Monthly Archives: July 2014

I LOVE Summer

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I love my job. I can’t wait to get back to the business of helping my kids create yearbooks and newspapers and videos and learn the ins and outs of professional social media use, and this year I (might) get to do this AWESOME guinea pig class where I use a J approach with English, BUT I still don’t want this summer to end. I know the summer honeymoon will end before we go back. No way will we continue to have the amazing cool mornings AND evenings, no way will we continue to get these great rain storms about once a week. This summer has truly been a blessing. I’m thankful for the days I’ve had, and I’m going to embrace those left.

Happy summer y’all. It’s been a good one.

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Don’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. No spam, just give aways and free reads and new release news!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to Amazon Prime members to read for FREE!!!! Check them out. Dead Girl Walking will release in audio soon. I’m listening to the final cuts now! Brenna Frederick is a genius narrator. I can’t wait for the world to hear her interpretation of DGW!

Summer at Grandma’s

Grandma Mary Ella VanderburgAn oldie but a goodie. Every year I hit mid-summer and remember the days of late nights at Grandma’s where cousins were best friends, gardens reigned supreme, church league softball meant the best kind of fun and homemade lunches were the norm.

A Writer's Life

I loved summers. Rootbeer floats, fried chicken Sundays, biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
Cousins galore.
All of us sleeping on pallets and sleeping bags around Grandma’s floor, wherever we fit.
The last days of school were spent in anticipation. Not of freedom but of Oklahoma, the land of Grandma and Grandpa, the Blue River and then later, Tecumseh, husking corn, snapping beans and eating fried okra. Learning to make a bed the right way and clean a stove after dinner was done. How to sweep until a floor was clean.
And, the biggest anticipation of all once Grandpa retired from preaching, Oak Park Church of God.
Grandpa was a preacher. He had no problem calling us out from the pulpit if we talked during the service. It only happened once that I can recall.
I don’t know what it was about that church that made it different. Maybe it’s just…

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Will the teachers in the room stand up?

super-teacher1You are awesome. You are amazing. You are selfless. You rock.

You are professionals who are off this summer, and you DON’T get paid for that time, even though people, especially politicians, forget that. Even though you’re off, most of you have spent untold hours earning professional development credit in classes over your content area or classroom skills, taking post-graduate classes to earn advanced degrees and/or attending, possibly teaching, workshops with students who will come back and play on your teams or work on your staffs.

Summer is your time to refill the well. Teaching is an art, and teachers are artists, so refilling the creative well is absolutely essential. Rest, relax. You’ve earned it, and you desperately need it.

But

Don’t forget the importance of what we do.

Years ago I attended a conference where a renowned educational speaker asked this question:

If Starbucks were to run out of coffee, what would their response be?

We all sat and laughed imagining that scenario. The manager would be on the phone to every nearby Starbucks looking for more coffee. The baristas would be ready to jump in their cars to go retrieve that coffee even if it meant a 90-minute drive to make that happen. The Starbucks team would work as a unit to get that coffee, whatever it took. In all likelihood they wouldn’t be OUT of coffee…if they waited until it was too late and there was no coffee, the consequences would be severe. People would lose hours, jobs would be lost and customers would be irate.

If a student isn’t learning or is struggling to learn, and we don’t work together as a team to do everything in our power to help them learn, we’re not talking about hours and jobs lost and irate customers. We’re talking about the failure of the United States as a whole. We’re talking about kids who become adults on public assistance for life or worse.

One day I was talking to a nurse who said, “I realize your job is hard, but my job is life and death.”

I agreed with her then.

Now that I’m working in a city that is drastically changing from upper middle class to middle class to lower middle class to where we are now…where most of the children in our district qualify for free or reduced lunch, I totally disagree. It might not be as visible, but when we walk into the classrooms, our jobs ARE life and death.

Remember that as you go to your workshops and classes and think of the cool lesson plans for next year.

