Not Your Tragedy

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Life is tragic.

It is tragic in so many different ways, on so many levels. You can flip on the TV and in 30 seconds see sadness stretched from one corner of the globe to another.

Sadness, tragedy, and grief–they get ranked. We sort and file through the mess, deciding who actually has a right to be sad about their experience. We maybe even think, “Ugh, I’ve had it way worse than that, what are they even sad about?”

Maybe you’ve said, “Look, death is a part of life. It’s probably time we just accept it. It’s not good to dwell.”

Maybe you’ve even told someone you loved that they need to “Buck up”. You may not have used those words, but…there are other ways people say this. They may just say something like, “It’s really important to have perspective here. At least you didn’t have [fill in anything here] happen.”

The thing I’d like to say about perspective is that, yes, it matters. Of course it matters. We need to put ourselves in check sometimes and be grateful for the things we have, for example, instead of lamenting about what we don’t. And, of course, we all know the person who moans and groans for 3 weeks because their cable was out for 2 hours and they missed their shows. That’s definitely not what I’m talking about.

But, you guys. You guys. Perspective is typically something we need to realize on our own. And, I know you don’t like to hear it, but sometimes the thing you need your loved one to realize is actually not accurate. You may not know because you’ve never lived through something similar. Or maybe it’s just a concept you can’t TOTALLY understand because of who you are (for example, understanding a woman when you are a man).

Back to tragedy. You don’t get to decide what someone else’s tragedy is (or isn’t). If someone you love is hurting, please support them. Please love them. Please tell them that you wish they weren’t hurting and that you’re here to listen.

Please don’t tell them:

*It could be worse

*You’ll forget about this later

*I had that happen, too, and I’m fine now

*I had a friend who had this happen and she said (even if it’s important-your person needs to come to this by his/herself!

Remember that your point of view doesn’t really matter when someone is hurting. If you roll your eyes and think, “Oh my gosh, it’s just a dog/cat/hamster, at least it’s not a person,” you won’t be any comfort to them. And really, if you want to be a supportive friend, it just doesn’t matter if you think losing a pet is no big deal because it wasn’t for YOU. Or you think it wouldn’t be. Because, in the end, what they need is LOVE, not to be told they shouldn’t be hurting.

Life is tragic.

It’s messy and what we need most is an outstretched hand, a comforting word, and love to lift us up.

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An Open Letter to my 4th Graders

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Dear you guys,

Being your teacher is one of the great privileges of my life. There is nothing I take for granted about being able to learn alongside you for 9 months of your life. Last night I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking about so many of you-each of you will stick with me for the rest of my life.

I have some secrets that I want to tell you:

  1. I don’t really like homework, either.
  2. I know that for most of you, the standardized tests don’t show what you’re worth.
  3. I love when you accidentally call me “mom” or “grandma.”
  4. I have kept EVERY last picture, drawing, and note any student has ever given me. They are in an envelope, organized by school year, in my closet and on my worst days (like when I really, really mess up), I take them out and look at them.
  5. I think it’s funny when someone farts, too.
  6. I find it incredibly hard to let you have your independence, but also try to protect you from getting hurt.
  7. Sometimes things that you say really, really hurt my feelings. I’m super vulnerable when it comes to caring what you think of me.
  8. Sometimes things I say really, really hurt your feelings. I never mean to do it, and I feel awful when I do. I’ll always apologize and try to make it better.
  9. I love reading, writing, and math, but I love all of you more.
  10. I wish recess lasted longer, too.
  11. I’m guessing I love Christmas break even MORE than you do.  LOL.
  12. I love making you laugh. It gets me through my day-I don’t care who you are, if you’ve never experience 25 9-year-olds belly laughing at something you said, you haven’t really lived.
  13. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to be present. Sometimes I’m exhausted, or sick, or my kids are sick, or I wish I were someplace else taking care of someone else I love, but I never, ever don’t want to be there.
  14. I do listen to what you say. I hear you when you say that you hate sitting on the floor, or you wish we had more time to independently read, or that people are spreading rumors. I listen, and whenever I can, I act on it.
  15. I know I’m your teacher, but on an average day, I usually learn more than you.

 

No matter what happens, you will always be one of my 4th graders. I won’t forget how lucky I was to know you, even if sometimes your stories about Minecraft got a LITTLE long and, you know, FIDGET SPINNERS.  LOL!

Love always,

Mrs. W

How to Know You’re in the Right Place at the Right Time

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Today, I am humbled.

You guys, there are some things about myself that I don’t love. I’m hard on myself, sometimes I talk WAY too much, I overshare and sometimes try too hard to be funny. But, I think my least favorite thing is sometimes how insecure I can be, especially about my looks.

And if I’m honest, I…now, don’t judge me, ok? But, I fish for compliments. I do. I’m that annoying, passive aggressive person that’s like, “OMG, I’m so ugly!” so that people say, “Christy! You’re beautiful!” even though I know I’m not (see what I did there?)

Anyway, I blogged recently about my weight and my struggle and blah blah blah. Today, something happened that not only humbled me but just really helped me get my head on straight!

So, I’m at this writing workshop today. And the author leading the workshop was helping us work on figuring out how to describe our characters, and how to use setting, and also on what details to leave in or take out.

Our first job was to get with a partner that is a total stranger. (Does everyone else groan inside when you have to do this?). So, a nice woman in front of me turned around to work with me. Then, we had to make 3 columns on our sheet, and get ready to write.

