Of Hope Chests, English Class, and Socrates

So, my brother’s getting married in August. Therefore, the rest of the family has to clear out their “Hey Mom, I won’t have room for this at my house, can I leave it here?” stuff so he can transform the house from bachelor pad to a home of matrimonial bliss. (I won’t comment on how daunting a task that is, but, Jon, I’m totally here for you! I love to paint and, as you know, clean your house.)

So, I picked up my random assortment of sleeping bags, boxes of old toys, and a large trunk that contains all the things I stuffed in there when I moved away from home for my first job. That trunk contained one precious item I’d nearly forgotten about. The set of tea towels Grandma Fuller embroidered for me and gave to me on my 10th birthday. I still have the handwritten note that says, “Put these in your hope chest and they will keep.” I promptly washed them and stuck them in my kitchen drawer. Can’t wait for Ironing Day!

Also in the “Hope Chest” was a collection of notebooks I used as Journals from 5th grade to my senior year. As I read through parts of them, I ran along a gamut of emotions. I found myself laughing hysterically at something I’d completely forgotten about. I awwww’ed about a cute little passage I’d written about Emily’s latest developments (We would ask her, “Where’s the baby?” and then she would break into an adorable little smile when we pointed to her 6 month picture and say, “There she is!”). I even cried over passages I’m very glad I recorded, though I’d be mortified if anybody else found them. They’re the kinds of moments you say you’ll never want to forget and when you look back at them, you wish you’d forgotten!

All of this led me to wonder, why do we keep journals? Why keep a record of all the horrible things that happened to us in middle school? Why write down all the details of our friends’ high school lives? Hindsight makes it seem so pointless. Isn’t it better to forget those details and live in our current clouded remembrances of the way things were? Because sometimes they were much worse than we remember!

But then I found a passage about school that justified all the ridiculousness I’d read up to that point. I believe it was my Junior year, and I was complaining about how Mr. Phillips, my English teacher, was “mad” at me for not getting my draft turned in to him on time (as I read it, of course, I felt a bit bad for so self-righteously reprimanding my own students for such offenses). The next thing I wrote was something to the effect of, “He’s so confusing. He wants me to take all his classes next year.”

My 11th grade self did not understand, could not understand, that the more a teacher hounds you about something, the more they believe in you. I look at how far I have come (especially along the lines of being more punctual) and it makes me so full of hope for my own students. It also helps me understand their perspective a little better. When I’m too snippy, sarcastic, or even demanding, they sometimes interpret that in the wrong way, thinking I don’t care or I don’t like them. It is exactly the opposite. I’ve got to remember to tell them that!

So, thanks, old self, for having the perseverance to write down events the way you saw them so long ago. I am grateful for the perspective.

Journaling has always been a very helpful hobby of mine. Here is a list of reasons why it is beneficial:

1. Perspective.

2. Writing Skills I am sure that I would be a poorer writer had I not practiced as much as I have throughout these various journals.

3. Understanding Human Nature. I recorded some of our worst decisions as high schoolers, but as I look at the names mentioned in that journal now, what flashes into my mind are people who have grown into better human beings because of those experiences. I am now able to give more grace to each of us because, throughout life, one learns that sometimes people make poor choices, and, even if they do cause huge waves in others’ lives, usually everybody comes out stronger in the end. It is just so hard to see that while all the trouble is occurring.

4. Regret and Remembering. To contradict #3 just a little, it is good to regret something all over again. It helps you avoid mistakes in the future and take more precaution when making decisions. After all, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” After reading these journals, I’ve decided that reflection and remembering helps mold you into a better version of who you are.

5. Solace. There is just something comforting and peaceful about looking back through slices of life that appear in my old journal entries. It’s fun to think about when life seemed more carefree. It’s fun to remember those amazing minor characters in my life whom I had forgotten. They each taught me a little lesson along the way that molded me into the person I am today. And, it is remarkably reassuring to me to see God’s hand on my life as I’ve journeyed through the many turbulent times of life.

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Starting Over

I’ve been reflecting lately about the many things I’ve had to start from scratch with after moving to a new place. Here’s a list.

