Life makes circles back.

be5659d8d68d9c99ff78822533e222c6I was in high school and really just trying to navigate my social world that had impending adulthood starting to stare me straight in the face. Meanwhile, the girl next door (literally) was dealing with a trauma that I couldn’t even begin to grapple with. This girl next door had been my best friend since we met when she was in 5th grade and I was in 4th grade.

For those that are doing the math we have been best friends for 31 years. We grew up in circumstances that really led to lean on one another so much that at some point the lines became drawn and she became my family. My family accepted her as a daughter and vice versa for her family.

But when we were both in high school her mom became very sick. She ended up with a brain tumor that was cancerous. She watched as her mom slowly and painfully lost her life. She suddenly was riddled with adult decisions that no high school student should have to worry about. Things like paying household bills, making sure the house is kept up and everyone is fed.

I will be the first to admit at time the amount of “adulthood” she had to deal with I struggled to relate to. I wanted to worry about things like what my boyfriend and I were doing that weekend or what movie I was going to next. While she is trying to get more hours at her job to make a house payment.

This best friend and I who grew up with one another, vacationed with one another and spent almost every waking moment together when we could suddenly were on two different planes. Our friendship had withstood out of state moves, parental divorces, friendship breakups and friendship make ups. But this was a hurdle I struggled to even want to cross over.

I remember talking with her about how sick her mom was and feeling so out of my depth I would change the subject to the Algebra test I just bombed. She would follow with a story about barely passing classes because she is working so many hours. My response was always silence. What could I offer to that?

When her mom did pass and the blur of the days that followed I felt a tremendous grief that is so hard to explain. A grief so heavy and is so hard to explain. Decisions were made for me during that time. I lived about 20 minutes from her and my parents and grandparents made the decision to have me spend with the week with my grandma who lived about 10 houses away from her. I would walk to her house, or she would walk to my grandma’s. My grandma would make sure she was fed, had a place to crash and love.

I remember clearly the day of the viewing and my mom coming into town and getting me. I asked her and my grandma what my role was during this. They had simple, but oh so important words. Be there. So I did. For 48 hours, I followed her cues. I let her tell me what she needed and most of the time it was nothing. She needed me to listen when she could be a teenager. We laughed about boys, or girls and the people that showed up. We gossiped about stories that were happening all around us. Then 2 minutes later she was swept back into her grief and I was just there. But I grieved too in a different way. I grieved because my best friend had suffered such an incredible loss at such a young age.

I mean her mom was special to me, she taught me about wearing bras and was doing youtube challenges before YouTube was even a thing. Harken back to taking us to a farmers market (before they were even cool) and convincing us to not only try, but to whom could eat the most sour of gooseberries. What followed was the most amazing gooseberry pie that I can still taste in my mouth to this day. Road trips, boys, bras and a healthy way to live life. I grieved for all of that, but really I grieved for all that my best friend lost and would be without.

But she was grieving for all of the things she would not and all of the things that she should be able to. How could I even begin to understand that? But I was there. I am there. And now we are in our early 40s and she is staring in the mirror looking at her grief in the face as she nears the age when her mom passed. She is in pain again. An unimaginable pain as her son nears her same age when she watched her mom lose her battle. Again a grief I could never understand and honestly feel helpless to do anything about.

I tell you this story not to spread sadness. But instead I tell it because life circles around like that. I see it coming back around staring me in the face. I saw it yesterday as I sat next to a previous student who is very dear to me at a funeral. A funeral for her best friend’s mother. Everyone involved means a lot to me, but I sat next to a girl who was me so many years ago.

My mind was suddenly flooded all day with the “what I should have dones” and grief that my best friend has to feel this incredible loss over and over and over. It isn’t fair and it isn’t fair it happens to anyone. Love works like that you know? I want to step into her life and I want to take some of the pain of this loss.

I realized though that this life journey is long and difficult and that as I sat there and stared my own mortality in the face that this life journey I have been making with my best friend is 31 years in the making. She probably knows me about better than my own husband. That counts for so much. All of life griefs for both of us there is one consistent factor and that is that we have one another.

Love will win. Love always wins. Even with grief. -MR

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Silence is the hardest part of teaching.

“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
― Jim Henson

And I would add to that quote…how you made them feel. 