I know we can’t do this alone. It takes a village and all that. But we are on the front lines. When we walk on our campuses, every student there belongs to us…not just the ones in our classes. We are the heroes, and this is more than a job.

Enjoy your summer. You’ve earned it.

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Don’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. No spam, just give aways and free reads and new release news!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to Amazon Prime members to read for FREE!!!! Check them out. Dead Girl Walking will release in audio soon. It’s soooooo good y’all!!!! I can’t wait to share!

The extroverted introvert dilemma

stressI sat in the back of the auditorium, my speech in my notebook, ready to share with the staff what I’d learned about professional learning communities and how they could change everything if teachers were given the time and resources to make them work.

My hands were shaking, I was sweating, I thought about blowing the whole thing off. My friend, our speech teacher at the time, Debbie gave me a thumbs up. Okay. I could do this.

And I did.

And it was amazing.

I was shaking the whole time, but the adrenaline rush was tremendous.  People listened to what I said. Everyone didn’t agree with the outcome I proposed, but everyone appreciated the effort. And they had ideas of their own. Ideas that would lead to student achievement.

(Leadership Cohort changed me, challenged me, made me speak up. First post about those days here.)

But still, over seven years later, I have to force myself to speak up in a room of people. Small groups, no problem. Big groups…gulp.

I’m an extrovert on the inside, an introvert on the outside. It makes for some hilarious self-talk, let me tell you.

I’m working on this. If my inner extravert weren’t trying to come out on a regular basis, I’d wrap my introvert self up in quiet awesomeness. BUT that’s not the way it is. I want to speak up, I want to talk to people…even people I don’t know. So here goes.

Another pledge. I’m going to embrace both sides of myself. But I’m not going to let the introvert win. No more sneaking out of meetings as soon as they’re over without talking to others, no more WANTING to share with the group but keeping my mouth shut because I’m nervous.

This is turning into a July of pledges for me. Good thing I’ve got The Success Principles to help me succeed! ❤

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Don’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. No spam, just give aways and free reads and new release news!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to Amazon Prime members to read for FREE!!!! Check them out. Dead Girl Walking will release in audio soon. It’s soooooo good y’all!!!! I can’t wait to share!

Surround Yourself With Positivity

someonesmilesAt the NTRWA (North Texas Romance Writers) meeting last weekend the speaker reminded us about how important it is to surround yourself with positivity. She talked about how allowing dark presences in our lives can actually affect how we respond.

I’m a FIRM believer in that.

Two years ago I spent most of the school year focused on being positive only. I worked to keep my Facebook posts positive, I blogged about positive issues here, I wrote daily affirmations, I put motivations quotes up around my writing space and my classroom. It made a huge difference in my day and how I responded to kids at work.

I’m going to rededicate myself to the goal of surrounding myself with light and positivity. It’s easy to say in the middle of July. I’m going to focus on my affirmations, though, and when the school year starts, if I start to go negative, I hope my blog followers and friends will say, “HEY, hold up. Where’s your light?”

That doesn’t mean I’ll bury my head in the sand on politics or the war on education. It does mean I’m checking out of the spin zone. My emotions have been in constant turmoil for months because of the spin. I’ll focus on facts, fact finding and helping make positive change. I’ve already unfollowed most of my news feeds. I’ll be sticking to PBS NewsHour and print news for the most part.

In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield says most people complain to the wrong people. They complain to people who can’t fix the problem, which is really just an exercise in frustrated futility. Kind of like trying to fight a war on Facebook. Canfield is so right. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been a room and one person says something negative and another chimes in and then I chime in and before you know it, this little thing that really was No Big Deal has turned into a GIANT PROBLEM. That leads to crazy stress and hurt feelings and all sorts of emotional fallout. So, I’m checking out of that, too.

During my school year of positivity, I tried meditating at lunch and it was a HUGE success. I might try that again, although, I have to say I LOVE eating lunch with history teachers in the upstairs lounge. They have the most fascinating conversations. And it’s good to see grown ups. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. (I bet a history teacher could tell me the origins of that phrase! Or Google…nah. I’m not looking it up.)

