Because it does matter.

I don’t care who you or what you do or what you look like or where you are from.  You matter. The other night when things were in flames in Baltimore and the riots were happening I was so furious. I was listening to head banging Metallica and wanting to scream in the streets. I was not at all supporting anarchy and chaos. I wasn’t supporting the mom who later went down and tried to smack sense into her kid.

I was mad because there is a problem and no one wants to talk about it. No one and why? Why can’t we? I wrote a blog post and still felt unresolved and frankly I still do. I went to school yesterday and thought nothing more of it but an ember was burning. If I don’t talk about it who will?

riot

Then I read Jackie’s post and I thought yes. This is it. So many of my students idolize Martin Luther King Jr. I teach college speech and rhetoric so yes MLK comes up. Always. Then that MLK quote just resonated with me. It actually caught fire on my heart and my mind on my way to work and I was overcome by tears. I was overcome by all the same emotions from my blog post.  And thought to myself….I NEED TO LISTEN TO WHAT THE WORLD IS TELLING US.

And guess what I did. I did just that. I spent 80 minutes of my class today talking with my students about this. We didn’t just talk about this. We talked about the hard parts of this. We talked about our own prejudices. We talked about our own stereotypes and I listened and I said 800x your voice matters despite what the world tells you. We cried. We comforted. We giggled. We had sympathy and we realized. We talked about what it was like to live in a diverse community and more importantly what it is like to be a teenager. It was raw. It was real and my eyes were open.

At the end of the class period we left the room congratulating ourselves for talking about the tough stuff and a reminder from me that they do matter. That we all matter. They finally understood why I don’t allow the words, “Shut up” in my room and I never will. They may never remember the lessons I taught them on grammar and american literature, but I guarantee they will always remember that conversation. We all will.

The biggest lesson I received out of it was that we have so very much further to go and together with our generation and this next generation we have the ability. We just have to listen.

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Just cause you call them a thug, doesn’t mean that they are.

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Sometimes I want to run to the streets and scream as loud as I can about the injustices I see. I want to scream so loud so that the whole world will hear.  Sometimes I think my notion of my profession is a little too Romantic. A little too Dangerous Minds. But I can’t resist what I feel in my heart. I don’t just feel it in my heart, I feel it in my soul.  And I am mad!

This draw and need to give youth a voice. That isn’t Romantic. It sure doesn’t feel like it. It feels urgent, necessary and important. I stand in front of my classroom on the daily and tell students their voices matter and probably 70% roll their eyes and think, “Yea every teacher says that.” But every once in awhile one will speak out and I think, “Dang, maybe just maybe they do hear me.”

Last week I had a student in my speech class give a speech about spoken word. He wanted to teach his peers about his spoken word poetry that he writes. A poetry that is emotional and hard to deliver. But what I noticed in the weeks prior to this is that he would write these amazing poems and then would end up tearing himself apart and tossing them in garbage.

Somewhere along the way someone told him or taught him his words didn’t matter and that what he had to say didn’t matter.  And that frustrates the heck out of me. Seriously…Why do teenagers voices not matter? We push them to be adults and get jobs and do important things in the world and when they try we hush them and tell them they  don’t understand the real world. We force them into mini molds of what we expect of them.

It isn’t my job to tell them the reality of the world. It is my job to teach to them to communicate those words so that people hear them. I have always believed that. Then I hear today about what is happening in Baltimore and I can’t bring myself to listen to news reports or watch footage. I heard three things. Riots. Caused by black teens. Thugs.

And I shut down. Why? Why? Why? Seriously how are we not passed black teens and thugs? And why is that the part that is news worthy? Maybe a little more addressing the actual problems that exist would get us passed this surface assumption? I am sure there are facts in there that someone will tell me I am missing. But why? They are teenagers and they want to be heard. They are trying to be heard and their reward is to accentuate their race and call them a thug? And what exactly is this solving?

It pushes them into the roles that we force them into. A life of a thug or white trash or fill in whatever crappy adjective you can conjure that adults say about teens when they don’t follow our preset rules. I am not saying lawless activity is okay, but I am saying it never has to get to that point.

So yea that isn’t Romantic. Our teens are fighting against tides that have absolutely nothing to do with them. They cry out in social media. They cry out in classrooms like yours and mine. They cry out in the media or in the wrong ways. They cry out in their homes or in their bedrooms or in gangs. But that is because they are teenagers. They are supposed to do it in wrong ways.

