We loved with a love that was more than love.  – Edgar Allan Poe

6 months ago today I was living my worst nightmare. I was waiting to see my heart. I sat outside of the ICU crumpled, worn and eager to see his face and his smile. I was naive and foolish. I thought, like most of the world does, that surgeries fix things. I was full of hope and eager to tuck this into bed and call it done.

That wasn’t the case. The battle is still being fought. But the playing ground is way more even and for that we are grateful. Everyday the post surgery life feels a little more normal. He is running again, he is balancing out his meds and he is working hard at trying to have as normal a life as he can.

I am blessed and full of love for this man. I will forever be in love with him.












I will forever fight for him, with him and because of him. Trigemenial neuralgia will not win because love always wins! And a from scratch chocolate cake doesn’t hurt the cause either. 



Saturday Sharing…Time for School.

Gah, I can tell you right now this SS will be all over the place and mostly because my head is all over the place. I am teaching a completely new schedule this year. All except for one class and even that one class is different, so I am kinda co-teaching kinda splitting. I don’t know what we call it but it requires some new thinking.

I am good at coming up with innovative and fresh ideas in my classroom. In fact, I work so hard on that. But I struggle putting it all down and making it work. I will get there, but I can tell you this week I have sat staring at the wall, a calendar and resources and just stared. I am trying to think of making all work. I am teaching dual credit freshman (college) English, Junior Level English and dual credit speech.

The speech class has thrown me for a bit of a loop and though the principles and theories of communication and rhetoric run very similar paths universities do not see it that way. It has required some extra work from me. I am grateful for the extra knowledge and steps and the opportunity. salemexamofI am really grateful to have it in our department. I just gotta work hard at staying true to the theories and pedagogies of speech communications and I will.

Add in that I am teaching American Literature this year when the last two years I taught novels and creative writing where I had freedom to choose what genre and backgrounds I wanted to teach. The junior level year in Indiana is basically meant to digest the sophomore level of US history. My minor was in Brit Lit as a BA and quite a bit of my graduate work was in Brit Lit. I like American Lit. But it is different. Guess what I have been doing? Any guesses?

I have watched show after show on History channel about Puritans, Salem Witch Trials, Jamestown, our beginnings and the list could go on and on. I did notice the curriculum really only seems to slide Native American Literature in and really does it with just Sherman Alexie (the standard go to). I plan to add. Grateful for my effort and work with one of my favorite professors I have immense understanding and knowledge of Louise Erdrich and by proxy Ojibwe (Chippewa) culture. I placed her into my creative writing course in the Spring and plan to cover Alexie and excerpts of Love Medicine. I have also read like a fool. I have read online, books and talked with my guy and girls about what they know. Thankfully, I feel very skilled in the literature but struggle a bit more with its place in History.

hero_evernoteBut I have decided to switch myself to an Evernote classroom. I researched and keep finding that Evernote provides great access for students on and off line. It remains there forever and you lose some of the nuances of my previous method. My previous method was using ITunes U which I did love and I have it set as a back up. However, the moving around and access to Itunes U was at times cumbersome and the limits on a private class were frustrating at times. As well your classes expire. Evernote will have my classes there always.

The thing that probably sold me though was the tagging system. Kids work in tags in their tech lives. I have created notes, readings, research and assignments all based on tags. There is no limit to the access to my class. It will always be there for them when I cannot be. It will always be there for me year to year and all I have to do is edit or change or leave it. Probably the 2nd best part of Evernote is the Evernote clipper that you can add on to your browser and you can basically clip what you like and create a document from it. That has been a tremendous use to me this summer. Once I am teaching with it if I don’t like it I can switch back to Itunes U. But I am doubtful.

I also will continue to use Showbie for assignments. I love the time stamp, the ability to lock assignments and the ability to archive. I used it all last year and it worked quite well.

I cannot say enough though that I am so excited for this year. I am excited for the challenge of new classes, I am excited that I am teaching the dual credit courses, I am excited to teach Juniors. I am just plain excited. I have a feeling this will be my best year yet.

A challenge is a good thing.

I have written so many times about the people who changed me and mentored me along the way. Teachers and professors that have impacted my path in ways I could never say thank you. But what about those who have changed you because they challenged you the whole way. Maybe you personally didn’t click or you didn’t necessarily like them, but because of that they pushed you. I never really talk about them much. Wait I take that back, I tell the story all the time to my students of the professor who once told me that I would just always put my family first and for that reason I could not have an academic career teaching the way I wanted and a family.

