To My Fellow Teachers, as the School Year Begins, With Love


This will be our year, yo.  We’ve got this.  Here’s the plan:

  1. Love those kids in class in the BIGGEST way possible.  Love them even when they can’t accept it.  Love them even when you wish you could beam them up and out of your classroom, even when they have pushed every. last. one. of your buttons.
  2. Remember that parents, even the MOST DIFFICULT ones, are almost always doing their best, too.  Try not to make assumptions about them.  It’s easy to place blame and to judge about how well (or not well) they are taking care of their kids. That’s not our job.  We are looking out for the children’s safety, sure, but we don’t get to snark about which parents let their kids watch rated R movies or eat too much junk food.
  3. TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!  Find time for yourself.  Leave your bag of work at school.  Take bubble baths, and exercise when you can, and read books and watch Netflix and eat chocolate and go shopping and take a little weekend getaway.  Your students are important, but don’t ditch your families to go work.
  4. LAUGH.  Omg, please laugh. Our work can be so serious, and sometimes downright depressing. We see things and hear things that can begin to kill our spirit.  Laugh with the kids, laugh with your co-workers. Find the funny in the situation. Tell your students stories that will make them laugh.  Let them know you have a sense of humor.
  5. Let your students get to see the real YOU.  I’ve cried in front of my students, I’ve told them things that I regret doing, I’ve told them my best and funniest stories. I have TOTALLY messed up and apologized to them. If they could, your students would hold signs that say, “Will work for stories!”  They love it. A 5 minute story about how you accidentally shaved a little tip of your nose off with your razor while shaving (I mean, that’s never happened to me, but if it did) will get so much more focused, concentrated work time.  I swear.  I wouldn’t lie to you.
  6. DANCE.  Listen to music. Sing.  Be silly. Dance in the hallway.  Play music WAY TOO loudly. Stop school early and dance around. When things get really bad, dance it out, yo.  Dance. It. Out. (I highly suggest Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice when things are SUPER bad). Vogue when you walk down the hallway.  Or walk like an Egyptian.
  7. Never forget that most of our students remember the moments from our classes.  That time someone missed the garbage can by thismuch and threw up all over the floor (again, that did NOT happen to me in 2nd grade when the substitute teacher made me drink my milk carton even though I TOLD HER I felt sick to my stomach).
  8. Lean on each other. We’re all in this together, you guys. We can’t do it without each other. Don’t be so proud that you don’t go ask for help. Admit when you’re wrong, and remember that you’ll (hopefully) be able to laugh about it later.
  9. Don’t smile until November.  Make sure these kids KNOW that you are NOT MESSING AROUND.***
  10. Forgive yourself, and everyone else, too. Remember that it is ok to get a sub when you’re feeling sick, and that sometimes you finish your amazing read-aloud and skip the last subject of the day. Play a game when everyone is just exhausted. Kids have cranky, bad days, too, and they might need a little something extra. So might you. Whatever you do, do it unapologetically.

My teacher loves, WE’VE GOT THIS.  It’s going to be our best year yet!  Go get ’em!

***Um, this one was just to trick you, because this is the worst advice you ever got from your 100 year old college student teaching supervisor.  SMILE when you WANT TO SMILE!

You Should Totally Write a Book!


8th grade.  Miss Bolander. She wrote on my paper, “Christy, you have a GIFT for writing. Please don’t forget me when you write a book!” (Miss Bolander, by the way, I can’t find you! You got married and I don’t know your new name, so…)

In college, I had to read this book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that supposedly a million people love and it drove me totally crazy.  Just like The Goldfinch, a book that won 800 awards, even thought I hated every.single.character in it.

But then, I decided I was going to be a teacher. I don’t even really know why.  Kids liked me, so I thought that’d be pretty cool.  I know, everyone tells you, “Teaching is my calling and I knew since I was 2 that I would be spending my life with our country’s future!” but I really kinda just went with it.  Of course, I’m glad I did, and I absolutely know that I have one of the best jobs anyone could ever have.  However, I lost writing along the way. I stopped writing almost completely, and focused on my love for French and traveling and being a teacher.

