May 12, 2016

It's May...

So, this was my morning yesterday.

For those of you whose computer screens aren't awesomely calibrated, that's a brown shoe on my left foot and a black one on my right. And, that's my classroom carpet, so obviously, I didn't notice the situation until I was already at school. There are SO.MANY reasons as to why this happened, but the salient one is, of course, it's May. And, I'm tired. Bone weary from giving and grading and loving and teaching and listening and repeating "STAHP picking his nose!" waaaaaay more times that any human ever should. Because, May. But, that's another blog post for another time.

Back to the shoes. Of course, my first thought was, "How fast can I get home, change shoes, and come back??" (hint: 20 minutes). My second was, "Thank God for first hour prep! No one's gonna know about this!" And then, of course, I promptly took a picture, texted it to a group of friends, posted it on Instagram AND Facebook, and then emailed it out to the entire female staff of my school.

Because, embarrassing moments can empower when they're shared. There's a strength, a confidence in hearing someone exclaim, "You, TOO?!? Oh, thank God!!" There's a power that comes from owning your humanity, your absurdity, and allowing yourself to laugh with others whom you love.

And, let's face it, as a teacher, I need to model this behavior for my crazy students. I need to show them that life sometimes slaps you in the face, but if you smile, laugh, and yes - even share the moment, you come out victorious. Stronger. Fuller.

Little did I know that other women in my school needed that laugh as much as I did. I figured I was just sending out an little funny. A moment for a chuckle, a possible eye-roll, and an "Oh, usual..." It's May (have I mentioned that?), so we need any amount of encouragement and humor we can get.

But, these ladies. Oh, Sweet Almighty, these ladies. That picture was the tipping point, and the emails started swirling, each one more hilarious than the last. Sharing stories of clothing mishaps and malfunctions, downright embarrassing moments with doctors, teaching missteps, and more.

And with each one, I fell more in love with the women I so highly respect and admire. Because each woman is strong. Sophisticated. GORGEOUS. Hilariously funny. Amazingly loving. And so darn good at what they do. They inspire. They call to greatness, and they model that greatness themselves.

Each story, each chuckle, chipped off a bit of the professional veneer we all wear so well; it called to the soul, connecting and showing the true, insane human-ness of who we really are. It bridged multiple gaps (in age, subject matter, years of experience), and joined us together in the bonds of belly-aching laughter and cries from the soul that shouted, "You, TOO?!? Oh, thank God!!"

Our students may not notice that their teachers are more empowered and stronger, today. We probably still have the bags under our eyes, and the frazzled-harried look about us as we're racing across campus, precariously balancing piles of grading along with the biggest cup of coffee that could be found. But, I believe that we are better because of a found strength through the bonds of laughter.

March 1, 2016


I needed a place to vent. I'm just...appalled. That's the word.

Yes, I'm part of the online dating world. Yes, I laugh more than I actually accept dates. Yes, I'm gathering fodder for a book that may (or may not ever) get written. And yes, there are more times than not that I'm fantastically appalled, offended, and downright shocked at what men write to women they don't even know.

So, here I am...for the sake of transparency, shared shock (because, wow), and just frustration, posting the conversation that took place just this morning:

Him (keep in mind, this is the FIRST TIME he's contacted me): 

Orgasm Master inviting you to a free one-on-one class on how to have longer and more lasting orgasms. Class will last all night long; I am a wizard with tongue, fingers, and my 11-inch d*ick; call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. (While I am incredibly TEMPTED to leave his number here for all to see, I do have a sense of decency...)

Me, after stewing, brewing, and just being grossed out for the millionth time (because, friends who are already in committed, loving, honoring relationships - I get messages along this ilk ALL THE TIME): 

Why? Whyyyy?

Normally, when men are so vulgar, base, and display a downright lack of integrity and honor, characteristics which so aptly define your behavior just now, I refrain from responding. The whole adage, “You can win an argument with an idiot, but then you just won an argument with an IDIOT” definitely is apropos here.

But, today. Today. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had any coffee yet. Maybe it’s because I woke up on the snarky side of the bed. Maybe it’s because I walked into my classroom and looked into the eyes of my amazing, brilliant, loving, creative, and brave female students, who will some day (oh, dear Lord, I shudder at the thought) have to encounter the vile and filth that is a man like you.

So, today, I respond. Not that you’re going to read anymore of this because you’re probably now pissed beyond thinking that I would deign to call you out. How dare I? I mean, I’m just a woman, and you looked in my direction, gave me the proverbial “wink,” and I’m just supposed to drop to my knees and thank you for your consideration?

Not in my lifetime.