When I look back at that story and the way that that one comment pushed me I realized that even though I believed much to be wrong with that statement that it gave me drive. It gave me the will and want to prove him wrong. And I honestly believe I have. And I still keep it in the back of my mind as I push forward.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” 
― Molière

But I got word the other day of a surprise death of one of my previous instructors. An instructor that by all accounts I liked. But one who challenged me and one who pushed me hard. It made me take a moment out to think of the people and teachers I have had in my life that have pushed me and challenged me.

This first was my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Meadows. Mrs. Meadows got me on the heels of a big move for my family which also involved a move in schools. The only school I had ever been in since kindergarten and the following year after I had Mrs. Capps for third grade. Mrs. Capps was the first teacher ever to not only recognize my love for writing, but she encouraged it and in her steed I flourished and won awards. That basically to me what the perfect set up to not like what was coming next.

hooked_on_phonics_logoMrs. Meadows had big 80’s hair. She had blue eye shadow and she loved her darn phonics books. She was tall and lanky and she told us that our fourth grade year would be about mastering (her words) grammar and phonics finally. I didn’t know it then but that was the beginning of a life long struggle for me. She exposed that weakness. I remember our first paper we turned in. We had to write a story about American history and I wrote and created a story about Abigail Adams. I was super excited about her reading my paper and being impressed with my story telling the way Mrs. Capps always was.

But a few days after turning it in I got it back. It was completely marked in red and even had a note on it to see her. So I anxiously waited for the right time to see her and truly thought she was going to tell me my writing was good, but I needed to work on a few grammatical issues. And she did. But she never told me my writing was good. Instead she told me my writing needed A LOT of work and more work then she could do in the classroom. She also went to the effort to set me up with a years worth of hooked on phonics and no I am not joking. That day I went home with a pocket box of 12 workbooks that explored grammar, syntax and the nuance of our English language. I was to work through these books in addition to the work we would do in the class.

God bless my mom who made it fun and tried to see the positive in it and reminded me how much I love to write and pushed that this could just be an extension of that love. And partially she was write. It certainly fulfilled this weird need to practice writing that only I understand now was my inner desire and passion for teaching. I saw the benefits to this idea of skill and drill. But there is a reason that sometimes skill and drill is followed by kills in the education profession.

My belief in my writing abilities was dashed and I truly believed that Mrs. Capps was just being nice and that this Achilles heel of mine would always be there and stop me for the rest of my life. To this day, I still struggle with those words she spoke to me that fourth grade year. Thankfully, I am educated to know my syntax, grammar and usage stems from my background and heritage more than just something being fundamentally wrong. In fact, in my job and in my academic career I will probably always feel non-native because I learned differently. No hooked on phonics program could ever fix that. It is a personal struggle that I proclaim now and just own. I do that for two reasons. The first is it covers me and the second I hope it teaches my daughters and students to be okay with their own nuances. It is okay to not always be standard. In fact, I hope people often strive for differences.

But this professor who passed, I didn’t necessarily care for the subject she taught. For that I feel like when I had her I walked into her classroomahab with a chip on my shoulder toward her and her content. She was very traditional in a sense for a professor and what I mean when I say that I mean she fits most of what our society says a stereotypical professor should be. She looked the role and talked the role. But the material she taught I had trouble engaging in. I didn’t find it interesting and by the mid point I was looking at a B- in her class. My one and only in my graduate career.

I became frustrated and went to see her in her office. What followed was an hour and half conversation about how when I feel disengaged I need to make a connection to the material. I know this connection. I teach it. I seek it out in my classroom all the time. But that chip stopped it. That chip didn’t let me around it, so I wasn’t seeing it. She printed out articles for me and we talked for along time about how the connection was there and I just had to find it.

We had read Moby Dick previously and then she assigned Ahab’s Wife which is a retelling of Moby Dick from Ahab’s wife’s viewpoint. As I took the info she gave me and the articles she printed out I realized I did have a connection. I began comparing her writing to Louise Erdrich’s, Books and Islands in Objibwe Country, and all the sudden the connections were happening so fast. It was a connection that only I could make but that connection turned me around to an A in the class. At the end of the class this professor pulled me aside and admitted she wasn’t sure I would find my connection because of my resistance to the content she was teaching. She also admitted being proudly wrong. That always meant a lot to me and reminded me that challenge isn’t always a bad thing.

