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.


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


I really don’t know everything.


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

Less of Me is All Mental

I made a proclamation in September of what I am shooting for and if I am honest I failed myself and you. I wanted to get down another handful of pounds. And I think I still do. But I kind of don’t or can’t or won’t. That is just kinda where my head is at.

I suppose everyone goes through this phase, but it sucks. I always and forever hate what I meoctober1see looking back in the mirror at me. No matter the amount of mental work I put in I can’t ever seem happy with what looks back at me.

I overthink comments made to me or the looks that people give me. Truthfully, I haven’t gained any weight. It fluctuates between 1-2 lbs gain or loss which I know is water, but because I am not making huge losses like I did a year or so ago I feel gross and fat. And I hate that.

I see pictures of myself and I just feel like a failure. I get into a perpetual state of working out and disappointed because my extensive workouts don’t garner 10lbs weight losses every week. I know for me this is dangerous territory because eventually what happens is “Can’t beat em’ Join em’.” That means a slippery slope filled with unnecessary calories and food that isn’t good for my mind or body.

There have certainly been an occasional slip or two which immediately sends me to the scale as if a starbucks coffee loaded with sugars and chemicals will make me gain 10lbs in 2 hours.

Why this is all alarming to me is something happened to me. I fell out of love with the process. Somewhere my focus has shifted from the day to day to the end goal despite my knowing that we don’t get there all in one day the same way we won’t gain or lose all in one meal.

I am just not sure how to proceed. I want to lose a little more. But I gotta find a way to handle the process mentally, so it isn’t a chore. I work out daily with one rest day. But I usually moan, groan and complain through it. I am glad when it is over. I get easily bored with my go-to foods.

img_2862Those two things combined make it just feel like another bullet on my to do list. It can’t be that to get where I want to be. I knew getting here and moving past it or maintaining would likely be the hardest part because I am forced to look in the mirror and love what I see without the changes being so drastic and obvious. The work now is on the inside to change the outside.

But for some reason. I can’t. I am not ready or I am not willing and truthfully I am not even sure where it is my head is at when it comes to it all. Running would be my way to work through it, but I am a fair weather runner. I hate running in the cold. Which really just serves as an excuse. And do you want another….I can go to the gym and run on the treadmill, but wahhhhh it is boring. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. See my problem.

Where oh where did my love for the process go? I gotta find it and find a way to be okay with what I see looking back at me. In this picture all I see is all the stuff I still need to work on. Sad thing is I know no matter how much others tell me the changes are there, they see them…I have to see them myself.

Losing Weight Sucks. Once overweight…I feel like you are always overweight.

This sucks. – MR

I am the face. 

Today is National pregnancy & infancy loss awareness loss day. I am the face of this sad and terrible loss. My guy and I lost a baby sadly between #1 and #2. We both were so eager for our second one that we tried for five months and nothing. Doc told us it was normal to and relax.

In a strange twist of a blood test I showed up pregnant when I thought I couldn’t be.  From the moment of the positive test I just had a feeling it wasn’t going to be okay. I shared that concern with the doctor so I had a follow up blood test that confirmed my fears.

I decided to go through the loss at home naturally with medicinal or medical intervention. We were both devastated. My innocence of the careless pregnancy I had with #1 would never happen again. You don’t get reasons why and no one wants to talk about it. The doctor told us to wait 6 weeks before trying again.

God had other plans though. I was pregnant four weeks later. My due date with our lost baby was June 3rd and my #2 was born June 25th. She was and is our rainbow baby. The term didn’t exist that I knew of back then, but she was our sign of hope. Her middle name Faith to commemorate the Faith we had in our future.

Pregnancy loss happens so much more than we acknowledge and it shouldn’t be treated with shame and silence. I had as many hopes, dreams and future plans for that small baby as I do my girls. We did name the baby with our A name and we bring the baby up on occasion. I won’t ever forget.

Time to stop saying, ” It will be okay.” 

In my experience of this world I know fear is a great motivator. It creates an adrenaline burst and motivates forward movement. But sometimes it is also meant for us to take a pause and make a change. 

The last two weeks of multiple global amber alerts, mothers taking their babies to the park and then taking their lives, clowns, violent recorded for social media shootings, politicial scandal. Good versus bad and bad versus good. Another school shooting, a call to a grandparent that he couldn’t take it anymore, so he killed his dad. Guns and violence. Sex scandal and lies. 