I do have questions, though. Why? Why would you think that’s an appropriate way to get a woman’s attention?

Better yet, how would you feel if someone used that line on your mother? Sister? Considering your age (he's 44), your daughter or niece? I’m sure you would be offended and absolutely appalled. Maybe even want to defend their honor.

But me? Why me? Ooooooh, because I’m not a real person. I’m an image on the screen, something you can fantasize about, much akin to the porn you probably watch.

I’m more than that. I’m flesh and blood (and not just the vagina you’re so interested in). I have a brain. It’s fabulous, really. I’m compassion and grace. I’m strength and dignity. I’m dreams and hopes and grief and joy.

And EVERY WOMAN is. Every picture you click on. Every person to whom you send a debasing message, she is real and deserves every iota of respect that you fail to see her worthy of.

Until you figure out how to treat women as PEOPLE, it’s probably best that you stay away from the world for a while.

I don't share this to man-shame. The number of honorable, loving, amazing men I know outnumber the sleeze balls by a large margin. I am blessed, beyond measure, to have those intelligent, funny, honest, and kind men in my life.

But, friends. This is real. These messages flood my inbox, and I'm just tired of being silently appalled by myself. I am strong. I am smart. And I know that these kinds of messages - and the insinuations and assumptions they contain - do not define me or who I am to the world.

Men. C'mon. As a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a co-worker; as a human being, I'm asking you to stop. Stop the debasing. Stop seeing women as only a tool to scratch your itch. Stop seeing us as potential porn stars to act out every fantasy you've ever seen on your computer.

Treat us as humans. People. And, I think, it takes shifting your perspective, first. To treat us as humans, you need to see us as humans. And, I think the advent of this whole internet-age has succeeded in keeping that from happening, on a very basic level.

Am I still going to stay on those dating websites? For a while. Goodness knows, I need more fodder for my book. 

Am I going to let scum bags like the one above define my understanding of men? Hell, no. I have my dad, my friends, my brother, my uncles, and countless other amazing men in my life who live out respect, honor, integrity, and love so well.

But, I worry about other women - even my students - who DON'T have those examples in their lives.

March 25, 2015

Yes, Again.

Yes, again.

I’m packing, again. Finding clothes, filling little bottles, sorting out my house, making sure there’s enough food and supplies - human and feline - for my housesitter. Weighing my suitcase, to make sure that I fall, safely, within the 50-pound (23-kilo) limit. Finding places to put little stuffed animals (shoes work), and taking out that “t-shirt that I really don’t need…” so I can can put more supplies in the bag. Writing sub plans for six days (!!), and essentially making sure that everything’s in order for my classes while I’m gone (if you’re a teacher, you know how much work that is…).

And, breathing. Because this whole leaving-for-two-weeks-to-journey-to-the-ends-of-the-Earth-during-the-middle-of-the-school-year is crazy. Exhausting. Brain-numbing.

And, there are times that I wonder if it’s worth it. I mean, I’m going to be FLYING for over 22 hours. One way. Not counting the layovers, which are long. Sleeping under mosquito nets, taking anti-malarials which do not sit well with my system, being in a climate that’s muggy and HOT (like, 90ish-degrees at 2:00AM, kind of hot). Being in close proximity (as in, they’re sitting on me) with smelly, dirty children. Myself getting very dirty and sweaty and gross. While I enjoy a good “adventure,” I’d much rather it be in a climate that’s temperate-to-cool. Where I don’t sweat.

There are so many reasons why this is a “bad idea.” So many reasons that, if I give in to my selfish, ME-driven desires, are quickly put into the “Nope” category, and could easily talk me out of this “adventure.”

And, yet.

There is a voice, whispered deep in my soul, that says, “This, THIS is what I made you to do.” It’s a voice that I’ve listened to over and over again, hence this crazy, adventure-filled life that I’ve lead. It’s the voice that’s taught me to love, taught me to look past the outside of a human to see the PERSON underneath. The voice that has called me to do crazy, awkward, “are you CRAZY??” things in the name of love.

The voice that reminds me of children named Gift. And Beatrice. And Jonathan Saidi. Zione. Shadrek. Beauty. Wisdom. Brigit...and with each name comes a face. A story. A heart that needs to be loved.

And so, I pack. I write sub plans. I organize my house, and then I gather my amazing high school students around me, and we’ll get on many planes and travel many, many miles for just the chance to love. Even if only for a short while. Because those children need to be told, once again, that they are loved. Deeply. Wholly. Completely. By the One who made them. And, they need to be shown it - tangibly - by those of us who know the One who made them and called them.

So, yes. Again and again and again. I will go.

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'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 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.