So last week as I sat thinking about the beginning of my PhD program and then this new challenge my job threw at me I wondered if I could accomplish what I needed to accomplish. I was feeling particularly challenged and at a cross roads of my academic career where you are pushed to conform or engage in your own way. I still am there, but as I was thinking that night I began to think of her. I remembered how good pushing myself passed my own boundaries felt. I remember how she nurtured that challenge and made me a better teacher and academic. Then I heard less than 24 hours later that she passed.

This gives me proof to my adage that love always wins. If you follow your heart and if you do it with love, you will win. I didn’t let Mrs. Meadows dampen my own soul for writing. I could have and her voice still is in my head on every public piece of writing I share. But I am still sharing and I am still trying because I love writing. Same goes for the professor who said my motherhood would get in the way of career and the same for the professor who made me see that the connections are mine to mine and not anyone elses. That is love. Love of a career. Love of academics and love of writing.

It is just one of those days. (just write)

Wanna know a secret? Sometimes the brave face gets a little hard.  I don’t always want to be happy. Everyday I have to get up and wonder if today will be a good day. I roll over and look at the love of my life who a year ago didn’t have a hole in his skull. He looked a lot younger, had a lot fewer wrinkles and smiled a lot more. But he gets up every morning and carries on. He wants to move on and he tries.

But I can tell when a day has taken its toll. He face sags a little bit more and he runs his hand across his face as if wiping away the anxiety and fear will forever wipe away the scars that tn monster has left behind.

We all got a new life. But not one we sought out and even wanted. A life where we live day to day and minute to minute some days. And I am grateful they are better than they were, but those easy days are gone.

I get angry sometimes that my girls have to see and know this life. And usually in the moments I think I can’t take anymore I see their strength and I find it carries me.  But who carries him? I suppose it is me. But I don’t feel like I carry much. I carry regret. I carry guilt. I feel like sometimes I caused this.

And I often wonder how I contribute to it in a positive way. Do I even? I know my role. I am the mouth, the pusher and the one who reads the silent symptoms and recognizes it is time. The time time to call, to get help to get him to realize it is time.

And why did this choose us? Did we do something to deserve it? Did we not live right or good? Some days I wake up and I want to rewind. I want take backs. Some days I wonder if I should just move on. Forget already.

But I can’t. I don’t know how. Should I even? Yes our storm is maybe not tornadiac right now. We are in a light rain where everything is limbo. A limbo that goes no where.

Just Write. July 2014.

Happiness depends upon ourselves ~ Aristotle

I know I talk here a lot about my guy’s TN so it seems sad. A lot. And it is sad A LOT. But I we choose happiness. Our family together made the decision a long time ago that we are together and we are strong with each other. That isn’t to say that when bad days happen we don’t let it take us. We do. But in our normal everyday life TN doesn’t rule. It never will. Our hope and prayers are that a day comes when his TN is managed in a way that it becomes even less of our days. Until then we hold fast and steady to recognizing the good.

So yea I talk about sad things a lot here because it is my place to do that. But please don’t ever take that to mean I am sad. In fact, I would say it is likely the opposite. I try and shine light on the world and the people in it always. There is good in the world. TN has showed me that more than anything in this life.

That is why I do #100daysofhappy on my social feeds. I use it as a reminder to look and notice the good. I go back and look at it when I don’t feel it. It is around us always. I am blessed. I see it and I own it. I know my happiness depends on me. It has been awhile since I shared so get ready…

Day 44 – A special gift from my momma that had been lost


Day 45 – Share a coke! This just makes me happy thinking of it. Smart marketing!


Day 46 – Summer Day Lillies


Day 47 – Love my Netflix!!!!


Day 48 – Really love my Big Brother


Day 49 – Seasonal Fruit and fruit dip…NOMS!


Day 50 – Pano of softball tournament…still does not justice for the craziness that is a softball tournament


Day 51 – Sun-burnt feet from above tournament


Day 52 – This chair, this desk have shared so many hopes, dreams, failures, tears, laughter and smiles! I love what I do!


