Monthly Archives: October 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016

In less than four hours NaNoWriMo starts. I’ll be asleep, I hope, but I’m ready for the pre-dawn morning. The coffee pot is set, clothes are ready to change in to, eye makeup is washed off tonight, electronics charged and Scrivener set up for the new document.

NaNo is special. I’ve tried and failed multiple times. I’ve won twice. The book I’m doing this year is one I’ve attempted to write three times…I changed my mind a week ago about what I was going to do. This is the time for Faith’s book though. It’s the time because when so many people are on the same page, pushing for the same objective, releasing the creativity of the universe, something special happens.

It won’t be easy. There’s the day job that I love with all the deadlines November brings, there’s the World Series and SURVIVOR and Stars hockey, there’s basketball season and all the stuff to do on weekends, there’s Grey’s Anatomy, and man, last week’s was great. But there’s also a story. A story I’ve been thinking about for years. The last time I thought about a story this long it was my thesis, and Honor and Lies was born.

So here we go. It’s time to sleep because sleep deprived becomes the norm during NaNo. ūüėä

I’ll be sprinting in twitter so follow me if you want to sprint along @marybethleeybnp

One for the Ages

Nothing like a battle for the World Series between the two losingest team franchises in the MLB to remind you that anything is possible.

It’s fun to watch this series and read the coverage of this series because there’s a magical feeling of YES YOU CAN with every play.

If it were any other team the Cubs were playing I’d be all for them, but DD moved to Cleveland for the Indians. I have to cheer for her team. 

I haven’t watched the entire series, but I am watching tonight.

And I know whichever team wins, this is a Series for the ages.

Speaking of anything is possible: it’s NaNoWriMo season. If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, now is the perfect time to do it because Tuesday starts National Novel Writing Month. Sign up at I’m ymbl2000 if you want a virtual writing buddy. I’m working on a book I’ve tried to start three times. This is the year to make it happen!

“Stop letting your phone control you.”

How I feel today. This could change. Lol.

Today I told my students my new phone policy and explained why the policy will exist in my room.

I’m done fighting them. I’m not saying another word about the phones. I’m going to keep a notebook by my desk or with me while I’m walking around the room, and if they have a phone out while I’m talking or while they’re supposed to be working, I’m calling their parents AND I will not answer their questions until tutorial time before or after school. I will not reteach a student during classtime who needs that reteaching because they can’t turn off social media drama, Netflix, the latest game.

I use phones in my class for instruction. I start class with an overview of what we’re doing for the day, and if phones aren’t necessary, I say put them away. Inevitably I have to warn multiple kids to get off their phones anyway. Often constantly. 

This is NOT a new problem. It’s been an issue for years, and every time it’s an issue students explain they can do multiple things at once…and then they ask multiple questions about instructions I’ve already given. They also take up time from kids who were paying attention and need help.

Like I said, this is not a new problem, and it’s not a problem for kids alone. Everywhere I go I see people of all ages on their phone screens when they should be working, driving, visiting with friends and loved ones at dinner, watching a movie, the list goes on and on.

I love my phone, but in this digital age, we’ve become slaves to our technology.

And THAT is why I’m changing my policy.


Our phones aren’t going anywhere. We have to learn to be smart consumers in control of our time. We have to learn how to have our phones near without giving in to the urge to text with our friends, respond to social media drama or post a snap chat story. 

We have to learn to police our own time. 

Tomorrow I might have twelve kids failing because they stay on their phones despite the fact that they have assignments due and despite my assurance that I will be calling their parents. And that might make me completely change my mind about this. But today, this is my answer.

Kill Them With Kindness

Everything I’ve learned about customer service has come back time and again to Del Taco. 

It started with the big nachos no tomatoes. And Walter.

At 16 working side by side with a big group of friends, Del Taco wasn’t just a job. It was fun and family of sorts.

Grumpy customers were part of the equation.

The grumpiest: Walter. 

Back then we had to go through several customer service tests to move forward with the job. The lesson our bosses hammered home more than any other was kill them with kindness. Like one boss said, “What are they gonna do? Yell at you for being too nice?”

Enter grumpy old Walter. And his no tomatoes. Every day. 

We’d look at each other and roll our eyes, silently groaning before pasting on the expected smile and taking his order.

Lord forbid some new kid worked the grill area and made those nachos wrong.

