Control (that I don’t have)

I have pretty much been sick since Thanksgiving. On and off, of course, but really I’ve just been trudging through. I haven’t had a winter like this in…well, ever. I’m feeling my age, I’m feeling my stress, and I’m feeling the loss of CONTROL.

Ah, yes. Control. My nemesis.

To me, there are clearcut things I can control:

*My house being clean

*My desk at work being clean

*My to-do list getting neatly checked off one box at a time

And there are things I cannot control:

*My weight

*My kids’ weight

*My kids’ behavior

*My students’ behavior

*The weather

*Getting sick

*Being stressed

*The fact that people still buy LulaRoe

and that list could go on…and on…and on.

When I was a little girl, I developed anxiety. My father was a yeller and an “almost hitter.” So, he never actually hit me, but he would scream and cuss and throw things and then lift his hand like he was going to, but then he wouldn’t. Also, I got yelled at for things I couldn’t control (i.e. the dog escaping out the door, accidentally burning the garlic bread, crying because I was called a little crybaby).

I’ve been told by a physician that when you have that kind of stress in your life, your body gets stuck in that “fight or flight” mode, and then your body secretes the hormone that is meant to deal with stress (you know, like a mammoth storming toward your or something). So since I’m stuck there, I feel stressed all the time, even when there is nothing especially stressful happening.

When I first moved in with my husband, I lost control over the things I knew I could control. Suddenly, I couldn’t keep the kitchen counter cleaned off, and the cap on the toothpaste and the bottles turned toward the front in the refrigerator. This was an issue, but we made it through (with a lot of talking and a TON of compromise).

Last year I made the very difficult decision to start taking anxiety medication. It has helped in SO many ways. I feel so much better about my ability to handle stress and how I interact with people. But, it doesn’t change the over-arching problem which is that in my life right now, I have so little control.

I always have “that student.” The one who is one of my favorites, who is super smart and respectful and funny, but the minute he/she leaves my classroom, he/she gets into trouble. And when that happens, I have to “deal with it.” Meaning it’s my job to handle the behavior even though I wasn’t there. Sometimes I just want to scream, “SHE IS A CHILD AND THIS IS HOW SOME CHILDREN ACT AND I CANNOT CONTROL IT I CANNOT MAKE HER STOP LEAVE ME ALONE.”

I don’t, of course, and so I sit in meetings and develop plans and we try different things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but in the end what I am left with is: I am a failure. I can’t get this kid to act right.

Then, of course, I come home and I have my own children. They are not perfect, by any means. And you definitely can NOT control them. Same as above–I work out plans, we talk, we give consequences if needed, we model good behavior, we set expectations, but in the very end, they are CHILDREN. We can’t control them. And as adults, I think we step in WAY too soon and end up making the situation worse. But when I feel like someone is judging my kid or me, that losing control feeling starts to come over me.

This semester I’ve taken my very first student teacher. Turns out that is crazy hard, yo! To lose control of my classroom, but be sitting right there in it…that’s a new one for me. It’s good, though–it’s a good challenge, but definitely hard.

I bet you can see what I’m getting at. All day long I try to control things that I can’t. And the things I can control I can no longer control because I have a husband and kids and my house is messy and I could go around screaming “PICK UP YOUR SOCCCKKKKSSSSSS” or I can just accept it and move on. And 94% of my co-workers wear those leggings every day (BAHAHA!).

It’s not that easy for me, though. So I’m stressed. All the time. Sometimes, I feel like my head is going to explode. I feel so lucky in this life, but right now there are so many people with so many expectations of me and I’m scared because it all feels so ridiculously out of reach.

I walk into my house and see junk all over the kitchen table and I have an actual physical reaction to what I see. Those of you reading who don’t have anxiety, I know this may sound weird, but it’s true. And I cannot control it. It’s not the stuff that’s making me anxious, its everything else, but that counter is like the physical representation of it.

I have decisions to make all day long. And not just for me. Not just for me and my children. Not just for me and my children and my students. It is non-stop and overwhelming and some days I just want to hide under my covers and not THINK. Not worry about how much sugar my kids are eating or how I have tried anything but this boy is never gonna learn how to add mixed numbers and did I let them have too much screen time today and what is a healthy dinner I can make tonight because I need to take out the chicken and is that person angry with me because she just walked by without smiling and what do I still need to do to get ready for that meeting?

All of this is making me sick. I’m not sleeping, I’m stressed all the time, and my immune system is crap. I’m too tired to exercise, which is making it worse. I tried to take proactive steps here, and I quit the spelling bee and switched a committee I was on.  It didn’t help much. Because what it really is when you get down to it, is that there are just so many factors that I cannot control and I’ve “known” I was a failure since I was a little girl. And losing the twins certainly didn’t help anything about feeling like a failure.