Day 53 – My green thumbs


Day 54 – My girls and their reading even in the summer (especially the summer)


Day 55 – New kicks and a long lecture about taking care of myself pushed me out the door for a bit to take time for me


Day 56 – School Supplies….NEED I Say more????



See more 100 Days of Happy!



“Armed with my positive attitude and inherent stubborn nature, I keep my mind focused and my life moving forward. I stop to rest, pout and even cry sometimes, but always, I get back up. Life is giving me this challenge and I will plow through it, out of breath with my heart racing if I have to.” 
― Amy B. Scher

I get so tired of that word. I say it all the time. The meaning ends up lost and I feel like again just means a continuance of what is. Do I use again when I sit in the ER with him? Or do I use again when we check into hospital over night to control the pain? Or do I say again when it full fledged comes back? Or do I use again to describe this time in our lives? Or can I just get over the word again and just now?

And tell me how do I deal with the anger and worry that again creates? Or better yet the tears of again. I never want him to hold this burden on his own and I never want him to fight alone. But again there is something to worry about. Again we found a relatively calm place for about two weeks. And then again happened. Again or the continuance of I am not sure. But we are here.

And yes that again doesn’t include the debilitating shocks, but again does include another med and more worry of a return and continued doctor appointments. He had an appointment yesterday and admitted to the doctor that he had been feeling pain again. A pain he didn’t tell me about. But a pain I was picking up on. He does this facial thing when he struggles. It is a contortion of some sort with his mouth and hands and face. He had been doing it again. So much so I asked him to stop because it hurt me when he did it because I was scared the pains were back again. He laughed it off as a habit to not worry me. But after his appointment he says it has kinda been bugging me again.

Since I don’t have TN it is hard for me to envision or even understand what kind of pain this is. So excuse me and my ridiculous mantra again. It is his story. I am telling my story, not his. You get the drift, again? There is a web like pain/annoyance/ache/tenderness that is more subtle that centers around that nerve center that the trigeminal nerve shoots out of. We all have that center. It is right above your jaw joint and to the side of your ear. It sends out messages to the nerves. It seems to be from his doctor’s explanation and my own understanding  that it is attempting to send out messages falsely. It is doing this repeatedly and causing issues. At least this is our hope. The other alternative puts us there again. I am not really sure what there is right now, but I know I don’t want to go there.

My hope and prayer is that these are still misfires. Misfires are a side effect of any nerve surgery and are the nerves way of trying to heal and takes longer and is more complicated the longer a person lives with nerve damages. However, we are 6 months out and the misfires are typically done by this point, but again it isn’t unheard of. Yes healing can and should still be taking place. So again he was placed on a med believed to help two fold with pain and nerve misfires. Again we wait. Again we hope this is it. The thing that makes his post MVD life better.

The good news is he isn’t having the horrible shocking pains again. He had a few after surgery, but thankfully they have remained quiet and non-existent. By his explanation of this pain or whatever we want to call it. It is the usual build up to the shocks. He had it before the surgery and it has returned. It isn’t painful like the shocks, it is the anxiety builder sensation that let him know that a shock is coming. Again, you can see why this would be a struggle to someone with TN. Because ultimately you are fearful that that shock is coming. Thank the good Lord it never does. The positive side of this is that the shock is not coming. That is what the MVD was meant to stop.

Can you see why I struggle with again? My life has become an again. And some of that is my own choosing. I struggle to move on because we don’t feel passed this hurdle quite yet. And maybe we will get there because I feel it happening bit by bit everyday. Everyday our new normal feels a little more normal. I hope one day that TN will not rule my thoughts and that dealing with how it took over our lives will become easier.

Pinning Away. And sharing.

So we tried quite a few new pin recipes last week. Some were amazing. Some were meh. But most of all my kiddos enjoyed being a part of the process in choosing dinner and trying something new. So this week it was a few different things. And why not lump it together with Saturday sharing on Monday, right?

Pin41) by far this was the absolute best pin. It was cheese tortellini chili. What a thought. Being from the Midwest (or maybe it was doing a stint inIMG_0220 Ohio)  pasta in chili is a natural thing. We always add it. So adding in a cheesy version of it was mind blowing. It was amazing. I did tweak the recipe just a bit because we were in the 80’s with high humidity so adding two tablespoons of cumin seemed like more heat than I wanted. We did just one. But everything else was the same. It was so good. My girls loved it, and my guy loved it. We will definitely be making it again.