We made it a game. Who could be the nicest to Walter? Who could get him to break and smile? Who could get him to try something other than those dang nachos?

Over time Walter’s grumpiness quit bothering us. It was just a thing. Normal. No big deal.

One day while I tried to clean the floor after a toddler terror trashed the dining room, Walter sat down with his order. I said hi, glad to see him. 

Then in passing I said something silly about how he needed to takes risks and change up his order one day.

And he explained.

Walter and his wife used to come to Del Taco every once in a while. The nachos no tomatoes were her favorite.

When she died the nachos were a little something to make him feel close to her again. He appreciated us being so nice to him all the time.


Lesson learned.

It’s a lesson I forget from time to time, but I try not to.

We never know the reasons people are hurting. But we can kill them with kindness, and who knows, we might just offer comfort without even knowing it.

The End of October

The end of October hurts. It just does. I’ve written this before, and I probably will again. The weight of kids making choices that end in disaster makes it hard to breathe sometime. 

In the spring yearbook delivery world it’s deadline time. 

Nine weeks in and tutorial sessions are in full swing. Phones are a constant battle, headphones are everywhere. “Focus” is the favorite word. “If you can hear my voice, raise your hand” the favorite phrase.

It feels like time is flying fast and inching along at the same time.

Lists and more lists and more lists clutter two used reporter’s notebooks, the notes app on my phone, the napkin from a restaurant.

It’s cold some mornings and sweltering by time to leave school. Allergies are crazy.

Sun up, down down hours.

Absences in the classroom abound.

The end of October can overwhelm me if I let it. I know if I’m feeling it, my students are too.

Today I have a simple prayer: help me help them. Help me remember to treat others as I wish to be treated. Help me stay calm in the chaos. Help me be a light.

And help me remember, the end of October is always like this. And it’s always okay.

AA Center and Life Change

Last March I walked into the AA Center with DH ready to cheer on the Dallas Stars. I was winded and hurting and when I tried to sit in the seat it was more like squeezing into a pair of Spanx while sweaty.

Embarrassed, no, that’s too nice a word. Mortified, I looked around and tried to hide my tears. Was I the biggest person on my row? Was I the only one experiencing this? It was worse than an airplane seat. Surely I wasn’t That Big.

That night I weighed myself for the first time in a year. And then I cried.

This time the crying was different. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t with my girlfriends. I was with DH. We’ve been together since 1990. He knows my weight struggle and my many sizes in one closet. But this was the first time he’d seen me hurting over the thing that has always hurt me.

It was a moment of awful and a moment of dedication to change.

Since that day I’ve lost 40 pounds. We’re at a Stars game and I fit in the seat just fine. I still have a long way to go, but I’m on the path to a healthy BMI. 

In a way I guess I have the Dallas Stars to thank for that. ūüėä

Really I have DH and his unwavering support and l the LCHF and Atkins groups on Facebook. 

It’s the beginning of hockey season. My goal is to be a healthy BMI by playoffs. I’ll keep you posted. 

A Political Post

Stop. I warned you in the title. If you proceed, this is a post about politics and, like all of my political posts, it’s full of opinion. My opinion because, you know, my blog.

If you know me, have followed this blog for more than ten minutes or have seen my political stumping for different candidates, it’s no secret who I’m voting for. #ImWithHer #StrongerTogether #HillaryForPres. 

I like Hillary. I respect her service to the country and I think she’s smart. Plus I’m a firm believer in government regulation of business (see Flint water crisis, climate change, Charlestown water crisis, Toledo water crisis, unregulated fracking caused earthquakes, deregulation of state university costs landing college students in massive debt, etc.). I’m a firm believer that the free market system does NOT work in health care (epipen, et al) and education (no, competition does not make public schools stronger. Every bit of research proves this.)

On top of that I think Trump is completely unqualified for the position of President of the United States, and that was before he made fun of the physically disabled reporter, Governor Bush, Marco Rubio, John McCain, Miss Universe and women he finds unattractive. Plus, I don’t think “Build that wall” is the answer to anything. 