Then email after email in my inbox of my daughters Istep results. Her NWEA scores. Points in the grade book based on RIT scores. BOY. MOY. EOY. This score decides your future. Decide what you want to do with yourself at 7. The college you like, a goal for your PSAT. 

My goodness make it all stop. Why do we adults keep saying this is all okay? Am I the only adult left sitting in shock with each one of these earthly revelations? The emails to my daughter that include me talking to her about RIT scores? Are you kidding me? Hell yes I am jolted. Hell yes I am mad. And I know what these words mean. What a crappy assumption for a parent who is struggling just to get home in time from work to hug their kid. 

And why are we not up in arms when another child dies in a school shooting? For real, is our society so far gone at this point that a young elementary school boy is shot while on recess and dies and you barely even acknowledge it? And video after video after video after video after video after video and still it happens over and over? And over. 

The culture that makes me teach my daughters how to defend themselves and be aware of their surroundings. In a movie where we plan our escape. That same culture that attacks our first female presidential candidate about the way she looks and acts and in the same manner is disgusted that we have a candidate that thinks women are there for the taking. A reward for hard work or money supposedly earned.

None of this okay. We have to stop saying it is. I could put them in a bubble and protect them. Or I can teach them how to mauever this strange place responsibily. All the while hoping they never become so oblivious to the world around them that these things don’t shock them they dismiss them as okay. None of this okay. 

I actually didn’t freak out.

My kids have finally reached the age where my guy and I can take off for an hour or two for dinner. So we do. Every Saturday in the ol’ E house is date night. We have been doing this really for about the last 6 months. It is a great time for us to catch up from the week and to reconnect.


Our conversations are usually centered around work. Teachers talking shop, you know? Sometimes we offer one another advice and sometimes we share frustrations. But a few weeks ago in our corner booth my guy decided to change the topic of conversation. It starts with, “Don’t freak out but…”

A moment that felt like a lifetime passed. I was mid chip in salsa mode and I looked up at his face. I didn’t have to hear the end of the sentence because I already knew it. The TN. It is always the TN. He said, “My TN. My pain. It is back.” I took a deep breath and ate my chip. A lump came up into my throat and I truthfully wanted to cry…not freak out.

There is one thing I am certain of. He doesn’t complain about his pain, so when he does I know it is serious. I asked how he knew. He said he had been getting the shocks for the last two weeks. That was with his upped dosage of his two TN meds from last May. He said since the surgery the shocks would happen and then he could feel it go numb. He said that is not happening anymore.

He said he added in the third med. The dreaded third med. The one that causes bad side effects. It makes him irritable, tired and like an 80 year old man more than he already is.:D He said he wasn’t getting much relief.

My lump left. I didn’t freak out. We made a plan because he had to go the neuro soon anyway. We go from here. We have had three years to plan for the worst case scenario. We have situated ourselves with work that we can handle whatever comes our way. No I am not sure this is worst case.

I worry more about my girls seeing him struggle. His facial contortions when he has these pains are noticeable. It makes me feel like a lightening bolt shooting through me threatening my safety and security. They scare them too. I have seen them. He has done well hiding it from the girls.

But I didn’t freak out. I am nervous for what this winter brings. He struggles bad when the weather is chaotic and they are predicting chaos this winter. But I feel in control this time. I feel like we are much more educated. We know at what point to take the pain more seriously. I truly worry about the side effects of the med stealing my guy away from us more than anything.

Our public schools and teachers are not the problem. 

I know our politicians and media want to tell you that our teachers and schools are failing our kids. It is every where that us greedy money grubby mediocre teachers and the buildings we are housed in are failing America’s youth. They are trying to convince you that we need more charters and vouchers and business in education. These people (basically an unknown entity with a very predictable agenda) need to convince us via fear that the system is broke. That our educational system is broke and it is the educators who seek tenure, more pay and enjoy summers off that are to blame. 

Can I tell you where the real problem lies? It is the narrative. Quit listening to the stories of politicians who think just because they have been a student in a seat that they know what is best for our children. Remember that it was their idea to test our youth to death. They are creating the narrative. But I have a story I want to tell. If you are looking for one where I complain about just how much testing encroaches on my classroom or how mad the politicians make me. Look somewhere else. That same old tired played out story won’t be happening here. Education already has enough negativity in it without me adding my two cents. 