Pin42) I also made this ham salad recipe from the Country Cook. And in the recipes defense it was really good. But I probably won’t make it again. I got a really upset stomach around the time I ate it and I know it wasn’t the ham salad. I just don’t think the amount of onions agreed with me. I kinda do really do onions too much. But I didn’t want to sway from the recipe for fear it would mess with flavor. But the sandwich I had was really good and maybe if I made it again I would use a little less onion. But unfortunately whatever I ate that day just didn’t sit well, so now I don’t know if I will do it again. I couldn’t end up eating the rest of it. But it was NOT the recipes fault. I have sensitive stomach already.

Pin43) And next up on the list was probably a family favorite and will probably be a many times over repeat. The girls have asked for it again multiple times since we had it. That is great. That was the point of this challenge and the point of trying to get some new recipes. It was two timing pasta bake. This recipe was super simple and we had dinner on table in about a half an hour with a salad and garlic bread. It took pasta up a notch. I cannot recommend this recipe enough if you feed a big family or if you want quite a bit left. We ate for two nights and really probably could have done three. So yummy!!!!!

Pin44) And finally we had peanut butter bars. Oh my these were so rich and so yummy. I may have done these before, but I don’t think so. But this recipe was super simple and the family loved. We had them gone in days. I really want to make again, but then I don’t because well then I will be forced to eat them and I do not need them LIKE AT ALL! My girls will most certainly demand these again. #3 declared them her fav.


IMG_0254This weekend was softball tourney weekend. Luckily this tournament was 10 minutes from our house which made travel to and from much easier. #1 had horrible asthma and allergy day on Saturday and I almost kept her home. But she really wanted to go, so she willed herself through her first game and then came home and slept and did a similar thing on the second game. Thankfully, she seemed to mostly recover by Sunday. Her team got runner up for the second year in a row at this tournament. I am so proud of the whole team. They did an amazing job and it was so fun to watch them play. We have one tournament and a handful of games left. And then we go into off season. I am amazed at just how fast this season went. This was her third year with this travel team and the last few years the season seemed so long. Not this year. I am going to be horribly sad when the season is over.


And finally, I am getting really sick and tired and even angry at quotes like this. The idea that if we suffer in silence our pains are so much more 98267515d8e3081fe985399b5d332f18noble and true. And no I am not talking about the boy who cried wolf. I am talking our society valuing this idea that if we keep our pains locked up inside and don’t wear them that that makes us so much stronger and our pains more valid. It is not true. When pains are at their worst it takes the most strength to share. After this year I will never look at pain the same. My husband spent the better part of our marriage quieting his pain for my benefit. For his own wish at being strong through the pain. But it wasn’t until he reached out and said, “This is not right” that we sought out help for the pain.

We could apply this same concept to mental illness. Poverty. School. This idea that we all should be martyrs and be quiet about our pain is hurting those who need us most. How is one to get help if we value silence over speaking out. I won’t be silent. I won’t value silence in my home, my classroom or my life. We do not have to suffer alone. Alright tirade over.

My perspective hopefully changes yours

imageI know this and no matter how much I begin to take comfort in the small things in life  like softball tournaments and family dinners we have ways the world reminds us. Today was maybe a little more harsh.

And I wonder when either of us will not feel like trigeminal neuralgia is punching us in the gut. And we take turns reminding each other that we were not promised 100% and that he is living a fairly healthy normal life and we are incredibly blessed.

I assume one day I will see and understand why my family has to go through this. And you wonder what this is. It is so much. It is hard to put into words. It is everything and it is nothing.

It is deep talks in the car that were so deep and private that I cannot bear to tell them. It is rough days where he doesn’t feel great. It is looking at pictures of us both taken one year ago. It is life. It is heartbreak. It is love. The love that makes you furious you care, but the same love that will drive you to the ends of the earth.

But the hardest part of this disease is the reminder of its realities. In the last 24 hours two trigeminal sufferers killed themselves. They wanted the pain to stop. But more than anything they wanted someone to hear them. To recognize their pain.

People with chronic disorders are often ignored by people in their circles. They are treated as crazy. They are often treated as drug addicts. At some point people stop wanting to hear about it. Especially when they see that person trying to live a normal life. It is easy to think all is well because you saw them at the grocery buying milk. Or you see them out to dinner with their spouse.