I can’t quit shaking my head in disbelief. I cry out instead for all of us to give them an ear. They need to be heard. They need to know that the world can be a better place and empower them with the ability to create it. That doesn’t happen when we see skin deep and shut our eyes and ears  and expel our prejudices and stereotypes.

There is no magical school of thought in that. This isn’t the beauty in the classroom I am talking about now. This is the real, raw and tough to talk about stuff that needs to be taking place in our classrooms. If we can’t talk about it then why are we there? Am I to teach them how to behave in a manner that suits the media and the adults who run it? Or I am to teach them how to talk so that none of those stereotypes and prejudices matter? Prove them wrong I say. Prove what they think and say about you is wrong. There is a greatness in that that no one can touch.

I tell my kids (real and students) to be a doer. There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but a doer goes out and does it. They don’t take the no’s. They don’t accept the prejudices and they ignore the names. But we have to help them. By we I mean the adults in their lives. The parents. The teachers. The friends.

We all have to step up and be a bit better. A better listener. Empower our kids with voices that are heard so that violence is not their last call to action. Stop being satisfied with calling them a thug and washing our hands of it and changing the channel to something more appealing. We have to expect and demand more of our teens. And I promise you this sometimes we may be disappointed because they may not met those demands, but I guarantee you this….if you actually listen and give them a voice THEY WILL TRY!

And that try is worth something and they are worth something. So let’s hear them no matter where they come from.

Do me a favor.

If you are married to, friends with, doctor to, nurse to, parent of, sibling to, child of or any of the other many titles a person can have, a chronic pain sufferer please do me a favor don’t minimize their pain because you don’t understand it or know exactly the right words to say. Do me an even bigger solid and realize the following:

  • They wake up daily when they want to do anything but. IMG_1866
  • They know most of the time their condition won’t kill them, but that doesn’t lessen the pain.
  • Just because they show up to work as much as they possibly can and do the best they can doesn’t mean they are better.
  • Usually with chronic pain there is no better.
  • For TN sufferers there are no magic pills or magical surgery that will fix anything.
  • They know their condition isn’t as bad as (FILL IN THE BLANK) and yes they are grateful for it.
  • They don’t need pity or sympathy, but they also don’t need you to pretend like it doesn’t exist.
  • Often in TN there is very little hope just because there is no known cure and that reality sucks a whole lot sometimes….no wait all the time.
  • They really just need your support and love and a little easing when they are having a bad flare day or minimize triggers for their pain.

My guy went to the doctor again and got the old speech. The one we have heard so many times. “This won’t kill you but, …”

And the conversation went a little like this;  we can try this med or that med. But the side effects are bad and you need to think about this. At least it won’t kill you. And really it is up to you what the next step is. And at least it won’t kill you. Just think about what you want and then decide. Can you live with this pain? Do the meds help? Can you deal with the side effects? At least it won’t kill you.

Can you see the theme here? This doctor is completely respectable and kind. But the fact of the matter remains very few truly understand how to deal with TN because there is no known cure. We have decisions to make. We can sit and wait. We can take our time. He can change his meds. Or we can increase dosages.

Sometimes it is all so much.

 

Kafka…This is why I love literature. Words have power. Sometimes we have to take it back.

kafka1906What was always incomprehensible to me was your total lack of feeling for the suffering and shame you could inflict on me with your words and judgments. It was as though you had no notion of your power. I too, I am sure, often hurt you with what I said, but then I always knew, and it pained me, but I could not control myself, could not keep the words back, I was sorry even while I was saying them. But you struck out with your words without much ado, you weren’t sorry for anyone, either during or afterwards, one was utterly defenseless against you.

They kinda saved my life.

And yes there maybe a little flare of the dramatic in that title. But I have no doubt. Yesterday a friend of mine posted an article on her facebook page. An article that as soon as I read the title, “How I gave up tupperware and got my life back.” I knew immediately what that title was about. I opened it and let it queue in my phone on the app for most of the day because I knew there would be no time to read it.

Blog1As soon as I was snuggled in bed last night I opened it back up and fell asleep before I was even through the first paragraph. And this was not because it was overly boring. It was because I was overly tired, overly emotional and I just needed to shut down. As soon as I opened my eyes this morning and had a cup of a coffee I turned on my phone and I remembered it. I finally had a chance to read. And the more I read the more I found myself thinking and then shouting, “yes”.