The stories that we cannot tell are the hardest part. Some you just cannot tell. Some you don’t tell because it isn’t your story. Some just don’t feel right because they are tiny moments of human connection that to type it all out for the world to consume feels like it would somehow minimize its humanness.

But we do have to keep ourselves in check and acknowledge that we are humans and with that humanness comes brokenness. We aren’t unfeeling robots who don’t recognize that the world exists outside of our classroom. Or at least I am not.

Those moments when I want to clamp down the hardest because they aren’t figuring out MLA or reading as in depth as they should are the very moments I remember that the world spins outside of my classroom for them, just as it does for me.

And life is beautiful, and cruel and real. It gives and it takes away. Those are where the stories are at. The stories that they will tell; the stories just as I tell my own. The ones that shape us and make us who we are. Sometimes they leave us better than when they got to us and sometimes they leave us less than they were.

But they are real, they are human and my best asset as an educator (and honestly as a human) is to acknowledge that. I am blessed to have this job. It is hard because I am so emotional about it. But it is a blessing none the less.

As close to a 30 day challenge as I have ever gotten.

I attempted a month of OOTD (outfit of the day) and I did pretty well considering I stink at these things. My life is crazy sometimes to focus on that when sometimes I struggle to find time to focus on little things like eating, working out and keeping my laundry pile to a minimum.

But I tried to bring my “A” game this month with clothes for a few reasons. I have been again supplementing my clothes with newer ones that actually fit. 2nd if you remember we did spirit week at the end of October and I dressed “down” so to speak and it made me feel so incredibly awkward and that phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” kept coming to my mind. So I upped my clothing and shoe game for the month of November. I enjoyed the challenge. Also, I am trying to do heels more and put more care into outfits.

Somedays I missed the mark on a picture and you got workout attire, or it was just the weekend. The last and final picture is a reminder to take care of yourself. I spent so long not taking care of me, that my health is a priority now. It was time for my yearly mammogram, which is my birthday month present to myself. My doc recommended that timeline last year, so I would never forget and I love it. So here you are….

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“The way people dress makes them a part of an army, dressed in their own uniform, determined to do something.” -Susan Menkes

Last and final grateful day.

We should always be grateful. It shouldn’t be a time of year or a week or thirty days. Life is good.

But for me I am grateful for the chance for this life. The ability to have life and to give life and all the wonderful parts of life even the tough stuff.

It is all worth it when lived with love.

Grateful Day # 5 – My Empath Journey

b11d318af2db4355c4c3c37c9fcc593aWhen I was 17 I sat in a hospital room with a person dying of cancer. I wasn’t that close to the sufferer, but I was super close with those that were suffering. I felt an intensity that I couldn’t understand. A presence in the room that created pain within my insides. It felt like I was being bombarded. At one point I stepped out because it felt so intense. The sadness was all around.

I didn’t understand in that moment but that was likely my first memory of being an empath. I am not just a person sympathetic to others feelings. Sympathy and empathy are not the same. I literally feel the feelings of those around me and much of my life is lived choosing to serve those around me because I am empath.

It took years to embrace this part of myself. A lot of times people would call me “too sensitive” or I would be considered (or even use it) as a party trick. But in reality being an empath has become one of my favorite parts of myself. I cannot even put into words how it works, but if you know me or you spend any time around me you have likely seen it is action.

And yes sometimes it is too much and I truly hate being around negative and stuck people and sometimes I just want to shut it off. But in reality it is who I am and I wouldn’t change that. It is a huge part of my faith as well which I plan to bring in tomorrow. I know that service to others is what fulfills me and being an empath is a part of that journey.

Empathetically Yours, MR 

Grateful Day # 4 – I can thank myself.

If I could even put into words how bad I wanted this. Years. 4 years of working. 4 years of ups and downs where I gave up and started again for the 100th time. Maybe it took 4 years, or maybe it took some fire within, or maybe my surgery or maybe I just continued even when it was hard.

Frustration reigns supreme when you are focused on numbers. I know that. I purposefully had not weighed myself in a few days because I was tired. I was tired of the trying and eating and really just wanted the doing.

I see my doctor next week and I had hoped I had met my last and final goal. The one goal that felt impossible for years. As it seemed like more of a possibility I didn’t give into hope. Today I decided to step on the scale and it had been over a week. I didn’t expect much and I looked down and an audible scream came out then tears.

I sat in the dark of my living room with just the christmas tree lights glowing crying quiet enough to not wake up my number three. Sniffling and smiling and trying to snap a picture without the flash.

