Gratitude Affects Attitude

thanks

I did less this break than I have in years. I don’t regret that. I needed to breathe. To just be for a bit. So I did, and I feel better right now than I have in months. It’s funny how I was dragging all this negativity around with me all semester and how doing that led to something heavy building inside me. Whatever that was manifested itself in sickness that stayed with me until the bitter end of December. It’s funny how taking the time to breathe actually made me physically able to really breathe.

I’ve always believed in mind over matter, that a positive attitude creates positivity, in the laws of attraction, in letting go and letting God. But believing and acting on those beliefs are two different things.

I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

I’m going to dedicate much of my blog time to reinforcing my life affirmations.

Thankfulness is one of the keys. I’m incredibly thankful for so many people who have been in my life. Without others I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’m thankful for my students over the years who gave so much of their time and talent to the Rider media program. I’m thankful for family members and for my small group. I’m thankful for my old writing group that challenged me and taught me and inspired me, and I’m thankful for my new writing group…even though it’s so far away. I’m thankful for my daughter who has always shared her life with me and for my incredible husband who is my best friend and my love.

I’m thankful for BBC and their incredible mysteries and Gilmore Girls and Netflix. I know that seems silly, but my break of nothingness translated to time spent with Netflix, George Gently, Phryne Fisher and the Gilmores.

I’m thankful for Zumba. I forget how much I like it, and then I get started again and it makes me so happy…two days and counting this time.

I could go on, but I think I’ll save the rest for later. :)

Thanks

Such a little word

That means so much

And so little

At the same time

A word full and empty

Like all words but not

Because thanks

Matters.

It seems

Like a word for others

But in reality

It’s a word for you.

A Happy New Year, THANK GOD!

NYE 2015I love new years. Each one makes me sigh in relief. Even if the year before was great, the clean slate of a new year shines like my classroom’s waxed floor in August before my classes stars.

This last year was NOT great. It should’ve been. I saw plenty of personal successes. But it wasn’t. I saw this image on Pinterest yesterday. It seems appropriate for what was 2014.

lost

I’m glad the minute that was 2014 is over now. It’s easy to find yourself at the end of a two-week break. I look forward to continuing that journey. And if I lose myself, I hope to do it in a way that is fun and fulfilling instead of a way that leaves me sick and tired and demoralized and up two sizes.

Here’s the thing. No person or entity or schedule or dashed expectation can make me lose myself. I know that. In the moment, though, it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to place blame and waste tears and sink into the morass of dejection and powerlessness. But the deal is I’m only powerless if I cede my power. I did that in ’14. That’s over now. :)

I’m looking forward to 2015 and all it’s waxed floor shininess. I plan on moving the furniture of my life and expectations around a bit and scuffing the floor of this year. I’m going to be a grandma–sometime in the next month–and I’m getting rid of these two sizes I’ve gained and I’m going to write more Liz Lee romances (those are the steamy ones…proceed with caution). More than anything, I’m going to surround myself with positivity. That doesn’t mean I’ll accept the awful in education. I’ll still fight for fixes there. That doesn’t mean I’ll be okay with hate and misogyny and inequality. I’ll still post stories that expose those behaviors. It does mean I won’t let those things take away my joy.

I’m looking forward to 2015!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leggings From Hell and Other Nonsense

2 I'm a touristI blame the cold. Before I write anything else, let me make that clear. See I couldn’t stop coughing last night, so I started the night in the recliner.When I was in that recliner with the old comforter my husband’s grandma made him that he loves but I just sort of like (the comforter, not his MeMa. I liked her just fine), I thought I’d reached the low end of suckage for 24 hours. Thought. I had no idea.

It was the last day of school this semester so no way was I missing today. Not unless I spiked a 102 fever or some such nonsense.

No problem. I coughed all night, enough that my voice sounded like a lifetime smoker and my abs felt like I’d used the Pilates DVD I bought a billion years ago then promptly stuck in the movie box for use later, BUT no fever. So school was a go.

I might have felt like crap, but I figured I’d at least attempt to look good. I grabbed the new leggings I’d spent real money on instead of the shiny less than five bucks ones from Walmart.

If you’ve ever gone to battle with a pair of leggings you’ll understand my next few lines.

I tugged and pulled and jumped and hollered and swore and started sweating…and coughing…and finally wrung those stupid non-pants into submission.

I found my ancient Christmas Santa sweatshirt and pulled it on over my dress. Last day, so Santa is a must. I zipped up my boots and looked in the mirror. Yeah. Looked good. If I used my cough drops wisely, no one would guess I was actually sick.

When I sat down in the car, I should’ve understood. But no.