Just I beg of you….see them. Hear them. Acknowledge their pain. They have to live life as normally as possible and the move through the pain. But not because it stopped or because they made it up the whole time. But because they want to live life. More importantly, they want those they love to live a normal life.

And please know our lives are good. We are grateful for these moments they have been gifted. I don’t take life for granted and I am not sure if I ever will again. But everyone else that suffers from chronic disorders isn’t as blessed. That is a reality. A harsh and brave reality.

I cannot dwell on my imperfect perfect life and I cannot tell you that TN isn’t something real that we cope, manage and deal with every day. But I can say that I hope by sharing a little bit of my perspective with you can change a little bit of your own perspective.

Listen and love because love will always win. It always does. This much I know.

We needed that…

And to keep moving with my 100 pins goal here I am embarking on some new territory. A few things are going to happen around here to help it and to help me. I feel like I am in a food rut. I am so tired of making the same things and then my usual meals took a beating with my guy’s TN. Meaning I mushed up the foods and now he cannot even think about them.

I have concocted a plan to help with that. Actually a few different plans that I hope to simultaneously play out. The girls and I are going to do a summer cooking camp. Or at least that is what we called it. But basically, it is a mode for me to teach them how to cook and for them to take more responsibility in the kitchen. Thankfully, I started all of them young and had them in the kitchen with me as soon as they could be. So all of them pretty much get the basics. But I am talking I want to full on step out of the way and advise.

I got to do this the other day with # 2 because I was rocking a seriously horrible migraine and I ended up needing a double dose of my migraineslaw meds which actually means I was out of it. I was struggling to mind focus and we were having company that night. Therefore, I needed to get stuff done. I told # 2 where to find the recipes and she cooked away. # 1 did the more “dangerous” tasks like grating cheese, cutting and opening stuff. Or the sharps job as I like to call it.

Pin39) Baby girl # 2 made this cole slaw. It isn’t a huge favorite around here, but sometimes I get a hankering for it. It was the fourth. We had to have it. And I mean it when I say she made the whole thing. They only thing I did help with was reaching the ingredients or utensils that were high. She is just 4 foot. And yes it turned out great. Those that ate it liked it. # 2 and I did determine it needed to up the sweet a little and down the liquid. By the 2nd day it was just swimming in its own liquid and I realize that that happens naturally. However, I feel like if we downed the overall liquids or made it more creamy than liquidy it would have helped. So more mayo and less apple cider vinegar.

And Pin40) Yesterday we had worked so hard on the food for the fourth that we deemed it use our leftovers and make snacky type foods day. I made pulled pork for the 4th and we made options of tacos, sammies or nachos with the pulled pork. We had no meat left, but we had nacho chips, cole slaw and cheese left. I looked around pinterest a little and decided to make our main dinner be a round of pretzels made from scratch. We have done this many times and even have our recipe. But # 2 and I decided we would try this one for something different.

I will tell you that it requires quite a few hands and steps so it better carried out in a group. It took my guy, myself and # 2 all working on different steps. Admittedly though I made taco meat for nachos during the chaos so maybe that is why. But it wasn’t hard. Just takes planning and time. I always make my dough in my bread machine. My poor bread machine is 17 years old at this point, but this baby still runs. And word to the wise I always activate my yeast as in put it in warm water, give it your sugar (depending on your recipe brown or white) and let it sit till it is all foamy. This usually takes about five. We call it waking it up and letting it party. But this creates an airy and fluffy dough.

We decided to top ours with salt and then a second round with cinnamon sugar. They were all so yummy and this recipe is a for sure keeper. If you like the crunch of a soft pretzel try this because it really creates a crunchier outside and soft pillowy inside. I did leave out the egg wash mostly because I don’t necessarily look for the shiny outside of a pretzels. That is all the egg wash provides. It kinda happens naturally from the soda water you boil it in. Great pin!







And to hopefully help my food rut I am going to challenge myself to a cooking thing with my family.  We get into such ruts that we eat pizza or go out to dinner too much. I am going to start a challenge once school is out to 90 days of eating at home and healthy. As in clean. Thankfully, we eat fairly clean already. So most of the challenge is just eating at home and not going the easy route. I think it will pair quite nicely with the cooking camp I am doing with my girls where they learn to cook more and cook different things. I have got them being pinning fools.

It will never be just that.