I’m ending this post with this goal. My goal this year is to surround myself with positivity, to focus on the light, to use my energy for good. I hope you’ll hold me to it! Especially in August…when it gets tough to follow through and December and March. Yearbook advisers and anyone who has ever worked on their yearbook will understand. 🙂

****For the next 90 days The Guardian books, Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to check out for free to Amazon Prime members. Angel Eyes will join them on July 20. I hope you’ll look at them, read the blurbs, see if you’re interested. And if you read and like the books, I’d appreciate it if you’d write a short review on Amazon letting other readers know about them. As an indie author, word of mouth is how people learn about my books. Several of the ad sites require a set number of reviews before they’ll let you advertise.

Thanks so much!!

–Mary Beth @marybethleeybnp

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Don’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. No spam, just give aways and free reads and new release news!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

 

 

Where Do You See Yourself in Six Months?

question-63916_640I asked a friend that question yesterday. It’s an important question.
A question I ask myself regularly. I don’t want to tread through the water of life. I want to live intentionally, with a purpose. I want to hold on to my dreams and to work to achieve them.
I used to sell Mary Kay, and I remember listening to this National Sales Director on a tape. She said every day she went to work she was surrounded by friends who said, “I’m so tired,” “I’m so tired,” “I’m so tired.” And one day she said, “Well, I’m not.”
She was hugely successful at that job and went on to be hugely successful with Mary Kay.
I love those stories. I love that successful people have so many traits in common. Living intentionally is one of them. Having a goal is another. Surrounding yourself with people you want to be like is another.
The thing about success: I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Successful people like to share their success stories.
That’s a lesson I did with my seniors this year. I don’t know how many of them actually followed through with the end of the lesson, but I had them make a five-year plan and then I told them to find someone who was where they wanted to be and ask them how they got there.
Success isn’t a secret.
It’s also not one size fits all.
Knowing the answer to the question where do you see yourself in six months (1 year, five years…) helps measure success.
I don’t sell Mary Kay any more, but the lessons I learned listening to the success tapes have been invaluable to my life.
Do you have a plan? A vision? An answer to the question?
I highly recommend the book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read.
Can you answer the question where do you see yourself in six months (1 year, five years?)
I can.
And I’m going to live intentionally to reach those goals.

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legs 1600by2400smallAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases July 20!

Proud Day Memory

College graduationThis is the one picture I have of college graduation in 1993. DH took it. I was sick as a dog, but at the time I thought I had a little headache. Turned out a tiny bit more that that. My one and only experience with strep that I can remember, and I’d put it up there with swine flu. (If you’ve followed this blog, you know I got that experience in 2009. Ugh.)

That little girl in my arms and the man taking the photo were the two biggest reasons I have degrees today.  The little girl was my daily inspiration to go to school, do the work and get done. ❤

Family reunionThe man taking the photo was my biggest cheerleader, motivator, calm in the storm ROCK.

(This is us in May this year. 21 years after my first MSU graduation. 15 after my second.)

It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

If you’re struggling right now with school or a career path, find a rock and an inspiration. If you don’t have one, use the comments here and let me be your rock. It’s easy to not go. School is expensive. It’s HARD. It seems so pointless to take classes like Zoology and Botany and College Algebra when what you want to do is teach journalism. But that degree is as much about persistence as it is about learning the content. And if school isn’t your path, that’s okay, too. But only if you have a path, a plan, a goal to a successful life. Research shows college graduates earn more over a lifetime, but college is definitely not the only answer. Find someone who successfully does what you want to do and ask the how to get there. People are incredibly helpful, but you’ve got to ask.

If you want to know about advising student media or writing, I can answer questions. I know there are others out there willing to help.

Whatever you do, don’t choose to let life live you. YOU LIVE LIFE. If you don’t know the difference, feel free to ask. I’ll explain. 🙂

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legs 1600by2400smallDon’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here. (Giveaways and more!)