Then, my life flipped upside down.  Suddenly, my father-in-law was dying of cancer.  And 3 weeks after he died, I found out I was pregnant with twins after 2 years of trying…and then, well, then they died.  They died and I was at a total stand-still.

Words found their way back to me. It was like going home again, pouring out my soul into the keyboard and suddenly I was making, to quote Hamilton, “palaces out of paragraphs.”  Ok, I”m kidding, I was rambling on, spilling my grief survivor tales, probably not making much sense and definitely not using proper grammar or punctuation, but it still felt like home to me.

I have a friend, her name is Peg, and she’s one of those people of whom you are just completely in awe. She’s the friend you have that is so full of love and wisdom and kindness, and I truly, truly care about her opinion of me.  Disappointing her is like my worst nightmare. A compliment from her can last me for weeks.  In my house, if Peg thinks it, then it is true.

Anyway, she made a few offhand comments about how I should write a book. Looking back, I’m guessing she was saying like this I say, “Hey, you guys, let’s ditch work tomorrow and go to Las Vegas!”  As in, I probably took it a lot more seriously than she meant it.  But, I googled it, and there are all these statistics about how something like 80% of the population want to write a book, but hardly anyone actually follows through.

Well, I decided I was going to do it.  I was going to write a REAL book.  An honest and raw book where I could tell the TRUTH about having your babies die.  That it wasn’t a tiny ripple in a little sea of water, it was a freaking tsunami that wreaks havoc all over your life. I wanted to write a book where people could see that losing a child has the ability to make you crazy, but you’re not crazy if you feel like this, this, and this.

And … well, I did it.  You guys.  I did it.  I’m so proud right now I can hardly stand it! But, I would like to chronicle my journey to get here, to being an actual, real life “Author.” *Note I did not say NYTimes best-selling author…but I am an author. 🙂

I always start with research, so I went to Barnes and Noble first. I picked up a book called Your First Novel, and after I read 2 chapters I knew I wanted to write non-fiction. I wanted to write a memoir. I read a BUNCH of advice about how no one wants to read memoir and it only gets published if you’re famous, but I didn’t care. I knew I was probably the only person going to see it, anyway, so I was writing it for me.

Next I ordered a book called Your Life is a Book (How to craft & publish your memoir).  Anddddd it was about that time that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this by what I could find in a book.  I needed to first get my story out.

This was the first story that I wrote out.  And, oh, it felt so good. I was giving life to this moment that had stuck with me after all these years. I read it and re-read it and completely worked it over, and I was amazed that it had all come out that way.

Then, I discovered something called NaNoWriMo.  It was a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. This mean 1,667 words a day. Let me tell you, I did NOT accomplish this.  BUT I wrote ALL the time. In every spare moment. I wrote in the car, on my lunch break, while my kids took their baths. And I had about 30,000 words of totally mashed up stories, the ones that came first for me.

In the last almost two years, I have read SO much about getting a book published. I have done everything I’m supposed to do:

*Actually finish the book

*Go to writer’s conferences

*Find a writing critique group

*Give your work to beta readers (waving!  Thanks friends!)

*Get your work edited (hi, Alyssa!)

*Begin a social media presence (hello, you!)

*Make a non-fiction book proposal (hello, 70 pages of proposing!)

*Write a query letter that should excite a literary agent (For a NYC big publishing company, you can’t talk to the publisher themselves, you need an agent to take you on to sell your book)


So, I sent my query letters, and I waited, and no one replied. I kinda knew they wouldn’t, but I had a little, tiny bit of hope. I felt so confident about my manuscript, you know? I did get 3 rejection letters, which was exciting.

In the meantime, I’ve messed up. I have explored self-publishing, hybrid publishing (a mixture of self and traditional) and traditional NYC publishing/traditional small press publishing.

The biggest thing I want to warn you about are Vanity Presses.  Right off the bat, you should know that there are ALL different kinds of these.  All of them will get you a book published, but some of them will cost you SO MUCH MONEY and you will get a good book, some will cost SO MUCH MONEY and they will get you a terrible book, and then you have the same options for less money.