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

bsu2As my gps mumbles out at me, ‘Turn right in half a mile and then you will be nearing your destination.” I feel it bubbling up to the surface. I mentally try and tell myself “stop”. This is normal. People do this all the time. But I can’t. I don’t do this all the time. I feel little like Mario when he hops for the flag pole. A dream, hope and want realized.

The tears flow. I don’t care. Maybe other people have done this and maybe to them it was just. But to me it won’t ever be just. It is a belief and hope for better things for me and my family. Not financial gains, but spiritual, emotional and physical ones. It is the dreams, hopes and gains that my family and my family’s family often dreamed of. The ones from other suppressed countries or even suppressed mindsets in a society that says you are this or that. It is deciding I will never be this or that, but instead I choose what I am.

I would love to say as I explored each building and place in my new habitat that it was just a building or just place. But each and every single place was a tiny bit of symbolism for this new life, new endeavor and challenge I am placed on. The people are all new faces with new names. They know my name, but I don’t know theirs. I will though and I imagine some will be my gatekeepers and assets to this new role.

In high school, I always felt awkward and I followed what other kids were doing.  They didn’t really care about school, so I didn’t.  I did the things they did and I felt like a follower. It always felt off some way. Finally, when I finally went to college at 22, I realized who I am meant to be and I am finally her. I am finally okay with being more than just and being vocal bsu3with being more than just. And following no one.

People wonder how or why and I often wonder that myself. But I found out back then I liked the challenge. I liked the challenge to my thoughts, principles and shaping my beliefs. When I was 18, I went to college down in Indy. I stepped into my first few classes and was so overwhelmed. The campus was so big and scary. All the unknowns. All the strangeness of a new place, new smells and a new community that I did not feel a part of.

I quit. I quit so I could work a little over minimum wage job. I worked really hard to get a better job and worked even harder for a promotion or two and I really liked what I did. But there was something about that decision to quit that stuck with me and that decision made in fear and the failure I felt from it. That fear has fueled this passion and drive for more and more.

I do hope that it is enough that once I reach that goal, that threshold, that I know I crushed that girl who made a decision based in fear back then. And that I finally allowed my fears to drive me. And I can tell you this first official visit to campus as a PhD student I conquered that. I had been there before, but never as this.

bsu4I walked on a big scary campus, with all the different people, places and vocabulary and yes I was afraid just like I was back then. But instead I pushed it back and realized that it was that fear that drives me. That fear that says none of this experience will just be that. And more importantly I will not let it. I am not just getting my PhD. I am doing something. I am pushing passed the hard stuff that tells me I can’t. I am ignoring the voices that say, “It is just school” even if it is my own voice.

I realized during my visit I am driving this ship and I am the captain. That has never been the case most of the life. I mean sure I got to make decisions in my personal life. But I am talking professional and academic. You go to school and they tell you what to study and for how long. They even make up sheets of paper on it. At my previous campus your “bingo sheet” is your map.

And yea my PhD program has that, but it is so different. I decide. Does it benefit the end result? Does it accentuate what it needs to, will you cover the territory you hope? I make that ultimate decision. I make the decision. And yea I have an advisor, but I am the captain. And for the first time in my short three years since deciding my professional path I didn’t quietly own my job or goals in this field.

I owned my job as a high school teacher loud and proud. I owned wanting to tell the narrative of the non-traditional student. I owned wanting to talk more about early college writers and the transition from high school to college. And I never kept quiet because I was ashamed, but more because I didn’t feel like engaging in a fight where they wouldn’t change my mind anyway. In many college settings my school is seen as the enemy or as taking students, which lets just be honest is money. I have been afraid to tell other academics I choose to work in k12 and the early college concept because when I do all the sudden I am the enemy.

And I am not. The true enemy is a college system that has student loan debt at an all time high. Students cannot leave school without massive amounts of debt weighing them down. When you compare the cost of college and amount of support students get to other countries academic make ups for college ours is kind of skewed and dare I say antiquated or even inflated. Therefore, if I can be a part of the process that lets students afford college and students who likely never considered college then yes please sign me up. But that is another fight for another time.

Yes, I am nearing my destination and this travel will be long and hard and fraught with many moments of doubt I am sure. But as long as I always see it for what it is I know the finish line is around the corner. It is my dream. It is my goal. It is my love. It is my passion. It is my word. It is my conquering a fear. And it will never be just that.