So today I am grateful for me for not giving up on myself. I am grateful that I have healed my relationship with food. For too long I let it beat me and let myself hide behind my weight, big frumpy clothes and all of my favorite carbs.

I am grateful I found me. I am grateful for finding comfort in my own skin on the inside and the out. I am grateful I let my “dear fat girl” posts go. Why would I ever address myself with such contempt?

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Dear beautiful girl, the one who fights for who she is and who she wants to be. Never give up. I am so grateful for you. – MR

Day # 3 – Why I keep this letter in my purse.

Do you enjoy taking on way more than you can ever possibly do? Do you look at situations and think they feel absolutely impossible? Do you like never knowing second to second what your day will look like? Do you enjoy the likelihood that you will make someone mad every single day? And most of the time the things that make people mad have nothing at all to do with you.

This is the life of a teacher and it is honestly only the tip of the iceberg of what a teacher’s life truly looks like and because I am who I am. I am empath. I am over thinker. I am overachiever. I am a people pleaser. I am a recovering perfectionist. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the the “Stuff”. That doesn’t even mention all the intrusions from politicians and societal opinions that interrupt my classes daily. They tell me what to teach, how to teach and the ways in which I should.

It is frustrating and sometimes I want to just say, “No, I am gonna use my English degrees for another career path,” but I don’t. I don’t because of letters like this.

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I have carried this letter in my purse every day since I got it years ago. It gets beat up and gross and a few times I have thought about taking it out. But then I don’t because chances are (and they have proved right) I will run into that letter just when I need it and the “stuff” all gets to be too much.

You need to know a bit of the background of this letter to understand why it is there. This is a letter from a student who told me to my face they hated me. Day after day of battling a system that told the student I am the enemy. I am the one they need to fight. An educational system that is broke and not always on their side. By all accounts I stood for everything that had gone wrong in their educational experience. But I worked hard and never gave up on the student. A year with that student to prove I was different and that I did care and I wasn’t a part of the system the way they saw it. A year of being the teacher they needed. One that didn’t give up on them because it got difficult.

There is obviously a lot more to this story, but I have many more of these stories where this one came from. This is why I do this every day. This is why I kill myself for my job, and why I don’t move to a more lucrative career with my degree. There is more money to be had, but I don’t do it for the money. I mean I do, but I picked this career path because it fulfills my passion and my calling and money alone cannot do that.

That letter reminds me why I do this. It is less about the student who wrote it and more of a representation of my why. A physical manifestation of my heart and mind in education. I do it for them. I do it to be a voice and light in the world where there needs to be more.

I have always been and will always be on your side, my students, and I am ever grateful that you are in my classroom. Once in my classroom…you are always my student. – Mrs. E (aka MR)

So grateful to you my baby girls.

I remember very distinctly the first time each of you realized your feet could carry you in the opposite direction of me. At the time it was a game of “Catch Me”, but also at the time was when I realized that parenting was single handedly the most heartbreaking thing I would do because I would forever spend the rest of my life fighting the feeling of letting you go while simultaneously wanting to hang on forever. But I couldn’t and I can’t.

I am just so grateful to have three beautiful daughters who make me so incredibly proud everyday and take on the world’s hard choices even though sometimes other routes would be easier. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your journey and so grateful you call me Momma. You three have always called me momma and that name means everything to me and always will.

And finally thank you for the motivation and encouragement to push me to be my best self and always reminding me along the way that my best self is right in front of you. The best secret to my own success has been making promises to you. ❤

It was so hard to pick just a few and before I knew it I had 100 pictures here! But each and everyone them captures a moment forever in my heart. Life is beautiful and you each have made my life more beautiful.

I am so much more than MR to you all. I am your momma. Forever Grateful, Momma

 

Week of Grateful.

I am so grateful for you…my guy. The years of laughter, love and everything I didn’t know I needed, but you did. I know I don’t always make things easy and sometimes I am plain difficult to love. But you always do. You always show up for me, you always show up for us. You make me smile inside and out and you make me look forward tomorrow and saying good night every night. Every success and good thing that has happened in my life has happened because you believed in me.

“You are the love of my life. And you are the reason I am alive.” – Sammy Kershaw

I cannot seem to commit to a month of grateful…but a week. I can do that.

– Gratefully Yours – MR