  • My age. I have had to tell several people that this is my 5th year of teaching, not my 1st. At my last job, I was the young one and the “new” one, and that was fine with me. One lady even commented, “They sure are making them young these days” when she found out I was a teacher, and I was probably flattered that she thought I looked more like I was 18 than 24. But, here, I want to be seen as a 5th year teacher. I really DO know what I’m doing (more often than not, that is). I want to be older!  Assuredly, my current students don’t sway my opinion on my age either way. One told me he thought I was about 40, but then today at our Forensics meet, a kid came up and asked me if I broke finals in Prose. Eh, kids. Love them!
  • Forensics. I ‘ve had to start all over. It’s been a challenge. The biggest thing to work on is convincing kids that it can be a team sport where we take a full team and compete to WIN meets, and stay at the meet all day and support each other, etc. My assistant coach helped me facilitate that better at my last job. I’m all on my own here. So, next year, I’m going to try to promote more of a “team” mindset. But first . . .
  • Forensics Practice. NOW I remember my first year of teaching, when I wanted to ditch this whole Forensics coaching gig because who cares about Forensics? It was because the process of building a team takes serious work. And, lots of nagging, getting kids to come in and practice. No different here! :) I hope students saw how much fun it can be this year, so they’ll put more effort in next year. Forensics is truly one of those activities that is only as good as the kids want it to be. I am confident that I can take them to a high level of competition, but they have to take the initiative to come in and work.
  • Classroom Climate. I had a solid system and rapport in place with my students by year three at my last job. This year, I would change many things about the proverbial foot I started out on. It wasn’t the wrong foot. It was just the foot that seems to have a little sprain in it. Sometimes I tell myself, “I shouldn’t have said that.” Or “This is getting us nowhere.” Or “Too much personal information.” The tricky thing about establishing that system and rapport here is that I won’t have the same group of students next year. But, I can always count on my favorite motto in teaching: “It’ll be better next year!”
  • Friends. I dearly miss my Com. Co. friends. Of course, I knew this was coming. I very clearly remember the first year on the job with virtually no friends to hang out with. It’s just that this time around, I’m much less patient. After all, I’m not working non-stop with lesson plans and prep every night. I have more time to be impatient about finding friends and settling in.
  • Community. I LOVE people. Always have. They intrigue me. Especially when groups of them are interconnected in small communities. I am starting to figure out family connections here just like I did in Com. Co. However, it doesn’t seem to be as simple. The communities aren’t as close-knit as the county-wide community I came from. It’s not bad. Just different.  Honestly, I have more anonymity here, which I am enjoying.
  • Church. When I started going to Antioch five years ago, I would get butterflies before walking into the church and then leave right away at the end of the service. That is, until I got to know people. :) Wonderful people with fantastic hugs for me every Sunday! :) Now, at the city church I’m attending, one of my pastor’s wives (who has been very warm and welcoming towards me) has finally convinced me to stop darting out at the end of the service, and stick around and talk to people instead. I also joined their small group. It’s getting better. But, it is definitely different. A much larger church in a city with many people I don’t know. It will take time.

This one’s for you, Madre.

Mom told me I should blog again. I suppose she’s right. After a crazy first nine weeks here at my new school, I’m settling in pretty well. Here’s  list of new things I know:

1. I love coaching volleyball. More than I love teaching. Crazy? Nope. I love it!

2. Middle school girls are hilarious. They made me laugh every day at practice!

3. I’m a competitive person. Twice this year, we were up 24 or 23 to 9, and I turned to Randy, my assistant coach, and said, “We can’t let them score another point. I want to beat them 25-9.” We did. Twice. (But, I didn’t realize I was that ruthless?)

4. Winning a tournament championship is more fun as a coach than it is as a player!

5. Losing a match (yes, we only lost ONE this season!) is worse for a coach than a player.

6. I love adolescents. Not adolescence, mind you. Adolescents. Even when they are difficult. It is so fun to figure out what makes them tick, how to motivate them, how to encourage them, and how to inspire them to become better in everything.

7. God brought me here for a reason. My superintendent (with a little help from God) convinced me to help bring FCA back to the school. We had our first huddle tonight.

8. What other reason am I on earth than to share the message of Christ with people? That was the “help from God” my superintendent had. After he asked me if I would lead it, I very quickly said, “No.” But, he and his wife told me to pray about it, and it just hit me one night. I need to do this. Ever since then, people have come out of the woodwork, so to speak, to help me! This is God’s plan. I’m so thankful to be used by Him!

9. No matter where I go, I will love the people there. I have missed my old friends and students more than I thought I would! This past weekend was a blast, catching up with some of them at Dave’s! :) I laughed until my abs hurt and I was almost crying. Thanks, Willards!!

10. In year five of teaching, things are easier. I don’t stay at the school nearly as long anymore! Life is good!

11. When professors tell you the project you spent so many day’s worth of hours on was “splendid,” tears can ensue. One more paper down. Four to go. :)

12. I AM BLESSED.

The Chapter Closes

It’s been three and a half years since I began teaching at South Central. What a ride! I’ve learned more in these years about adolescents, education, people, and  many novels, poems, and plays than in all my high school and college years put together. Experience teaches so much!

Now, I’m moving on (on Tuesday, actually) to the next place. I’m very excited to meet new people, new students, and face new challenges–one of them being volleyball coaching! I know I’ll learn even more in the coming years.