But that same yes was audibly heard in my bathroom about two weeks ago. My guy and I watching a show in bed and I say, “hey I am gonna run to the bathroom be right back.” A few moments later a loud and piercing, “Yes!” echos from our bathroom. He giggles and I giggle back. I open the door and he is looking at me confused and trying to read my face.

I never weigh myself at night. It is probably on  the top of every girl trying to lose weight’s top do not do list. But something compelled me that day. So I did. I saw that I had lost a stubborn two pounds that I had not managed to lose because of the addition of weights to my work out schedule.

And you wonder why this goofy story right? Well that two pounds was the first movement I had seen in two weeks. It was also something that I credit to my containers. I so understand the “prepping” part of weight loss and watch and I understand it can create an obsession. Most hate it. Most become frustrated with it and give it up. Some use it as an excuse and give it up. Heck I am all of three of those.

But my containers…They saved my life. They didn’t just kind of save my life. The completely saved my life. Call it dramatic if you will and I am okay with that. I am two root canals and three crowns in. I am in a three year treatment plan to salvage and strengthen my teeth. I am on a mission to save myself from the damage I have done to my nails, my bones and my body. These things have all been victims to my poor diet choices.

I thank God every single day that something in me clicked and I turned it around. I struggle even seeing going back. I see food very differently now. It may have started with a fad diet of pretty and colorful containers. But it has since turned into something very different. A saving of myself.

Three years ago I started a blog category titled, “One last thing.” I never really shared what it was for. Mostly because it was my one last thing. But when I look at my life and I think about all that I have had the ability to conquer and do my health has always been something that I just couldn’t. The roots of that are so very deep and something I haven’t even begun to deal with. But it was a combo revolution, root canal, taking time for myself and deciding I was worth it.

And yea my containers did that for me. I know for a fact that my relationship with food in the past has been unhealthy. I realized that good, healthy cooking and food  is so much more than what I thought it was. It can also be all cancelled out by poor choices. Poor choices like my pepsi addiction.

I don’t step on the scale every day. I am not obsessed with my next meal and what it can or can’t do to that daily number. What I have found and probably just realized more recently is if I eat right and make the best choices I can the rest just happens naturally.

The last few weeks I have heard multiple times “You are just melting away.” And I am not gonna sit here and act like I don’t work for it because I do and I work hard. But I am also not going to say that it has been incredibly hard. It hasn’t. I eat all the time. I just eat good foods that fuel my body. I also acknowledge that when I want to splurge I have to or it just won’t work.

And it has worked. I feel great which is the top priority here. I am getting my health back in line with where it needs and should be. I don’t feel deprived or depressed because I can’t have this or that. If I want it I have it. And if the scale reflects that choice tomorrow I refuse to beat myself up for that. I spent far too long beating myself up for the poor choices I was making. If 98% of my choices are good then yea.

This has been and will continue to be about loving myself. This is my revolution.

Best Carbs I ever ate.

Since the 21 day fix I am really careful about my carb consumption. More than anything I find that keeping my calorie count for the day helps and when I am doubtful of portion size I resort back to 21 Day Fix. I also try and do the counts of all the food categories on 21 Day Fix! Pasta irritates me so badly because one round of it in a day and screws with my calorie intake all day long. So I just decided unless I really need it, I ain’t having pasta.

Well today I had a shakeology so my calorie count is down for the day. I also have limited supply of food at this point because it is grocery day. So I knew the time had arrived to make Dragon Noodles. A recipe I had been eyeballing before 21. I had heard and seen so many raving reviews about it I almost felt left out since I had not tried it.

Well enter the perfect storm today of all of the above and it came time. I still was missing a few of the ingredients but not anything I felt would leave me not liking it. I also had to clean it up. I am very purposeful with everything I eat now, so if I am consuming it then it has to have a purpose that is good for me.

YUM!

The original recipe is from budgetbytes, a site solely dedicated to eating good and not spending a lot of money to do it. The original ingredient list is as follows:

Ingredients
  • 4 oz. lo mein noodles $1.13
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1 large egg $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (rooster sauce) $0.08
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro $0.22
  • 1 sliced green onion $0.06

Here is mine:

  • Whole wheat pasta (I made one cup that I intend to use in portions)
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Omitted crushed red pepper (didn’t have any)
  • Organic Egg (I believe an egg is an egg…I just buy organic)
  • 1 tbsp of raw honey (you could also use agave)
  • 1 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sriracha
  • No cilantro or green onion (but they would be amazing and add an awesome freshness to pasta)

Follow the rest of the recipe and I used the coconut oil for the scrambled egg. I should say I don’t stray from butter. Butter is much healthier for you than margarine. However, I prefer my eggs with coconut oil.

