboard, hiding my purple-hued left butt-cheek, praying that no one would notice. I thought I had succeeded until I met the parents for Student Council (my last class of the night).
It was then that the Student Body President (who was in attendance, and whom I have forgiven…I think…), stage whispered, “Ms. Doe…! What happened to your dress?!?!”
Lesson learned: bring three clothing options for B2S Night. Never leave anything to chance.

8. Driving “Adventures”:
Every teacher has to drive his/her students somewhere over the course of his/her teaching career, but I think the teachers at my school have pulled the lion’s share of this duty. Between field trips, service days, sports games, and missions trips, we always seem to be piling kiddos into vehicles and departing to destinations unknown.
One year, I was tasked with driving a white 15-passenger van (!! We called it “Moby Dick”) filled with 16-year-old boys all over (I mean ALL OVER) San Francisco. The thing about 16-year-old guys is: they just learned to drive, think they’re 10-feet-tall and bullet proof, and honestly think they can drive better than you – even though you earned your license BEFORE THEY WERE BORN.
Needless to say, the whole way to SF, all I heard was how I should merge over, go faster, get around that car up ahead, and “Geez; could you turn OFF Boston/Train/The Who/Journey/Eric Clapton and turn on Chris Brown??” Every bit of my performance was under critique from teenage driving professionals, and I came up lacking.
Until the field trip headed to Ghirardelli Square. Until I pulled the coup d’état that knocked all the wind out of their very-full-of-s#@% attitudes and sails.
I parallel parked that Moby Dick of a van directly in front of the Ghirardelli sign like a pro.

Take that, boys.