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

 

 

So You Want to Write a Book

TWO WORDS OF ADVICE:

Start. Writing.

Okay, I lied. Two more words of advice:

Start. Reading.

If you’re not reading, you can’t write. If you’re not writing, you’re not writing. It really is that simple.

If you think you don’t have time, you’re wrong.

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If you want feedback on your writing, find someone to give it to you. I can, other writers can, your mom can. If you want some guidance, check out local writing groups and books like On Writing by Stephen King.

Just remember, you can want to write all day. You’ve got to DO it for it to count!

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legs 1600by2400smallDon’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here. (Giveaways and more!)

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

Oh Sugar

My name is Mary Beth Lee, and I’m addicted to sugar.

I THOUGHT I could handle it. Just a little, what would it hurt?

Processed sugar doesn’t work like that for me. (If you’re one of those people who can eat anything without consequence, I hate you. Okay, not really, but seriously, that is so not fair!!!!)

If I smell processed sugar, I gain ten pounds. If I eat a bite, well, that’s a joke. No way am I eating a bite. I don’t even understand how people do that! DH can keep a pound of M&Ms by his chair and not even blink. If a pound of M&Ms is by my chair, they’re gone in a day…or two…maybe three ( hahahahahaha! a pound M&Ms for three days. That’s a good one!) No way are they sticking around for weeks. It’s like this voice in my brain clicks on and says, “Hey, if you go ahead and eat them all they’ll be gone and you can get started on your low-carb lifestyle again.” AND even though that voice has been lying to me for years, I DO IT. I actually believe that’s the answer. At least in the moment. Afterwards I wonder why I didn’t take the junk and dump it. And then I usually eat something else carby because hey, I’ve already blown the diet to hell, so why not?!

Story of my life: Me VS processed sugar. And if I’m not vigilant, sugar wins every time.

I know I’m not the only one who faces this issue. Every time I post about it on Facebook a ton of people comment. If you face this issue, too, I highly recommend The Atkins Diet book. I’ve added fruit to the mix right now. We’ll see how that works. I’m hoping it helps kick the processed sugar cravings.

The Girls in the FamilyIn the meantime, I’m going to think about my family. We took this photo one night while DD was visiting (from 1300 miles away! BOOO!!!). My mom, sister and niece were here, too. I was sooooo good at eating right and drinking water while she visited. Water is key, too.

Do you have to stay away from processed sugars? What are your tricks to staying healthy? Any foods you recommend? Feel free to share in the comments!

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legs 1600by2400smallDon’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. (Giveaways and MORE!)

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3, OUT July 20!!!

Teenagers Do

It’s easy to complain about “kids today.” That’s been the beginning of many a tirade over the centuries. I can imagine the conversation after Jesus stayed back at the temple and Mary and Joseph realized he was gone.

But here’s the deal.

Teenagers today DO. More often than not they give of their time to help others, they encourage others, they want to be more and do more and see more. They are so freaking smart! It sucks big time that they’ve been brought up in this age of standardized testing where they’ve been encouraged to do less and think less by our government, but even though they’ve been conditioned to bubble, they still THINK BIG.

They understand collaboration, and they can multi-task like nobody’s business…not as good as they think but a heck of a lot better than me.

And they do all this in a world where distractions are a constant.

CAMP 1I saw all this at the publication camps I’ve been to with my students this summer. In Dallas my yearbook editors came up with an amazing theme and worked together to bring the idea to life. They did all this while keeping up with the World Cup soccer coverage.

Camp 2Then we went to the second camp last week with newspaper, photographers and other staff and HOLY COW. They scrapped their original idea even though it meant so much more work and created a whole new concept.

I’m so excited to work with this amazing group of kids. I’m excited to see what they do next in life too.

It’s easy to gripe about kids today, but the truth is they haven’t changed. They’re as awesome as always.

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legs 1600by2400smallAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 comes out July 20! I can’t wait to hear what readers think!