I did measure it out with my yellow container because on my carbs I need to. This is probably my hardest weakness. I mean pasta in general. I love pasta and I realized just how much I was eating and it was alarming. So it is something that rarely happens. It was definitely worth it this go around and if I want the leftovers I am gonna have to do the work.

It was amazingly yummy and I will be making again!

Less of Me Post of Sorts.

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
Helen Keller

I usually take my stats week by week or even day by day sometimes. Then other times I forget about them all together. Or I obsess about why this is happening or why that isn’t happening. More importantly I learn that I control very little of it. I do what I can do to make those numbers change and the rest is up to God.

I am trying a lot harder to just love myself. To see the strength and will power that I do have. Those are things I needed to see. It is about more than a diet and I hate the cliched lifestyle statement. I have done both of those. That is not what this is nor has it ever been.

I called it a revolution and it is. But the revolution that is taking place isn’t just doing the next beachbody workout video or trying every vegetable known to man. It isn’t about a costly gym membership or a ticket to the clean eating club.

It is about changing me. The me who gives so very much to others. I do that so much sometimes that at the end of the day I collapse into a ball and realized I never even took time to breath and enjoy all that giving which is really why I do it. Giving is how I show love. But what do I get out of it if I never take the moments necessary to sit back and reflect in what happened?

I have had people tell me what I am doing or how I am living my life isn’t right. Normally, I would respond with hate and anger, but then I started to question why. Is their statement about me or is it more about them? And I know the answer. I teach my girls that every day. When you are unkind to someone to knowingly and purposefully hurt them that says more about you than it could ever say about them. Those are words I utter in my classroom almost weekly.

It is the unintentional hurts that we have to own. And I own that I have unintentionallySunshine hurt myself. I used and abused my body by the way I ate or didn’t exercise.  I did this for so long that it was crying out for this. It was sending up distress signals constantly. Begging for a few moments of sanity in the chaos. A chaos that I gladly welcome in the form of marriage, parenthood and a job that I love.

It is the quote, “Don’t blink or you will miss it.” Believe it or not the choosing to eat and exercise right and write more are where I find my peace.  I can’t say it will be there forever. But I can say I have to fight for that. That moment that keeps me moving from one moment to the next. It lets me reflect on who I am and what I want to be. Life is hard. Life is so hard dang it for all the many reasons you can read on my blog.

But I refuse to be a slave to the, “I can’t do this because….” machine. Because I can. I look back and realize I have made some pretty difficult decisions that some don’t agree with it or I have done things because someone thought I should. But that isn’t happening any more. I am not that person anymore. That belief and sentiment doesn’t just stick because I want it to be true. It takes a physical and mental exercise every day to make it happen.

I will own and each and everything I have done in this life. I will own each and every mistake. I will own each and every hurt to the fullest extent that I can. But never ever can anyone tell me my priorities are not right. Because they are. They always  have been. My faith and my family are first. The only difference here is that I added hating my body a little less to the list.

And clearly it is working…I am making strides. I have lost 33lbs and 18 inches. I have done all of that since January 3rd. I have become more firm in my beliefs and the things that I value and give my time too. So yea, I guess less of me isn’t just about weight on a scale but the baggage I carry for myself.

The good kind of stuff.

charlie

Every morning I walk into my classroom and I feel like it is home.  It isn’t that good kind of home to be with my guy or my baby girls. But it is awfully close. To go to work every day and love what you do has meant more to me than I can even verbalize. On my wall I have notes, letters, drawings, and projects if they will stick. My filing cabinets have presents of candles, cards and picture frames that all are just little tiny pieces of my heart and hard work. Each representing a beautiful memory or sentiment. A daily reminder that sometimes we all feel a little small, but we can do big things.

I have no doubt there are millions like me. Teachers who give everything they have and love what they do and carry a passion for the job that is unparalleled. I work with them. They roam my same halls and carry the same passions. The pay isn’t what it should be(it really isn’t in most fields), Sometimes it is draining emotionally and physically and sometimes I do things I don’t necessarily like. But all the time it is and has been my passion. It is what I was meant to do after being a wife and mother.

