I could at least be grateful. 

Warning: Personal Post. 

I am grateful for a lot of things this year. Home life has been fairly calm as of late. My guy’s TN has been pretty well managed or I don’t freak out as easily. Maybe a mixture of the two. 

Work has been a bit more difficult because of the political climate. Somedays I feel stressed about testing and what not. But then I remember much like parenting I can control what I can control and let go of the rest. 

Therefore, I am grateful for finding passion in my job. It doesn’t feel like work and the students who I work with keep me motivated and I love it when they tell me I am unlike any teacher they have had. I try and challenge their thinking consistently of an English classroom. 

But mostly what I am grateful for combines my loves. A job that allows me the family time I have. I work hard for it, but this career choice was very intentional with the extended breaks. The ones that causes the public to make the claim teachers are lazy. I am anything but. I usually spend the time prepping and grading, but I get to do it with them. 

My baby girls who are growing up to be amazing human beings who care for others and are the sunshine I see in my life daily. They are smart, well rounded and caring. I am so very proud of them. I don’t share as much about them now because they are old enough to to tell their own stories. 

#1 is a freshman and wants to go to Rose Hulman. She wants to be either a orthopedic surgeon or a Nurse Practioner. She took a year off of softball, but will be playing this spring. 

#2 is a 7th grader. She wants to be a DJ. She loves music and mixing music and has a pulse on what is happening in music more than I have ever seen. It is kinda cool. She lives in her room and I pretty much have to force her to be social. She loves her friends fiercely. 

#3 is a 2nd grader and wants to be an elementary teacher. She is so smart, but is literally my only child not obsessed with her grades. I love it that she is that carefree. I do get a note from teachers she daydreams. But that is okay. She is obsessed with shopkins and kids YouTube. 

And my guy whose life has changed so drastically and very few know or understand that change more than myself and my girls. His life could be worse, but he has had to lose and change a lot of unfair things, but he does it and does the best he can. I am proud of him too. 

He is and has always been the guy for me. He is my home. It has never been a place, but a person. He is what I needed in this life. A center to my wild and deep introspective heart. 

I am grateful for my health. I know what it is to be unhealthy and have no desire or motivation. I know not being physical and athletic is a mess for me.

Here are some photos from our Thanksgiving holiday! Hope yours was as filled with love and good food as mine was. 

Can we just stop? 

Do you ever think we make things too complicated? Or not complicated enough? Or give people too much credit or not enough? November 1st I turned 40. 4O years on this earth. Many elections. Many disappointments. But what happened before, leading up to and after the election was unlike anything I have ever seen before. 

More than anything I have felt shocked. I even feel dare I say it disappointed. But not for the same reasons as what it seems like the rest of my “social” circle was. The first thing I noticed right away was, “What about me?” And “No one cared about the things that mattered to me.” And I sit baffled. I get putting yourself first, but have we ever asked ourselves if maybe that is the problem? So much me and way too little of us? Of course each individual put their needs and their families needs ahead of their neighbors. 

That isn’t selfish. It is human nature, but human nature demands human decency. We all have to demand that of one another. To me this is where we have issues. Human decency can be defined in so many ways. But for me it resides with love. A love that demands equality, humility and pure and simple kindness. 

I am a “tends to complicate” things kind of person. But the amount of people who I have seen attack people who believe differently than they do is just disgusting. I believe in fighting hard to fight battles, but battling someone on social media or ending a real friendship because of a button in a booth. It becomes quite clear this issue is bigger than that. If you don’t see that again I beg you to pay attention. 

Look around you. Look in the mirror. That is the problem. No one man makes despicable behavior okay and in the same manner we shouldn’t return despicable behavior with despicable behavior. Become the solution. Not the problem. 

Days before the election I became awe struck by the fact that we had a female in the race. I never commented specifically as a rally cry for one side or the other. In fact, this election season I have been so incredibly private with my vote telling absolutely not one soul. I am raising three girls and what I saw was progress. I see that in our many congress women. I noted the pride I have because of that. 

A pride that my daughters won’t have to fight as hard as I have had to fight to be taken seriously. Because the reality is I do have too. Before I was educated I didn’t know anything because I was just a mother or wife. Now I am highly educated and if I push too hard or show myself too much I am $&!)!?. I also have to fight harder to get respect and I don’t get taken as seriously. So yea..pride. It wasn’t an endorsement. In fact, I said specifically it was not. But that one post, my one and only political post this whole political season brought nasty people out. I got defriended and attacked and my motherhood judged. I handled myself just fine. But it proved my point. 