I almost signed a contract with a company that I would have LOVED to work with.  LOVED. I felt a strong connection with the owner, she talked about strategy meetings and marketing and book launch parties and the covers of their books were gorgeous and everyone I knew was excited for me. They were the first people outside of my friends that told me, “Wow, this is amazing.” I couldn’t afford it, though, you guys. It was my dream, but it’s what I wanted a publishing company to do FOR me, I didn’t want to pay for it. One thing that kept nagging at me was, if they didn’t make anything off the books I sell, why would they care how many I sell once they’re done with their part? Now, these people were legit, and I know they care. I still couldn’t afford it.  This would be an example of a good and decent hybrid company, but still not for me.

Then there are the bad.

A few weeks ago, I did this Twitter campaign with a Facebook group I belong to. You had to tweet your book pitch once an hour and if a publisher/agent “hearted” your tweet, then you should send your query to them. I got one heart and I was SO PUMPED. I mean, like running around, yelling.

I sent my query and my first few pages as requested, and I got a response very quickly. I got done reading the response and I was FURIOUS. I couldn’t sleep that whole night because I was SO MAD. I just HATE when people take advantage of others.

So their response started with, “I, too, have had a miscarriage, so I do think this topic is very important.”

UM. If you READ any of what I sent you, you would know I did not have a miscarriage. Also, I think everyone should know this, even if they haven’t experienced it themselves. I read TONS of books, and I’m telling you I’m never going to fall run through stones and end up back in time, but I still pull something from it.

The next line was about how my writing was good, but “needing some polishing before it hits the prime time.” And, OH, GUESS WHAT?  This lady normally has others edit it, but she really wanted to be the one to do it and she would lower her price for me so that it would only be about $3,000 instead of $4,000.

Steam. Coming from my ears.

Then.  AND THEN.  The last paragraph said, “To give you an example of what I would change, I would maybe jump back in time after the first chapter when the romance with Geppetto is just beginning.”

Do you guess that my memoir about surviving the loss of infant twins involves any kind of ROMANCE WITH A PUPPET?


I was most angry, because people pay that money. They pay money to companies who know you are vulnerable, and you have dreams of selling a book that’ll be turned into a movie. I’ve heard horror stories about paying SO much money and getting a book that’s not formatted right, with typos, inconsistencies, a cover you could have made yourself using the software.

Tomorrow, I will be getting a contract in the mail from a local publisher (SQUEEEEE!!!!!), here in Wisconsin. I am SO excited, but I’m so nervous about the contract itself. It is a legit publishing deal. I didn’t meet my dreams of securing a literary agent and getting published by, say, Simon and Schuster, but I am SO proud. I’m proud of the blood, sweat and tears that I poured into this. And soon, I will have a cover, and a title, and a way to pre-order, and my very own launch party and book signings.  More than that, though, I’ve finally built my palaces out of paragraphs and if my words help even ONE person, it will have been worth it.

I wrote a book.  I think you totally should, too!  Just be careful.





Before and After

In a public restroom, before I open a stall door, I press really lightly to make sure that I don’t walk in on somebody who forgot to lock the door.

While I’m driving, I keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and I look in my rearview windows obsessively.

When my husband leaves to go to the store to buy bananas and milk, I imagine the doorbell ringing and a police officer arriving to tell me my husband is dead.

When we have a date night, I check my phone every 2 minutes, convinced I’ll see a text from the babysitter that something awful has happened.

When I daydream about retirement, and traveling, and grandkids, I’m scared I won’t be alive to experience it.

Someone tagged me in this photo recently (I’m the one on the left). It was taken when I was 21. I spent 3 summers  of college in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota as a camp counselor at French Camp.  Yep, you read that right. I am (well, was at this point) fluent in French, and I used to be a middle school French teacher.


In the months following my twins dying, I didn’t ever think I would laugh again. When I did find something funny, there would be a little twang of guilt, a reminder that my babies were dead and I shouldn’t be laughing.

Of course, I do laugh now. Life is full of joy and hope for me. But … and this is a BIG but, (see what I did there?) I am actually not sure if I will feel the way I did in this picture ever again.

I think it’s important to note that there was pain in my heart when this photo was taken, too. My parents were divorcing, 3 of my grandparents had all died within months of each other, I had just been dumped.