I ignored the strange feeling that my leggings were starting to slip. And I continued to ignore it as I made my way up the stairs to my classroom. And I continued to ignore it as I started class, but about ten minutes in ignoring it was no longer an option.

My leggings that I spent real money on looked like an old man’s long johns. The butt was sagging, the knees were somewhere around my calves, the waist barely held on to my hips.

And I couldn’t stop coughing, which only made it worse. Because I’m 45 and coughing non-stop when you’re 45 is one of the seven levels of hell on the bladder, let me tell you.

Somehow I made it through the class.

I still can’t stop coughing. The leggings I spent real money on are in the trash. This semester is over and I’m sure I’m not alone in praising Jesus for that favor. It’s kind of funny when I think about it tonight.

Those stupid, god-awful, who the heck thinks leggings should STRETCH OUT WHEN YOU’RE WEARING THEM?!, leggings are a metaphor for my year.

I’m teaching a new class. It’s a new add-on to an already crazy schedule, and instead of rolling with it, I’ve tugged and pulled and jumped and hollered and swore A LOT and started sweating and thought way too much about the loveliness of losing myself in tequila (that last one is teacher hyperbole, Ma, don’t freak out). After 21 years, I should know better. You can’t FIGHT a class. You will lose. Or at least that’s been my experience. You also can’t throw a class in the trash and say good riddance–they’re kids and they deserve a teacher, but thank God, we get do-overs next semester.

Here’s hoping for a better 2015. And a healthy 2015. I’m kind of tired of this cold. Happy holidays!

Contest looking for READERS!

It’s that time again that The Carolyn Readers Choice Awards (CRCA) from the North Texas Romance Writers Association is gearing up and we need Readers to judge the newest, hottest, up and coming books.

Judge for the CRCA

So if you like free books, and who doesn’t?, are willing to read and then fill out a short questionnaire, go to the Carolyn Readers Choice site and sign up. It’s as easy as that.

Happy Reading!!!

The People Spoke, We Must Too

640px-Constitution_We_the_People

It’s no secret who I voted for, but I believe in The People. We live in a country where that means something. I know in 2011 educators met with Dewhurst and he listened. I know others did, too. I know when I wrote my blog post, A Plea from a Teacher that was viewed a bajillion times around the world politicians from all sides commented on it and sincerely wanted to hear back from me. The People spoke yesterday, and it was a resounding defeat for Democrats, but just like the R‘s don’t own Jesus, the D’s don’t own education. Don’t let an election stop you from fighting for the kids, the classroom and what we know is right. Education can not be a partisan issue now. If people let it become one, it gives the testing companies and their lobbyists more power. Most politicians are parents. They want what’s best for kids, too. They just don’t always know what’s best. They won’t ever know if we don’t speak up. Tell your classroom stories. Tell about how the cuts have challenged you as an educator (not just teachers), tell how testing affects your kids, educate the public. If we go around being angry teachers and parents all the time, those “reformers” sound like they’re on to something.

(Another cross posting from my Facebook wall. Sorry if you’re seeing this twice.)

Speak Up For Our Kids. They Deserve Better.

Educators, regardless who you voted for you have a responsibility to speak up about the travesty taking place in our public schools. The testing regime won, but they can change if we speak up for our kids. I know there were other issues than education driving this election. The Republicans were not always tied to Pearson and the billionaires funneling money into the state for for-profit charters. The Republicans don’t have to stay tied to Pearson, and they can thank the billionaires for their campaign contributions while standing up for public education. When Republicans joined forces with Pearson, they didn’t see the truth about testing. Teachers see it now. Teachers live it now. Students suffer through it now. If you are silent, you are saying this is okay. Do not be silent. Fight for our kids.

(Posted on my Facebook wall tonight. Some of you might see it twice because of that.)

Our_Lives_Begin_To_End_The_Day_We_Become_Silent

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH #SAVETXSCHOOLS, Vote

Dear Texas Educators,

In March 2011 several thousand people gathered to protest the huge cuts to education. Wendy Davis fought for us then and lost. Will we fight for her now so she can win?

In March 2011 several thousand people gathered to protest the huge cuts to education. Wendy Davis fought for us then and lost. Will we fight for her now so she can win?

Maybe you don’t remember a different time. A time when we had enough full-time teachers in a department to teach classes effectively without feeling overwhelmed. A time when curriculum was built around learning instead of testing. A time when entire districts would have laughed at the idea of YEARS WITHOUT WRITING as part of the scheduled day (hello fifth grade, hello eighth grade).

Maybe you don’t remember those days, but I do.

I also remember 2011, the year a tough job got way more difficult.