I would like to tell you my story if you will listen. It is the one of a starry eyed teacher with a hope, bravery and hard fought for naïveté. I have taught for 7 years. I have had roughly 800 students in front of me at this point. I taught 2 years at a public university. I have taught the next five years at a public school. I am a public educator. From the beginning, I have always looked at my job and treated it as a public servant. I work for the public. I take that honor seriously and yes it is an honor. I am grateful for every single person who made the decision that put themselves or their children in front of me. I am venturing to guess that any student who has been in front of me can vouch for that. 

I love what I do and in my classroom it shows. That isn’t some full of myself bravado. There are stories upon stories of my love for my kids and yes they are my kids. But one story in particular is hitting my heart hard tonight of a student who would have walked into most classrooms and fallen behind or into the cracks as they say.  The world. The people in the students life. They gave up. They decided the student’s story was already written. The world does that to our youth you know? Dangerous assumptions and false narratives. The world gives up on them and they sometimes give up on themselves. I try and never read those narratives and stories. 

It is a hard and fast rule I have. You walk into my room…clean slate. Write your new story. Use your voice. I want to hear you. Rarely do I hear your class is so hard. But I know we do hard work. They are pushed and pulled because for years they are told what to think. Do what I say. They come in my room and suddenly I say, “What do you think? It doesn’t matter what I think.” I don’t need to have kids fail to know I am doing something right. The way I know I succeed is the days, weeks, and years removed and they tell me the impact my classroom had on them. Maybe it was a lesson. Maybe it was something I said and did. 

But back to my narrative I have worked in the real world. In fact, I did so for many years and never did I work the overtime like I do now. Never will there ever be a day I lock the door to my classroom and just walk away. Some teachers can do that. Not me. I stay after school. I wait for parent rides with them. I go in early and let them get to a computer. I probably check my email too many times at night. And yes I do shut down. In fact, I would say as the years pass I get better and better at it. I have to for my family. I have to for me. 

But back to that one student from before. They had a chance to rewrite their story and they did. I had no idea the impact at the time, but the longer I teach the more I learn of that impact. My impact isn’t a narrative that is easy to write, but it is one that is felt and seen. You can’t capture it in numbers or evaluations. It doesn’t show itself in a paper or portfolio. I feel it. My family feels it. My school feels it. My classroom feels it and my students feel it. 

That is the narrative I want to tell because my narrative isn’t any different than any of my colleagues. We all have those stories of that one student that eventually turns into a handful, a dozen and a 100 students. Yea I am sure somewhere along the line there was/is a teacher that got into it because the pay was so lucrative, the respect was so high, and they loved the summers off. But I have not met them yet. I am a toddling toddler in teaching age, but not so young to think these people don’t exist. If they do though I imagine they are long gone and I can tell you now that I haven’t taught with them. Our narratives need told. We are not the problem. Public schools are not the problem. The narrative is the problem. 

I said no.


Here is the dealio. I am 18 months into my “less of me” campaign and I think the one lesson I continually have to teach myself over and over and over and over is making myself a priority. I am a wife. Mom. Family member. Friend. Teacher. Student. A human. Many times the lines are not clearly defined on where I start and the rest begin and it is very easy to let them bleed. Ultimately what happens is I end up dead last and exhausted.

I think, “Oh I am still taking time for me by watching netflix.” Then two weeks pass and I am not eating as good as I can be or a I am half assing my work outs. I have to actively say no. I have to say it over and over and over. I have to practice it. My family is the hardest because I know they love me and want to see and be with me.

But the reality is this started as MY REVOLUTION with the base idea that I deserved a half an hour where I am out of commission to everyone else but me. I worked out because the half an hour of sweating, meditating, listening to music gave me the ability to show up 100% every where else.

Moral of the story here to have success you have to demand it. That means don’t give your precious time to people, things and places that don’t give you the same. Give yourself permission to say no. Your family will survive for a half an hour. You friends if they love you will make time when it works for you. Your family the same. Your everything else will fall where it will and you just gotta find a way to be okay with it.

I have been uber stressed, not because of bad things, but because it is the beginning of the school year. Because I have a high schooler, middle schooler and a elementary kiddo. I work a lot. I am a student. Yes I am stressed. But I MUST carve out time because if I don’t take care of me, who will?

Saying NO on the regular, -MR