I don’t remember this exact moment. But there is this carefree joy on my face that I barely recognize. I’ve spent years telling myself that it’s ok to be broken. That broken doesn’t mean ruined, or that I’m unloveable. That a lot of us are broken, and we’re making it through.

But, the truth is, sometimes I truly doubt that. Sometimes I feel like I do such a good job of faking it that people forget that I’m broken. There is this big battle that I am fighting every day. I know some people think I’m a flake. That I say “Yes, let’s do that!” but I don’t really mean it, and that I cancel social engagements because I’m lazy or because I don’t care. It’s so far from the truth. It’s just that a lot of times plans sound great until it gets close and then I kind of panic.

This is the new me. This is the me AFTER.

If you can believe it, my anxiety is 20 times better than it was just a few years ago. I found exercise, I found a small dose of anxiety medication that doesn’t make me fall asleep at 7:00 p.m. or feel like I can’t stop bouncing my knee. I write. I talk. I move.


But, I can’t stop myself from dreaming about a moment like the one above. I don’t drink alcohol. EVER. I mean, seriously, never. And people question me all the time about it (you’d think peer pressure would stop by the time you’re 36, but not so much). I have a variety of different answers that I give, but if I’m completely honest, I can’t handle that feeling of losing control. I am afraid of what that feeling of completely letting go will do to me. Will I continue to drink to search for that feeling?

I worry. Will I lose my friends because of my flaws? Will I be so broken that my husband will stop wanting to put up with me? Will my kids know that their mom isn’t totally normal?

I have a goal, and it is to get back to that feeling of pure, unwavering joy. A moment of laughter where I am not working about ANYTHING. Where I can trust that everyone is safe and cared for and I know that I have taken my life back from loss.

Will that day come? I’m not sure. But in the meantime, I’m meditating, and breathing, and moving, and laughing. My words help soothe my soul and my broken-ness is just one small piece of me. I am so much more!

So are you. ❤ ❤

5 Ways to Make Everyone Love You!

Photo on 8-9-17 at 8.57 PM #2

Today, I went to a district-wide meeting at work where I saw a ton of colleagues I haven’t seen in a while. I’m telling you—all day long I thought to myself, “Omg!  Every single person I look at seriously LOVES me.  I have, literally, ZERO enemies.” So, I thought I should write a blog post about how I never have to avoid anyone in hallways that are mad at me for some decision I made or something I said or didn’t say, and how I would NEVER even consider hiding at the end of a hallway pretending to be on the phone to avoid the brewing panic attack that running into someone who totally hates me may bring in.

Nope. Never.  So, here you go!  5 Ways to Make EVERYONE Love You!

  1. Don’t ever stand up for what you believe in. Just agree with what everyone else says. It doesn’t actually matter what you think. I mean, in the end nobody is going to change their way of thinking anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Having an opinion about something is SO last decade.
  2. Don’t do what is right, just do what will make everyone else happy. As a teacher, if a parent is urging me to do something, I do it. Whether it is ethically ok or not. You can’t really think about the student, you just have to make whoever is going to be mad at you happy. We do NOT want people angry with us.
  3. Learn to have (at least) 2 faces. One for when you’re actually talking to a person, and one for when you’re talking ABOUT them with someone else. You can say what you really mean to someone who is already your friend, but everyone else you just totally suck up to them. Keep your enemies close, and all that. I know that’s true because there is totally a quote about it.
  4. Pay for everyone else’s stuff. All the time. If you go out to lunch, you definitely need to pay for it. If you overhear someone saying, “Ooh, I totally want that!” immediately go and purchase it. Money can’t buy you love? HA!  HAHAHAHA!  Dude, all you need is your Visa and ERRRYBODY will ADORE you.
  5. The most important thing you can do to make sure the everyone loves you is to NEVER, EVER be yourself. Find out everything about yourself that annoys other people and DO NOT DO THAT. You absolutely canNOT be yourself. Don’t laugh so loud! Don’t be so boring! You’ll probably need to get a little notebook to get in your purse (I totally suggest Moleskin notebooks, they are the best) and keep notes about who likes what about you. Don’t forget, you have to like all the books and movies they like, and dislike what they dislike. It can be a lot to remember.

*Everyone knows this is sarcasm, right?  I wish we had a separate sarcasm font.