I am not sad or happy about the election mostly because I won’t give that much power to anything. I control my world. I plan to effect change in my own community and no president is going change that no matter who that person is. I also give great reverence to people in power because it is hard. What I did learn is I am raising good kids. Kids with solid and good morals who love first. 

The reality though is that they are girls. One is looking into a highly competitive male dominated science field and before that attending a university that is predominantly male. Yes, her road will be hard. But I know and I am grateful for the women out there who have come before her and just as proud of the men who supported those women. 

That is where change happens ladies in gentlemen. It happens in our homes, our communities and in us. We have to want and demand more of ourselves and our people. That is the type of selfish we need to be. The kind demands things will be better because we don’t stop till they are. 

11.14.16

 

I began to recognize that love isn’t a battle. Love is instead those amazing moments of silence fall2016ewhere someone loves you when you are literally your most unlovable self. It is when you look in the mirror and see a reflection of a person that makes you sick and sad, but who is standing beside you anyway. They love you when you cannot love yourself. So that battle you were fighting the whole time is really just against yourself. Which is why love wins. Love always wins because it has to because there is no where else to go. 

 

~  Mommy Rhetoric (11.14.16)

 

 

 

 

We have to do better. 

This morning I woke up much the same as I have since Tuesday. I wonder if the world is in a better place than when I left it. Been going to bed early to shut it all out and waking up hoping things are changed. But they aren’t there are still riots, there is still hate so ugly I have to look away. 

I walked out to my kitchen to make my coffee and there sat a picture my 7 year old painted on a canvas. I started crying immediately. It was so simple of a home, with a beautiful yard and happy people. I gave that to her. That is what we need to give our children. The right to peace and a break from the madness. 

I had a friend text me about violence at her son’s school, I have a friend on Facebook who is purposefully posting pictures of bigotry since the election to remind us it does exist. I see news stories of people shouting at minorities disparaging remarks and I wonder is this really the world we are passing off to our children? 

Then I beg even louder if you are a parent or a teacher please talk to these kids. Make them speak and uncover that hatred before it bubbles up and speaks with larger acts of violence or self harm. Please talk to them. We have to give them a safe place to admit to not feeling that safe. 

My work has been hard all week, but I come in and we get in a circle. In my room a circle means one thing less judgement and kinder ears. I establish it the first day. It is where we can talk. We use our voices to speak for ourselves to practice doing that in the bigger world that is way less kind. We have to talk them through this stuff. The hard stuff.

The thing is their fears are legitimate. They heard a politician say borders closed and deported. They have been told conversion camps are believed in and felt the angry responses of a millions of women that were called pigs and and an object of gratification. We need to reassure them that campaign rhetoric is not the same as presidential rhetoric. But then we also need to reassure them that if words become action that we will fight like hell to protect them. 

If we have those kids who are shouting “Go back home” or “build that wall” we need to ask why and demand better. God we have to demand better. I beg parents please show your kids better. Teach them love not hate. But if I can’t change your mind please think of the kids that are scared for their lives because of the color of their skin, their sexual preference or the fact that they are a woman. Also know I will protect all kids that are in my room with my body, my life and my rhetoric even the ones who oppress. It is my belief all people are one caring person and a ear away from changing. I won’t give up on humanity even when it hates. Actually especially when it hates. But God we have to demand better. I have and I do demand better of my students, my actual friends, my family and my own children. 

My mom work has thankfully not been as hard because I have had a lot of time with them giving them those same voices. I just want them to love the world, the people in the world and feel safe in doing so. Also my guy and I have worked hard to hopefully give them a safe place to be who they are. If it were found that my daughters were one of the shouters at lunch or treating someone with inequality I would first be devastated but then that is when I would go to work and I would demand better and love them harder. Thankfully, I work hard to provide all three of them with a safe space to be who they are righteously in this world. They know we demand better and they rise to the occasion because children often will. 

Then you wake up one morning and you see a painting exuding peace on the table and you know you have done something right because when it feels like the world is falling apart outside I know in my house we are going to be just fine. Far from perfection, but love and peace remain at the top of the list.  

Less of me and more of the other. 