I’m so thankful for the time that I had here and for the people I met. It’s amazing how short of a time it takes to get attached to people. I will miss these people greatly, and there is no way I can forget them (or forget to visit them once in a while).

Here’s to the next step!!   :)

Traveling

Last weekend, I went shopping with Emily and found 2 coats (with sleeves long enough for my arms) and one pair of “touring shoes,” made by Merrell. The two coats were on sale (Feb. is a good month to buy winter coats), but the shoes set me back 95 bucks. In CASH, Dave Ramsey. No worries! I’ve come to the conclusion that I am going to have to plunk down the dough if I’m going to wear shoes that support me and are comfortable. It’s worth it! My Merrells are awesome.

Those items were purchased in anticipation of our upcoming DC Trip! Andrea and I are taking 14 students on a trip to our nation’s capital over Spring Break. I am very excited about this since I’ve always wanted to see DC. I love our nation’s history, and I can’t wait to walk on the same ground so many great leaders walked on before me. Abraham Lincoln is probably my favorite president. Such courage in such a tumultuous time. I’m hoping to get through a book or two about him before the trip.

My college friends and I are planning a trip to Chicago this summer. I went to Chicago with Upward Bound when I taught with them one summer, and I fell in love with that city. It is fantastic! The people are friendly. The city is clean and full of things to do. I can’t wait to hang out there with my good friends (and relax from cramming for my comps and prepare for my last month of MA classes). We might go to the beach at Chicago’s waterfront.

Traveling is so much fun. I hope that as a teacher, I will be able to use my summers off for traveling. However, it would be very interesting to travel in the fall. Cheaper rates on flights and hotels, beautiful autumn foliage, and mild weather. If I ever have a year off from teaching . . . I know what I’ll do . . .

Random Thoughts

I’ve read a few articles recently that encourage single women to go ahead and buy themselves nice dishes and furniture (instead of waiting for marriage to get those things). I confess I have been waiting for marriage for those things. However, I will never again buy the cheapest silverware at Wal-Mart. It’s terrible! I am saving money for a nice couch, but it will be awhile since I’m also saving for a car and paying off my college debt first. The couch I have is terrible, really. Another reason I haven’t paid much attention to homemaking is because I’m working on my Master’s. That’s a significant amount of money and time right there. See, I’m full of excuses! But, I welcome any great ideas for couches and chairs for my table. I only have two chairs that go with my table. Ah, who cares? It doesn’t matter to me AT ALL that I don’t have matching dishes and matching chairs around my table. Does it really matter?

I’m listening to my iPod Shuffle the Willards bought me for Christmas. It’s stinking amazing!! I can’t wait until the weather gets a bit warmer so I can go running with it! I wonder if I’ll find myself jamming out to it on my runs. That would look silly. Maybe I should practice somewhere privately before I go out where people can see me!

Today at church I found out that a young missionary who visited our church just two weeks ago died of a brain aneurism. Hugo and Sarah Liborio worked for Score International in the Dominican Republic. They came to our church with their two little kids (one just born in October!), and we were all instantly blessed by their enthusiasm for their work and their fire for the Lord. Hugo couldn’t stop smiling as he told us his testimony, and the story of how he and Sarah met, worked together, married, and started their family. The Liborios were set to return to the DR later this month, I think. It’s so sad to have lost a young father and husband. However, knowing the way he lived and the good work he has done, I can’t help but think that he is rejoicing in Heaven! Please remember Sarah and her two children. I’m sure her grief is tremendous. There is a  group open to all on facebook called “Remembering Hugo Liborio” where people tell wonderful stories of Hugo, and Sarah explains what happened with his death.

I helped Jon with the cattle a couple times over break. Christmas Eve was windy and cold, but we got it all done! I don’t know how he gets all that stuff done every day by himself! Amazing. And, I don’t know how Dad was able to do all that when Jon and I were just babies. Farmers rock. Period.

But, the reason I brought that up was that I can’t seem to get the manure smell out of my two pairs of jeans and coat! I’ve washed them twice and now they’re on the third washing! Whew! Any tips?

Snow Days and Road Trips

It is Wednesday, but I have yet to teach students. Monday and Tuesday were snow days. People estimate we had 26-30 inches of snow here, and it was a blizzard, so huge drifts were everywhere. I’ll try to upload a photo. Then, today, our school hosted League Forensics (TOUGH JOB!). I have one day left before I’m off to see my friends! Katie, Whit, and I are going to the Springs for Heather’s shower. I CAN’T WAIT!! We haven’t been together since August, and we’re long overdue for girl time. Thursday, please fly by quickly and painlessly. :)

  1. 1: my front porch
  2. 2: The front of my house bombarded with snow!
  3. 3: Me in a snow drift. My hand are resting on the top of it. :)