However, that really isn’t the intended purpose of this post. I made the conscious decision almost six years that I would not share too much info on social media from my students. No identifying markers, no pictures and sometimes that is hard. They are constantly doing amazing things that make my teacher heart swell. They hit walls and then overcome them. Those are things that tell me the sacrifices of my own education and my time were why I am there today.

But for the last month my students and my colleague have been working tirelessly to prepare for a musical. We are doing “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.” And you say, “so what? Every high school in America has some sort of musical.” And you would be right, so what makes ours special. Well ladies and gentleman our program is still it’s infancy. We are three years in and every thing we have done we have started from scratch.

Any drama program we have had was started from the passion and idea of my colleague who loves theater and me supporting and pushing it as far as I had the agency to do so. We started with a zero balance and zero people. It was her and an idea of two students who I said, “Go talk to her!” We are now into our third production and first musical.

And wow, this one is stretching the limits of our technical knowledge and capabilities.  I have a tech team which is amazing. I have a tech team who learned what took me a couple of months in weeks. We have broken lights, torn auditeria curtains, an old sound board that we peeled the dust off. We have no costume or prop budget. Every little thing we have done we have had to create ourselves. We have had to use the resources and people we have.

What started out as three people and idea has blossomed into a large cast, an even larger stage crew and a tech crew. I can barely get that out without tears in my eyes. These are all kids who had to purchase their own costumes, donate wires to make the tech work and more importantly tireless dedication to something bigger than themselves. We may not be up to Jesus Christ Superstar status yet, but we will get there.

To say I am proud is an understatement, but more than anything I am honored to work with such amazing students and staff who do this on a daily basis. It isn’t just for our drama club. It is a belief in the school community that we are trying to create and the belief that you get out of it, what you put into it. That dear readers is love winning.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

What I have learned in my revolution so far…

workout1All week long the scratchy throat, the small nasal drips, the borderline ache and fatigue has been plaguing me. At first I assumed allergies because I am known for spring allergies. Then it felt better with meds. Then I felt crummy again. No one in my family has really been too sick, but my colleague in my department was out twice this week and suffered similarly to myself and we are working the musical together. So I guess what I am saying is we will see. I spent most of this weekend in bed trying to rest up. We are two weeks until the musical and my guy’s golf season starts, so to say I have no time for illness is an understatement. But I suppose that is when it always comes.

I tried shakeology sample kit this week a few times and was kinda disappointed, then even more disappointed and then I fell in love. I have to use the vegan varieties because I don’t really have dairy at all anymore and am intolerant. The first day I did it on a weekend and felt so ridiculously full I was uncomfortable. It felt chalky and blah. I gave it a few days andworkout3 tried strawberry and it was miserable. In my defense, I am not a huge strawberry fan in shakes. The next morning was insanely busy and I acquired a blender that works and tried the chocolate again. I drank it on way to work and once there. I loved the convenience. I felt amazing all day and had energy I wouldn’t normally have. It was the one day I felt entirely healthy all day long and my calorie intake for that day ended up being 800 even and I felt full. So I was sold. I ordered more.

But why I am really here is more to discuss what I have learned in my revolution so far. It is no secret I learned how to eat better. But I have also learned some other things that have some value.

  • Sleep is so very important and the difference between eating good and not eating good usually relies on this for me
  • That if I make a bad choice then I pretty much throw out that whole day and eat like crap (binge eating anyone?). My solution is to just not.
  • My body responds horribly to not eating healthy and it is usually never worth it
  • Weight training slows weight loss but increases inches lost
  • I love lifting weights and how strong it makes me feel physically and emotionally
  • KPuff and I have almost completed T25 which means we have done it for 14 weeks! Wahooo!
  • This journey is about so much more than a scale. It is about emotional and physical well being. It is about doing something for myself. It is about taking care of my needs.
  • My will power is stubbornly strong. I also am very forgiving.
  • It is about me. The moment it is about someone else or someone else tries to make me think I need to do it their way the fun is sucked out and I am miserable.
  • Writing about it all isn’t necessarily the most exciting read, but it is good to share and it keeps me accountable.

Sorry I am MIA

  

  • Game of Thrones on speed. Started the series a week ago today and almost caught up for the season 5 premiere 
  • Still working out everyday and eating good 
  • Been more focused on muscles than cardio and I love it
  • School is insane 
  • My guy is so so. I have been seeing and noticing pains more recently.