When the world wakes you up tapping on your mind and heart repeatedly night after night I know there is a lot of unrest. I feel it. I interact with so many who are full of hate and spewing venom from all sides. I am worried, but not really for the same reasons as what it seems like the majority of my social feeds are. I don’t believe one man, or one election brought about all this hate. 

The hard part is it had to exist before this for it to be ignited and truthfully that scares me more. I don’t really care or ask who anyone voted for. I care and ask where is your real fear. That is where this starts. Fear is the underlying cause of a lot of evil. I don’t have solutions here, but I have ears and a heart that tells me healing needs to take place. 

I don’t know how we find it either. Listening is the most logical solution for me. We have to listen to one another with an open heart and mind. I don’t see much of that happening anywhere no matter your candidate.  This isn’t a move on post. This is a call to action post. My call to action though is rooted in love, a quest for compassion and kindness. What does all the yelling and unkindness do besides and breed and spawn more of it? 

The words are so hard though right now because there is so much hurt. It is so tender, raw and jaded. Most of what we say feels like salt in a wound despite the intention. So maybe we just sit back and listen or be quiet and be in the moment. Be with those that are hurting. 

All of my parenting life I have taught my girls a simple lesson about unkindness….that those that are unkind need the most love. Love the unlovable because they need it most. Sometimes the most love we can show to someone is to not respond to their hate with more hate, but with love. 

I teach this same sentiment in my classroom. Sometimes it is harder on this scale because they don’t have to listen to me ultimately the way my own children do. But I guarantee they think a little more about what they are saying and how they are saying it and honestly that is all we need. A little more thinking about what we are saying and who we are saying it to. 

This is not censoring or ignoring what is happening around us. It is the common courtesy of thinking before speaking. But I would be ignorant myself to not acknowledge that ignorance exists because it does. It is very real. I see it and hear it daily. My response is to talk about the hard stuff and listen and asking, “what are you really afraid of?” 

The hard part is accepting the answer and being prepared for the conversation that follows. Listening and not becoming defensive. A little less of me. A little more of the other. But this is hard. This forces us to be external and present with one another. But truthfully in my opinion that is what we need more of. 

In love and kindness, -MR 

Being human. 

Today was not the day I was expecting. I walked in expecting to teach a roomful of students who are ready, excited and willing to learn and for the most part they were. But today was one of those days when they were human and I was human. The kind of day that our state and federal legislatures need to witness and get a better grasp at what it is that myself and my fellow teachers face every day. 

The kind of day where kids make mistakes, or worse yet I make mistakes. The learning that took place was the kind that teaches compassion, forgiveness, survival and the kind of skills we all need to exist outside of class. The skills that make us human or in the least make the world seem a little less harsh. But we can’t prep for these lessons as they usually come out of nowhere and you can’t predict when they will start or where they will end. 

And yea it wasn’t perfect and likely won’t warrant an upswing on a state standardize test score. But what it will do is be a memory for them and for me of a day where we had to stop, take a deep breath and get through the next moment. We were human in very real moments that no textbook teaches. Moments that are hard to describe or explain in any sort of manner that gives them the justice of their enormity. 

When you set up a classroom with your inspirational posters, books, expo markers and your daily schedule with date on the board it all seems so easy. That stuff is easy. Even the testing and data is easy. It is the humanness that makes it hard. Some compare it to dancing or playing an instrument and those comparisons aren’t that far off. But they still don’t come close to describing what it is like to be with 20-40 humans in your classroom including yourself and the lack of predictability that exists in that humanness. 

The reality when dealing with humans is you have human moments. The kind where you just sometimes sit in silence and you just let them know that though we are in silence you are not alone. Also teaching them that silence isn’t bad and that sometimes to be human means not trying to understand the silence and just letting it exist. I am adult and I need that exact same reassurance. Sometimes the world seems unnecessarily hard and cruel and in order to survive we have to laugh, or cry or just sit in silence. These moments require very little from us other than just for us to be still and be present and be human. 

MR- On the importance of being human

My Bliss.

“Your bliss is what your supposed to be doing- the thing you’re meant to be do, the thing that nourishes you the most, the thing that harmonizes your inside truth with your outside life, the bringing together of who you are with what you love doing.” ~ Nancy Slonim Aronie 

It is so funny…this was a quote that I read as I was working on my bachelor’s degree from the book, “Writing from the Heart”. My guy and I were broker than broke, but I finished up what would be several classes with a writing professor and she recommended the book to me.

I took everything she said at heart and knew I needed to save for the book, so I did just that and I purchased it. I have dog earred pages and underlines and markers and talking back in the margins from myself.