The Republican Party has become a party I no longer recognize. But even if it hadn’t skewed so far to the right it teetered on the edge of scary and toppled over into that place at times this election season, I would still vote for Hillary. Because republicans have made it clear they want the US run by the whim of the dollar. The dollar isn’t good or bad. It’s just money. But it doesn’t take long to see the harm done when we let the dollar rule all of our decision making (see Pearson publishing and test-centric education, a slew of big pharmaceutical companies raking in giant profits while people go without meds they need because they can’t afford them, hospitals making schedules by computers to make sure they’re running at high efficiency levels even if it means patients are in danger over lack of staffing, for-profit charters bilking tax payers of millions and then shutting down with no warning, the list goes on and on and on.)

All that said, I watched about 20 minutes of last night’s debate. I watched it today because I couldn’t stomach it yesterday. 20 minutes in I was so done. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t watch a debate for no reason other than vitriol overload, but I’m there, and I know I’m not alone.

Here’s the deal: I’m a Democrat (redundant, I know). I have people in my life who I love who are Republicans. I have people in my life who I love who are Libertarians. I have people in my life who I love who swing socialist at times. And we debate. Often. About issues. And we do it without turning hateful because our differences aren’t based on hate. They’re based on political viewpoints. (If you’re reading this: hi brother dear! We’re due another long phone call!)

The Presidential election season is always tough, but this one is the worst I can remember and that shocks me because of the rampant racism of Obama’s cycles (Yes, people I love, I know you weren’t racist just because you were Republican.). I guess most of the people I knew were quick to shut the racism down in a way that hasn’t happened this time. Or maybe it’s just that we’ve spent so much time in this Real Housewives, Kardashian inspired, SnapChat crazy drama-filled world, we let this one get out of hand.

I’ve read a lot of “I’m done” posts. I even wrote a few.

But then I read something different and it inspired me.

I’m NOT done. This is my country and I LOVE politics. We the people can take the next election cycle back. We don’t have to let it go this way. 

We can make our officials run on issues not attacks.

Will we? I don’t know. 

My friend and I played a drinking game while watching the first Republican debate. I laughed at the awfulness of the personal attacks while I drank my Colorado Bulldog and patted myself on the back for supporting a different party. 

But that debate started us down this path and it did because we (including me!) viewed it as entertainment and ratings went through the roof.

The presidential race isn’t entertainment. 

We can never let it go there again or we face the worst kinds of consequences.

The Hunger Games is fiction. But at its heart is the what if. And this election season shows us at the tipping point of that what if. We should all be terrified. 

If we’re not careful, we’ll lose all that is great about our nation. And we’ll lose it because we wanted to be entertained instead of educated. If that’s what we want, that’s what we’ll get. And next time will have to be worse to keep those ratings up.

So…I’m done with that. Trump is the nominee. Hillary is the nominee. If you don’t like them, you’ve got Johnson. I know there’s another candidate but no, just no.

I’ll talk politics here some, but almost always those politics will be dictated by education because that’s how I roll.

There’s nothing new in this post, so the real people in my life from all political affiliations  aren’t going to decide to hate me because I’m a democrat. They already knew that. They knew me back in the Reagan/Bush years when I was a straight ticket R voter, too. And through it all, we’ve debated and still liked each other. 

Remember back in the olden days when that was the norm? 

Maybe the nation can get back there. But it’s up to us to make that happen.

Stop That Right Now!

I logged on to social media at 6 p.m. expecting to catch up with friends. Instead my Facebook was filled with so much negativity I thought about going on a Facebook fast until after the election.

I know so many people who post comments and want to engage in lovely respectful debate. I love that kind of thing. I try to do that on my page. I know several of my friends and loved ones have polar opposite political viewpoints, and I thank God we can debate without falling into the trap of angry diatribe.

But what I saw tonight on post after post was so rude, so hateful, so…sad, it drove me to my blog to put my thoughts down.

Here’s the deal: don’t go butting in on someone’s wall telling them how they’re wrong unless you know the person wants a lively debate there. Write your thoughts on YOUR wall instead. 

If you just can’t help yourself, be respectful. But really, you CAN help yourself. It’s easy. You just click away from that person’s post. And if they’re constantly driving you crazy with their posts you totally disagree with, go to that little upside down triangle and unfollow the person. At least until after the election is over: click, done. Two steps.

Here’s the deal: you’re not changing anyone’s opinion on Facebook. It’s just not going to happen. 

Now, if the person posts and invites your comments, totally different.

But even then keep it respectful. 

Because all this anger isn’t good for anyone.