I beg for reminders that I’m not failing. That I’m doing ok. I get into a place where I need attention and extra love and I want to feel special. It’s not a part of me that I am especially proud of. (Hint: I’m there now, LOL!)

My goal for this year is acceptance. Acceptance of myself, of who I am. Acceptance that I am not perfect and that I need help to get most things done in life. This is where my work is headed.

Also, sleep.  I need a lot more sleep. 🙂



It’s my truth, yo.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about memories. During the holidays I was with my sister, who is several years older than me, and we were reminiscing about some things that happened when she was in high school and college.

“Remember how mom and dad wouldn’t buy you a car, so you used your Ice Cream Shoppe paycheck and went and bought a Camaro?  A 16-year-old buying a Camaro!  So crazy!”

She looked at me with her eyebrows raised. “Um, Christy, it did not at ALL happen like that. I didn’t get that car until I was in college and working almost full time. My first car was a $500 neon blue Pontiac Sunfire.”

This hit a nerve. How could I remember something so differently than what was true? Granted, there was nothing particularly special about my sister’s car, so it’s not something I would have necessarily filed in my brain.

There are stories running through my head 24 hours a day. I wake up in the middle of the night and write things down, but 99% of those ideas don’t turn into anything. My days are so full and there are 800 bajillion things I have to do, and so sometimes I look back at my notes and I have no idea what I meant. I found one the other day said, “Jockstrap/teenage acne”.  Uh…I have literally NO recollection of writing that or what in the world I was thinking about.

I have all these memories from my childhood, ready to come out. I have come so far in pretty much just writing all my inner demons down that I feel like this would be the next step. I know there are people out there who think I am embarrassing myself and my family by being SO honest. I truly, truly don’t care, however, because I can see my reach and how much just talking about this has helped others.

The thing is, they are going to make some of my family members look bad. And so I hesitate. I’ve never, ever wanted to hurt anyone in my family. I swear, I only want to help people. My experiences as a child are SUCH a big part of who I am today that I want to share them. But what if it was just my perception as a child and I’m remembering it completely incorrectly (Camaro vs. Pontiac Sunfire)?

On the other hand, I want everyone to own their truth and this is MY truth. And, like Ann Lamott said, I guess if you didn’t want someone to write about it on the Internet someday, you should’ve acted better, yo.


Goin’ Off the Grid


This weekend I went on my first ever writing retreat. I recently joined a group of women writer’s in my area, and we have meetings twice a month. They invited me along to this retreat right away, having only met me one time, which I thought was brave. What if I was a mouth breather? Or a one-upper? I mean, that’s not even thinking about possibilities like serial killer.

Anyway, I was thrilled to be invited, but nervous. What if one of THEM was a one-upper? Could I handle a weekend in a cabin in the woods with someone who was rude or obnoxious?

I packed my bag, cautiously, like you do when you’re going somewhere with new people. Will they judge me for drinking Diet Pepsi at 8:00 a.m.? Will they think it’s weird that my favorite pillow has Christmas trees on the pillow case?

I had signed up to bring cheese, sausage, and crackers. Suddenly, I panicked. Was boring old Colby cheese good enough? I searched until I found a pack of pre-sliced “European Cheese.” I also got the “fancy” box of crackers, i.e. anything that wasn’t Ritz.

I was joking with my friends all week that I was scared because we had rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere and it’s negative 50 bajillion degrees right now, and what if I had to walk somewhere outside of the cabin to find the bathroom? How many blankets should I bring? Should I go buy toe and hand warmers?

As it turned out, I had the BEST time, and it reminded me of a few things.

  1. Life can be better without wi-fi. I had no internet access. Not even my 3G worked. So, I could text my husband to check in on him and the kids, but otherwise, my time spent writing was actually spent…writing. Typically when I write, I write a paragraph, check Facebook. Write a paragraph, send a tweet. Write a paragraph, read an article on Yahoo about the secret vegetable that will make me skinny. It’s a terrible thing. It felt SO good to be off the grid.
  2. Sometimes, taking a risk pays off. The ladies I was with for the weekend were all phenomenal women. I wish they were also my real-life friends (in addition to all of you out there, not instead of!). We share a love for writing, but mostly it was amazing to spend quality time with a group of women who are caring, wicked smart, motivated, and hard-working. I LOVE hearing about other people’s lives, and this is twice as exciting when I meet new people. Wait a minute, you ELOPED? That is so rad! Tell me about it!
  3. I am, officially, a writer. There, I said it. I’ve been calling myself a “wanna-be” writer for a long time now. No longer. I declare, “Christy is a writer!” There were 3 copies of my book in this cabin. I kept myself busy for hours and hours with writing projects that I’m working on. I daydreamed about what it would be like to be a full-time writer. It’s for real, you guys.
  4. When you’re in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin in the winter, don’t talk about true crime podcasts before bed. Enough said.