But when I saw this particular quote that I circled, underlined and highlighted I knew it meant something. It was funny too as I read it because I remember the precise feeling I had when I read it the first time. Specifically, when I read this line….

the thing that harmonizes your inside truth with your outside life”

Gosh, don’t we all need that in our lives? That moment was the moment I decided I would be a writing teacher in a high school setting on my circumstances…not a state dictate, not a university dictate and not in a traditional manner. I had no idea how I would end up there, but I decided then it would happen on my terms. My terms were working on a BA and MA in writing.

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This fall I have been trying to place a finger on what is missing. I didn’t know what what missing or even if something was wrong. I just knew life was not feeling entirely right. I chalked it up to new students whom I have never really had. Then I chalked it up to losing my motivation with my fitness & nutrition. Then I thought maybe this is just my fall mood adjusting back to my teacher mode.

Guess what…it was never really all of these, but it was each and everyone. But for me writing is as important to me as my fitness and nutrition, my family, and my students. Balance has always got to be in play.

But my harmonizing my inside truth with my outside life sounds about perfect right now. I haven’t written other than a few measly blog posts and most felt a little whiny to me. I have been working on a novel for years, so I could easily dive back into that. Then my guy and his TN ignited a wish to create awareness via the written word and that worked for awhile. Then my weight loss and fitness journey. That all kept my writing soul nurtured.

But now I sit wordless often at a blank screen wondering where I go. What do I say? I want to write and say things I feel need to be said, but there is fear there. Fear of what that truth out there looks like and I am not ready. I could work on my novel and get lost in those characters. I could just blog more.

Honestly, at this point I am not entirely sure what I am even ready for. It will happen. I know I need to write. I have something to say….I just need to find the words.

Finding my words, MR 

A 3 year dip.

Have you ever heard of the three year dip theory? Don’t laugh at me, but yesterday I was watching Felicity (one of my favorite shows from the 90s and early 2000s) and one of the main characters talked about every three years your life takes a dip. I guess maybe that is where I am. This three year dip is way better than the last because my guy was having surgery and what followed was a year of depression and coping shortfalls. 

I think that is why I have struggled so hard admitting I am struggling because that was honestly the lowest I have ever been in my life and I definitely don’t feel like that. I think what happened is my work life balance is seriously displaced. I work too much and need to be more centered with my family. I let my general responsibilities take away my joy from the process and demand I placed on loving myself. I lost my footing on the balance and now I am just trying to regain it. 

What happened in that is I lost my way. I put all of my responsibilities ahead of myself. My REVOLUTION (less of me) fell by the way side and I know very well the consequences of putting myself aside means I can’t take care of those I love as good as I should. But the guilt is overwhelming on what I am pushing aside to take care of me. I just need a brain shift to the benefits of taking care of myself an how it allows me to take care of my people. 

What you saw in my vlog yesterday was that coming to a point. I recognized it and I spoke it. I am telling you right fitness and nutrition is so mental. Your head space has to be clear and I can tell you that I am addicted to caffeine in the worst way again. I have been struggling with digestive issues and stomach pain again. I hate taking the time to workout despite continuing to do it. All signs that I have placed myself on the back burner. 

I am not exactly sure how I got here again…but I am there. I am on a precipice of a health failure or success because of where I am at. I have got to trim down the caffeine, find my passion for exercise again so it doesn’t feel like such a chore and find a way to love the process instead of constantly looking for gains and losses. I am focused on the wrong parts and want to skip the process when I know damn well the process can’t be skipped. Loving the process is loving myself. 

If I don’t do these things, I run the risk of losing myself again. I can’t and won’t. I have worked too long and too hard. I just need to remember grace. Giving myself grace and finding grace and being patient gracefully. I may be busy with my family and my job, but that doesn’t mean I need to be last. Ever. I just need to keep reminding myself of this. 

Less of me or, MY REVOLUTION, never started as a race to see a number on a scale or looking perfect. I am afraid somewhere along the way I lost that. It was about love winning and loving the time I gave myself. I started it slow and with purpose and I didn’t weigh myself down with the particulars of the process. I just felt it and went through it and tried to love myself through it. One day I must have stopped and became tired, so I grabbed for another cup of coffee and another and then I convinced myself that my house chores or grading were more important than what I put in my mouth and I rushed through my workout. 