The first task was to (WITHOUT talking) write down 40 objective things about the person (WITHOUT TALKING, YOU GUYS).  This stranger can see your list. I don’t know, it just felt so complicated to me…but I started.

  • wearing a black shirt
  • reddish hair
  • wears glasses
  • writes with a fancy art pen
  • etc. etc. etc.

So then in the 2nd column, we had to try to make some subjective observations based on that column (are you with me still?)

  • writes with a fancy art pen = creative, artistic

Then in the 3rd column, we had to use those to make a guess about the person (former art teacher?)

When we were done we told our partner the conclusions we came to and it was CRAZY how right we were. My partner told me this (my in-real-life friends, get ready, yo):

Mom with a tidy house, funny, loves words, creative, and makes her bed every day.

RIGHT?!?!?

So, at the end she and I were talking about how we were both pretty right, and I said to her, “I was so nervous about this–it’s really hard to just draw conclusions based on tiny things, and if I’m totally honest, I worried you’d write that I’m overweight and your conclusion was that I eat a lot.”

She looked at me STERNLY in the eyes and said, “You are NOT overweight. Trust me on this. I just lost 130 pounds to look like you. You’re not overweight. And your eyes give you away, and your constant smile and your laugh lines. Stop worrying about that.”

How is it that every once in a while, a stranger knows exactly what to say?

Humbled. I’m working at this, everyone. I’m gonna get there.

Have a lovely week!

xo

It’s Time to Viciously Prioritize

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Every night, right around 8:30, my kids tucked in their beds (at least until one of them is thirsty, has to use the bathroom, lost cow-cow or bun-bun, or needs to tell me something they saw on a YouTube video 3 weeks ago), my kitchen as cleaned as it’s going to get, I sit down. I can hear the soft (well, I kinda wish it were softer) hum of the dishwasher and I unpack my school bag and take a quick look.

I ask myself the question, “Is there anything in here that I HAVE to have done before school starts tomorrow?” And if the answer is no, it all goes right back in my bag. We teachers like to joke that we’re taking papers along to “get some air.” We’re sorry if you want them done sooner, but it’s just not possible. Well, no. It’s possible, just not likely.

So then comes the next question. “If you have approximately 60 minutes before you get so tired that you fall asleep wherever you are, what do you want to do the MOST?”

I want to read! No, I should write a blog post. Actually, I still haven’t caught up on This is Us and soon I’ll be so far behind they won’t be on Hulu anymore. I have been meaning (like, for around a month) to write AnnMarie a card since she gave me that cute stuff at the beginning of the school year (oops, make that 2 months) and I should email my mom to see if she’s all set to help out this week.

Ugh, this week. Daycare is closed for the week, husband is working out of town until Saturday, and I have parent/teacher conferences.

Really, I should go to sleep early, because Halloween today made me so exhausted and the students are likely going to be overtired and extra silly tomorrow.

Well, my friends, this could go on forever. And it does. And I hate to admit this, but 75% of the time I end up spending those precious 60 minutes scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and playing this dumb word game where I usually end up cheating because I can’t solve the 6-letter answers.

Before I know it, it’s “bedtime” and I sort of hate myself because at one point I was wondering if I could pull off reading and watching TV at the same time and still comprehend a little of both, and instead I read a bunch of worthless articles and took a quiz for the 90th time about which Harry Potter character I am.

I heard a phrase on the radio the other day, and it was aimed at people who are busy. “Stop the glorification of busy!” the host exclaimed. “Only do the things that make you the most happy!”

I haven’t been able to get this off my mind. I think that where I get stuck is that I don’t prioritize efficiently most of the time. I need to not only prioritize, I need to viciously prioritize. I need to take a look at what matters the most to me, and do it, and just CUT out all the rest. Be done with it.

Lately it’s occurred to me how much I do because I think I should do it, or that it’s just what we are “supposed” to do. I feel so much pressure to put my kids in classes, just at the YMCA or whatever, but honestly … honestly it’s money we don’t really have and we end up missing a lot of them because of our busy schedules and after full days at work and school and with early bedtimes, I think they stress my kids out. Really, we are so much happier when we don’t.

I feel so much pressure about a LOT of stuff. And I’m positive that social media adds to that. My friends in real life are like, dude, in the past few years you trained for and ran/walked a half marathon, you WROTE A BOOK, what are you complaining about?

But it seems like I’m not on enough committees at school, or someone else is doing something more creative, or I’m not pulling my weight in other places. I should be shopping for better clothes, or learning to cook healthier food, or doing some cool DIY project like taking an old ugly dresser and using magic to turn it a different color.

And so I’ve decided it’s time to viciously prioritize for my family.

I won’t let outside pressure determine what is good for us!  I want to be UNbusy. I want to stay on school committees that I feel are worth my time, and get off ones that don’t. I want to read my favorite authors, and color, and put together puzzles with my kids. And if that means saying no to things my friends ask me to do, I hope they understand. And if it means I get looked over at work, that’s ok, too.

I’m going to learn to be ok with someone saying, “Oh, you must have too much time on your hands,” when I’m exacted about accomplishing something they don’t seem worthy of time. And I’m going to learn to feel confident in the fact that I’m making the best decisions I can with what I know right now, and that it’s ok to love things that other people don’t love.

It’s time for some self-care, yo. You’ve got this!