I’m not recommending that you need to go out in the woods in the middle of nowhere with almost strangers, Y’all, but I do want to urge you to take some risks in 2018. Even small ones. You just never know what’ll turn up!




To my teacher friends, at Christmas

About 16 times a day, I tell someone that I have THE BEST JOB in the whole world. At least 5 times I day, I decide I’m going to quit. Once every semester or so, I go on Monster Jobs and declare this is the year I’m going to find an “easy” job, one where I don’t take anything home with me and maybe I’ll even work in a cubicle where no one can talk to me (Also maybe I can pee in a grown-up bathroom and not have anyone wipe their boogers on me, but that’s asking for a lot).

Ooh, or maybe I’ll work at a bookstore. I’ll just walk around and recommend books to people and I could do story time! I used to, as a joke, say that I was going to work at a hardware store, except I really couldn’t actually help anyone find anything. I’m sure they would pay me just as much to work at Barnes and Noble, right?

The truth is, I think (I mean, I obviously can’t speak for everyone) that everyone feels this way about their job sometimes.

In reality, what I know is that my job is HIGH stress. But in return, it is SO unbelievably rewarding. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not reminded by students about how important it is for me to be the very best teacher that I can. It’s the little things-the GIANT hugs you get (even if they are booger wiping hugs), the little notes students leave you, how excited they are to see you, or when they accidentally call you mom. I can’t imagine there is anything better than a child telling you that you are their absolute favorite teacher or that they don’t want school to end.

There are certain times, though, when something extra special happens that just reminds you that you were absolutely made to do this job and spend your life with children. Two of these have happened to me in the last week, during one of THE most stressful weeks as an elementary school teacher (2nd only to the 1st and last week of school, and maybe state testing week…er…month).

Last week, I was at Target with my daughter, and we were in the chip aisle. I was maybe, kinda a little bit agitated because I was looking for those pretzels that only come out on holidays that are in the shape of a ring. I had checked two other stores and couldn’t find them and I was staring at all the pretzels while my kid tried to talk me into buying Cheetos.

I heard a whisper from the end of the aisle, “Oh, it’s Mrs. W!” I hear this a lot, you guys. It’s kinda like paparazzi. It happens at stores, restaurants, the movies, and when I’m out for a walk around the neighborhood. So, I look over, and it’s a Target employee who looks familiar to me. She came over and asked, “Are you Mrs. W?”

“Yep, hi! How are you? How are things?”

She told me she was good, and that I was still her favorite teacher, that she is 22 and I was her teaching in 6th and 7th grade. Then…she looked at me and asked, “I know this is so weird, but…can I take a selfie with you?”

I die, you guys. She wanted to snap chat her friends that she had seen me so she could brag about it. LOVE.


Oh, you guys. I’m still…I just don’t even know. Perhaps this won’t be such a big deal to you, but my heart is SO FULL that I will be living on this for months.

It’s the time of year when kids start bringing in Christmas gifts for me. I’m always a little torn about this because I hate it for the kids that want to bring me one but their parents won’t or can’t purchase it. I don’t NEED anything, of course, and what I tell the kids is what I want the most is a hand-written note from them or a picture they draw.

It doesn’t matter, though, because the kids want to bring me something to show their love. Over the years I’ve gotten some heartbreaking beautiful gifts-used stuffed animals, half-done coloring books, McDonald’s toys-and I have loved and cherished EVERY. SINGLE.ONE.

This week I walked into my classroom to see an empty spaghetti sauce jar on my desk. I knew immediately who it was from. Inside there was:


  • some leftover Halloween candy
  • a baggy of tortilla chips
  • a candy cane
  • a pen
  • a note

I need you to know that:

  • She picked only candy that I had talked about liking, almost as if she had saved it since Halloween.
  • She hardly ever has a snack at school for milk break, and this was probably planned for that.
  • A few weeks ago, I went up to her, snatched her pen and wrote a sentence with it, exclaiming, “Ooh, this is an awesome pen!  I totally want one like this!”  That pen is in this jar.
  • And the note…


NO ONE has a better job than I do. You couldn’t convince me if you tried. I am so fortunate to spend my days with children who give me hope for our future.

Happy holidays, teacher friends. Keep remembering these moments-they’ll get us through to a much-deserved holiday break.