That is a damn dangerous game to play with my health. I know it is and I know where my addictions lie. They lie in calories, carbs, and caffeine. All of the things that in moderation are fine, but in stress and excuse run the risk of changing my best destination. So I am sitting here hoping that my revelation yesterday is a new starting point AGAIN. I don’t want to be setting lofty goals that I can’t reach. I want to show up for me AGAIN. I want to admit I am there AGAIN and in desperate need of loving myself AGAIN

Here AGAIN. -MR

I really don’t know everything.

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Can I tell you I learn every year the importance of being authentic with your students. True to yourself. Some may call it vulnerable. I know there are teachers who have taught for years in the don’t smile till December mode and that is great. I don’t judge them. Teaching like parenting for me is don’t judge it because we are all in the trenches trying to figure out what works for us.

But for me it is to be truly, authentically myself. That means if I feel silly that day and I sing and dance in front of the class I will. That also means I have grumpy days, my feelings get hurt and I don’t feel well and above all education for me is a gateway to who I am and truly long to be. It always has been and always will be.

In my speech class I model a lot. I don’t mean my latest clothing styles. I mean I publicly speak. I purposefully place myself into situations where I also become the student. This is my third year teaching dual credit speech and it was to be my third year modeling the same advocacy speech about TN. And yes much advocating needs to be done where TN is concerned…but my speech was tired and easy. Guess what…that isn’t modeling if you are comfortable. I changed it to a completely different topic and that was advocating for taking care of our Hoosier teenagers. I made it relevant by connecting it the Semi-colon Project.

However, I advocated that we wouldn’t have to talk about suicide, poverty and mental illness near as much if we [Adults] found better ways to listen and support our youth. I identified the issues as I see them in my home, my classroom and in relation to my own teen years.  For this speech building up your ethos is paramount and the must have part of the speech. Speak what you know so to speak.

And in my world I know it means a lot when my voice shakes, my eyes go to the floor, a lump in my throat appears. I have two sections this semester and I delivered it to one and I nearly had a panic attack. I started the speech and stopped and admitted in front of them I was so nervous. What a great learning moment that was for all of us. They begin reminding me of nerve lessening methods. I started and stopped a few times and each time was met with so much support. I took their criticism and admitted I would have given my own speech a D. Not an F because I got up there and did it and made it through. But a D. A you didn’t get it at all, but you tried grade.

But the way I felt when it was over was gross. I had the icky feeling of teaching things that are too personal. You know like why I can’t and won’t and refuse to ever teach Jane Eyre. This book is so personal and was such a life line to me in a time in my life when I needed a character like Jane Eyre. It is personal because it matters. It MATTERS BIG!!! I had no idea this would be my reaction, but then I realized it was a revelation of my childhood dreams of being a supportive and loving mother, a teacher, a leader in my community and my very reason for standing in front of a classroom full of teenagers. It truly doesn’t get more personal than that. At least not for me. I imagine the feeling I had is akin to one of those don’t smile till December teachers actually smiling in November and thinking, “Aww crap…I lost them. They know I can smile.”

The feeling though scared me out of repeating the speech for my second section. At least until a little more than two weeks later. I needed time and distance and I needed to admit I had a severe shortfall on this speech because I chose something too personal and something that mattered too much. I used it as a teaching moment and talked about why I couldn’t repeat it till that day. It was stigma, the lack of support, the fear of judgement and their own expectations of me. But I like students to see me like they see themselves and that is as a learner.

The second delivery still skirted on the overly raw emotion and a massive case of the stage frights. But they got to witness me manage my speech and I imagine they felt a little more ease at knowing they aren’t alone. And if they didn’t that is okay…What I truly hope they picked up from the speech is it is okay to be who you are even when it is scary.

Because yes I was scared, but guess what I did it and I survived. No tears shed and they know a little more about why I do what I do. And I would easily give myself an A- or B+. So yes my students see me smile. They see me mad. They see me care. They see me cry. In fact, I am quite known for crying when students deliver big on goals I set for them. In fact, I think we were the second week in and a junior whom I had only ever had those two weeks asked me, “Why do you cry so much?” I thought for a minute and quietly said, “Because it matters.”

So yes readers…it matters. The things we do in the world matter even if you aren’t doing it in front of a classroom full of teenagers. Your kids are watching. Your partners are watching. Your friends are watching and your enemies are watching. Show them it matters every single day by being you.

I am okay with not knowing everything and being the student. -MR