(From my Facebook post earlier tonight) Dan Patrick said the $5.4 billion cuts to Texas public education he helped spearhead in 2011 didn’t kill anyone. I have no idea if he’s right, but I feel sure the stress teachers have been under since 2011 trying to do what we’ve always done with fewer people and more demands translates to shorter life expectancy. If you’re a rich white guy just hanging out making deals with your buddies to make their lives more lucrative, you probably aren’t hurting much from those cuts. If you’re a teacher voting for that guy, I hope you know why.

If you’re a teacher who hasn’t voted yet or wonders if they’ll even bother, stop it right now and go vote TOMORROW. If you’re in Wichita Falls, you can vote at Home Depot or Sikes Senter. (And we wonder why our kids can’t spell!)

Obviously, I voted for Davis and Van de Putte because I believe the Perry administration along with Abbott and Patrick have done their best to destroy public education in Texas, Texas public school teachers and OUR CHILDREN. Between the ridiculous testing requirements and the budget cuts, we are truly at an impasse.

Get educated on the issues–the REAL ISSUES not those stupid Patrick commercials where he claims to be pro teacher which is the funniest thing I’ve heard all year–AND VOTE. Because if you don’t, when you get another prep next year or a pay raise that’s barely visible because of insurance adjustments or you’re sitting in a class with a kid who’s crying because they think they have no chance of graduating because they can’t pass the 5-hour ELA test, you can look in the mirror and say you’re to blame.

I know you’re tired. I know you feel powerless. If you don’t vote you ARE powerless. If you do, if we all do, we will have a voice.

In 2011 I marched with thousand of others in the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin and I helped organize the local rally here, and everywhere I went I heard teachers say, enough is enough.

It’s time to prove it.

There’s only one way to truly Save our Schools.

Vote.

Dear September Self,

SeptOk, I guess we could even say August self, but August is different. August is the giddy, sparkly, shiny new year self, and she regularly lives in the world of make believe, Disneyfied education where everything is beautiful and wonderful and people sing songs about the greatness of teachers. September is the real world, smack against a wall, what the heck was I thinking, it would be easier to work-at-Walmart-Target-ToysRUs-Cheddars-ElChicos-TheMallEvenThoughYouHateShopping. So listen up September self. Teaching is hard. It’s always been hard. It’s a sucker punch to the gut hard. And it’s a heck of a lot harder now than it was back in the days of teaching six of eight or five of six. So yeah. Eat right, sleep, take your vitamins, walk, find something to binge on Netflix, buy the tequila and margarita mix and suck it up.

DO NOT plan on writing…or creating much of anything really because you’re going to come home and want to bury your head in the sand, a romance novel, a bowl of homemade chocolate mousse. Wednesdays will suck. Bad. So bad you might think about investing in the complete Sopranos collection because violence is good on Wednesdays.

BUT

September passes. Round about the 24th of the month you start to feel like you know what you’re doing…sort of. By the last weekend, you’re excited about the year again.

And the kids…the kids are great. They’re probably having the same problem with Wednesdays, so don’t plan tests or deadlines on Wednesdays.

Take a deep breath and know September passes. <3

Sincerely,

Your 2014 late September Self

Dear Educators

time-thiefDo what’s right by your students but protect your time. Burnout runs rampant in this business because what we do is a calling. But we deserve and need lives outside the classroom. School is a job and people will take what you give. If you have a great administrator, and thank God I do (best ever, retiring, I want to cry), they’ll tell you or at least hint that you’re doing too much. That doesn’t always happen, though. So you need to tell yourself.

Remember you are a professional. And you deserve to be compensated for your time. That doesn’t mean you won’t work hours before and after school for free. It doesn’t mean you won’t spend money on your classroom and for your kids. But don’t go broke for your school. Not monetarily, physically or emotionally. And choose those free hours. Don’t let them be chosen for you.

Educate yourself, study best practices, don’t drink the Kool-Aid just because someone presents it as the Next Best Thing. Trust your gut. Practice your craft. Have fun. Teach the topic, not the test. It won’t be easy, but you owe it to your kids.

Fight for what you believe in. Fight for your kids. Fight for your fellow teachers.

If there’s a problem, talk to the person who can fix it instead of getting caught up in a perpetual gripe session with people who sympathize but can’t really do anything about it. If you’re afraid to talk to that person, get over the fear. If you can’t, remember you choose to stay. You control you.

And since you do, since you must, always remember,

Protect Your Time.

You can’t get it back. <3

**********

I’ve been going through my blog tagging entries. This is what I wish I could tell myself. It isn’t original. I can’t tell you how many educators said these things to me on bus trips to UIL Meets, in district meetings, at Leadership Cohort, in offices, in the teacher’s lounge. The people who told me this were absolutely right. Looking back with regret for the time you missed with people you love sucks. You don’t want to go there. Promise.